Saturday, September 28, 2013


It's as if I had a silk streamer tacked to the back of my head, and every time I stop quickly, or turn to look at something, a long colorful trailer floats across my field of view. It's my own motion, but it seems alien, colorful, distracting: and how it comes to be attached to me, I can't well say.

So. It's a small thing, but it jives all too well with feeling deracinated. I am awkward, ill at ease, at once too formal and too confidential. A species of survival guilt, maybe, though I don't honestly know if I've survived, nor if anyone else has perished. And anyway, melodramatic gesturing does no good to man nor beast. What's wanted is sober work.

I suppose. One of my clients always brings me a glass of water, and she or I always place it on the same corner of the same bookshelf. Sometimes I drink it all, sometimes I forget it: but that's our place. I feel like the pieces of my life that still work are like that spot: a bit of territory marked out by time and custom, comfortable, familiar, assumed -- and yet, it could be gone forever, in one flickering shift of intention. Nothing, I feel, is very stable or very assured. I have built up my life out of these little habits, these concessions, and one by one they will drop away again. I want to memorize that shelf, photograph it, versify it. But I don't even know if my memory of the wood is to be trusted. In my mind's eye it's raw, unstained, unvarnished, unpainted, but that hardly seems likely. In what sense, then, can I think of it as mine? But I can think of nothing I own in any more convincing sense. The silk floats in front of my eyes.

I want to reach out to people, but the old people are too old, and the new people are too new. I breathe in the scent of raw wood, and of the rain-beaten vines behind the house, and of my massage oil. This is, simply, an in-between time, and no good will come of denying that. It's like that moment in meditation, when I have settled my attention on my breath, and my breathing stops, and for a moment I am fighting an absurd panic: what if it never starts again?

What to do? Easy. Wait. The breath comes again. It always does, in the space of a few heartbeats. Or anyway, it always has so far. And the panic dissolves, and the swirl slows, and the sand begins to settle at the bottom of the glass. "Wait, for hope would be hope for the wrong thing."

So I will wait, and let the folds of fabric fall into place around me. The breath will take care of itself. The love I have set in motion will rise and fall again, lifting my ribs and my collarbone. There is not, in fact, any stopping it.


carolee said...

i love this.

rbarenblat said...

This is an in-between time for me, too. It's disconcerting. I want to hasten it away. I'm trying to learn to just sit with it. Easier said than done.

The love I have set in motion will rise and fall again, lifting my ribs and my collarbone. There is not, in fact, any stopping it.

Yes. Yes. This. One of my few certainties, these days.