Ten minutes on a breezy Sunday afternoon on Lexington Ave. Ten minutes. This is what separates us. Ten minutes. Not the distance between Chicago and Asheville. Not the clutter of a missed exit on the freeway, not the litter of roadside billboards, or the flat of the Midwest. Ten minutes. I imagine stalky fields of corn and wheat between here and there. The culture shock of not finding a Waffle House. Is this a lack of Southern Charm? <!–more–>
What will happen in the next ten minutes? A curse from above? Shouting into the wind? In this city who knows where the wind blows. In ten minutes a commercial break. In ten minutes a spelling mistake, not caught by “spell check.” In ten minutes the tea will have cooled to a tolerable level. In ten minutes it will be the second half with the score 27-10, Carolina. In ten minutes the next song will have started.
Ten minutes is what it will take. Ten minutes is what the score is. What’s next? Ten minutes. How will I spend the hour? In contemplation of what can achieved in ten minutes. I remember waiting in the dark for the show to start, musicians tuning up instruments. “In ten minutes . . .” is what the man at the microphone says.
I imagine Chicago as cold and translucent. My memory of Chicago stands as thus: moving frantically through the airport, looking for my gate. Looking, looking, looking. There. Boarding the flight and taking off, thankful for my window seating and watching at a 45-degree angle, the city at night. The city was brightened and in every window a square fire. This was how I wanted my postcard. and then the slow lurch east and all of sudden black. As if we were flying out over empty. As if the empty were rushing in to meet Chicago. But there it stayed. Lake Michigan.
There was no time for me to remember the scent of Chicago. I want to be able to remember the smells of city. Today Asheville smelled of the impending winter. A dull smell of post-Christmas. Coming down off the high of holidays and families. There was the scent of what do next. The worries of a New Year’s resolution come true.
In ten minutes, there will be the tolling of the bell to indicate the 6 o’clock hour. In ten minutes the leaves will change color again, realize that it just turned winter that the solstice has come and gone. The nights can only grow shorter as the year wears on.In ten minutes I will ask, “How strong is your resolve?” What is the moment of Chicago? In Asheville, the winter keeps us in: coffee and cream in the late afternoon; conversations and cigarettes; going-away parties and celebrations; well wishes of future births.
In ten minutes I will put out my cigarette and go to sleep. Ten minutes, and I’ve missed you.