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I awoke at midnight. I slipped into the kitchen in my t-shirt and bare feet, the floor quite cold and tapped the nightlight on so I could pour something cold into my cup and not onto the counter.  I drank the water and wondered if I would be able to get back to sleep.  I dreamed that Chris Pratt came to visit me at my family’s house in the woods, at night, and it was like a car cruise, all those sleepers, hot rods, rat rods parked among small dirt clearings and the trees.  He took one out for a drive and eventually found a place to park among the trees and their roots that could take out a transmission if you weren’t careful.  We knew each other.  We liked each other.  We had too many moments of looking and not speaking because family was around.  He took my hands and we said a few things without speaking, it was all just eye contact, then he let go because it was time for him to leave. Hours later I wanted to text him, “U up?” but decided against the idea, and that felt right.  All those beautiful hot rods their pastel paint faintly lit by diffused headlights, the way they filmed the X-Files in Vancouver forests…

I awoke at 6:15 wondering how morning came so fast. I said, “I will dream of Vikings and the oceans they live upon,” over and over, so it must have done the trick to get me back to sleep.  Then I wondered why there were flashing lights on the wall, and could flashing lights actually wake me up?  There was an emergency vehicle (perhaps a tow truck?) in the neighbor’s yard and I wondered, “Now what?” Seemed like everything was stable, so I wandered into the kitchen, and it smelled like somebody’s been cookin’ in here, yeah, Jamaican!  I pulled on some clothes and went down to see the ocean, low tide, but the wind busy making waves and slamming the beach quite flat.  One of our supply ships was coming in beneath an angled sky, half dark, half illuminated by the beginnings of sunrise. God it was too cold to walk far, and I realized I’d have to start wearing my hiking wool if the walks were to continue in these conditions.  When I returned to the house, so grateful for the warmth, my mind began making lists, and I went about wiping down weeping windowsills.  Winter solstice is coming; I want to be ready.  A long drive.  Gifts to put finishing touches on. I will file those papers last, probably, and vacuum later because it might disturb the granite-faced lady who lives downstairs.

The ladies who live in these buildings, their faces are all so grim. Most of them are single. Their comings and goings are fairly regular, and their resting faces look so hard. There are two exceptions: one lady who lives with her cats, she walks with her chin up and a small smile, and the other is a new mother who is pretty and composed no matter what’s going on.  I know what my resting face looks like, and it’s so hard to smile when all I can hear is my ears ringing, and feeling like I’m walking alongside some magnificent grand canyon, prepared to fall in at any moment.

I sat with the neighbors two days ago on the beach.  It was 70 degrees on a December afternoon.  A laughing gull patronized me for food. Perhaps she thought I was a good candidate because I am the “bag lady” of the beach, bringing all my stuff down there in a plastic tote, but never food.  Sorry, gull, please move down the line.  Me and my neighbors sat in silence for hours. I noticed the polish had vanished from all but two of my toes. I noticed that everyone came down to the beach to walk, to use metal detectors, to let their children bolt into frigid waters but they didn’t care, to walk their dogs, to chat on cellphones.  I believe we all knew it would be one of the few remaining days the sun and atmosphere would be kind enough to let us walk barefoot in the sand, comfortably. I was prepared to fall, I am always prepared to fall, to suffer, and regret at any moment, and I wondered if I would ever learn to let go of that gloom.