I woke with resolve. I had delayed an unpleasant task long enough. I hastened through morning ablutions, scrambled eggs, and the drive through the Delta to work. At 8:10, alarm deactivated, coffee brewed, and computer booted, I dialed the number to my eye doctor.
I leveled my voice for the opening volley. Glasses ordered in June, arrived mid-July, immediately reported as incorrectly made. Confirmation; re-order; retrieval of the second, back-up pair. Request for prescription re-check delayed due to vacation. Now I’m back.
Let’s see. You ordered your glasses in June and got two pair. Now you want more?
I gritted my teeth for twenty-five more minutes before the demands of work summoned me. At noon, I tried again. Same recitation, different call-taker, same result. It’s more than ninety days since you got your prescription, you have to pay again. A stutter crept into my voice as I tried to control my frustration. I repeated that they had taken six weeks to make the first pair; eight weeks to see me about the problems; ten weeks to get the second pair and it still isn’t right, and I still don’t have the remake of the first pair. Stonewall.
Finally, a supervisor came on the line. Although she took the same position as Nameless Voice One and Nameless Voice Two, she at least condescended to make an appointment. All the while, I held the frames of the second wrongly crafted lenses at a slant so that I could peer at the monitor through the bottom of my tri-focals, the place through which I should be able to read a book.
At five-thirty, I got behind the steering wheel and headed home, after a brief stop for bottled water. On Jackson Slough Road, I trundled along, a field to my left and Mt. Diablo on the far horizon to my right. A utility truck lumbered past, followed by a rickety RV pulled by a shiny yellow Ford. I slowed for a turn and chanced to raise my eyes. A red-tailed hawk peered downward from a high wire. I let my car roll to a stop and raised my cell phone. He held still for the ordeal. He did not flutter a feather or raise a wing.
A few miles later, I pulled into my parking space. I sat for a bit, gazing at the empty lot to the east of my tiny house. In the stillness of my car, I contemplated the vagaries of human migration. Some of us choose to tug our roots from the ground and shake the dust away; some of us migrate to flee the rot which entwines itself around the tender shoots that we lift to the nourishing rain. I thought about my traveling neighbor and his little bird. For the months that I had them just outside my door, I spared them no more than a few moments of conversation. Funny how we take people so much for granted.
I got out and glanced to the west just in time to see a blaze of gold through the telephone wires. The wind rose around me, sending a shiver down my back and tossing the leaves in the tall California oaks. I closed my eyes and felt the evening settle soft and easy on my shoulders. Then I went inside and closed the doors against the gathering darkness, resolved to make a simple meal and then to rest my weary body.
It’s the twentieth day of the one-hundred and fifth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.