I was changing in the handicapped bathroom again. I go in there because it’s bigger, private. Maybe it’s some vestige of high school anxiety about changing in the locker room or fear that if I change in the men’s room the door will open and a woman passing by will -eek!- see me changing and freak out about what I don’t know, but I prefer changing in there. Even as I write this it seems totally ridiculous. I change in public all the time. I think it’s just something about the sexless vibe at that place.
Coming out of the bathroom I was rushing a bit. I’m always rushing, which is ironic since what I’m studying there is a body/mind modality where you go super slow. I shuffled down the hallway in my socks like a little kid, the floorboards creaking in a raspy baritone. I was adding up my work/study hours in my head because I always forget to tell the administrator and then I get a huffy email about it. I rounded the corner and suddenly there he was, talking to my teacher. Boyish/mannish. Fresh-faced. Slight blush to the cheeks, like he’s just taken an autumn bike ride. It was so incongruous to see him there, standing in the middle of the waiting room against the braided nylon of the furniture and the beige wall. I walked past him into the big room to collect my notebook, sort of disconcerted and annoyed. Oh god this is the last place I want to run into them. It throws the whole thing out of balance. Not here please. He must have psychically heard my anxiety because when I went back out to put my sneakers on he was gone.
I had just finished teaching class at the university where they let me teach. I never finished college and now I teach at colleges all the time. Maybe it’s karmic. I figure if I never actually get a degree I won’t actually ever be hired for real in a permanent way. I’ll just teach at different places each year and I can keep this slutty thing with higher education going for the rest of my life.
I crossed the big street – I wasn’t riding my bike for those few days – and was heading into my bank to make a deposit when I saw him smiling and sneering his way towards me. That is the definition of a craggy face I thought. A maze of dry rivulets. He’s shorter than me, I think that means he’s very very short, ever since I found out I’m short. (That’s another story.) He was wearing a blazer, tweed maybe. That downtown arty hair length, long but not too long. Aging male painter length. I say sneering but actually he seemed very content, very at peace with himself and his day as he walked down the sidewalk by himself. It was inspiring. Maybe it’s all the yoga, if he still does it. People really get attached when they do yoga, but I wonder if that’s just something they do for a little while and then stop like most everybody else but since somebody saw them in a class once or they wrote about it in an interview everyone is still like, oh so and so does yoga.
Riding in the city is always risky, dangerous. I like pretending I am cool and tough enough for it, though sometimes I get to an intersection and I’ve calculated the distance between cars incorrectly so I waddle my way on my tippie toes through an opening like a toddler. That day I was on it, though, and I was barreling down the big avenue like a pro when I saw her on the corner waiting to cross. She was wearing big sunglasses, a long coat. It was all just a flash but I keyed in instantly to the wrinkles around her mouth. She’s letting herself grow old without surgery – I told myself approvingly, like she gives a fuck about what I think. It IS a relief, though. Don’t you think it’s weird that we look at movies to see our emotions reflected or articulated and all these people have billiard ball complexions? Like, what is the accumulative psychological effect of all that? I recently saw that movie about the untethered astronaut and when they do the close-ups I’m just like, you don’t look that worried.
I was racing up the street on my bike. It’s that part of the ride where it’s not clear which side of the street you should be on, or I guess I could say it’s the free for all part of the ride. Now with bike lanes there’s the suggestion of order, even though everyone knows it’s still a shitshow of power mongering between pedestrians, cyclists and drivers. Everyone’s on their cellphones by the way, but you already knew that. Distraction nation.
He had stepped pretty much into the middle of the wide avenue straining his neck to see if a cab was coming. I wonder if it’s any easier for him. It feels like it’s basically become impossible to get a cab, and then if they do stop, they ask you where you’re going, which I think is illegal according to the Taxi Rider’s Bill of Rights! Anyway he has that expression of being half caught in some pressing concern, even when he’s hailing a cab. I want to say I felt nothing, did I go to the left or the right of him? His confusion about the lack of available cabs did seem tremendously earnest.