Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Dance

“Every one of us is losing something precious to us. Lost opportunities, lost possibilities, feelings we can never get back again. That’s part of what it means to be alive. But inside our heads–at least that’s where I imagine it–there’s a little room where we store those memories. A room like the stacks in this library. And to understand the workings of our own heart we have to keep on making new reference cards. We have to dust things off every once in a while, let fresh air in, change the water in the flower vases. In other words, you’ll live for ever in your own private library.” – Kafka on the Shore

During the three weeks between my Arlington and D.C. residences, I commute “home” from Union Station to my parents’ house in Manassas by way of train, bus and car. The trip should take 1:25, and I’ve done it in 1:10, but the past three of four one-way commutes have been 1:50, 1:50 and 2:00.

reading on an Amazon Kindle Touch in the moonlight
I exit the red line at Metro Center and walk west four blocks to the bus stop. When it arrives 10 minutes late, I take a window seat towards the front, reach into the back compartment of my backpack and grab the book-shaped, weighted, hard object. I open the brown cover imprinted with “Kindle,” flip the LED light at the top and read Kafka on the Shore from my last bookmark. I love this book, with its sexual charge and subconscious tunnels and teenage boy that reminds me a bit of me. This 35-minute ride to my car which is at the commuter lot is forced on me, but my choice on how I’m about to spend it makes my face grow wide.

Lately I’ve been feeling increased pain in my hip so I press the button to recline in this soft chair. This more supine position is refreshing for my arthritic hip joint.

Minutes into the ride, the bus halts. The driver is in loud discussion with a man outside the door. The bus driver says the man drove his car into the bus; the man says the bus hit his car. We will wait here for some time. I immerse further into Haruki Murakami's fictional world. I would be content sitting here for the rest of the night.

There is bickering, movement, and a mass exit. This bus is not allowed to leave so we transfer to a different bus. There are no available seats. I stow my backpack above and, holding the Kindle Touch with one arm and the back handle of an adjacent seat with the other, continue reading.

This driver’s foot is heavy. We jerk and lunge. The normally flowing High Occupancy Vehicle lanes are creeping. I see red halos through any window I peer through.

My left foot is planted for balance, but most of my weight is through my right leg. I wish to minimize the force through my left hip: for short-term pain, long-term health, this game to see if I can, this delicate dance of my feet, because I will never ask for a seat, would not accept one if offered, do not need one because I will master this rhythm.

I sway my center of gravity directly above my right hip at peak speeds, and stretch out when accelerating—I will need time for my abductors and adductors to react to changes in speed. I envision blood pumping through all the chambers of my leg like the flame dancing above a menorah. Like the Shamash candle that lights the others, my right hip decides the flicker of the left.

My tense right arm loses feeling so I move it to the high grip, where my backpack sits. Then I switch hands, and shift my body’s direction for leverage since internal rotators are stronger than external ones.

The bus ride ends and I convince the driver to drop me at a side lot where my car is, since all spots including the disabled ones were taken this morning in the large lot. He obliges because he understands that this 35-mile door-to-door commute will take 2:25.

My left hip in no more pain now than before and my right leg exhausted, I win.


Anonymous said...

Loved reading this - my favorite post yet!

Benjamin Rubenstein said...

Ah crap, have I set the bar too high?!

Unknown said...

Beautifully written!!

Benjamin Rubenstein said...

Thank you for sharing, Tami