My friend went into Silence at a retreat recently. I did, too, in a way. Somewhat in honor of her spiritual commitment; somewhat in just that she is someone with whom I correspond every day & for two days, there was no word. It was okay. I guess I am just being conscious now, perhaps because of the silence.
I have no close-up relations. I used the last of my minutes talking with my daughter of everyday lives, hers & mine. “How are you, Mom?” she asked. I’d just awakened from a nap, the prescience of a phone about to ring bringing me to wakefulness. “I’m a little depressed right now,” I replied. “What’s up?” “Oh, just an old sadness returning, an emptiness in an unexpected place; but I’ll get over it.” And we talked.
My lover said he would meet me in a week. A week doesn’t seem so long & faraway, does it? But as they say, time is relative, devious, grinding away at the clock in a relentless circle. I am still more than 24 hours from seeing him. There isn’t much of me left.
I have read six books, eaten many meals, fulfilled my volunteer obligations, answered emails, acted “normal,” hosted Open Mic with my stand-up comedy routine – jokes about churches this time. I did a little job in Hillsboro, picking up chinaberries from sidewalk cracks…seated on a yellow plastic bucket that sagged ever so gently, depositing me flat on my back & laughing.
I washed into & pulled myself out of a tidal cold, drinking more water than I ever have before. I wrote off a disappointing friend & wondered what to do with the card when it was returned to me as a wrong address. I wonder if that means we are still friends. She, too, let me down in a show of non-support, collapsing under my expectations, depositing me flat, but unsmiling.
I feel as though I am at the center of a map compass, all around me dials spin, decisions are made, lives are lived. I offer ideas to others seeking input & they sink below the radar quickly – all my questions unanswered, all my ways to set things straight set aside for no apparent reason. I am left once more with silence. Why did they ask me to help?
My body longs for a cigarette, it’s been weeks now since I last smoked & in my mind & heart I’ve quit… But I have said often that addiction is a comforting habit, familiar & ritualistic, a place where it isn’t just so alone anymore.
I buy hats made of feathers & wrap these around my plant holders. I walk the flea market, finding a perfectly-fitting blue ring with daisies in a wreath, a frowning half-moon pendant. Acquisitions like this are cheaper all around than smokes. But no one sees them & the gap they fill yawns once more after swallowing them whole.
I understand the deep feeling that causes one to walk off into the desert, to lie down until snakes slip close for body heat. I understand the wakeful wind pushing me into foolish choices, like a moonstruck cat. I sit, stolid, like a pole in a pier, holding up wood & fishermen while an ocean salts my feet.
Sometimes, there is only one thing to do: that is to endure.
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