Joan found her keys, complete with mini toolkits of flashlight and Swiss army knife and got into the car. The cell phone was on, but keys locked to prevent accidental dialing out. What a nuisance, calling people by accident because the phone was squeezed into your pocket and leaving mysterious incoherent messages as if from hapless aliens trying to break the talk code. The magical car engine started smoothly, and pulling out, she tuned into the staple public broadcast radio, and into the world of Japanese tea ceremonies, as practiced by occidental connoisseurs. Damn! Joan stopped the car to pull out the parking ticket neatly tucked into the windshield. Despite the legit parking decal she had just paid for with her instamatic systematic bank card, wondering if automatic payments from some faceless bank computer would put her in the red, this little piece of paper, in ballpoint pen, told her that she had to pay. If not, all kinds of dire consequences. Amazing, that such scribbles could get her angry and thinking about whether she could pay it online at home before the date after which the amounts would magically increase. And then, for no reason at all, she also wondered whether the guy who wrote it perhaps was overweight and went home to chat with strangers online about his stressful day.
Wasabi shmasabi, the guy cheerfully continued about Russian tea ceremonies. Joan breathed deeply, wondering where the ground was. She felt her body extend into Russia, Japan and the highway. What was that email about Russian sluts eager to please? Slipping into fifth, her body hovered over the cement at a hundred clicks, in a shiny metal armoured casing with motor, heading into a list of things to do before the next hour could be successful. The cell vibrated against her thigh, and she reached over to turn off the radio and considered pulling up. Seeing a stretch of highway and no lights Joan answered the phone, wondering whether perhaps a new meditation in tea drinking could solve some of her stress related aches and pains and whether it was any less safe to answer a cell phone while driving than it was to drive with young kids who were quarreling and asking a hundred questions. It was her child on the phone, asking her to please bring home some cheese. Some cheese.
There were so many pressures. The inbox was piling up, as usual. Joan ordered in her mind the high priority items, and thought about how absurd it really was that some one she had never met could send her a message in pixels and electronic energy and harass her. Her feet ached to touch the ground. She wondered what the cement was really like. Surrounded by images of forests and ocean in this beautiful stretch of the island, she felt grateful to live in paradise. Not like the citizens of Law and Order, caught in a cement jungle of ethical dilemmas, every day at 5 p.m. They were so real. Joan thought of herself as being one of them, a kindred spirit. A tough, fast talking cop-type: witty and good looking with a heart of gold. She would fit right in. Battling criminals. Joan really liked those cops. They were like family. Family! Oy! She hadn't written to her aging grandmother in years, her aging grandmother who had told her that she, Joan, was one of the few who had understood something about her life. And the poor old woman was now getting demented, able to read, but assimilating the information in bizarre ways.
The fellow talked about the Zen of tea drinking. He had traveled and meditated in India, Vietnam and other exotic places. If only. Joan felt her life in large and small fragments, floating away from her core. She no longer knew where she was. Where her body was. It was as if she was in pieces. A part of her mind was in a pixel maelstrom, and a part of her heart was in Denmark, and a part of her mind was in her accounting software. She felt as if she were losing a cosmic game of ping-pong. Thousands of ping-pong balls being served at her, each successful intercept only rewarded by the appearance of another. Tetris. What was it like to know that a hurricane was coming towards you and your home and all that you loved? She had tracked the animated path on usatoday.com, feeling a deep growling anxiety in the pit of her stomach, though she lived thousands of miles away from Ivan's path. She knew another pixel person in Pensacola, a native person who said the hurricane was a nature spirit and one that should be respected and a spirit you could pray to and negotiate with.
Joan breathed very very deeply. All was well. She turned off the radio, and pulled into the forested driveway. She sat in the car, and looked. Then she got out and stood on the pine needle covered pathway. Kicking off her shoes and socks, dropping her bag with books and cell phone and bank cards onto the ground, she took a deep breath, and walked across the path towards the rocky outcrop overlooking the ocean. The smell of salt water, the cool wind, the sound of sea lions, the hard stone and sometimes wet earth. Joan touched the bark, the stones, the pine cones, and closed her eyes.