"Stay in the now, dear."
Annoyed she had paid a palm-reader (what was she thinking?) only to receive magazine advice, Liz nonetheless found the words resonating.
She had a habit of getting up and spending her first half hour (after stretches, lunges and crunches of course) making to-do lists for the day ahead. This was Saturday, so her lists should also include the upcoming week's menu and a shopping list.
Today she found herself drawn to the balcony. A little brown bird with shiny eyes landed on the railing as she stood outside. Was it a nuthatch? Sparrow? She'd have to look it up. They eyed each other for almost five minutes. Liz was captivated by the bird's quick, intelligent movements, his tidy economical, hops on the rail, and the way his feathers (her feathers?) fluffed out over his feet to warm them.
Warm them. She realized she had grown chilly, and moved inside. The bird paused a moment longer and then flew away.
Wandering to the kitchen, Liz filled the kettle and placed it on the stove, and rummaged in her cupboard for a tea bag. She was a coffee person. It was a rare day when she made tea, usually only when one of her board sub-committees was meeting here.
Lemon Zinger? Cinnamon Toadie? Zen Stretch Green? WHERE did all these teas come from?
She knew, of course, that every few months she would be inspired by some article about a new cleanse or detoxifying diet, and run out and buy a new mystical tea to gather dust in the cupboard.
Ah, finally! King Cole. The kettle whistled and she poured the bubbling water over the teabag, admiring the way the red-brown colour slowly rose like fog off the harbour. She poured in a bit of milk, again admired the swirling pattern. Chemistry in action. Poetry.
The phone rang as she was completing her menu. This morning she had decided to pull out some of her seldom-used recipe books, and try a few new dishes this week. The recipe books were hiding the phone.
"Liz! I knew you'd be up. Betcha already have a spreadsheet open."
Liz eyed her teacup and doodled-upon menu. Doodles!
"Not quite yet.What are YOU doing out of bed, sister?"
Even Mabel's laugh sounded honey-golden. "I am feeling domestic. I'm making a big turkey supper for Jack and his band, I thought I'd see if you might perhaps like to join us."
Habit forced a 'no' to her lips, but she bit it off, glancing at her short 'to-do' list for the day: "Gym. Groceries. Work on budget."
"You know what? Yeah. That'd be fun. Oh, but my car's still in the shop... hm... do the commuter trains run on Saturday? Hold on...," she was already fumbling with her smart phone.
"Don't even bother, Peter's coming and he's right down your street. He can drive you."
WHY. Why hadn't she asked Mabel what Peter, the bass player for the AlmondDeadlies, would be driving? She eyed the bike.
"Here's my spare helmet, it should fit okay. You're wearing good boots. You should get a warmer jacket and gloves though. Do you have a thick leather jacket?"
Of course she didn't have a thick leather jacket. She had running jackets and trenchcoats and stylish woolen coats. Sigh. She thumped back upstairs and rooted in her closet, finally finding a sleek leather jacket that was the opposite of thick and sturdy. She pulled on a wool turtleneck and then the jacket, glanced in the mirror to wish the skin she knew and loved farewell, and headed out, to her certain demise.
The ride was no more than forty minutes in total, but the first 15 felt like hours as she hung on to Peter and the bike with arms and knees and the sheer clinging power of terror. The wind rushing past felt like hands pulling her off. Bumps in the road felt like the bike was bucking, trying to throw her off. The stopping and starting and sharp turns made her think she was going to vomit. Finally, they crossed the Winslow bridge out of the city, and trees rose around her. As the countryside got greener, she marginally began to feel more relaxed. Twenty minutes in, she eased back in the seat enough to peek over Peter's shoulder and see the countryside whisking by.
When they crested the next hill and the sun cast its late afternoon red gold eyes onto them, she realized she had never felt more present.
How can you live in the now when you are hurtling forward so fast? And she closed her eyes and let the rhythm of the bike guide her.