Armchair Peregrinations


December 19, 1998

The other morning, shortly after I got up, I looked out the window to check the weather. After three days of cold temperatures and rain, the last of the clouds were hurtling by, dark, gray chariots hurrying to be elsewhere, and I was glad of it. Soon afterward, I looked again to see a world transformed, a morning lit up with streaks of blue sky and sunlight. A welcome sight, and the clearing skies were long overdue. The air seemed so fresh and washed clean as I looked out on a panoramic view of Charleston harbor and the tidal marshes at the mouth of the Ashley River from the James Island Connector.

*****

At a stoplight on Calhoun Street going to work, I looked over to my left and, for some reason, decided to watch the faces and expressions of each of the eight or so drivers who were making the right turn onto Calhoun from Rutledge Street heading in the opposite direction immediately past me. It was like a freeze-frame in rapid succession. I looked at each expression for a fraction of a second and then the next car went by. Everyone looked so intent on some preoccupation or else was talking to someone in the car with them. Curiously, I felt a strange kinship with each one of those drivers. It was like we were all in this city-traffic-urban jungle together, but at the same time we all shared in some daily routine, were part of the unceasing flow of life in the city, the daily routine, nothing remarkable, just little moving blips in the tableaxu of a larger cityscape.

*****

Driving down Broat Street last night, I enjoyed looking at Christmas lights. One old house's bay window contained a beautiful tree lit up with colored lights, the kind I remember from my childhood -- magical blue, red, green and yellow lights shining through strands of icicles.

*****

We had our annual Christmas pot-luck luncheon at work Thursday. People were exchanging Secret Santa gifts and finding out who their "Santas" had been during the week. As usual, there was too much to eat and nobody felt like working. It's just that time of year. It's a good group of people to work with. We had a lot of fun and laughs. I even won a basket of soup, walnuts and candy canes in a staff drawing that took place that morning before I came into work. I told everyone it was the first time I had ever won anything. I think it actually was, but I'm not sure. The first time for anything of any consequence, that is.

In the midst of the lunch, I make my way back to the computer at my desk to read headlines about the madness in Iraq and the viciously partisan and hypocritical impeachment climate in Washington. Christmas 1998, and not much peace on earth in certain quarters of our world!

*****

Someone was saying the other day that our economy would just shut down if everyone stopped frantically spending money during the Christmas shopping season. At least a major recession would result, throwing millions out of work and closing businesess and industries. What a commentary on our consumerist culture!


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