workman in the light

There is nothing particularly interesting about Workman. Just in the thick of the boredom of being a single thirtysomething, just tall enough to change a smoke detector without a chair, and with less hair than before. He works 9 to 5, collects blackened coins from the ground, and is friends with all street animals (that is stray cats, rabid squirrels, schitzo mice, and dirty rats, to name a few).

He fits into the world by being a wall, holding up the house, but often pinned over with more colorful and exciting things.

Things that will eventually, fade and crumble away…

he slumped out of the small office meeting room, eyes to the floor. the interviewing team seemed uninterested and unimpressed with him. again.

we are happy having you in the basement, you’ve been doing a wonderful job there the past few years. if a position is available in the front, we will be sure to let you know

he wanted to see the light. 

walking into work everyday, the most enchanting part was seeing the stream of sunrise come through the curtains in dusty lines. it sounded a lot better than being underground in the green-yellow fluorescent lit basement.

but apparently, today was not the day.

so Workman went back to work,

taking the industrial elevator down, watching the last bit of natural light disappear with the doors.

it was late afternoon. Workman finished his shift and decided to walk home instead of taking the train.

it was a pleasant early fall day, the sun barely hanging in the sky, warming everything that stayed still in its sight.

the sidewalks were empty, which was not rare for this place.

people cared too much about staying in their tidy suburban homes than visiting the city these days. Workman crunched red and brown leaves under his feet. ahead, there was a small rustling in a twiggy bush. a pigeon with two stump feet was trying to eat a bottle cap, flipping it with each peck.

bending over to help the disabled bird, Workman rustled through his backpack and took out a sandwich bag filled with dry, brown crusts and offered some to the bird. curious, the pigeon pecked, and then grabbed the whole piece and jumped back into his bush. 

Workman dumped out the rest of his crust and continued walking.

Workman lived on the bottom floor of a short, brick-walled apartment building. inside, it was neat. a paper thin magnet of dust seasoned every belonging. that was the consequence of living in the city — constant construction means constant dust, no matter how often you try to wipe it away.

he pulled a 30 minute lasagna from the oven, and sat at the small square table in his small square kitchen and opened up the small window by his head to let the city in. cars rolling by, high heels and brogues snapping on the concrete ground, and a cat, softly peaking in.

a dirty yellow cat with a bite out its ear poked its head through the window, drawn in by the

lasagna.

Workman extended a hand. tentatively, the cat sniffed. Workman scooped up a bite of the store-made meal and offered it to the stray.

it flinched at first, then slowly, slowly tasted the offering and bit off a chunk.

the cat eased on the edge of the window, and Workman split his dinner with a new friend.

a light rain and gloom fell onto Workman the next morning. nothing too bad to walk through, so he went about on his way to work.

before he got too far, a small black circle in the center the cement caught his eye. with just an edge of copper showing, Workman bent down to pick up the dirty penny. as he crouched, a small black nose poked it’s way out from behind some trash cans.

he turned just his head to see what was attached to the nose, but it retreated.

Workman slowly rose, and walked steadily over to the cans, eyes low to avoid the rain sprinkle from falling into them. A quick rustle let him know that the little nose had scurried further away. he stayed still, patient to see if it would return. it didn’t.

Workman came back with a plate of eggs and sausage, and an umbrella. he sat next to the trash cans, nibbling and staying dry.

the nose returned, this time attached to a matted brown dog, who sat at his side, asking for a bite. Workman lowered his plate to the pup, who licked up the breakfast in a matter of seconds.

as the two sat on the curb, the drizzle turned to an even lighter mist, and the clouds cracked, sending beams of yellow light through the haze, warming Workman’s face.

Workman stood and continued on his walk to work, umbrella tucked under his arm, and a little black nose following not too far behind.

 

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Late in the Mourning//My Former Distraction

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a print from my big sister

25 May 2016
My eleven year old golden retriever sits in a box on the mantle, no heavier than a gallon of milk, and it disturbs me more than I thought it would.

When I was away at college, I always forgot that I had dogs at home. I got used to not seeing them everyday, and that was totally fine, because I knew they would be waiting for me when I got back.

So after Koa died, and I went back to school, it was an easier transition than I expected.

I was already used to not seeing her. But because of that, I never really mourned her, and now that I’m home, I’m beginning to feel the effects.

Walking around the house, I catch a glimpse of her for a split second before realizing she’s gone. And I still wander around when I’m bored or procrastinating, in search of my former distraction to hug and hang out with. But she’s not here anymore.

I see the way my family still clings on to our dog. My older sister wears Koa’s dog tag around her neck. My younger sister keeps Koa’s old bed in her room. There are pill bottles from Koa’s last pain meds on the kitchen table.
My mom even waited for me to get home to fill out the insurance forms for Koa’s euthanasia and cremation.

I don’t want to forget my first dog; she was a milestone. After years of persistence and a year of pet-sitting to earn the money to buy a dog, my parents finally gave in.

But I don’t want to hang on to something that’s not here, either. She’s a phantom limb. She’s here but she’s not, and it hurts when I think of her.

The day Koa died was strange. My sisters and I slept the night in the sunroom with her, taking her out when she needed to, but mostly just being with her.

Mom took photos of us, which I’m thankful for now, but at the time I couldn’t help but think how strange it was that at the end of the day, my dog would no longer be alive.

It felt rushed, like we were trying to fit in as many activities as we could before Koa had to leave.

As the hours went by, we gave Koa more treats and crowded her so much more. Then at 9pm, the vet came to our house, and we all sat on the floor with our love. Everyone was crying as we whispered our last “I love you”s to Koa, hugging and petting her for the last time.

Then she was put to sleep.

I walked away at that point.
Koa stopped moving.
It was horrifying.
I had never seen something die before, and I couldn’t believe it happened.

Koa was my childhood, she was half my life.

I hid in the front room until the vets took her away.

The next day, I went back to school for a retreat, and then forgot about my dog for a while.


13 July 2016 
Life goes on, and sometimes faster for others. My 95 year old great aunt was admitted to the ICU in late June. Her kidneys were failing and she was put on life support. No one knew how long she had.

We were to decide what to do with her with a social worker, and when he told us to make plans for her death, I was hit hard with my final mourning for Koa.

In a room of ten people, spanning over three generations, who care deeply for my great aunt, I began to cry for my dog.

Us sitting in the family meeting room at the hospital felt like when my mom and I were at the emergency vet, and the doctor who had never met me or my dog before was telling me that I would have to put her down.

I hadn’t cried for Koa since the day she died.

It was a quick release. But it felt good, getting it out.
It was an incredible relief.

I loved having a dog growing up. Coming home after school and being greeted by the happiest face, a cold wet nose nuzzling you in the middle of homework, asking you to take a break and go play.

A friend to wake you up in the morning, a headfirst burst through the door, a lick on the face, and wag on the tail, leading you to the kitchen for breakfast and a walk.

I’m thankful for all of it.

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