Gerry Manacsa | Gray | Houston, TX
I stopped at Pho 21 and Bubble Island for my current-favorite lunchtimetakeout, Vietnamese spring rolls and bubble tea. Comfort foods. Despite thegrayish-cool, I felt an urgent need to be outside, hoping the daylight andtrees could dispel the glum clouds that had gathered with the morning'spassing hours. I roared toward the nearest slice of suburban parkland,lead-footed and ragtop down, the nuanced anger of an Ani DiFranco CD turnedup to match my mood.

My surroundings quieted from strip mall bustle to tree-lined neighborhood,and I rolled to a halt between faded stripes in an empty lot adjacent to thepark. Killing the ignition brought an abrupt silence. The temperature wasinching lower as an edgy breeze rolled through tallows and unmowed grasssprinkled with clover. I grabbed the grocery bag with my styrofoam-encasedlunch and passed across the dampness to the nearest picnic table, an oddlymegalith-like construction in pebbled pink concrete.

The bench was as hard and unyielding as it looked. As I settled down to stirthe peanut sauce for the spring rolls, I scanned my surroundings. Behind me,toward an open grove by the first of the neighboring homes, recognitionbrought a surge of recollection... of a crisp Sunday morning three yearsdistant, brilliant sunshine perhaps brightened further by the glow of fondmemory... we were tucking colorful pastel eggs into improbable nooks for theEaster festivities, and young excitement and expectation added to thefamilial warmth enveloping our little group...

I blinked back to the present and huddled a little in the chill.
03 2003
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