Walking Toward the River
Every morning and every afternoon I walk toward the river. The river flows past the oversized window at the end of our hallway. Sometimes when I walk, a behometh ship passes, rusty hull slicing the air. At other times it’s the train passing, the cars laden with graffiti. On the rarest of occasions, the train runs in front of a ship and even though the train is raised on a concrete retaining wall, the ship behind it is higher still, because this is New Orleans and we are almost underwater.
I am now five weeks post-surgery. I have a new hip, and diminished resolve. My sense of need to accomplish, which usually flares like a coke-stoked oven, has died into embers. Only yesterday was I able to pick up a Reader’s Report on Jazzy, my New Orleans novel, and begin to revise. Yes, I read 17 mysteries and watched many episodes of Perry Mason in preparation for the homeless mystery I intend to write next, but those are passive activities. When it comes to writing, I’ve been underwater.
Maybe that’s an overstatement. I’ve revised a handful of short stories and submitted them to journals, an activity I let fall by the wayside as I focused so completely on perfecting (ha!) the novels. Two journals—Missouri Review and American Short Fiction—want more work. I’m trying to send them more work, good work. But I’m kind of treading water (see, I can learn, adapt, quit exaggerating).
Baby steps, that’s probably the answer. Baby steps down the hallway towards the river. Baby steps back into my normal life. When I go to physical therapy they zip me into an anti-gravity treadmill. Oxygen puffs the rubber and carries about twenty-five percent of my weight for me as I walk. It’s funky as hell, but for now it enables me to take long, strong strides. Soon, this too will be in my past. I keep this in mind as I walk toward the river.