Thursday, October 18, 2007

Killing Time


I went for a walk this evening. I don't like to walk. But I didn't know what else to do. It was one of those nights--feeling bad and restless enough to force one into pacing the room (but too tired to do anything about it), but not feeling bad enough to warrant calling up a friend to say, 'Can you come up? It's one of those nights.'

So I put on my sandals and headed out. I figured I needed to drop my laundry off anyway, and pick up cigarettes, and if I headed up Ridge, I would even treat myself to an icecream. The night was muggy and walking uphill I warmed up quickly. I walked by Bike Addicts, the shop next to my dentist which was never open. Sometimes I would see the owner just coming back from a ride; other times the lights were on in the shop but there were no customers. Maybe if he kept some regular hours he'd get some damn business. Faded posters of Italian bicycle racers and equipment which will probably never get sold adorn the walls. The shop itself looks pretty faded, not unlike the small hockey shop I passed a few minutes earlier; I just as soon imagined it was a front for a meth lab or something.

Coming back down Ridge (after finding the ice cream shop closed, damn those sixteen year old girls) and realizing my laundry would be done soon, it occurred to me that what we do while we are waiting for our laundry is not so different from our lives and how we run out the clock. When I want to kill time I usually sleep, or think (in that order). Tonight I could have taken the bus into the city and back; gotten a beer at Hogan's; read a novel, or done work for school. No matter what I would have done, though, I still would have been waiting for my laundry. There's a bit of Absurdism there, if I'm not mistaken.

It was a meaningless night of sorts, and, as has been the case over the last couple years, there was nothing available that made me feel 'better' about my situation. But this meaninglessness is not negative--it is simply a blank slate on which we create our story and assign our meanings. To take a walk for exercise or to set out to count the number of paces from Rochelle to Righter or to raise awareness of lupus--in the vast indifference of a yawning universe, the 'meaningfulness' of such endeavors is lost. But to us it seems a great deal.

So, in the remaining ten minutes before the buzzer, I started to look around and what would you know...Roxborough is a mecca of absurdities! There was the sign that read 'Stanley,' in red white and blue letters, planted in someone's yard, as if it was for someone running for office. But all it said was 'Stanley.' Then there was the yard full of cactus...I recognized them from roadside stands in Mexico where squat housewives would dice them up and serve them with eggs and beans. Across the street a white leather couch sat in the shadows in a narrow alley, and I wondered if people sat in it or if they just wanted it out of the house. I made my way past crappy Jimmy Cannon's All Star Restaurant and was reminded why I don't go there to eat.

I got back to my house feeling like a fat man in summer who has reached his exercise quota for the month. I heave my laundry sack on the bed and empty it. The place is quiet and just as stale and loveless as when I left. But at least I managed to kill some goddamn time. I just hope I don't have to pay too much for it in the next life.

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