The Ordinary Day

by Gayle Seely

It is an ordinary day today. Tomorrow will be much the same as today. Here in my everyday life in the northwest it is all about the usual getting up early, in time to review the homework before class, and then getting into my too-large car and rolling down the too-steep driveway to the not-so-quiet suburban street that is usually wet, not looking up at the house that needs painting and the gutters that need cleaning out, aiming towards the major road at the edge of my area that will take me past the large empty park and the complexes of office buildings that are half vacant, though you can’t tell unless you look closely, and out onto the thoroughfare of Cornell Avenue, which my neighbor tells me was recently widened but this is hard to believe because the traffic still creeps along until 185th, and then I go over the 26 freeway, looking down at the flow of cars heading towards the beach, which is only an hour and half from here and I could go that way and skip class, could skip the whole day, could stay down there and walk on the beach but it wouldn’t be any fun without my dog, who is at home in the kitchen with my husband and was sitting and watching me with sad eyes as I left yet again, was probably wondering if I was going someplace with good sniffs and not remembering her, but I DO remember her as I slide into my parking place at Rock Creek and rush to the business office to pick up my parking permit that I should have come over and gotten last Friday but I was too lazy or too tired, most likely because my sister came down from Seattle and we sat up and talked until late and then I could not sleep even though I only drank water, but just lay there in the dark as so many memories came shoving back up into my brain that I had to take each one of them and look at it, and soothe it, and put it aside, put it away, back down where it belongs, and then I began to feel less sad, and finally I wiped my tears for the last time and looked at the crazy stupid clock which read 2:50 a.m. and turned my pillow over to the dry side and finally went to sleep.
I get to my Spanish class early and sit near the man who is here from Arizona for only a few months until he can go back and who aches from our cold weather that is the first hint of global cooling – no, not global warming – that the NASA scientists and the veteran predictors at Farmers Almanac have recently decided to believe. He is a nice man and he has lost his acceptance of the cold, which is perhaps the best kind of protection against it. In Spanish we get to go around the classroom and describe ourselves and I get to say I am ‘vieja’, which is old, and ‘gordita’, which is plump, and some classmates laugh and I am glad because I am happy to be here, old and plump, and not young and stupid with all those hard years ahead of me. The teacher does not ask us to describe our joy or our sadness or even our money worry and that is good because I do not have the vocabulary, the ‘vocabular util’ in Spanish, to tell about these things: not in Spanish, not in English, maybe not in any words.
But on the way home from class as I cross back over Highway 26 the sky has opened and the clouds have slid to the sides like the drapes on a theatre stage and the sun begins to shine down its slowly warming light and the blossoming trees come into bright focus: kinds and kinds of pinks, like babies fingers, and puppies noses, and the colors of dresses of little Mexican girls going to a Posada. And there are whites too, fluffy outlines which are lacy if you stop under them and look up after you have parallel parked your car, and the tiny flower fragments fall onto the closed sunroof and you can imagine them swirling up and behind you as you drive away, like a stream of fragrant snowflakes, a fragile proof of life that is such a strong contrast to the fortress-like structure of my steel, air-bagged, anti-lock braked, officially safe, road-warrior car. And it comes to me as I cruise through the flurries of petals that long after this vehicle and I are rust and dust, these fragile petals will come back again and again to cover the landscape with spring.

2 Responses to “”
  1. Anonymous says:

    I really felt that the author was just talking to me or even talking to herself…very unselfconscious. I was so drawn in…where is she now; what is she doing.

  2. I liked the momentum of the long sentences. Just like the road-warrior car, we are headed down a hill with twists and turns but no stops because gravity is taking us down. And we arrive with a thump, although a gentle one, in the first paragraph, a thump of tears and sadness that we can only glance at out the window. I also loved the Spanish class, and how the narrator describes herself in rudimentary terms, and she laughs when they laugh. I also liked that the narrator has no words, either in Spanish or in English, for joy or sadness (that hint of sadness again!) or money problems.

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