This is a Call

I roller coaster up and down all day, convinced in one moment that I have pushed too hard and shown too much and that Parker is running scared and now who knows what. Other moments I am uplifted, knowing I was no one other than I could have been, assured that my pushing is no more or less rapid-fire than his pulling, that even though he can’t seem to name things as they happened so fast, I know that seeing someone every other day and staying overnight and sharing music and meditation and meals and kisses and more does have a name, and I call it dating.

And in some moment of steady consciousness on this roller coaster day, I pick up the phone and call Mission Hospital in BigCity, NC and learn that “Fred,” as they registered him, is fifty-six years old and was admitted at 2:11 p.m. into the ER via the ambulance that came after Parker and I helped him. I get this information by offering what I know: “Hi, my name is Katey. I was the first responder to a victim who had a grand mal seizure while crossing Merrimon Avenue on Saturday. He was homeless and in his late forties or so and his name was Freddie. I’d like to know if he was released?”

“Yes, ma’am,” the operator said. Her voice was as cold as glacial melt and I wondered how long she had been at the switchboard. I thought, too, how Freddie and his seizure were nothing in the grand scheme of things, how once I heaved a dead body out of a crevasse in Canyonlands National Park, hoisted it into a life flight helicopter, and cried later about the sad paradox of lifting a dead man into a life flight. And yet…

And yet that seizure did mean so much more to me. It uncapped the fact that my life in the South Toe Valley is so protected, which is a blessing, but that it is also so blind. That there is so much I don’t have to see if I don’t want to. That I don’t have to see Freddie on the edge of winter, looking for a place to sleep, digging through dumpsters with the same friends that told him to “Stay with us Freddie, stay with us!” Take a step out, into a wider circle, and I do not have to see the struggles at our nation’s borders, the political fights about building the next Great Wall in freaking Arizona, of all places. Step out again and I don’t have to see those unmoored oil rigs off the Gulf Coast, spewing the Earth’s guts into the Earth’s salty tears and killing the Earth’s creatures. Step out again and I don’t have to see the waves of those tears crashing into other continents, where we wage wars and kill civilians and fight Abstract Concepts in the name of Abstract Concepts, and stab the soil with our American flags as if marking the moon. The same moon, mind you, that pulls those tides of tears, that moors our very planet to its axis, that keeps us pulsing through the days and months and years and casts its wild blue light into the night as if blessing even the moments that we sleep through. Would that I could always be awake.

I cast out love like a spider casts filament after filament into the immeasurable wind [Whitman’s image]; a silk thread of hope attached to an internal source that will never run out. We are given so much and yet some days I find myself empty. What place have I been given on this Earth but to love and be loved?

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