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Under Construction

At a birthday lunch in Oakland.

February 5th, 2003

Turn Out Bad
Tuesday. The funky head something or other dizzy stuff came along around noon, stayed for an hour, and then eased off, much as it did two weeks ago when I ended up visiting the local hospital. This time it seemed familiar. It hung around for a while, but not too long for a while, then tapered off to leave me sitting here at home with the back of my head pulsing without particular pain, my temples keeping time and the top of my mouth tingling. I've had the top of my mouth tingling for a long time, always thinking it was a leftover from the jaw operation, the nerves slowly knitting and reconnecting, but I wonder? I wonder if it's tied together? I have that MRI next Tuesday. Wish it was tomorrow.

Ah, yes, complaints. Back to your routine.

I wasn't thinking about the head going home on the bus so much as examining the passengers. Busses, you know attract an eclectic crowd. I was watching the old guys, how they looked, how they held themselves. One guy in an ill fitting sport jacket and moderately matched slacks pulling a suitcase on wheels sat across the isle. He looked like a crushed animal, a white haired crushed household pet, if not frightened, then so unaware of the image he presented, so uncaring of the image he presented, it didn't matter. My thought has always been if you're afraid of the world, and there are times and reasons to be afraid of the world, then looking like you're afraid of the world is OK, but this guy looked like he'd been afraid of the world since he was conceived.

This thinking started as I was on the elevator, joining two women in their early thirties who were descending to the lobby. That's where you learn you're getting old, when the younger folks don't really see you anymore. When you're younger they pay attention. The attention might be to reject you out of hand, but rejection requires recognition and when you get to a certain age you lose that recognition. This is beginning to happen to me. I'm not there yet, but the slide, I suspect, has started. Funky old Prop in his, what, not so ill fitting jacket, camera bag over his shoulder, slumped back on the bus? Maybe I should stop riding the bus.

This is not true of every older person I've met. I was sitting, waiting for a bus one Sunday near Jack London Square last summer, when an Asian woman, eighty, she said, introduced herself and struck up a conversation, telling stories about her life and what she was up to, how many husbands she'd outlasted. She was scooting around town with a mile wide smile. Smart. Who are you? What's with the cameras? So this is not a peon to gloom and doom, just an observation, sitting here ready to crash and get some sleep.

Wednesday. What can I say? Better day today. One day you're up, one day you're down. I'll get the scans done next week, yes, but I'll also talk with my dentist and the surgeon who moved my jaw forward. There's something going on, but I'm not yet convinced it will turn out bad.

The photograph was taken at a recent birthday lunch in Oakland.