in a museum.

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On Friday I bought cold pasta salad from the grocery store down the road and ate it in the parking lot with a plastic fork. My friend called to say hi. She said you sound better and I wondered: how did I sound before?

I parked a quarter of a mile from the museum to save ten dollars in parking fees. The neighborhoods I drove through were old and tired, small apartment buildings with peeling facades and large, oppressive gates.

I picked the wrong day for the museum. There were too many kids, too many class trips. There are two thousand children in the museum today so you can’t just stand around in here with them, I heard one gift shop employee tell one overwhelmed chaperone.

I put my headphones in my ears. They helped drown out the low hum of energy coming from the constantly excited third graders.

I wrote about museums the other week. How they offer a measure of home when you might otherwise not have one. How they become familiar; how you can almost own them. How the price of admission gets you quiet halls (usually) and priceless artwork and even more priceless solitude.

I walked through the seashells, the gemstones, the bird wing and the room of North American mammals.

Then I went outside. It was hot in the sun with an steady breeze that made it bearable.

I took off my shoes and wrote for one hour on a stone bench.

When I got up, my legs were stiff. My butt was sore.

When I got up, I felt lighter. I felt better. I felt like I’d finally done something right. In three weeks of car crashes and stomach ulcers and ambulance rides and hospital stays, I felt like I’d finally pulled my head above water.

I wasn’t drowning anymore; I’d remembered how to float.

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photographs taken at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

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