Are evenings real?
I suppose they are, otherwise they wouldn’t have a name. At this time of year, they tend to come suddenly, before, just as quickly, disappearing into the night and the next day. I don’t really know what happens with my evenings. I am aware of getting home from work, often pouring a glass of wine for me and one for somebody else.
I like to shower. I love it when the condensation rises to embrace me and all that would threaten to worry my last waking hours. I love the sado-masochism of the pelting hot water; it makes me think of penitence, paying for something that has been thought without restraints. Where other people believe in God, I have faith in showers.
The subject of other people came up today. It wasn’t a shared topic, one passed from tongue to tongue, it was an internal thought-discussion. There is something about the world out there that’s puzzling. I started thinking this some time ago and it has refused to leave me. The thought is this, where are all the people going? I know that it is not a thought, it’s a question, but it started out as a thought in the way that bees carry pollen without realising. My pollen germinated and I had a question to answer, or problem to solve.
Let me take this morning. I slipped out from beneath the warmth of the duvet. I believe that the alarm had woken me. I was making a quiet escape from bed so as not to disturb the person who was still sleeping at my side. For some reason, I could not bring myself to check if the other person was real or just some imagined ascension of contour lines. The shower would clear my thinking. Yet, for some reason, I had made a cup of tea for the contour/person thing that I could not bring myself to address.
The shower is the place for both morning and evening (if the latter really does exist). It is a nether-world, a neither-world, not substance nor air. It is where I feel most at ease. I always lock the door, knowing that it would provide no real protection if some determined soul would wish to break in. So, beyond the rising steam, my eyes and ears are keeping vigil.
At some point in this early morning, I must dress and leave for work. The undulation had flattened yet there was the unmistakeable whisper of the shower. I almost fled.
And there on the street, this uncomfortable feeling returns. I am not alone, but I am more alone that yesterday, and even more than the day before. All this is subjective, all of it thought or whimsy.
In the mouth of the underground, there is always the newspaper vendor smiling from within his kiosk.
“Morning, darling. How is the world treating you today?”
He says this every time I pass him. I want to ignore him with a polite smile that says that I am shy, or that I have not time to talk, but I respond with a ludicrous, “Like a stranger at the door.” And then I wonder why it is that I have uttered those words, but the tube is waiting and too much thinking will leave me stranded.
It is easy to find a seat. The carriage is at least a third empty. And so is the office. The remnants of Christmas are untidied.
On my way home, I pick up a bottle of red wine. I can’t remember having popped into a shop to buy it. Perhaps I am some secret kleptomaniac, or just some ordinary thief. Once home, I pour a glass for myself and another into a different glass that I will enjoy after the long-promised shower.
The hot water and steam is the evening.
Beyond my world, I think I hear another opening the flat door.