It didn't register at first. It’s like, when you see something out of the corner of your eye and your subliminal mind tells you in great detail why what you're seeing just isn't possible, so your concious mind -- wimp that it is, simply throws up its hands, rolls its eyes, and says “ok, you know better”.
Nonetheless, there it was; on the top edge of the black marble backsplash, in my kitchen on the Upper East Side, sat a green Anole, serenely basking in the dusty ray of sun showing through the window. I searched surreptitiously for something to coax him into, and considered the possibilities that might have brought him to me, but the more I thought, the less sense it made. I hadn't been to Miami for over a year, and I was fairly certain that, had he stowed away in one of my suitcases, he’d have either been discovered by now, or, more likely, an unfortunate sneaker casualty; but like I said, here-- incontrovertibly, (and apparently in perfect health,) he was.
Settling on an oblong plastic take-out container from Noodles 28, I poked two small holes in its’ lid with the point of a pairing knife before gently sweeping him in between lid and bottom.
Figuring I’d take him where we always take mice to be released from our “Have-a-Heart” traps, I slipped on my top-siders and headed out the front door towards the East 86th street entrance of Central Park.
“So, have you done anything about finding a job yet? What about school? Are you doing anything about going back to school?”
Annoyed, I was about to answer when I realized I wasn’t on my cellphone with my dad, and that it was in fact, the perforated take out container that was talking to me.
“You know, your life is just passing you by. You’re not getting younger, and I’m just concerned your going to wake up one day in your sixties, and realize you’re still waiting for your life to begin”
“Shut up.” I hissed, “You’re a lizard. What would you know about waking up at sixty and realizing anything? Besides, I’m waiting to hear back on those submissions to 'The New Yorker'.”
I quickened my pace towards the park, while it occurred to me, the two smoking barbers I’d passed on eighty-eighth and third had interupted their own conversation and were looking at me, the way two smoking New York barbers would look at a poor schizophrenic who'd gone off his meds and was threatening to spin on his heels any second, walk back, and ask them if they could plait his pubic hair.
“You know,” he said, “ you can wait forever. In the end, nothing ever comes from waiting. Why don’t you do something pro-active? Call them back for crissakes! And what about that volunteer position at the Central Park Conservancy? That's a good way to make valuable contacts."
“The guy from The CPC already emailed me back. He said they only have high school students volunteering in the office in the Summ… I’M TALKING TO A LIZARD!!!”
“And? What if I was a guy with a long white beard and a staff? Would you take me more seriously then? Look, don’t let the package fool you guy, I’ve been around.”
“Yeah? Like where?”
My take-out container sighed impatiently. “For 24 years, from the day you and your family moved to Miami, I sat in your room, just behind that red toy clock on top of your bookcase. I watched you throughout junior high, high school, college… all those part-time jobs you got and lost, every time you came home depressed after school, or a bad date, or just a bad day… I’d crawl out onto the ceiling over your bed and read every word you wrote in that sketchbook of yours. You weren't bad. Morose as all hell, but you were good. You showed promise. You had a keen insight. But you never could get over what everyone on the outside kept saying… 'you’re not normal blah blah blah, you’re weird, you insist on doing everything differently, just to be different, anything possible just to not fit in… you don’t know how to take direction…', and what did you do? You ate it all up. Every last word. You believed them! You let them get inside you, until there wasn’t anything left. I’ll tell you, it makes me sick what they do, these self-riteous cannibals of the spirit. They took you, a creative, intelligent and sensitive kid, and just because they were afraid of tcoloring outside the lines, or maybe, who knows? Maybe because they were jealous, they did every single fucking thing in their power to crush you. And you let them crush you. You hardly ever write anymore. You spend your days in your room watching t.v… or maybe you poke around on the Internet, or you write a clever sentence or two in your blog. You were brilliant, and now you're sitting there, like you're waiting to be called onto the stage or something.. like this is a dress rehersal for crissakes! I just get so frustrated.”
Stopping for a red light on the median of Park Avenue, I sighed, a wave of sadness, slight nausea, and the realization that I reall had allowed myself-- even after years of therapy, to become stagnant, a victim of others' conceptions. “So, what do I do now? I’m lost. I feel like I just don’t have anything inside me. No matter what I do, the ideas don't come. And when they do, it’s like I just don’t have the mental energy to do anything about it. So tell me, please, what do I do?”
The take-out was quiet for about ten seconds, then,
“I can't, I’m a vegetarian”
“You’re not exactly asparagus though you know.”
“If you eat me, the weight of your past will become like steam; in its’ dissipation, you’ll become light yourself. You’ll have drive, vision, and clarity. You’ll be able to let go of every failure you ever allowed yourself to be defined by.”
I opened up the white plastic box and the small green creature crawled out into my cupped hand. I looked into his face and he blinked back at me.
Paralyzed on the Park Avenue median, the traffic dissolved around me, and I closed my eyes.