I woke everyone up again last night coughing into my pillow, coughing into the blankets. I get a tickle in my throat at 3:00 a.m. and it won’t let go. I would feel sorry for my Domestic Partner but he is partly to blame: yesterday, both Valentines Day and his birthday, he had the inconsideration to let me stand in the cold rain.
My neck hurts from tense muscles and swollen glands. Inexplicably, my left index finger is swollen, too. I’ve been trying to take care of myself, but night-time comes along and tempts me with too many other options.
Last night, at 2:00 am, I was pissed off. We were leaving a ping-pong bar (luckily tea was on the menu there), my D.P was on his phone, and he was failing to protect me from his friends’ idea to stand in the dark drizzle of Washington Square Park. We gathered around a wet bench, and I huddled in my daily winter costume: a flannel jacket, the collar pulled high to cover my mouth. A man approached out of the shadows, walking quickly into our group.
“What are you guys doing. Hanging out?” His raspy voice invited us to inquire about the good time hang-out facilitators he had to sell.
“We’re eating cookies.” I shut him down and he slumped back into the shadows. The Washington Arch was a uniform blaze of white, a 3-story slab with a mouse hole cut out on the bottom edge. It’s light reflected in the puddles accumulating on the retired fountain.
Later, D.P. and I got off the train at 7th ave to catch a taxi. A homeless man standing by the station entrance asked for spare change. I shook my head, “no,” and looked into his face. He had a disappointed pleading look, a face like a catowl. Cat-owl. Cat/Owl. I remembered the lioness women from earlier that night at the MET, facing the Temple of Dendur, with their smooth black laps. I had wanted to offer them something– they are Sakhmet, the Egyptian deity of calamity and illness. I was hoping they might help me get better (a cough racked my body and echoed through the gallery as I stood there contemplating), and feared they might punish me for thinking of making an offering and not following through. But the guard was watching and I couldn’t figure out how to transfer the dollar bill in my hand to one of the stone statues without getting into trouble. So I held onto my dollar, and worried for a minute about the consequences (another coughing fit. “Let’s get out of here,” D.P. said).
D.P., trying to pacify my funk, stepped into the street to hail a car, and I took that dollar back out. The Cat-Owl man’s hand was dark with grime. “Thank you, sweetheart,” he said. It sounds cliché, but his eyes softened. He and I exchanged a kind wish for one another.
One dollar is not such incredible generosity, but if generosity comes naturally to me (it does) I should remember to always pursue it. I’m still sick, but I feel good.