Sunday, November 21, 2004

meeting death at a traffic light

last night we were en route leaving a delightful housewarming where we had played lord of the rings trivial pursuit, jovially recounting different questions and moments of the game when we came to a red light and noticed a cluster of people hanging out in the chilly night air to the right of our vehicle. from the way this one woman was hunched into the body of another woman gripping her, we knew blood had been spilled. two groups of young guys were looking in the direction of this gas station on the corner. the yellow tape surrounding the outer periphery of the station kept the people out, but their postures were such that it was evident that no one wanted to get any closer. i kept looking at the hunched woman whose body was wracking in that way that indicates mortal release of the keenest kind- the kind where enveloped in tears are your lungs, your kidneys, the deepest parts of you, all wailing at full pitch.

a hush had fallen over our car. chopin still played in the background, dissonant notes wafting into the thick air. alan made a comment about how awkward it is to try to have a conversation when you see something as heavy as death at a traffic light. how it's as if people naturally have an urge to pay respect to the dead, briefly mourn with those who mourn through moments of silence. the image of the hunched woman remained in my head throughout the course of the rest of the night.

i wondered how it had happened. did someone go to work, to a job that paid the bills, but for which they felt nothing more than tolerance, only to find their last breath would be uttered and mingling with the tendrils of petroleum? was it someone playing the role of "hero" intending to stave off any sort of extreme outcome only to have themselves be sacrificed in the aftermath of what ended up being so much bigger than they could have imagined?

i drove home under the intense black sky, through the intersections with their too-bright traffic lights, wishing it could be fully dark for a little while. wishing i could send a hug to that woman that could bring her peace, listening to a song, ironically having to do with not being alone, with death. me wanting to live my life more fully because i can. because we have such a limited amount of time to which we may spend ourselves. and a requiem played in my head before i lay down to shut my eyes and shut out the world for eight hours until the sun rose again.


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