Weather Weathering

[This content recycled from my now-mothballed website, www.excitablemedia.com.]

Surprised as I was when my back bedroom window wouldn't open, when it stuck and I strained and struggled and my reddening cheeks betrayed clenched teeth, I was more surprised when it opened suddenly and I sprang back and it sprung up a full foot just as a great gust blew in from the West blowing a massive cloud of dust smack into my face, an angry beeswarm of dirt and motes from months of accumulation, having lain there taking on a life of their own, veritably crawling, until gale-force fate took hold and blew it up into my suddenly hack-hewn mug. Achoo!


Opening up is hard to do, apparently. I've been trying my whole life, and I'm still a shrink-wrapped clamshell, an unemancipated Houdini, an outgoing misanthropic cocoon if one there ever was. But it sure helps to know I'm not alone. According to a 50-cent beige paperback I found in Salvation Army, Pandora opened up her box in a failed attempt at revenge against Prometheus for stealing fire from Olympus. Her name translates as "all gifts" and, if scholars are believed, her release of formerly-boxed abstractions like the blasé "all-the-evil-in-the-world" into the open air is a requisite corrolary to Promethean (trans. "one who can see quite far") technological hubris. From where I'm standing, that's right on. I'd spent half the year in an energy-efficient hole, a little hive devoted to preserving and prolonging the scant gas-fed flame in my basement. Millenia of technological Wintry adaptations have resulted in thick layers of granite-fill insulation blown between various plasters, sheetrocks, aluminum sidings, and the sub-zero outside world, and all its necessary consequences: dust, dirt, dead skin cells, now forgotten as all here-to-fore impervious surfaces are refenestrated.


This great outcoming isn't all in my head. You see it everywhere as people emerge blinking onto their porches to spin their bare arms about their heads like teeter-totting toddlers or tops. I've seen stoop-sitting sights, believe you me. A tweed-sporting man sitting on the frightfully-close-to-the-sidewalk white clapboard steps, looking wordlessly right at me with a great Cheshire smile and holding a cigar horizontally in front of his face mustache . . . did he disappear when I turned round for another glimpse? There was a lady tucked on the corner of her three-season with half-rimmed glasses on the end of her nose, reading something alongside a glass of red, two identical cats draped onto the porch steps ten feet away, who looked up with a smile so faint that it wasn't. There are the inevitable bar-b-ques, one of which I walked past while peramblating 'round rapidly gentrifying Nord-East, and the man beckoned us over with his olfactory Hello, declaring himself the best cooker of venison this side of South Carolina, while his silent friend remained stoically opposite. No doubt that people are opening up.

Me, in particular. Every time I see an "open" sign in a shop window my heart skips a beat. I go to art openings just to bask in the warm scent of ten dozen minglers. I've installed Dutch doors in my foyer--those that are bifuracted horizontally--to the end of doubling my open-and-shut possibilities. It's all going well so far, what with my open-toed sandals, my open-minded philosophy, my open-face sandwiches leading to open-heart surgery, opening up the V8 on the open road in my open-air automobile injects gaiety into what little time I have left before my open-marriages catch up with me.

But don't let thoughts of speed and purpose mislead. Like parachutes, openness really does slow you down. Not only can you waste a whole afternoon inspecting the minute openings of a springtime flower, but each old-fashioned rolltop desk inadvertently left open, every open door of every bank vault, each paneless window beckons with possibility such that I find myself daily lost in myriad social crevasses, the gaps and whimsy within the social façade. I can't walk past any perforation into the membrane of what's seen without wondering whys and whats.

And when the external lets me down, I can retreat back to my own orfices: ears and noses and bungholes, for example spending an hour pulling off a forearm scab left from when I tripped last week and gouged myself on a rusted pitchfork, leaving quite some flesh wound, to which, like a wounded animal, I have returned time and again, picking and prodding at this gap in my epidermal outside. To stick your finger in there and poke--despite the pain, isn't it the most interesting opening?

[Existentialist trappings.]

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