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October 26, 2004

So Anyway

I think I'm ready for winter. Something about the chill in the air as I walked the dog bit pleasantly. Maybe I'm just in the mood for it to be a few months from now. When I used to spend my Sundays on a mountain in the Catskills powerwashing wood and styrofoam boxes out of which I'd spent part of the week selling fish to suburbanites, I imagined a drug that would leave me functional but completely unconscious until the spring thaw.

One year, just after the insane holiday season of a Tristate Area fish huckster, I left for Sunday's work so sick that it took me about twenty-five miles just to decide on a place to turn around and head back toward my bed. The boxes waited patiently.

That same year — whether the same week or not, I don't recall — I found myself alone on the mountain, everybody else having gone to a wedding or something. My equipment kept freezing together. The zipper on my raincoat became a gnarled rope of ice. Sweat. Sting. Snot. At last, all was clean, and it was time to load everything on my boss's truck. As I used a long, cold hook to drag my dozenth wooden box (of fifty-something) to the truck, the box caught in the heavy snow, and the hook's handle broke off. I fell forward to my knees.

I remember, at that moment, thinking that it would be bliss to snap — smash a few boxes and storm down the dirt road to my car and fly from the place. Maybe keep going until I cooled off... or thawed. But in that split second, another option came to mind: laugh. Laugh at the image of this pitiful man, on the cusp of his twenties, stomping around in the snow, all alone on a mountain, taking out his frustration on some rickety crates that he'd spent the day cleaning and repairing.

Breathe, laugh, have a smoke while looking out at the fantastic view, and then finish the job. The boxes mightn't fit right, because the lids were all frozen at angles and snow had caked on their corners. It would probably be dark and absolutely silent by the time I finished. But the job would be done. Life would go on, and I wouldn't leave the day having a mess to clean up at some future date — either with the boxes or with my boss.

So maybe wishing away the months is part of my problem. One can rage off the mountain, or one can get done what must get done and walk down.

The little things aren't worth the rage. Wouldn't you say, Michele?

Posted by Justin Katz at October 26, 2004 12:44 AM

You just gave me the biggest smile I've had in days. Thanks.

Posted by: michele at October 26, 2004 5:26 AM