Monday, September 17, 2007

The Woven Sky

Morning. A long weave of hope and anxiety patterns the sky. So much the same. The lurch and stumble towards new things comes to so much less than I think at the time. For good or ill, this is what I have: these hands, this heart.

But that's not quite true, either. There are holes, spaces, openings. Invitations. You make friends with them as you make friends with a wary cat. Slowly. Pretend it's not there. Put a little tuna in a saucer and set it on the ground, as if by hazard, and go about your business. But it's not that the cat has to learn to trust you; it's that you have to learn to trust the cat.

For reasons best known to itself, East-West held its commencement on the weekend before finals. It's an odd ceremony anyway -- nine months doesn't quite merit the formality of speeches and walking across the platform (in this case, to receive a rather aimless piece of paper commending our hard work, for of course they can't actually give us diplomas when we haven't finished the course) -- but too long to let pass without some marker. So the thing feels overelaborate, with some people taking it as a joke, and some taking it quite seriously. Some people dressed to the nines; some, like Clint and I, in old jeans, suspenders, metal-spiked bill-caps.

I love these people. I have been learning, slowly and painfully, to rest quiet with loving people. Not to be tormented by it, not to feel that there's something wrong that needs to be put right, not to hanker after acknowledgement. To welcome it as a good and complete thing, rather than as a hunger and an injury. It's been a difficult road.

Brooklyn. The same thing in spades. Much more than I can say. The immediate aftermath is melancholy and regret. Despite a publicly asserted policy of resisting agglommeration, I did no such thing. I agglomerated. I never had the private conversations I fully intended to have. I never said so many important things.

It was all too much, in a way. And ordinary group dynamics took their relentless way. I talked most with the people I'd already met face to face. One does, especially if one is shy, & my shyness got the better of me, over and over.

I had a wonderful time, don't mistake me. And I finally got to "meet" some people who are very dear to me. & next time, because of that, I will be less shy with them.

Feeling, as I do, so intimately connected with these people -- knowing them so well, and feeling so well-known by them -- I guess I couldn't help expecting that somehow that would make all the ordinary conditions of social interaction -- in which I am generally slow, awkward, and inarticulate -- vanish. Of course it doesn't, though it does mitigate them. And touch. Being able to give a couple chair massages -- and a rug massage -- was wonderfully restorative to me, and sustained me through more continuous social time than I have ever had in my life. I spent no time alone in Brooklyn. None. Extraordinary. I am well-known, in my family, for becoming impossible to be around if I miss even one of my solitary, two-hour, out-of-the-house breakfasts. Martha says that when I was at my worst, in my twenties, she learned never to stand between me and the door in the morning, lest I feel caged.

I don't quite know how to explain why touch should be restorative to me in the same way as solitude. But it is.

All that said -- I loved it. And I miss everyone intensely.

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