Friday, February 20, 2015

Writing Assignment Four: I Met Him on the Stairs

My day was already a clusterfuck.

I had slept through my first class. My rushed morning shower doused me with solely ice cold water. My cereal was stale. I was on the verge of running late for my Psych Mid-Term.

And, of course, the elevator was broken.

A cool October breeze snuck into the building as some random student stole out into the streets. My notebook blew open, scattering my already dishevelled notes from my hand to the ground. I rushed to grab them, stacking them haphazardly in a pile and back into the notebook.

The stairs. I'm not sure if a thought can be muttered, but that is how this one felt. Now where the hell are the stairs? My eyes frantically scanned the room, inquiring at each doorway and what lay behind them.

An earthen red door with a well-worn silver "Emergency Door"-style pushbar beckoned.

I pushed through rapidly.

Idiotically, I paused to look up. Did I expect to see all five floors of stairs at once? Was I expecting to view and assess the situation here, from the ground floor? The bottom of the first flight of stairs taunted me with its grey grim starkness.

I plundered onward and upward.

I vaguely remembered hearing another door somewhere farther up open and shut swiftly, but it gave me no pause. I was already in a tizzy. I was already almost late.

It was then that I met him on the stairs.

He was rushing too, but in the opposite direction. Our opposing forces collided with an audible thud and it reeled me backwards into the wall. My notebook dropped from my hands, once again scattering paper like the flyaway seeds of puffy white dandelion. We both reached to pick them up at once, bumping hands in the process.

I looked up to apologize but he was too engrossed in collecting all the notes. He was rushing in a way that felt as if he was trying to be helpful but, frankly, he didn't have the time for it. His frame looked frail and thin. His hair, black and slick. When he finally met my gaze, his light grey eyes were barely visible behind the thick lenses in this equally thick framed glasses.

"Here." He somewhat shoved his collected papers at me.

"Thanks," I offered, trying to convey how appreciative I was of his limited time. He straightened up to full height and I noticed how towering he was. He was like Roald Dahl's Lankiest Skinniest Giant. I paused to consider if he was tall enough to have to duck when going through doorways.

"It's nothing," he countered and briefly, almost awkwardly, touched his fingertips to the inside of the wrist that held my papers. He held my gaze in an arresting stare. The combination of this gesture and look caused all my movements and thoughts to cease for a brief moment of time. Why didn't I jerk my hand backwards? Why couldn't I respond? Wasn't I late for something?

I had no response so I merely closed my gaping mouth and nodded at him. I moved again to take the steps upward.

He nodded back and we parted ways. He disappeared like a swift wind -- the kind that precedes a warm summer storm. He was out of sight by the time I swivelled my head back to look.

As I entered the classroom, I was clearly late. The professor was already talking, the class was silent, and the slam of the door as I entered was a Scarlet Letter of tardiness. I kept my eyes down and slid into the seat closest to the exit. My heart slowed to its normal pace and I tried to transition my brain into Test Taking Mode.

I focused.

And I'm pretty sure I aced the Mid-Term.

As I gathered my things as the end of class, I spotted an out of place page in my notebook. The paper itself didn't match and, as I pulled it out, I realized the handwriting wasn't mine.

"Thanks for the time." The perfect cursive struck me as beautiful. You don't see penmanship like that anymore, I thought.

As I folded up the note, I noticed my bare wrist. The wrist his small slight hand had rested upon. The bastard has stolen my watch! The watch my grandmother gave me in her will. The one with the small simple clock face. The delicate hands. The engraving on the back to "Adela Romesca Gavin."

The bastard had stolen my watch.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Australia: Diary Entry One

We start the trip with a long flight. 14 hours in a plane to New Zealand. Movies and books. Sleep.

At 5 AM we land in Auckland. Two hour layover and noodles for breakfast.
Come 10 AM, we finally land in Aussie. Long lines for customs, long lines for baggage, long lines, long lines. Taxi ride through the outskirts and finally, our destination.

It is 12 PM in Melbourne. Lord knows what time at home.


Day One is for exploring.

We head out for lunch and it’s not as hot as we expected. We stroll through the European-style alley ways lined with tiny eateries. The cobbled-stoned alley itself full of intimate umbrella topped tables. Everyone chatting. Everyone nibbling. Everyone sipping on coffee. On water. On wine.

We gulp down cool glasses of water and dine on delightful focaccia sandwiches. The pesto chicken in mine pairs nicely with the added avocado. Green on green. Tasty.

We walk some more, wandering in and around the Central Business District. Watching the locals. Watching the tourists. We stop in a funny souvenir shop to look for a plug adapter. We find ourselves immersed in rows of Uggs, koala keychains, over-the-top Outback hats and even a boxing kangaroo novelty pen. I box at Josh’s arm as he pays for the adapter.

We grab groceries and toiletries at the local Cole’s. (Cole’s! Like us!) We traverse back to the homestead with bags of goodies.

After a shower and a refresh, we head out again. Bronnie and Neil, our kind AirBnB hosts, are relaxing in the living room as we don our shoes. We chat with them about this and that. What to do in Melbourne. What we both like in travel. What our various experiences are with AirBnB – both travel and hosting. I keep reaching for the door handle. I keep getting pulled back into conversation.

We walk the streets of the CBD again, this time veering East toward Fitzroy Gardens. Green grass. Tall ancient trees. Old buildings from the 1800’s. History mixed with greenery. Our wanderings lead us up to some strange sights – a miniature Tudor town replica, a Fairie tree, and random fountains.

By now, the sun is setting and our stomachs are rumbling. We jut back Westward toward the plethora of restaurants. As we find one, we also find ourselves underdressed amongst the just-out-of-work diners clad in pin-stripe button ups, slacks and fancy shoes. We eat anyway – splurging on burrata, fresh pasta and wine. Cheers to our first night in Australia.

The wine abets gravity and pulls our eyelids closed involuntarily. Between blinks and sips, we decide to meander our way back to the homestead and fall quickly and heavily into bed.