When I crawl into this familiar blanket, night after night, and tuck it between these bony knees, it falls into place. It creases along and caresses my form. It translates and adapts to hands folded in a lap. It warms these numb toes, loosens stiff bones. It breathes when I breathe, shifts when I shift, and doesn't leave when I leave. And, snug and protected, I curl my hidden limbs and bury my head deep into the bosom of great nature's second course, sweet sleep.
I call him Jimmy Blue Hands. I call him that because Jimmy was rubbin' his knuckles along the sides of his new dark blue denims the day I sat with him. He was real fidgety and all, couldn't keep himself still. Nervous. A bothered guy. Dyed his hands blue, he rubbed so much. Smoothing the palms of his hands along the tops of his thighs; running his fingers along the seams; scratching his nails against the vertical denim grain; tucking his hands underneath his bottom; slappin' his knees like two bony tom-toms; Jimmy Blue Hands, yesiree.
I don't know why he was so wound up, really. He was stretched taut like a piano string, though. Yeah, that's right, like an old piano string a child wants to reach in and pluck but can't because this child keeps hearing his father yellin', "Dammit, don't touch those strings! You'll cut your hand off if one snaps! I'm tellin' ya!" No, no, we certainly don't want any snappin' strings. That would cause all sorts of problems. The piano would fall out of tune. Things would be shifting all over the place with the snappin' of that string, not to mention the loss of the curious hand that was tuggin' at it! Yes, let's listen to father's admonition and let the old piano sit as it may.
I was sitting across from Jimmy Blue in a dark waiting room/lounge/whatever-you-call-it of a dingy tire shop, and it was just him and I in there after a nice old lady was called out to pick up her car. "Janice, your Honda's ready." She stood up and a distinct scent bellowed out of her folded garments and overwhelmed my nostrils. She was wearing perfume that smelled like it came from the bottom of a drug store's 99 cent item clearance bin. It's awful, thick as it hangs in the air. It comes in a gaudy, gold bottle and has one of those old-fashioned lavender puffer-thingamajigs that pumps the dense miasma into the air. It felt like I was breathing in cotton candy. But she was nice. And that's all that matters, right? She was nice. She greeted me as I walked into the dingy waiting room. That's nice. That trumps her awful sense of tasteful perfume, I suppose. And Janice, the nice old smelly lady, drove away in her Honda, and then there was rickety ol' Jimmy Blue and I, sitting in Janice's fog. Waiting. Rubby Blue Hands. Fidgety McGee over there in the corner.
I picked up a tattered magazine from a pile on the coffee table sitting next to me: Popular Mechanics. It was five years old. I wondered if the mechanics were still popular. Jimmy was shakin' and mumbling words under his breath to himself. The magazine was my comfort as I held it close to my face and tried to tune out. I picked up his nervous tick immediately, though, and started wondering all sorts of things. I had been in the room less than a minute and Jimmy started getting to me. I was in a good mood, too, before my tire blew out in the rain and I had to call a tow truck to rip me off and tow my car 2 miles down the street to this dump shop. But that smelly old lady was nice. There's always that smelly old lady. She gave a soft "hello." I then wondered what she was thinkin' when she was in there all alone with Jimmy Blue Hands. I wondered if she talked to him at all. I wondered how long they had been sitting together. I wondered if she said something nasty to him. Something nice? I wondered a lot of things, and then Jimmy stood up and my mind hushed. I kept my nose down and watched him drag himself slowly into the restroom and then shut the door. Click.
I heard water rushing and imagined Jimmy's blue hands turning the sink blue leaving a blue ring around the bowl. Washing away the blue physical markings of a blue nervous man.
Thirty minutes before we jumped into the year 2009, I drank a glass of clean, cool water. It was the best tasting glass of water of 2008, there's just no doubt about it. I sat there amongst friends, holding my glass, watching the water level sink as I took each sip.
Everyone checked their watches, pulled out their cell phones, peaked over shoulders and asked the person sitting next to them, "Is it time yet?! What time is it?!"
My glass of water had gone from full to half-full. I say half-full and not half-empty because that's what you are supposed to say to sound optimistic and upbeat about the coming year.
My clean, cool glass of water opened its mouth. It spoke to me with more sagacity and simplicity than any man ever could have. The water of 2008 went into my body and I had plans to let it "out" in 2009. I will never be able to have 2008 water ever again. I was able to carry it into 2009, though. I just had to store it in my body for a short period of time. It would come out as 2009 waste water. Excuse the imagery, but this was my own little, personal New Years project I had created on the spot and just went with it.
What does it mean? Well, create your own metaphor. I think I could create several New Years metaphors around drinking a glass of water, and I thought about many of them as I sipped down the water that night.
One resolution I have this year, 2009, is to let the seemingly mundane, the ordinary, the humdrum, the routine seep deep into my senses. To become porous like I have never been before. To let them give me lessons. To stop searching for the extravagant and extraordinary as a means of gaining purpose and value.
It's funny how much mental and physical wealth a glass of water can give you.