I got back in the slot, the cafeteria salad bar at work, tonged some shredded carrots, spinach, diced beets…made a modest bird’s nest out of it, weighed it, scanned my card, picked a two-top by the windows and started in. Sat a minute or two and then checked my phone. A table of colleagues who seemed to know each other by me talking, chewing, though I couldn’t see their faces or hear what they said. It felt like that, walking through the crowded cafeteria. There wasn’t anyone I knew, but I enjoyed the anonymity of being a contractor. The color of your badge is different so they can tell, when it’s flipped outwards.
Driving in, pulling off the freeway, in the queue turning in to my building, the late February morning sky has some added hope but it’s a long fade, these in between months. Our lawn now, and the chicken coop rooftop, have a layer of hail that looks like snow. The sun rises before 7 and the pink, Maxfield Parrish skies have returned late afternoon, the gloaming. The kids home all week for mid-winter break, the challenge to keep them entertained while Dawn and I work, to keep up with other families doing exotic things, and our kids’ talk track (we were going to go to Portland but then we didn’t, because we couldn’t find a dog sitter and my parents are stressed out about money…so we just went to the movies and ate out every day).
Friday morning now, woke from a dream triggered by my time on the trail a week ago today: some guy with his doberman, I asked is he friendly and the guy said no, absolutely not: and then, you should really have a leash up here, there’s bear and cougar…and I reacted to that, how he talked to me, but swallowed my pride…and in my dream I was bobbing along some country setting, I didn’t even know it was a dream it was so real, and then I realized a cougar was tracking me across the valley, on a river bank, the scale of it kept flickering in and out: it walked in the manner of a cougar (kind of a saunter) with its trunk slung low, all muscle, its eyes cold indifference…and I wondered at the meaning, my family was there though I couldn’t see them, I felt vulnerable…was it some balled-up mix of feelings hard to untangle but embedded in me, wherever dreams live, in the brain folds and muscle…or just the everyday angst and indifference that comes from this isolation?
Post title from the song by the band Cream, “White Room,” 1968.