At Least We Tried

I watched the sun rise over the seawall this morning.

I had no shoes on when I left, threading my way carefully along the street. I left warmth and confusion for cold and sudden, bitter clarity. The grass was cold and wet when I reached it, and it became hard to distinguish from dots of pain and a sudden rush of cold to the foot. It was still dark, but expectant, and I came out onto the perimeter road, my toes grasping the asphalt one at a time and the Bay murmuring in the dark.

First I went to the west, and watched the traffic patterns, the artery of Market Street glowing even at six in the morning, surrounded by delicate veins of lights feeding into the central core. The Ferry Building was like a beating heart throbbing at the waterline. Mist shrouded the Golden Gate, so I could only see the tips peering out over the fog, and the Bay Bridge hummed with life.

Then I drifted from the East, walked out along the rocks, and hunched over while I gazed at Berkeley. I was wearing the same clothes I had been wearing twenty hours ago, when the day before was warm and sunny and full of promise. My thin cotton shirt was cold and stiff against me, my feet tucked up under my legs for warmth.

Thus coiled, I saw the slow crack of light emerge in the East, at first difficult to distinguish from the lights of the refineries, the growing light of traffic, the lights coming on one by one, home by home. The light grew steadily until the sun rose drunkenly through the mist.

Ah, I said.

The sun and I gazed at each other for a moment before I ducked my head in shame.

I walked back home through the gathering light, my bare feet picking up occasional slivers of glass which embedded for a moment before dropping away. The dew was still heavy on the grass as I trudged through it and the bottom of my pants were quickly soaked. Shivering, I ducked through the front door to nothing in particular, stumbled upstairs and into the shower.

I went to bed with my hair still wet. I did not sleep, but I tossed and turned with visions of numbers. My hair made a cold, damp puddle which surrounded my cold, damp head. When the sun came in, it danced across my face in a long line of searing light which I could not avoid, and I rose, restless and impure.

Sometimes we make our own decisions, and sometimes others make them for us.