Carry A Camera
Morning, Christmas morning, presents under the tree, small faces tired and shiny, the wife looking like a general in the midst of battle, triumphant, but, you know, concerned. I, husband, father, thinking what in the hell has happened, what am I doing? Who are these people? Where did they come from? At this point I wake up. There's a song like that, is there not? Finding yourself with the house in the suburbs, the wife, the family, the job downtown? Did I have this dream? No, not really. The coffee's hot, the apartment's snug, there's no tree, but there's music and the day stretches out like colored icing, swirls and dips and chocolate chips. Many ways to celebrate Christmas, many reasons to give thanks, starting with being alive.
Ever the observer, even holed up here in the apartment. What do I remember of Christmas, the ones in Seattle when I was five, the ones in Woodway when I was twelve, in New York when I was eighteen? I don't remember any of them, really. That might not be good, that might not be bad; my assumption being bad if I were too concerned, good if it were no more than a puzzle, something to occasionally ponder on an afternoon stretched out in a chair with time on my hands. Right, doctor? Doctor?
Christmas is supposed to be a big deal if you're from cold Lutheran stock, even if you never went to church after age five, even if you can't tell a Lutheran from an Episcopalian, even if you can't spell Episcopalian. Christmas is a big deal even if you aren't a Christian. How do good non-Christians handle an emotionally charged Christmas culture, advise the kids, respond? Hi, ho, don't know. Life is opaque at the best of times. Hard to understand without CNN.
Breakfast down at the usual cafe, open today from seven til two, the same young Asian ladies running the tables, the streets almost deserted, one or two die hard joggers walking or running in grim determination, I with my camera. A familiar place unfamiliarly empty. I find these places fascinating. I have similar memories of Thanksgiving in San Francisco, an afternoon dinner alone down on Market, a buffet restaurant empty but for two other diners. A painting, really, a scene from a movie. Maybe why I carry a camera.