Two weeks ago I arrived in Fort Meyers, Florida, to visit and take care of my ailing friend Stephen. Today I am leaving and am about to drive to Orlando to visit my nephew and his family. In this almost finished snippet of time, I have chosen to not allow my emotions to emerge. I have been neither lighthearted nor deeply cynical. Aside from being annoyed by a predictable negative experience at a car dealership and once, when Stephen in his condescending, humiliatingly judgmental tone hectored me incessantly on the correct way to toast a bagel, I have rarely been moved enough to even respond passive aggressively or laugh heartily at anything. I have dealt more or less methodically and efficiently with every task at hand from taking care of my own health to making Stephen comfortable.
It seems that I have been coping in a calm, controlled manner with the traffic, the disorientation of being out of my element, the heat and humidity, Stephen's complicated personality, dealing with his severe medical issues, and my own physical discomforts. It is as if my own survival depended on diligent detachment. I like to believe that this behavior has become a useful seminal characteristic of my personality, a socially acceptable persona which depicts mature adult behavior. Over the years I have learned to cultivate this image to serve as an attractive veneer to cover the core of the incredibly frightened child I have always been.
Therefore I have little passion today to describe deeply or critically the world about me. I am writing from a Starbucks from one more generic shopping complex of anywhere, except its probably Florida, since the gardeners are gathering fallen palm fronds from the surfaces of boring ground cover. I find it particularly difficult to have a welling up of emotion while sitting by the window watching the traffic whizz by. Some drivers are from the wealthy waterfront sections of the town and many others are the folks I saw at Walmart the other day; namely, a bubbling stew of ethnicity whose lives swim in a sea of issues associated with poverty and ignorance. Saying more about my observations of Southern Florida means drawing conclusions befitting a psycologist, sociologist, historian, or monk. Today I lack the dedication, intelligence, conviction, energy, or purpose to gamble with words in an attempt to share thoughts.
I feel like average cat-eyed marbles stacked in a fragile glass jar. To the untrained eye the content appears solid, valuable and colorful. The fact is that I have been sitting on the shelf these past weeks self-contained, firm and cool in demeanor and purpose. I have been living, but not really in the large game. Perhaps this next episode with Mark and family will reorient me and help me get back into the the pot.