This morning I woke up early. I had hardly slept at all. I walked to the trolley, took the trolley to the train, switched onto a different train.
At the second train station a young man was playing the guitar and singing “And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda.” His voice was strong and clear and vulnerable. The guitar was achingly good. I gave him a dollar, and sat down a few benches away.
After ten minutes my train came, but I decided to wait for the next one. I had time. I wanted to listen to his next song. While I listened for another ten minutes, I wrote him a note. I put it in his guitar case and boarded the train. I saw him pause his playing to reach down and open the note. I watched him read it as the train pulled away.
I got to my appointment. The doctor methodically pounded my hip back into place, pressed painfully into rope-tight muscles to release them. I hobbled back to the train.
On the trolley a middle aged man turned all the way around in his seat to stare at me. His eyes were full of hate. He wanted me to be afraid. He wanted power over me. I turned around. I felt him staring. I rang the bell to get off at my stop. He stood to follow me. I pulled my phone out of my pocket. He sat down, sneering at me. I looked behind me all the way home.
I told my friend/housemate and cried and hugged. We made tea, and I curled up on the sofa. We played familiar episodes of Buffy while my friend winterized the windows.
I walked to my therapist’s office. I told her that I had realized that my father is a narcissistic parent. I showed her lists of characteristic behaviors. I’d checked most of the points off. She told me that he had suspected as much for a while. He can never love me because he is incapable of seeing me. He can only love the me he has imagined, when I am doing exactly what he wants. I’ve known it for years, but it has a name now. I was far too tired to cry any more.
I felt better. I walked home in the dark. I chose the lighted street. My friend and I got a pizza and two root beers. My friend finished winterizing the windows in my room. A few moths came out of the window into my room. I caught one in a cup and put it outside. The moth didn’t want to leave the cup. I left the cup outside, and hoped the moth would find a different place. I don’t know if adult moths survive in winter.
I took a shower. In the shower I thought about William Brewster. He was an ornithologist who died in 1919. My job is to transcribe his journals and scan his letters in quiet rooms filled with books. I know how his handwriting changed from when he was thirteen to when he was fifty eight. I am as familiar with his handwriting as was the friend he was writing to. Over the past months, I have scanned and read hundreds of letters to his best friend. The world was at war. He was too sick to do field work. He was going blind, but trying to write another book about about his birds.
I still have folders and folders of letters he wrote to other people, which I have not opened yet. But yesterday I came to the last letter in a folder. I opened the next folder. These letters were to someone else. I re-read the last letter he’d written to his friend. The world changed so much in his lifetime. I left work early.
I’m hoping to go to work tomorrow. I’m not sure if I will be able to walk. I’m very sore. I should probably go make some tea. I should probably catch that second moth. I should probably ice my lower back so that I can walk tomorrow.
I’m very tired. But I think I’m okay.