The wind has always inspired me.
A gust can bring the spirits of the dead whispering into my ear.
A breeze reminds me of the past or a sort of mental nirvana where I have no care in the world.
A gale can generate fear in my heart and noise in my soul.
The windy day I stepped into the park wasn’t sunny. I hate sunny days. The light burns my eyes and stings my skin. I feel like the sun is trying to burn me out faster, igniting me, firing me up until I am nothing but ash and bone. Cloudy days cushion me like a dimmed light, cradle me in grayness where the sun doesn’t exist, but the lighting is better, softer, diffused.
The air was swirling through the trees on the bluff leading down to the Hudson River. Leaves followed its path, snaking in and out making the invisible visible. The October atmosphere carried the promise of a coming winter, and the mystery of the approaching Halloween.
I sat on a bench near the entrance, too tired to go down the slope to sit near the mall. The smell of leaves decaying perfumed the air with a loam where when I closed my eyes I saw fat pink earthworms wiggling through the soil creating a fertile base for next year’s seeds. Like the wind they circled in and out of the dirt, taking little bits of rotted trees in their wake.
“Mister? Are you okay?” A teenage girl was standing in front of me about five feet away.
I stretched my neck before answering her. “I’m okay, I guess.”
“You were moaning. I thought for a second that you were singing, but it sounded like you were in pain.”
I patted my leg. “Maybe I was a little. My hips really hurt sometimes.”
“You should tell me about it.” Her long, reddish brown hair had a glint to it as she swung it back over her shoulders.
That’s odd. It’s not sunny at all.
“Why should I tell you about my pains?”
“I’m a very good listener.” She sat on the next bench and turned towards me.
So I told her. I spoke about how I had arthritis and had just gone through a severe depression where I didn’t go outside of my apartment at all. The doctors at NYU said that I’m de-conditioned and it made rehabilitation much harder, even if I did get a hip replacement. I confessed that to her too.
She seems genuinely interested in my story. She asked about my depression, and I told her how alone I felt after the death of my partner. Leaning towards me, she beckoned with her hand. “Come one and sit next to me so I can hear you better.”
It was a struggle to stand up and limp with my cane over to the bench where she sat. I didn’t know why I was doing what she was asking me to do, but I did it anyway. Talking to anyone was hard, but a teenaged girl? It was remarkably easy, quite unlike me. I felt like I was somehow changing. As I spoke I felt lighter and lighter.
The breeze picked up and chased brown and yellow leaves down the paved mall. The girl spoke and it sounded like the wind sprinkling itself through a wind chime. The gray day darkened, and she kept talking, lighter until it was just a whisper. Then it was dark, and the girl was gone.
I got up to walk back home. My back and hips weren’t tight and aching. I left my cane behind. Every step I took was easier and easier until I was floating up above the trees, above the clouds, and into the starry night. I reached out and the air felt like silky water running through my fingers. I looked far below and saw a little old man, sitting slumped on a park bench, blue lights flashing around him.