at the dining room table, the metal swirls in mom's fancy chairs are pressing against my aching shoulders. thirteen years ago, the physical therapist said my shoulder blades were "winged." i'd visit him once a week. he was handsome, as if he'd stepped out of a ken-doll mold. not my type. he smiled a lot, and his hair matched the light, faux wood of the cheap desk that held my first computer. it was in the living room of my second-floor apartment on willowdale road. i would've rather had it in the second bedroom, but it was kept locked by the rental company because i'd leased the place as a one bedroom. i picked the lock all the time, though, when friends wanted to stay or when i needed to keep my rowdy puppy contained while i was out. larry was the regular handy man at rachel rentals. he knew i used the second bedroom, i'm certain, but he never told. i talked to him like he was my old pal, and so we had an affinity. i think i even used him as a reference a year or so later, when i was trying to get another apartment and needed someone to vouch for kaiser; thirteen years ago it wasn't pit bull that turned off the landlords—it was dogs in general. i'd trade today's breed discrimination for plain old dog discrimination; at least the latter makes some sense. my wings ache tonight, and every night and day. a dozen-plus years ago, ken-doll therapist said it's where i hold my stress. can't i hold it in my hand, like a firefly, and set it free?
the light of this screen is the only illumination in the house. behind me, the door to the deck is open and i can hear the neighbor whistling for his skinny boxer, buster. a few months ago i told him buster was too skinny. he ignored me, unless you count his forgettable (literally) attempt at making it into a joke. the whistler doesn't like me much. i caught him in a lie once, and upon asking him why he'd say such a thing i found myself in a familiar posture: deflecting his attempts at deflection. i excel at dismembering the logic of rhetoric, and whether i choose to label that skill virtue or vice depends on how much time i want to devote to dismembering my own logic of a day. for a month or so, whistler didn't wave when i drove past his house on my way out of the neighborhood. he knew better. lately he's waving again, albeit less heartily than the old days. i don't hold it against him. i wave back.
as i sit, now with a heated wrap draping my shoulders, i hear only the crickets. it reminds me of lying in bed, in the room that is now my son's nursery, ten years ago, looking out the window into the same blackness that is behind me now, hearing the same lullaby. back then, i was fresh from heartache. tonight, i'm fresh from heartache, too. this time the pain doesn't reside in my heart. it's in my wings. they're not clipped, but surely bound.
a friend told me today about new apartments being constructed at an old warehouse on the side of town where my dad grew up. he's renting a place there and said the whole vibe reminded him of me. reconstruction. resurrection. repurposing. all very me, indeed. that side of town is brimming with old warehouses. all that history. the unspoken stories. it's all vestiges of a heyday. decades upon decades ago, italian immigrants congregated in that section of town. glen elk, it's called, but i have no idea why. i should look it up. i will, because one day i'll write more about glen elk, for certain. i'll write about the grape arbor in my grandfather's backyard and the barrels in his basement; the linoleum floors in my aunt's house that i scrubbed, under strict supervision, first with vinegar and then with hot water; the small grocery under the apartments, where older-than-sin "aunt kakina" (was she really my aunt? i still don't know) sat, every day, all day, in a chair by the entrance. she spoke only italian, and her voice was the grindy hiss of a car when you accidentally start it twice.
one day i'll write more about glen elk, when the mood hits me. today i drove past those hip, warehouse apartments over there, and i wondered what will
come of glen elk in ten years. it could be a haven. revamped, rejuvenated, and ready to seduce the young, the ambitious, the creative. the ones who make places come alive. i hope that's the fate of glen elk, but the lure of what a decade might bring isn't enough to hold me down. all that keeps me here are
circumstance and a sore set of wings.