Of late I’ve found myself amid the glory of early morning and late evening, the former extending itself into my dreams, the barriers of sleep often not yet passed. The latter by its volition has accompanied me on the weary path home, trailing my feet, distracting my mind, not yet able to sleep. There is a restlessness, as I’ve discovered, in tiredness which I dare say can be both inspiring and disconcerting. The mood, the fears, are founded on instability, which offers plenty to the imagination, both good and bad.
However, what I’ve deemed most signicant in these tainted musings is the urgency to see things in their immediacy rather than flitter off in protracted fantasy; observing because that’s all that the mind can muster, ironically, allowing one to be more lucid. The feelings are subtle, the shifts come, from darkness to daylight, but in the void, exploration of those changes, the passive state, seems to empower itself.
The train left the station on time, it’s just that I had been too early and had, in my haste to not be late, already been twenty five minutes in my seat. I didn’t, however, waste this time. Instead i used it to find a voice, my voice, which considering my sleep deprevation, came forth in gushes. I chose all the media at my disposal to record my flurry of thoughts, and each one worked. Even a haphazard text to my woman seemed to find itself, amidst the muddle of words that I’d intended. I’ve often argued that I’m an early morning man but I’d never considered this before, the pre-dawn world of late night revelers, shift workers and the bleary-eyes commuters still adjusting to this new day. To all intents and appearances the last two groups shared the purpose of coming and going and work, while the first two shared the notion of bed as an imminent destination. Maybe even the first and last shared the disconnection born of drink and fading dreams. All were traffic, aligning with the chaos of the morning’s streets, transport, shadows.
Sitting, observing this, more a stranger than any, being sober and newly awakened to this rhythm, I was out of my comfort zone but needed to move without thinking, to remain inconspicuous, to just fit in. What was I to them on whom I placed so much expectation? They knew the plan! Did they, in me, see the same depth of wonder: the personal dramas, stories, histories, that I indulged in with them? However they behaved, they were intensely and collectively my muse. Apart from those others when in a lamp lit room, listening to the howls down below, the faceless voices, here on the street, at this hour (apart from the drunks) they were faces, voiceless. I’d listened, I’d observed, I’d done it all but today I tried to see myself as they saw me What is it that I conveyed unto the complete stranger? A mirror could tell me I wasn’t handsome, yet not, still, twisted ugly. I had certain discernible features, things which made me stand out from the crowd, or at least, a crowd. I could be viewed as different, but what I wanted to know was; did my appearance bring others stories of integrity, interest; did I cut it with the tough guys, intrigue the pretty ladies, not the dolly birds I’m sure, and did people see me first as intelligent, or dumb?
So I set off on this, my odyssey – my objective to be subjective, but through the imagined eyes of others.
The bicycle is placed against the building’s front wall, just beyond the entrance. Leaning back to pull the door shut, the darkened shadow passes me. I only catch him from behind, a weary walk about him, his step the step of early morning. His pony tail drops to midway down his back. My eyes run to his ass. I haven’t forgotten lust; I just don’t find it in the early hours. He’s skinny beneath those jeans, but in a rolling fantasy he may emerge a lover. I step onto my bicycle then; I have a way to go. It’s early but I’m late. Gustavo’s still in bed, lucky creature.
Pulling the bins to the edge of the footpath I turn back to the door, to the entrance to my building. A bried flurry as a man skips out around me, and the bin. He glances at me, I at him. He is bearded, his eyes look tired. I turn aside and enter again my domain. Do I have time for a quick cigarette and coffee? I always do! I am my own boss.
A man approaches from behind as I pull up to the bus-stop. I worry ever so slightly; I mean I’m just suspicious. His quick step has slowed. He steps out almost exaggeratedly, however, perhaps to convey his unthreatening state. He turns and looks back, he stomps his feet a bit. He’s waiting too. As the bus approaches I catch him further in the headlights; he’s not rough looking as his initial demeanour, he’s just an easy-going, dressed down sort of guy, probably foreign by his colouring. As we both jump on the bus, I notice his blue eyes as well as the blond hair. He could even be Scottish, a Viking maybe, but he’s too short to be really Swedish.
At the terminus I step off and head towards the railway station. He does too but I soon lose sight of him as I get distracted by the oncoming faces.
Somebody sits in behind me. Busy on my laptop I’m not inclined to look up, and certainly not turn around. My thesis is due and this hard copy in front of me is a mess of ink stains and half-arsed ideas. In any other country I would be able to get across my meaning more succinctly, perhaps, based upon the linguistic similarities but here everything is so different, and the bureaucracy is beyond painful. I mean slip my professor an envelope and see all doors open but at the moment it’s nothing but forms and more forms from ladies in offices who, not blaming them, don’t know anything about the said forms and can only pass me on to the next person. Did they have it this bad in Kafka’s Czechoslovakia?
What’s he doing back there? Whatever it is it’s annoying. Jesus my whole seat is wobbling. I tried pushing back already and admittedly he seemed to quiet down. How do I know it’s a ‘he’, call it woman’s intuition, or plain evidence. He’s a scratching, snorting, marauding bear, shuffling constantly. Probably the fleas!
After a while the wobbling becomes more tempered, there are even moments, not long mind you, when there is peace and tranquility reigning but curse those trays attached to the seat backs.
Gyor comes and I pack my stuff to leave. I turn to see my tormentor as I leave. God knows he’s much younger, and thinner, than I imagined. I look away and on looking back I catch his eye. He’s not altogether attractive, and I’m no lamb, but there is a flicker, a delight. Is he flirting with me? Am I colouring? I pick up my bags and head for the doorway. I’d better wait there I guess.