I’m trying to be less judgemental, but I think it gets harder with age. Trying to ignore the instincts, the layers of experience that build up over the years to form that protective shell. Lately, I have felt like a Galapogian tortoise. I need to crack this carapace and feel the breeze on my flesh.
I have been getting out more recently. Familiarising myself with the streets again; people, traffic, sunlight.Slowly re-integrating myself. People make me nervous, so I try to keep my eyes down, partly, at this time of the year to avoid slipping on the ice, but mainly to avoid eye contact.
Yesterday, while walking, an old friend approached on the footpath ahead. I kept my eyes to the ground, hoping he would not recognise me. I was not up to conversation. Catching up. Explaining myself at this time. As we drew near to each other I tensed, flinching involuntarily as he passed. I heard him stop. And then my name. An old buddy. He looked well. I had never seen him look well before; permanently drunk, mostly obnoxious, propping up the bar at Kelly’s, or anywhere they served whiskey. People change; most cut their hair, loose weight, buy a new car. Him, he was a changed man.
During our conversation, my tortoise brain pondered his strange offering. A possibility I ruminated over for days.
Just now he left the room, shutting the door behind him, leaving me standing alone and uncertain by a white fiberglass pod. I had stripped off my clothes, showered and stepped toward the pod. Sliding open the hatch and swinging open the door I climbed in. The warm water lapped at my calves. I closed the door behind, squatting to pull the hatch closed above. I sat; the shell around me like a cavern, damp and humid. Me, naked, soft and fleshy. I flicked the switch by the door, the cavern fell into darkness. I lay back. The water, heavy with salt took the weight of my body. I floated lightly on the surface, the water lapping at my sides. I tipped my head back, staring into the darkness. Arms outstretched starring into the darkness, drifting through time and space.