Monday, May 01, 2006

And what if tomorrow never arrives?

As the elevator doors snapped open and just as quickly closed, I caught only a glimpse of her red hair and tired smile, a slight flicker of recognition passing through her eyes. Then, just as quickly as she'd arrived she was gone.

A free spirited survivor of the Haight Ashbury days, Arlyne and I knew one another in passing. She had her court turf; I had mine. We shared the parking garage for cigarettes, and even then only by occasional happy coincidence. The only other thing we shared were mutual friends: Nancy, Luann, Joanie, Helen -- all fixtures long before I arrived, years of shared collecting: partying, husbands, memories, stories and of course, legal records. Arlyne was the oldest of the bunch, but hardly looked it. I couldn't believe it when she said she was nearly 70.

She didn't like or believe in doctors, and said she didn't want to know when her time was up. She was arty, funny, friendly and kind.

I was doing her court records for her the past few weeks, waiting for her surgery, recovery and return after removal of a mass from her brain. Today I heard the court clerks say she died Friday. I'm very sad over this woman's passing, and yet we didn't really know each other well. We never partied together, like me and crazy redhead Luann, or shared cancer stories, like Luann's mom and I do - or even talked men and relationships, like Nancy, Helen and me.

It just seemed like we were kindred spirits in many ways, except one: Arlyne lived her life exactly as she wanted to live it. She wasn't waiting around for this, that or the other event to happen so she could finally do what made her happy. She just did it.

This has been on my mind all day long -- how important it is not to squander time, or live with regrets. Because you just never know.

Wish I could say it made me happier and less afraid about my recent big life choices - the car, the whole "should I stay or should I go" choice that has to be made by this weekend, everything involved in this latest risky venture. . .

But it doesn't.

What it does in some weird way is make me more afraid; getting mired down further in debt and adult responsibility is moving away from what should be my path and on to one that belongs to someone entirely different. When all is said and done, I'm not meant to be this person -- this person that takes care of everyone else --- who couldn't keep alive house plants not that long ago. Mortgages, bridge loans, new dwellings and new cars all feel like bigger traps to me.

Some days I just want to run screaming from all of it. But I can't.
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