It’s been a week of strong emotion: watching the hurricane coverage and aftermath on television . . . actually, that’s not true. I haven’t watched it much at all. I’ve been listening to the radio and reading the news online for most of what I know. Sometimes Mike has watched it and summed up for me, but I find it’s best not to let myself sit in front of the television.
On Sunday I told Mike that, as we are approaching September 11 (can you believe it’s been four years?), I still get surprisingly sad. I mean, nothing happened to me or anyone I know. But I think it’s hard to remember the kind of evil that people are capable of, what they can do to each other. And I think we’ve seen more of that in the coverage this week: the looting, the violence, the rape. It’s a terrible situation, to put it mildly. We’ve also suffered some panic in this area about the availability and price of gas, though it seems those concerns have quieted somewhat today. I am no longer concerned that I might not be able to make it to work after next week.
But, despite those stresses, the one thing that I would really want to remember about this week wasn’t related to the hurricane. I’ve been trying to exercise more lately, and Wednesday evening my iPod and I went walking around 8:30. I decided that Sam Phillips was appropriate walking music, and I made my way through the neighborhood listening to her voice, looking up at the stars. It was a peaceful time – I had been disappointed that Mike couldn’t walk with me, but I enjoyed just being by myself, focusing on the music and the quiet of the neighborhood. I could have been reading, I suppose, but I’ve been reading so much lately and these cool evenings aren’t going to last forever. Most of my neighbors watch television with their blinds open, I learned, and I thought about taking a poll to see what they were watching, to see what the most popular shows are in my neighborhood. Without looking too obvious, I tried to figure out what they were watching, but I never could get a good glimpse of the screen. Not like on Superbowl Sunday when you drive through a neighborhood and everyone’s got the big screen hooked up and the blinds open so you can see how much cooler their parties are than yours will be. Maybe it’s easier to see in the windows from a car. I realized later that I only have basic cable, and there are millions of channels that people could be watching, and I probably wouldn’t have recognized the shows anyway. It was nice to be outside, waving to my neighbors, breathing the air, being thankful for a place to live and be safe. There was a moment where I was walking down a slight incline (we won’t call it a hill) and the guitars were playing in my ear and I thought, “I’d like to remember this.” I can give you all the little details about it: my ratty tennis shoes that I’ve had for seven or eight years, the ponytail I had my hair in, the cool temperature, which song was playing, but I can’t convey the sense of peace that I felt. I thought about my friend Scott and I prayed for his safety and sanity, and I waved at the other walkers and their dogs, and I headed home to drink the coldest water I could find.