Tuesday, December 06, 2005

a cold walk

In the mornings, I have been lucky. Someone is usually driving from the loft building to campus and I can ask for a ride.

In the late afternoon – not so much. Gone are the days of tooting Mr. B’s horn. He has not been out since the first snow fell. As the temps hover in the single digits, I think kind thoughts about the garage parking next to the Law School. I gave it up with good reason, but I admit to missing it now.

I try to leave campus before the sun completely disappears. And I make stops along the way home: Mifflin Co-op, the Café, they all give two minute bursts of furnace air. But then I face the wind again.

At the last push, over the railroad tracks, toward the brick building, I start humming Lara’s theme. Had I a moustache, droplets of moisture would freeze over it and I would walk into the building with purple nostrils puffing out the only bits of warmth left in my body.

Yesterday a man approached me just as I was nearing the loft – He was bundled with layers of scarves so that I could barely see his face. He asked – do you live here? Would it offend you if I peed by the garbage bins? What am I supposed to say? Is the alternative for him to come upstairs, use my bathroom, beat me, rob me and move on? I said – please don’t ask, I don’t want to see this, listen to this, leave me alone.

I didn't stick around to find out if he had done it, like a dog, against the bins.

I tried to explain to a young woman attending to the UPS counter later today, that coldness is differently felt at different stages of your life. Being chilled to the bone means more today than it did on cold walks during adolescent decades of harsh winters in Poland.