She reminded me instantly of my pigeon. She moved slowly, and she had these languid wandering eyes that were less weary, and more confused than my pigeon's. she had a walker and a box of stuff on it that served as a chair when she wasn't in motion. it took me several minutes of talking politely with her to realize that she had a prosthetic leg. the foot was blue and the calf was white, and it looked like she had hypothermia or something. she immediately mentioned her problem, but didn't say what it was, just gestured down to her walker as she spoke. she said that she got a lot of nasty looks from people who think she is homeless just because she has a walker. i told her i didn't think she looked homeless. she looked southern, though, like she spent some time on countrty roads, her hair was the color of wheat that grows on a farm, that is chewed by cows and ducks. she looked like she was growing out of the earth for a second, when she bent over a little as the wind blew, and it was a warm wind that seemed to lead her head this way or that. she was looking for her ride, but she wasn't homeless. she said she went to gay bars to drink coffee, and i told her that i like gay bars because i can wear whatever i want and no one cares. she agreed, and we had a warm laugh that seemed almost friendly. i drew a picture of her. she said she hasn't been in seattle since the late 80's, and that they cleaned it up considerably. it used to look older. she smoked and watched for her friend, and then her phone rang and i felt out of place. she didn't seem to be growing out of the earth any more, and i could tell that she felt lost on this street, even if she spent time on it many years before. it felt weird to think that i had grown up and learned the guitar and lost my virginity all in the time that she moved away from seattle and come back...she didn't seem that much older than i was, but she was. i looked down at the drawing i had done, and it made her look older than she did when i was talking to her.
a man with that genetic disease that causes all of your tendons to tighten up (especially your achillese) walked by with a dog, and he tied the dog up in front of the teriyake place and went into the smoke shop. i was eating chicken, and the dog had a pair of those eyebrows that always tip up imploringly, as if you just did something to break its heart every time it looks at you, and i couldn't stand it...animals can look so emotional when they are just checking you out nonchalantly. so i threw him a piece of chicken, and he ate it so readily, and sniffed the ground expecting more, but i couldn't justify giving him more. i imagined the little man that owned him coming out just as his dog began siezing with soy-sauce-allergies and looking at me with those same imploring eyebrows...so i saved my chicken, even as the dog stared me down with his tongue wagging in the air. and when the man untied him, his dog ran over to me like we were best friends, and he got embarrased and scolded him, until i told him that i had fed him a piece of meat. the man was nice, the dog was nice, and i watched them walk away. the man bobbed whenever he took a step, because his achilles' tendons were as tight as rubber bands. i met a guy with even worse tendons. he said that stretching was so painful that he didn't ever do it, but that if he did do it it would lessen the tension in his legs and arms, and it would give him a better quality of life. still, he said that it was hard to find the strength to do it, because it put him in such immediate pain. every day he didn't stretch, the harder and tighter his tendons would get until he couldn't stand, and he had to stretch them out all at once. sometimes i forget how lucky i am, and it seems grotesque and shameful to make an analogy out of that much pain, but i will anyway...we all have some kind of gnawing ailment that needs tending, whose immediate treatment is laborious and often unjustifiable to the impulsive and whimsical mind. anything with long-term benefits that hurts in the mean time is very difficult for me to keep up with.
the first thing i can really rememeber doing that was the good kind of painful was training the tips of my fingers on the guitar. callouses are very hard to acheive, and they look and feel ugly, and they are a pain in the ass when they start to peel. but to even get one takes hours over days over weeks over months of painfully pressing your skin against thin metal wires. it felt like a massage with barbed wire or some kind of tetanus (sp?) shot that didn't puncture your skin but took months to seep in, and left the same achy bruisiness behind. what was really impossible was how long it took to actually play something well. powerchords, probably the least painful of any guitar chord, are the simplest building block of any rock song, and they compose most of what self-taught guitar players play in their first two or three years of playing. when i finally was able to play a song all the way through, all the pain seemed worth it...i'll bet if i had more friends i would have given up after the first month. there is nothing like the pain of boredom to put physical pain into perspective.