Friday, May 3, 2013

In Which the Universe Gets Tossed

I’ve been sleeping closer to the ground lately. We dismantled the iron frame of the bed so that it could be refinished. The bed frame is iron with small brass finials in the shape of balls. The universe also got tossed. The universe was an inflatable black ball imprinted with the known constellations and galaxies. It was a mnemonic device for an astronomy class. Over the years, it had acquired a thick coating of dust. We kept it perched atop a pitcher and bowl I inherited from my grandmother. It nested perfectly there. The pitcher and bowl are porcelain and printed with blue flowers. The bowl reminds me of those scenes in westerns in which the gunslinger or sheriff or cowboy stay at a hotel with pretty white curtains and dip their hands into the soapy water and splash it on their face and wipe it off with a towel. Then they go and get in a gun duel.
Sleeping closer to the ground is not demonstrably different from sleeping a few feet higher. It has not had much effect on the quality of my sleep or dreams. The clock is harder to see; I have left my body up to get a look at it. I also have to reach a little higher to press the buttons on the CD player. I did get a terrible allergy from the dust when we dismantled the bed. Or at least that’s what I believe triggered the allergy. That, in combination with the tons of pollen floating in the air. The four day Pollencast on the Internet Weather Channel registers a very high amount of pollen.
Sleeping near the floor is a little like being on a raft. The bed is an ontological machine. We are born in a bed, often die in a bed, make love in a bed, get a taste of oblivion in bed when we fall asleep. We discover the essence of existence in bed. We lie in darkness. That’s when the carnival of thoughts and worries in our head light up and whirl around and keep us from sleeping.
I look up histamine on Wikipedia. Histamine is an organic nitrogen compound involved in local immune responses as well as regulating physiological function in the gut and acting as a neurotransmitter. Histamine triggers the inflammatory response. Don’t I know that! I’ve been sneezing up a storm and have gone through a box of tissue blowing my nose. I write a check to renew our Harper’s Magazine subscription. I blow my nose. I get a stamp to put on the envelope in which I have inserted a check. I blow my nose. I discover that the envelope has been prepaid. I don’t need a stamp. I return the stamp. I blow my nose. I take the letter out to the mailbox in the hallway. I come back. I go to the bathroom. I blow my nose. I blow my nose into a paper towel. Blowing my nose into a paper towel is so much more satisfactory than blowing my nose in a Kleenix tissue. The tissue is soft and falls apart. I can really let go with a paper towel.
The next day, I go for a run. I must be immune by now. In any case, the damage is done. Pollen or no pollen I’m going for a run. It’s too beautiful outside not to. Everything is dripping with haiku. I hear some wind chimes hanging by someone’s door on a white porch, see buds beginning to appear on the chestnuts on Bigelow. Pink blossom on a green Corolla. A police cruiser passes me as I run down 8th Avenue West, the street with a panoramic overlook of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. The cruiser stops near the intersection of 8th Avenue West and West Galer Street and a police woman gets out and goes searching for something in the trunk. I wonder what’s up. I pass her and see a motorcycle cop giving directions to a driver. His motorcycle is parked nearby, on Galer. I try to make sense of this narrative. They must be preparing for something, but what? This isn’t the place for marching or demonstrations. There are no banks to rob. Has there been a burglary? Was the suspect caught?
As soon as Roberta gets home, I find out what happened. A 35-year-old man got in an argument with a 50-year-old man at the bus stop at the corner of Denny and Aurora Avenue. The 35-year-old man assaulted the 50-year-old man and the police were called. The police arrived. The 35-year-old man somehow managed to steal a cruiser and the police gave chase. The man crashed into the retaining wall at 8th Avenue West and Olympia Place. It must have happened shortly after I ran by. We look up an article about it online. There is the cruiser, hanging over the rise in the street, the railing smashed.
At around 11:30 p.m. we go to bed. I put on CD number 4 of Mark Twain’s Roughing It and get under the covers. “On the seventeenth day we passed the highest mountain peaks we had yet seen, and although the day was very warm the night that followed upon its heels was wintry cold and blankets were next to useless.”

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