Edited to include photos.
Transitions. I suck at them. Even small ones. That’s a big part of why I spent the first 7 years of my adult life moving every chance I had. To try and scour out my fear of liminal states.That didn’t work too terribly well, it just made me afraid of myself as a harsh and arbitrary mistress in addition to being afraid of liminal states.
There’s a quote from The Places That Scare You. She was mildly complaining to her Buddhist teacher that she had trouble being in transition and he looked at her blankly and said “You’re always in transition. Once you figure that out you’ll be fine.”
So I guess as long as you know that you’re not secure and you don’t mind not being secure, everything is okay.
We got back from Minneapolis yesterday afternoon. It’s hot here and smells like growing things, a smell I hate and have always hated. I don’t always understand things until I say them out loud, and yesterday I said out loud, “I associate the smell of spring with violence.”
“Physical violence or just the violence of the living?”
He said, “I think you have a lot of heat. I like that growing smell, it makes me get out and do things. It makes me rrrrrrrrh! Mrr! Arh! It makes me want to fight things. You’re already there all the time.”
I am. I regularly want to fight things and the sensation that the entire planet wants to fight too is unnerving. I’ve learned though, that as in a storm, everything feels worse from inside the house. Once you are out in the rain, out in the peculiar violence of grass growing, it’s not that it’s less but that you are a part of it. The separation magnifies fear. It can be so hard to go outside though, you are so cozy and hermit crab in your little room, that it is a positive act of heroism to open the door. And once you do you feel okay! Not great, necessarily. Not all better. But no longer like you’re going to burst, or cry, or have your whole body spiral down into your own belly button from sheer strangeness.
We rode bikes along the greenway to the grocery store. The greenway looks like the future. It is an asphalt path winding between abandoned hospital buildings and barbed wire fences, brand new beer/bicycle shops and dazed empty fields. Sometimes there is a subterranean canal. Sometimes there are houses and strangers on porches, although I suppose they are on their own damn porches and so I am the stranger. There is someone in this city who spray paints manicured monster hands on those abandoned buildings in pink and green, sometimes with hand bags in them, or the words, “You go girl.” I suspect it’s advertising, but I want it not to be so I don’t look it up.
There was a Rumi poem I read on the train, about not squandering yourself on distractions, so that your longing for the divine will remain “rich and musky.” Everything smells like that, like it’s getting stronger, and building up and has no release valve. There will be a storm.
This morning was strange too. I slept in just the sheet, and dreamed about being so tired I was tipping over, but staying awake (in the dream) to hunt for giant tree turtles. I think it is very unfair to dream that you’re tired while you are asleep.
I woke and sat up and did my practice right away. I had a mission to get up and out, onto the bike again, but I waited too long and lapsed back into bed because I was trying to want things that I didn’t. Silly small self deceptions can do us in just as bad as big ones. Figure out what you want and want that.
I managed to get out eventually, by limiting the horizon of things to do. Water. I needed to buy water, because our tap water is a little suspect. I went, I bought water, and en route I was mugged by a bouquet of lilies. I brought lilies into my parents’ house last year for Easter, and it was by them that one of our cats died. Here there are no animals and so I will have flowers, even if they make me think on death or fault.
I took clothes to Goodwill and tried to find flippy floppies (hot. hot hot hot here. hot.) but to no avail. I had smiled at the security guards as I came in and one of them came prowling up to me in the shoe aisle, asking my name and where I stayed and if it were with my boyfriend. “Husband,” I respond sunnily. (Legally, a lie, but for all intents and purposes the truth.) He is hurt, disgruntled, says, “I was gonna try and see you.” What a mess. If you don’t smile, you’re a jerk, if you smile you’re inviting attention and are a tease. I tried not to feel guilty and succeeded after a minute. What business is it of his? I may smile as I please and have it mean nothing except that I’m happy. You can tell from this tirade that I still feel uneasy in myself about the whole exchange.
As I left (flipflopless) I veered briefly and with great concentration into evening gowns while he passed me by and then slunk to my car.
There was a plastic water bottle of sourdough starter in my backseat that I’d forgotten for about a month. I scavenged it out looking for things to give away. Aaron and I had a sort of, hmm, audition? Hanging out? People trying to steal our songs? Some sort of something with a couple in Uptown, who kindly gave me the starter, which I naturally forgot, because you can’t remember everything after all. I had the good sense to open it, not actually in the car, but neither having got out of the car. It exploded, as I knew but hoped it wouldn’t. The inside of my car door is spackled now.
I went to Flora’s Cafe then, to try and write all this to you, but I met Jones. She’s from New Jersey and we know each other because she was walking down my block one day with a ukulele on her back and one of my neighbours buttonholed her and brought her into my backyard where I was standing over burning yard waste, like an extra from Wuthering Heights with a hoe in my hand and a cigarette in my mouth and a flowered dress flapping around my ankles. He knew we were a musical household and as such decided that all passing musicians should be brought to us. I gave her tea and a ride to a hostel and so we are friends now. Ali, who owns Flora, loves Jones and he brought us free burritos and salad. We had both eaten but I am loathe to refuse kindness and Jones is not possessed of a loud voice so we sat down to our burritos. Mohammad, Ali’s friend, brought out the detached hood of a car painted with an enormous phoenix and leaned it against the dumpster. Jones and I went to examine it. He may have managed to pawn it off on her, I left before that business was completed. Ali prodded Mohammad to sit down with us, “between two angels,” with a box of food Mohammad did not want. “Ali, I have told you, I have told you, I just ate, I’m not hungry, you must ask first.” Ali picks up the fork, spears a piece of chicken and puts it gently but firmly between Mohammad’s lips. They complain at each other, with Jones and I as stage props for their interdependent monologues. Mohammad pronounces google as “googly.” I am charmed, but I want to work, so I eat half my burrito and get a box. I am labeled as ungrateful by Ali. I call him a grandmother. I go get a box, and he gives me a kiss, and I give Jones a kiss, and I run away.
I went home and managed to mostly avoid all the musicians in the living room. I put the lilies in a vase and our room tastes green now. I overheard that a bartender at Mag’s has killed himself. The one with the moustache. I express regret and am told that he was a racist and probably killed himself because he couldn’t take being racist anymore. I bite my tongue. Better to not be racist but I won’t celebrate a suicide, no, never.
Now I am at Envie, a cafe bar with a bald barista in a mesh poncho presiding. I’ll go soon, Aaron is playing a show and I’ll be playing on the street til late and when he’s done we’ll be joined again to go home to our hot green bedroom to try not to hear the dryer squeaking and to look into each other’s eyes as often as we can muster the courage to be loved.