Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Delightful Shivers

I shivered all day long and that's typically not a good thing. I relish warmth--warm feet, warm skin, warm blankets, warm coffee, and thick, warm, fuzzy socks. Today, though, I relished the chill, and I relished an entire day spent talking and writing at North Star Cafe.

At several points, the day boasted potential for disaster. I woke up with spasms in my neck and spent the first half hour in the shower, engaging in a masochistic version of yoga. Pulling my head and stretching my neck as hot water pelted against my skin, I pressed and twisted my thumb on the knots, as hard as I could, in an effort to release them. Once I got used to a certain threshold of pain, I did not stop, satisfied, like a normal person. Instead, I stepped it up a notch, pressing harder and turning more dramatically, hoping that in some strange way my caveman antics would produce 21st century results.

When the alien in my neck stopped twitching, I made my way to North Star, beginning my morning with Annie, sipping coffee and chatting about law school, teaching, the housing market and writing. Every new exchange inspiring me to remember why I need to invest more effort into seeing her more often.

Potential disaster number two ushered its way in mid-conversation. Sensing a stranger on the other side of the glass window, I turned to catch sight of a guy slumped over at the waist, clearly inebriated with some sort of mind altering chemical. I turned to catch him scowling at me through the glass, his eyes spinning in optical illusion circles.

Having done nothing to warrant this behavior, I released an uncomfortable laugh. Well aware that my response was inappropriate, I wished to retract it. Nevertheless, the nervous/awkward chuckle not only happened, but it incited him. Appalled, he battled his wobbly legs and bent down to the ground. I'm not sure how he maintained his balance; nevertheless, he swept his hands along a patch of loose gravel, collected a healthy handful of pebbles, and launched them directly into the glass, right in front of my face. Then he took off. Inching like an ape, knees slightly bent, feet turned outward, throwing pebbles as he went, eventually disappearing down High Street.

Shortly after the brief interruption, we resumed chatting and writing, wallowing in the blissfulness of our day off. Annie left for a meeting around 11:30, but I continued to punch out an idea trapped in the fibers of my imagination. Inspired by a short story competition, I wanted to finish a solid draft before the end of the day, and once I completed a draft, I spent the rest of my afternoon reading Writer's Digest, devouring articles about short story climaxes, the necessity of the denouement, and pressing on through criticism and rejection. When I finally picked up my belongings, six hours after I arrived, I felt an unwavering sense of gratitude for the day I was given.

Despite aliens attacking my neck, and stones being thrown into my face, my day was delicious, and that deliciousness had little to do with the organic grub I stuffed into my mouth, and everything to do with the delightful shivers that accompanied the freedom to be, and to think, and to express. I have piles of papers to grade the rest of the weekend, but thankfully, today was mine.

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