There was a particularly cold winter in Kingston, New York, a few years ago, and I had a hard time going out. I don’t mean going out as in to a bar or hanging out with friends, but as in I could barely walk out of the house and down the street to buy a cup of coffee at the deli. Each attempt to do normal activities was an excruciating task: my legs didn’t work. They didn’t want to walk me. My torso and upper body didn’t work. They didn’t want to be unglued from the bed I’d pegged myself in. My brain didn’t work. The voice inside me said go somewhere, but the brain said nope, not moving. My rogue body followed suit and ignored me.
There was an art store down the street, closer than the deli. I liked the motley medley of crafts made by local artisans, exquisite etched-glass tiles with medieval symbols, colorful felted hats, cotton underpants with oogly-eyed creature designs, one-of-a-kind jewelry handmade from copper and glass. There was a steady sound of 90s dance music dashed with chunks of Bjork and boogaloo.
The woman who owned the store entertained my occasional and abrupt visits with a worked-in-retail-a-lot chagrin. She was able to strike up and sustain a conversation with me, even when I wasn’t able to sustain a conversation with me. Even when I walked into the store slowly, bundled up tightly during that cold winter, and just stood there.
It’s in bits and pieces, the memory, of a particular night during the particularly cold winter. I was, like usual that winter, just standing there, stiff, wrapped, awkward, surrounded by things that I would have loved if I were me. But I wasn’t right then.
[Unpublished essay. To read more, please inquire…]