Saturday, January 2, 2016

How an introverted caregiver spends her free time on Saturday afternoon


The caffeine squeal in my ears has gone on for days. It fills up the space carved out by the Provo Library on University Avenue after the librarian at the reference desk hangs up her call, and continues to ring octaves above the hum of the florescent lighting. Pages turn. Somewhere, deep and unseen on another side of the templed hollow, doors close. A young child babbles against the rules and then fades off behind the elevator doors. A ding. A cough. A book replaced on a shelf. The hinge of another mysterious door, closer this time, announces its existence. 

Quiet here is not the absence of sound, but attention to it.

I read another paragraph, making note of the black shape of the font and the tack of the page. Texture in language, texture of the object, textured images on my brain canvas painted by symbols for sounds that symbolize these encouraged illusions. The boy next to me is as rapt by his comedic novel Let Me Off At The Top! as he is by his phone. I watch him fail at reading and attention, and I notice the muffled engine of an accelerating truck on the street through the glass behind me. Pages continue to flicker, throats clear. I hear the inhalation and exhalation of air inside my nasal cavity. The points of perception begin to graph themselves on my brain canvas now, and I am matrixed, pinged in space by the confluence of all these vibrations in the quiet. It becomes a roar really. A subtle rolling orchestration. Like Debussy chromatics or Grieg’s colloquial chords. I am conducting a an unscripted string quartet on my timpanic membrane. Breathing. Rustling book jackets. The elevator’s chime. Another cough. Jeans against green upholstery. That timbre. One distinct from polyester slacks against a rust brocade armchair in another state and not in a library. Newspaper crackles and the soles of shoes scuff against industrial carpet. The carpet fibers are ecru and gray and buff and olive. I try to hear the old man’s pen against his legal pad, but he’s too far off. My fingers against the keyboard obscure my efforts. The librarian types also, loudly and importantly. I try to hear the plant fronds, and instead I note the heavy thud of a child’s boots as she runs after her mother across the floor on the level below me. Her mother has made her selections, and the girl clomps in her boots, long dark blond hair stringing around her face and frizzing in the static left by the comb when her mother last tried to untangle the locks yesterday. Her boots are red. The coat she wears is oversized and gray. Her legs are covered by brown tights. I can’t quite see her dress, but there was a battle between her and her mother over whether it was okay to wear the dress for the third day in a row. I’m assuming the little girl won.

The librarian picks up another call. I ignore the details. The florescent lighting oscillates and warbles on its pitch, like the choir ladies with bluing dyed hair from my youth. The upholstery of the choir seats was pink and the nubs of fabric loops forming textural checkers rubbed against the backs of my legs when I got away with no tights on Sundays like tomorrow. A balding gentleman with sensible black lace-ups and a BYU sweatshirt sits across from the boy who now seems consumed with his book by Ron Burgundy. The boy chuckles. The balding man opens a magazine to an article on super flares. The long gray strands of his eyebrows arch over the tops of his glasses as he reads, shifts the magazine, pops the binding just so. Someone clears his throat, or deep enough that it might be better referred to as his esophagus. I imagine it must have been flavorful, and realize that I don't know the flavor of other people's phlegm. I am okay with that. I think about picking up my own book again. The boy has refocused on his phone. Mr. Burgundy didn’t hold his attention for very long. I exhale and toss my right leg over my left. My hip splays to the right. I lean left, cock my head right, S shaped in my chair. S shaped like a Saturday afternoon. S shaped like the swirl of oxygen through my nostrils and the carbon dioxide the plant fronds suck off of me. We're attracted to each other, but I still can't hear what it might be saying. The library is far too loud for that.

1 comment:

  1. So glad I took a few minutes to read this post carefully. Beautiful imagery and language throughout. Your attentiveness couldn't be sharper. As always, thanks for sharing!

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