Today I wanted to feel different and so I set off.
I had a work meeting during which I wanted to feel different. After the meeting I met with a friend. We sat in a coffeeshop and it was too loud so we moved to a fast food restaurant which was quieter.
Not a good friend. I mean, a good friend because he’s good and he’s a friend, but not someone I know well though maybe that will change. He wasn’t hungry; I ordered a chicken salad.
It came with a big bag of dressing but I could tell the chicken was already glazed with something sweet so I didn’t use the dressing.
We chatted about something I can’t talk about so what’s the point of me telling you now? I don’t know.
A man in a wheelchair said he had some advice for a man my age, and proceeded to tell me some stock to buy. “What are you, 26? You’ll be a millionaire by the time you’re 65.” I told him I was not 26, but 46. “Ok, maybe you won’t be a millionaire, but you should still buy the stock.” I was glad, as I always am, to be mistaken for someone younger than I am, but a little annoyed to no longer be a prospective millionaire. The man lingered. He wanted to talk. He wanted to know the relationship between my friend and me, without coming right out and asking. He lingered. “Do you two go to church together? You hang out a lot?”
“We’re old friends,” I said. He said “I’m sorry for bothering you,” and wheeled off.
My friend left to go sit in the carpool lane at his son’s school. I still wanted to feel different. I went to get a haircut at a place called Great Clips. Maybe you’ve heard of it.
In Brooklyn my go-to barbershop was the East West Happy Barbershop with 2 chairs and one barber, a Bengali man named Benu. He looked a lot like the actor Enrico Colantoni. I’d see him in the neighborhood and he’d wave at me. Sometimes I’d go to get my hair cut and he’d say “I saw you the other day, walking by.” Sometimes I’d walk by and wave at him.
He only charged $10.00 for a haircut and I gave him a $5.00 tip, every time. One thing about NY is, for me it was not so expensive. In many ways the cost of living in NY was less expensive for me than the cost of living in Durham and Raleigh, NC. It was a land of $10 haircuts and $1 pints of blueberries. In fact, one of the places I’d see Benu out and about was in the fruit market. I went to the fruit market almost every single day. I ate a ton of fruit.
Here in Raleigh I eat less fruit, because it costs more. Fewer blueberries, anyway.
I still wanted to feel different so I contemplated some things and some places and some people that could make me feel different, but I ended up going to the woods and walked to the lake and looked at the lake.
There were ripples in the sun, moving to the left. I could see them through a chain link fence which had a vine growing on it. So the vines were bisecting the chain link wires which were bisecting the ripples. Every line was being cut, or, was every line being connected? Connected or separated? I wasn’t sure and it put me in mind of the quote by Simone Weil: “Every separation is a link.”
I gave a talk on that quote once and I’d have to do some hard remembering to tell you what I said in my talk. It seems like a lifetime ago. But the gist of it is, if you feel far away from God, maybe your separation can be a link to God. For God himself was separated from God, in the person of Christ on the cross. Maybe separation from God is inextricable from knowing God — is in fact a means by which to know God. Maybe, in fact, separation from God is *the only* means by which we may know God. Not sure about that. But watching those ripples making their way through, behind, and across the chain link fence, I caught the merest hint of how I want to feel. A little joy-portal opened up somewhere, then slammed shut. But when it was open I remembered to thank God for the sun, which had turned a deep glowing orange, and was turning everything its same color.