the sounds of the sirens from a fire engine and/or ambulance and/or police car is a common enough, daily, fuck sometimes it seems almost hourly occurrence. i'm sure it's the same in yr parts of the world. but today i picked up nicholas from daycare. i walked the 2 or so miles from the office to the daycare and i walk because i'd rather be active and move then to suffer mass transit with its crowded seats and at times plain-ass weirdos who ride the trains as if they were a transmigration of lost souls on an endless trip to no where.
strange to think of luck holding the place that it does in our lives. we've all had near-misses whether it be in a vehicle, crossing the street, on bicycle or motorcycle. these glances of disaster are almost as constant as the wails of sirens in the city streets. luck, or chance, i think, may just be the one ruling factor in our lives. think back to some crucial event in yr life, such as meeting a great love or finishing college, because if they may seem to be fated had you not had the luck of financing and inner resources as well as guidance from family, friends or counselors you might not have even considered grad school. or what about the day and/or night you met the person with whom you fell in love. if you didn't go to that club or class or party or supermarket or whatever at that particular moment and in that mood of adventure and attraction you would probably never have met.
i recall reading the oeuvre of auden back in my early 20s. i don't necessarily recommend auden as a teacher but one could do worse i think then read a poet who was a formal master who also dealt in themes large and small, quotidian, private and political even. one word that auden often used in his texts both as concept and sometimes even as a title for poems was the word 'lucky' which struck me as being quite bold. the thought to live in chance and continue on with the contradictory impulse of our will was almost a quantum leap in my thinking. as a young man i was still struggling with my catholic childhood and the idea of god as THE BIG DADDY IN THE SKY. i fought the idea of chance and remained steadfast in my belief that order was predicated upon my faith and fate was the sole principle of our universe.
well, then. i walked the 2-plus miles to the daycare and sometimes the journey is a test in my own faith in humanity. so many vehicles all jostling for space on the crowded roads with all the drivers late for something. i've witnessed and also been subject of the spectacle of near-misses. today was different. i heard the sirens and saw the ambulance about 2 blocks up the street from where nicholas and i were walking. the street is alhambra blvd and is a main artery running north and south that bifurcates the areas of midtown and east sac. there used to be a grand old movie house called the alhambra theater with its moorish designs and palatial stadium on the blvd and the neighboring businesses all try to keep up with the moorish designs even tho the only thing left of the movie house is a wall and fountain with a snippet of verse from omar khayyam located in the parking lot of the safeway supermarket. nicholas and i walk this blvd each time i pick him up from daycare.
just then as nicholas was looking for sticks among some potted flowers a man rides by on a bicycle and says that a woman was just hit by a car. it was only 2 blocks away and it just happened even tho i didn't witness it. i did see the ambulance stop and a fire engine arrive. these piqued the interest of nicholas and he wanted to see them in close-up. i told him that a person was hurt and these vehicles arrived to help. nicholas gathered himself up out of the potted flowers and nearly ran to the crash site.
i don't know how else to say it. the scene was almost anticlamactic. nicholas was seriously curious about the goings on and i could see the hurt woman trussed and bundled on a gurney inside the ambulance. i got the story from one of the witnesses as they stood waiting for the police to arrive. the woman who was hit was crossing alhambra and was struck by a car. the woman was in a crosswalk and the car was making a left out of the parking lot of an office park. the woman who was driving the car was standing near the ambulance and appeared to be in shock.
such a thing is not fated. it is not written in the stars. it was an accident and accidents by nature are unpredicted and unforseen. it was the oddball mechanization of chance that 2 lives intersected at that moment in time and space with so terrible a consequence. i sincerely hope the woman who was injured is okay and that the woman who was driving can forgive herself. nicholas and i stood watching for a few minutes longer before i thanked the woman i was talking to as i took nicholas's hand and walked across that same street. just then i noticed anna in our car as she pulled to the curb with a relieved look on her face. our plan tonight was for me to pick nicholas up, walk our normal route and have anna find us as she drove home from work so we could do a little shopping. it was late and anna didn't know how long it takes for me and nicholas to walk the way home. it usually takes us an hour simply because nicholas stops every few feet to check out a bug, some flowers, a few sticks, a couple fire hydrants and so on. anna didn't see us but saw emergency vehicles which were only a couple blocks from the daycare. she feared the worst and told me so as we got into the car. and i recalled my own trappings of chance when i thought of the night we first met. i didn't want to go out that evening. i didn't even notice her at first until my brother pointed her out. it all seems like fate for it all seemed to fit a pattern that worked in grace from that night on forward. perhaps it is, i am still fairly superstitious as i suspect the lot of us are, but if i'd never left the apartment at all that night, well, i'd have never known what i was missing was that essential part of me for the course of my life.