It’s so humid you could uncork wine bottles with my hair. The sticky air is stacked in layers and feels like jelly on the skin. The breeze rolls around like a lead ball, banging into the stereo, the furniture, the dogs’s fur. Nothing dries all the way. The towels hanging in the bathroom are still damp from yesterday’s shower.
There’s a clump of glue on my forehead where I smacked it into the corner of my desk yesterday. Stitches or glue, the doctor asked. I washed my hair carefully this morning. Dried it patiently. But in this humidity, it doesn’t matter. My hair will do what it does. Curl.
This afternoon, I sat on a rock on the west bank of the Clarion River just north of Belltown, a place most tourists don’t know about. I ate chèvre blue cheese, 10-grain bread, marinated artichoke hearts, and pistachios, and drank Pinot noir from the bottle because I remembered a cork screw, but forgot a cup.
I’m going to a play tonight at a theater in the middle of Cook Forest. The theater is enclosed, but the outer wooden walls open like pocket doors, and during a performance it’s not uncommon for bats to fly in and eat mosquitoes above the audience.
I love this place. It’s where I do my best thinking. The first time I ever saw a black bear in the wild was in these woods. The first time I went canoeing and rode a bike after losing 150 pounds was here. My daughter was married on an overlook over the river.
I just checked into a motor lodge attached to a bar/restaurant. The place is encased in hemlocks. The smell of grease wafts through the walls every once in a while. But I’m sipping Chardonnay from a paper cup and I’m typing, propped up by ancient pillows that I leaned up against a wall from which I wiped away spider webs before lying down. I am thinking of my aunt, who only has a few months to live, and her daughter and her sisters whose hearts are aching. I’m thinking about the civilians in Syria, who breathed in toxic air and died. I’m thinking about my brother, who struggles to remember anything day to day. And I’m thinking about how lucky I am to be sitting on this bed with the anticipation of a night with bats and friends and stars I can’t see in the lights of Pittsburgh.
My brain is taking a big breath and melting into what I know to be true in this moment: It is humid. And my hair is curly. And the world is uncertain and cruel and beautiful beyond comprehension.