rejectomorph (flying_blind) wrote,

See More: An Introduction

Last night before I fell asleep my mind wandered over a number of things, and settled most on the year I was 18. It is interesting that what became the best year of my adolescence began with a clumsy and embarrassing injury when the gym coach teaching the tennis class at Pasadena City College had the dozen or so of us who had shown the least promise on our first day to jump over the net, as (he joked) we would probably have to be doing a lot of that. I waited until last, as I was quite sure that I wouldn't make it and wanted the smallest audience possible for my impending humiliation. I almost made it, but one of my shoes caught on the net and I slammed down onto the court, elbows first. I would imagine that this was the last time that coach ever tried to make inept students jump the net.

When I first got up my arms were floppy, and felt like they wren't connected to anything, but there seemed to be no visible injury other than skinned elbows, so I headed back to the locker room. There, as I tried to change into street dress, my elbows began to freeze up and soon I couldn't move them at all. The coach came by to see how I was doing and helped me put my clothes on over the gym outfit, and sent me off to the nurses office. They ended up calling my house, where nobody was home, and then called my dad a this workplace, and he called my sister and had her make an appointment with a local clinic near out house and then came to pick me up.

At the clinic they did several x-rays and, though couldn't find any breaks, put both of my arms in casts. They were on for two days, when I returned to the clinic and they removed them. My arms still wouldn't move,leaving the doctors puzzled, so they sent me to a small office at the far end of a corridor in the oldest wing of the building, and that was where they kept their osteopath. I can't now remember his name, though I later found that he had a very good reputation. He also had the worse case of psoriasis I had ever seen in person— it was one suited or illustrating a medical book. But he knew osteopathy, and within a few minutes e had loosened up whatever had gotten out of place in my neck and my arms began working again.

It took a few more treatments over the next couple of weeks, but eventually my arms were almost (though never quite) as good as they had been before. But I had missed about two weeks of the beginning of my second semester of college, and wasn't at all confident about being able to catch up, so I withdrew, and it was that withdrawal which made it possible for the next few months to be the best I had ever experienced. Liberated from commitments, I began exploring Los Angeles. It would be some time before I learned the word flaneur, but that was what I became— an idle wanderer of the modern city, passing through it without being part of its daily work.

I did work, some days, as my aunt decided I was ready to work in the bindery at the family business, where I would make ten dollars a day at first, and more later, for monotonous but not overly strenuous tasks. That gave me, for those days when I didn't work, which were the majority, about twenty or thirty dollars a week just to spend on whatever I wanted, since I had no other living expenses to take care of. That would be upward of two hundred dollars a week in today's money, so my idling was better financed than it has been at any time since. This helped make my brief career as a flaneur the most enjoyable time of my life.

There's a lot to be said about that time, but not at this time. I have to think about it some more, and try to remember through the fog of more than half a century, and find the time to put what I can recall of it down in words. Sot of like Proust, but without the, uh, what do you call it? Oh, yeah; talent. In the meantime here's this, as usual:

Sunday Verse

Phantom Limbs

by Anne Michaels

"The face of the city changes more quickly, alas!
than the mortal heart."
— Charles Baudelaire

So much of the city
is our bodies. Places in us
old light still slants to.
Places that no longer exist but are full of feeling,
like phantom limbs.

Even the city carries ruins in its heart.
Longs to be touched in places
only it remembers.

Through the yellow hooves
of the ginkgo, parchment light;
in that apartment where I first
touched your shoulders under your sweater,
that October afternoon you left keys
in the fridge, milk on the table.
The yard - our moonlight hotel -
where we slept summer's hottest nights,
on grass so cold it felt wet.
Behind us, freight trains crossed the city,
a steel banner, a noisy wall.
Now the hollow diad
floats behind glass
in office towers also haunted
by our voices.

Few buildings, few lives
are built so well
even their ruins are beautiful.
But we loved the abandoned distillery:
stone floors cracking under empty vats,
wooden floors half rotted into dirt,
stairs leading nowhere, high rooms
run through with swords of dusty light.
A place the rain still loved, its silver paint
on rusted things that had stopped moving it seemed, for us.
Closed rooms open only to weather,
pungent with soot and molasses,
scent-stung. A place
where everything too big to take apart
has been left behind.


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