thursday morning

23 October 1998

The air is the kind that stiffens your spine when you suck in a lungful of it. It speaks of autumn and, maybe pretty soon, the first snowfall. I inch my car onto the onramp to the highway. The Boulder Turnpike is, of course, packed; it's only 7:45 in the morning, after all. I fiddle with the radio while my car rides the left lane, cresting the swell of the hill and then dipping down into Boulder Valley, revealing the Rockies looming up before me. "Thank You" by Alanis Morrissette crackles through my speakers, rising above the white noise of the highway.

Thank you frailty
Thank you consequence
Thank you thank you silence

Traffic slows to a fast crawl, and I drum my fingers on the steering wheel and think about green eyes. I think about Augusts past. I think about how love sneaks up on you in the dark when you're least expecting it and pulls the rug out from under you. If we poor humans knew what we were getting ourselves into when we choose to embrace love, I wonder if we wouldn't run away in fright.

Green eyes. I sigh and slouch in my seat.

How about me not blaming you for everything
How about me enjoying the moment for once
How about how good it feels to finally forgive you
How about grieving it all one at a time

Someone once said that the bravest human act is love. They said that anyone who dares to go in pursuit of love in this life is to be admired. I think I agree with this.

The road sweeps from a broad highway curve down the hill into downtown Boulder. A glance at my dash clock tells me I have forty minutes to get done and get back to work.

I lean over my steering wheel, craning my neck to find the street number. I find it and swing sharply into the nearest parking lot. The crisp air washes over me anew as I hop out of my car and hurry down the sidewalk, my strides quick and short.

How about unabashedly bawling your eyes out
How about not equating death with stopping

A bell tinkles softly as I swing open the door. The air smells faintly of spring flowers, and, oddly, cinnamon. The man at the counter looks over his glasses at me and asks what I'd like to see. He hands me the thick FTD binder and disappears into the back of the store.

Let's see... roses. Chrysanthemums. Daisies. Lilies. Hmmm.

I waver. Roses... heh. I scratch the back of my neck and consider. Mmm... probably not. Not if I'm sending them to the workplace. I flip a couple of pages absently.

Eventually I decide on the standard FTD birthday bouquet, the one with the little flag and the squeaky, kazoo-like horn. I grin for the first time all morning. Yeah, this'll work.

The moment I let go of it was
The moment I got more than I could handle

I write out the check and hand it to the stocky man behind the register. Now I get to sign the card. Ugh. I've never been good at this. I twiddle the pen between my teeth, consider for a minute, then opt for the safe route.

"Hope your birthday is good. Have a drink for me tonight."

I sign it and hand it over with a twinge of regret. Undying proclamations of love don't go well on little cards, especially when the card is being transmitted across two time zones for delivery. I let out a tiny sigh and shrug. Then I thank the man, and he smiles at me, and I leave, stuffing my hands in the pockets of my cordouroy jacket for warmth.

I pull my car out into traffic, checking the dash clock again. Fifteen minutes. No problem. I relax into the seat.

A warm glow starts in my chest that has nothing to do with the heater in the car. I smile unconsciously, thinking of the scene to be played out a thousand miles away when the flowers find their way to their destination. They're not roses, but... they'll do.

The bravest human act is love. Indeed. Strange how we hide our courage behind fear, wrapping up our feelings in trite phrases, trying not to be found out, yet hoping secretly we'll be discovered in the end.

Absently, I flip the radio on again and scan for something besides commercials. Ah...

I don't mind the sun sometimes
The images it shows
I can taste you on my lips and
Smell you in my clothes

I shiver from the echo of a kiss and turn my attention back to the road.