dispatches from the land of head-cold

Today I feel sad, and I have Too Much Time. Too much time to miss you, to feel out of sorts, to feel alone, to resent people who are different than me. Too much time to think. And I feel ill, just a little. People are sick and I don’t usually get sick, but then I worked too hard for the people who couldn’t work, because they were sick, coughing up blood, and now I’m sick too, although it’s a sickness that won’t show it’s face, explosive diarrhea and a vague heavy feeling in my skull. My skull feels too hot and my bones ache.

My back aches. No matter what I do, my back aches. I lay on my back and it aches. It won’t rest, it’s like a stiff door, badly hung. Twisted hinges. I’m badly hung. Underused and overused. I am not like a horse, standing in a field of peonies, next to some wheat, in the sunset. I am not a beautiful hippie woman, with perfect posture and long silver hair. My back is all twisted and dull. It aches.

Hot. I feel hot. It’s raining outside, and damp. I don’t have a house, just a tent. In the tent it’s cold. I can’t get warm, but my head it feels hot. I go into the library and lay on the couches. It’s crowded but I pull my hood up around my face. There’s a hippie woman napping on the couch next to me, a purple sarong wrapped around her. It’s over her face, protecting her dream world from outside intrusions. Her purple-lit dream world. Soft light drifting in, the distant sound of children. Everything is distant. She’s dreaming of the strong horse in the field of peonies, in the sunset. Her fat toes are curled. She’s wearing stacked anklets of green and yellow beads. Two gay dudes in tye-dye sit down on the couch between myself and the hippie woman and start talking about real estate. They sit too close to my feet. I can smell their sugary gum. They flex their socked feet on the coffee table and put their arms around each other. I want to snuggle my feet against their legs.

Outside it starts to rain, hard. I think of the people standing in line for food. It’s the solstice, but there is no sun. The sky is crying. Nature is having a temper tantrum. You can’t get mad at nature. Nature is not the enemy. Like how you can’t get mad at babies, and dogs. Nature is feeling its feelings. Nature is not capable of being manipulative.

Now the gay dudes are talking about the price of custom suits. They are talking about vacation. They are talking about two pairs of pants and two shirts. They are talking about wrinkle free. Outside the rain won’t let up. Some people have strung up a tarp and underneath it, folks are eating salads in tupperware bowls. And chocolate cake. Paula made twenty industrial-size chocolate cakes on Thursday, enough cake for six hundred people. Four of the cakes were gluten free. All of them were vegan. It is excellent cake, springy and brown, the top dusted with confectioner’s sugar. It leaves your fingers glistening with oil. It makes you want More Cake.

The library is growing more crowded. People are trying to escape the rain. They have taken back the dining room, they are unstacking the tables and pulling down the chairs. Now we will have to clean the dining room, and sweep up their dirty footprints. They don’t want to sit on the grass, and eat in the rain. The rain is like pencils falling. The drops are that big. It makes a thrumming noise on the tarp and the roofs of the buildings, like pencil-tips. Someone is playing a hand drum. The din of voices is growing in volume.

Now the gay dudes are talking about Europe. They have smooth skin and graceful hair. They lean into each other and chew their gum. They are wearing blousy sarong pants. They make me want to have sex. I imagine they have sex the way people do yoga. Shamelessly, and for health.

Now they are talking about dual citizenship, and vitamins. They want to move to Europe. In Italy and Greece they feel like kings. I’ve seen pictures of those Italian men, with their fitted suits and pushed-up jacket sleeves.

Now, outside, the people are singing. They’re not singing in English. They’re singing secret, timeless hippie songs, stolen from other cultures. The pencil-tips tap ceaselessly on the tarp, the silver pencils, and turn to water, and soak into the earth. The river swells. The pencils are growing shorter- golf pencils, library-reference pencils. The pencils are growing blurred and indistinct. Soon, the air just undulates, saturated and wet. It is a freshwater sea, filled with cotton sarongs. The people are finished eating from their dinners, they’re snapping their cold fingers. They’ve finished their salad greens, their shreds of raw beet. Tomorrow, all the water in the port-a-poties will be purply-pink. They’re content to all sing now, together, off-key. The river swells, the water drips from the needles of the trees. The sun will come out again, or it won’t.