“D’ya wanna come in?”
Alright. There I stand. On the gravel roof of a commercial building, in a puddle, with wet feet in my leather shoes. Did I mention that my jeans are corduroy? Well, they’re corduroy, and they are too long, and frayed at the bottom, and they’re wet too, and it’s not really cold, but it’s not warm either.
“D’ya wanna come in?”
Well, that would seem to be a simple question, really an invitation. Why would I hear a simple question like that with such trepidation? That’s kinda why I’m here, isn’t it?
Still, on the roof of the commercial building, above the drugstore, standing there in a puddle with wet shoes, and having just witnessed the acrobatics on the pediment, I had to pause.
I am not timid. Some who know me think I’m unhinged. And from observation only, they’re right. I have a some really fun tales to support that theory. But that’s really just a coping mechanism. I don’t have a lot of personal rules nor was I guided by a lot of rules in my youth. But one rule that does guide me is this: ‘Don’t jump ‘til you know where you’re landing.’ Following that one rule has caused me to be much more cautious than I seem. It’s just that I’ve always thought I was smarter and quicker, so I thought I could see the landing in every situation and could therefore jump with seeming reckless abandon.
“D’ya wanna come in?”
This is different. I am standing here, and I can’t see any landing spots at all. The cautious fellow inside my head tells me to stand and think it out. So that’s what I do.
In a puddle, on a gravel roof, with wet feet, wet shoes, wet corduroys.
And while I’m standing there thinking, the middle aged man has gone inside and closed the door behind him. He is not cautious. He is not concerned with appearances. He doesn’t give a damn. Come in, don’t come in, jump off the roof. He really doesn’t give a damn. I didn’t know this about him at the time.
While I am standing in the puddle on the roof, I am trying to process things as fast as I can (and I process things pretty fast, normally). And he went inside and shut the door.
Caution is a funny thing. An overabundance of the stuff and you’ll miss all the fun, lose out on all the opportunities, and die from old age with no stories, and no real memories, if you in fact still have any memories at all. Too little caution, maybe you’re dead. I learned caution very early. I am cautious even today, though no one would suspect it. It’s because I am also over confident. Well, we’ll get into that later on as well.
All this rumination takes only a moment. I process pretty fast, right?, So, eight hours on the road, and wet feet and all, I gotta see what’s next, and though I know this is a really different place and the logic that constrains the rest of the world doesn’t fully function here, still, I can see several ways to land on my feet, awkward thought they may be. It’s enough. So, I turned to Pat (did I mention my friend Pat was with me? Caution.)
“Come on, let’s go”
We step up to the door and I give it a rap. Even though we were invited inside, it feels like a knocking situation, not one where you just open the door and walk in. I mean, the door is closed, right?
A minute goes by. Really? What’s he doing in there?
Pat and I have no idea what to expect when the door opens. And in fact when the door does open, it takes us by surprise. We both jump just a little. And the door opens.
Behind the door stands an elderly woman. At least she appears quite elderely, but is in fact 72 years old. She is much older than her years it seems to me. She is small, thin and frail. Her wrinkled face is worn, her nose misshapen by what might have been a cancer of some sort. There is a longing in her eyes, but no twinkle.
She obviously recognizes me, though I have no memory of having ever seen her before. She reaches out and puts a cold wrinkled hand on each of my cheeks, and speaks my name. This is not an embrace, no reunion. There is nothing familiar in this touch, in this face. It’s not warm, though it is genuine.
“Yeah, that’s me”
I try to say it casually but it doesn’t come out casually. She beckons us in, and we step over the threshold. I feel as though I have just followed a white rabbit into a hole. I am more right than wrong.