I was there. And then I wasn’t. I signed dotted lines, moved furniture, bought produce and spent afternoons wandering Route 3 and the Cranberry Highway. I told myself it could be home, and then it wasn’t anymore. Just a few days after just a few important goodbyes, people wanted to know why I was back. What went wrong. What slipped between the floorboards. What the hell I had me with my tail tucked between my legs and my head slung low for once.
The better question would be, “What didn’t?”
The Occupy protesters in New Haven were hauled away yesterday. Disgruntled intellectuals who would rather camp than persist. Fixed-gear bikes, mummy sleeping bags, Mountain HardWear supplies, duct tape. I took a few walks around downtown when they were first assembling – meandering adventures around Yale with a would-be-more-than-friend-but-wasn’t. The Occupiers reminded me of very educated potheads, and yet we were in the same boat.
We still are, except my criminal record is still squeaky clean.
Coming back home was like having my ribs punched in, then being hugged by the assailant. I’m going back to the same job I did before I even finished college. A job I was qualified for because I passed a $500 certification test, and because I had the right body. The right mix of insanity and pep to get a client to bust out ten burpees and twenty pushups in a superset. I had the right hair.
I quit the fitness life to go back to school, get a Master’s, and be something greater than a bleach-blonde meathead-slash-artist-slash-musician-slash-writer, and did extremely well. I was the first one to get hired in my class, first one to speak up with an ample one-line comeback, the first one to get away with murderous jokes just by smiling. Funny, I’m more educated than ever and I find myself suddenly back in a place even worse off than I was when I started training.
In a tweet, “FML.”
Well, not exactly. The truth is I’m extremely lucky. I’m lucky no one I love has died when they came close to it. Lucky my best friends have been there for me in every conceivable way.
I am lucky to have the opportunity to surround myself with other creative, entrepreneurial people, lucky to have a fresh start in the place where my deepest roots first sprouted. Lucky to have found a clot of like-minded, non-Occupying, goldenhearted people with incredibly worn and dirty hands who know what it means to dig deep to make a difference.
I’m lucky, because the supreme pile of misfortune that has been the last few months has somehow stripped me of any ability I had left with with to feel fear. Things could easily continue to worsen from here, and if they do, so be it.
The best part about the bottom is being able to look up.
Musing Post T.S. Eliot
There are a few things I know about spirit. About love. About what fills the space between what we speak and where we pin the words together. Once in a while I lose the ability to speak because I can’t see the words. I can’t hear them in my head and I’m not ready to hear them out loud.
There are a few things I know about the consequences of speaking and not speaking. Of acting and not acting. All I can say is that I’m always honest, and it has been a long time since I felt I had much of anything to lose. The beauty of living wholeheartedly is that there’s usually very little left to tear from my fingers. I love quickly and fiercely. I react and recover and move forward like every day is a fury of summersaults. I don’t take time, and when I do it’s spent behind 88 black and white keys, with the crystalline intention of taking it slow.
I know a few things about pulling a story out into the open. A melody. A chord progression. I think it makes more sense in music than it does between people who are inherently less predictable.
I know how it feels to miss a beat and how it feels to skip one. To drop one. Or two. To cut time, syncopate and repeat.
None of these things involve fear. Fear is a separate animal. Fear is what happens when you begin to worry about what is happening. It’s what crawls into the space between thought and speech and digs its porcupine self into the most tender words before they unfurl. Regardless, I’d rather not believe there’s such a thing as feeling too much. It’s not a question of sensitivity so much as perception. I’d rather perceive as much as possible.
I know a thing or two about getting to know a thing or two.
I met Jon Luke and the rest of the 560 house by accident; I’d gone to pick up Lily for a night downtown and ended up in a house full of half-dressed rag dolls, the air filled with hookah and paint on the walls. Eventually everyone was in skin and paint; Animal Collective vibrated through the floorboards and Jon was the one with all the ideas. He was the ringleader. The storyteller. Was. He was the one who grew his own tea and never ate a single pesticide. He was the one who got a handful of us together to go watch the meteors from the water tower in Thornden. Was.
I think he’s still telling amazing stories from somewhere underground. Not everything about a person can die.
Tara left more of an impression on me in two hours than most do in two months. We sat on the front porch and talked about what it’s like to shape a body… at 3am. I remember something about raw milk, something about yoga not being enough.
I saw DR every week for one year. Just one year. No matter how much time has passed since I soaked up graduate Media Law, I will never forget his voice. If he’s still around the next time I’m upstate, I’ll probably still melt into a swooning schoolgirl the minute he starts talking about the free-flowing, wide-open …marketplace of ideas. An immune press. The damn establishment. Honesty. Every time I finish a piece, it’s not finished until it’s been through my internal “What Would Professor DR Think?” wringing.
Lola with her pearls and translucent crepe skin, her fabulous frown of disapproval. Brad with his wine and camera lenses. Lily with her laugh. Diep with her dresses and the kind of walking-talking insights that make it worthwhile to take the long way, on foot, in June, in South Carolinian heat. Sam with his wayfaring ways, free and alive.
The thing is, how long you’ve known a person is irrelevant. People are like cherry juice from concentrate and I have no problem with the unpredictable splashes. I love the stains. Come, leave, whatever. I will do the same, and if I can affect you as strongly as I have been affected by others, well, it’s been an honor. Life is too much fun to waste on the experiences that don’t stir you from the inside out.