A beautiful, laughing black woman in scrubs taking a walk with her boyfriend. A wispy white hipster girl with pixie hair & Risky Business sunglasses. I'm holding my coffee mug and a book, waiting for the signal at Fletcher & Huron at 10:22 am on a Saturday in June. I walk through the silent festival venue, passing a bewhiskered, muscley young man walking what appears to be a small red bear with a fox's tail. He's wearing the same glasses as the pixie girl, but without the sun protection.
The fountain creates a calming backdrop to the maddening chirp of the chipmunk, who increases his volume & frequency as he notices me watching him. His voice echoes, after a moment's delay, in the vibration of the metal streetlamp post behind me. There are sirens, far away, like the sun, muted by the morning cloud duvets.
Tiny gold florets in flowers that look like pieces of cauliflower - if only Sandra were here to tell me what they are.
The echo isn't an echo after all; it's a second chipmunk.
Just outside my apartment building is a cement trunk, dumping its load through a chute angled into my neighbor's backyard. It is probably what woke me, along with the 7 am sunshine happy to find no serious resistance in my almost transparent window-shade. Michael loses his mind over that window-shade. It doesn't block light, doesn't darken the bedroom, doesn't provide privacy. I don't want it to. It does its job perfectly, which is to suggest privacy, and to soften edges, without denying me my window to the world. I certainly sleep sounder, more deadlike, in spaces with blackout curtains. But I am not convinced I sleep better. The disorientation of waking in a space that has no connection to anything larger, to opening curtains and finding a world that went on moving without me and seems not to give a damn...I find the process of reintegrating on those mornings very unsettling, the work to rejoin the stream of life seems to undo whatever benefit I gained from uninterrupted sleep. I don't want my waking and sleeping to be so divorced from one another.
Tami mentioned last night enjoying seeing me re-emerge on Facebook, into my summer self. Slower, more thoughtful. I may have too much divorce between my winter and summer selves, between my work and leisure selves, to accommodate a fierce break in conscious states.
A butterfly landed on my bare toes and ran away when I turned to look at what was tickling me. Unless it was a lizard, or frog. It's in the cauliflower-flower stalks, small brown foot-tickler. Chipmunk Primo ran by the other foot to join his companion. My coffee cup is empty & I can't focus on Marie-Louise Von Franz. Bell towers and giggling teens on campus tours and the birds are so damn happy they don't have to wear a bra or be punctual or make good choices.
I gave up and laid down fully on the cool cement wall of the raised bed. I saw a woman who looked like Adrienne laying down on a bench the other night waiting for the bus, thoughts of "Rock on" warring with "Be considerate of others and how much space you are taking up." The former won, along with a bit of jealousy at her fearlessness, thinking I could never do that. I've sat up even now. People judge. People expect you to anticipate their needs. They shouldn't need to ask you to behave yourself.
I lay down again. The cement is so cool. Welcome back, Jolie.
The ribbon on the Mylar balloon scuffs the donation pillar. The sun makes a break from the duvet.
I wondered as I walked here about the work/summer divorce, and whether I should be more integrated. Does holding your breath for ten months so you can roll in daisies (or have your nose tickled by cauliflower-flowers) create more or less wholeness and goodness in my life? Would it not be wiser to be more moderate?
Education isn't a profession of moderation, though, for educators. No one expects a teacher to do a moderate job. They want a miracle. Miracles don't need to use the restroom at regular intervals and they don't accept "good enough."
I don't have a classroom of shining child faces any longer. Perhaps this is the time to explore moderation? Even though nothing about me is moderate, even though I work best fluctuating from extremes, unable to leave the library stacks until the entire collection has been shelf-read, unable to open my work email or follow a schedule of any kind in July. Is my window-shade moderate? Or is it just a way to get away with another extreme?
Michigan itself is extreme. This planter was the epitome of frozen desolation a few months ago. David commented last night on the copper dedication plaque for the fountain, how the plows had not been kind to it. How can his brain even connect the neurons required to look at sun-warmed metal & concrete and imagine snow plows?
The air is soft now. The sun is reminding me I haven't applied any SPF. Chipmunk Primo ran back to his start point, and then went off searching for the foot-tickler in the flowers.
I notice my bladder. Marie-Louise wrote an entire couple of pages about the significance of human urination, the unstoppable force, its significance as a symbol of human instincts & nature. I smiled reading it, thinking she had never talked to a teacher. Everything she said about urination was entirely false for anyone who's ever worked a job where they were "on the floor": factory, retail. I suppose most of her clients and friends were of a certain social class.
I don't know if breathing more shallowly all year through would be better, worse, more authentic, more stable than the sprint/collapse I live now. I know last week's training during my first week off filled me with unreasonable rage & comical distress. I am not supposed to be working. I have ten weeks off and this three days is an unacceptable encroachment of my privilege. Not sure if it would have been so inconceivable if it had happened a bit later, after I'd had a week to start breathing again.
The sun is hot enough now. I will join the crush of youthful drunk strangers at the river. I will separate my floatation device and wander down the river alone, with their voices in the distance. Slowly, thoughtfully, breathing.