I have bought the rights to this table and the generic cheer of the barista, for this hour. Weathered and sanded, golden wood table in round, metal-framed windows twice my height face an intersection, drive-thru between. Can’t concentrate on a topic–achievement testing for homeschoolers? Freud’s reality principle? Maybe just a photo gallery post or recipe? Then I am pulled into the music: “Hold me still; bury my heart” I see colors, cars moving, words: “UNITED Furniture Warehouse. BevMo! Big 5 Sporting Goods. Weight Watchers.” Cars on the four-lane in front–vans and mini-SUVs and sedans, earth tones and blue. The boat being pulled toward the launch. The maples and boxwoods lining the drive-thru and along the Wal-Mart parking lot burst with life and still free of wind-blown garbage. Guitar strumming minor chords, “Ohhh…” This one is bow on strings, and I my heart responds at the same time to caffeine, and the entrance into the resounding percussion, full riff of three cords and base line that follows the quiet entry into universal human themes. One of those sure-fire musical formulas for emotional engagement …Can’t…get…taken …in. Sounds like REM, so irresistible. Mental note to look for more music, try to learn some and call up my always-ready-to-jam neighbor friend.
I am two people, if not more. One, she steps back and observes people, society, ideas, and herself–identifying principles, drawing what conclusions she may. The student of life, the note-taker, philosopher, organizer. Filing away notebooks and journals, tagging photos, balancing bottom lines. Out in public, she hopes to drift around anonymously, not see anyone she knows. If she does, perhaps she’ll just make a quiet clicking noise to herself, and pretend not to notice them. As long as she has something to write or read, she’s happy to be alone at her table. Wanting to record, understand, get to the bottom of things and explain. Ideas and truth are the beautiful things. Not tidy conclusions and clear doctrines–wasn’t brought up that way. Deep and insightful things, articulate, intelligent, occasionally witty. At home she gets buried in to do lists and attempts to be a better housekeeper and homeschool organizer, translate ideas into practice. She is easy for me to identify–it’s done by objective observation.
The other one, she’s not so easy to describe–her aura flows along under it all, occasionally comes up dancing, laughing so much she cries, other times keening, or throwing things. Feels for people, falls for people, tired of living behind a veil, ready to brave honesty from others. Lately it seems like she needs more air to breathe, more music for sure. She’s drawn toward morning light, feels fulfilled after working the mixing bowl, has her hands in the soil, stops for bird song, poetry. All the beauty and pain she has ever experienced is still there, resonates in poetry and music, but how is it that so far, no one in her present world really knows her? Fact is, I don’t like her to be known–too embarrassing. But something about her is me, and maybe before I’m much nearer fifty, all the ugly beauty will have to show.
One evening in my twenties I waded into the alfalfa field beside my parents house. Almost dark, clouds boiled up from the earth and now rolling along with the wind currents from the bay. Playing the alfalfa like a piano keyboard on a tilt-a-whirl. Maybe I went there hurt or distraught–I don’t remember, but there was this sense of it not being fair that I couldn’t share the sensations with anyone, as if it was a concert, a great movie or a cheesecake. I could try, like my dad, painter, writer, sharing across a void, but sometimes distant from those nearby. Or I could, like Mom, call, “Come see!” and hope someone really would–come run around, arms up in the wind, and share, really share it all. The hard part was, and is, would anyone see, be able to overlap that sphere of understanding?
Once I started laughing at some funny human incident–I was so tickled I started to gasp, then without warning I burst into tears. Another time I was feeling pain, not even at the bottom of it yet, and I decided, just like that, all done, and swallowed my tears back down. There’s that shift, back and forth, and the gears grind too much, really. That’s all I know for now. So, bring on more music.