“Hello from the other side.” – Adele
I was just lying face down on the floor of my childhood bedroom. Stretching out my spine, after the last night in this loaner bed of our annual summer trip, back to where so many of my patterns either first revealed themselves or were first set into motion. Or some of both — it can be two things.
Fifty light lumbar bends, ten deep press-ups, a hundred reverse sit-ups, three songs, a few deep sighs, a passing attempt at practicing my breathing, and I start to feel like a whole person again, ready for a new day. “Hello, can you hear me?”
Lying on the carpet, five feet from where I first so happily had sex, with a girl I was absolutely, astonishingly in love with. Also five feet from where I fell in love again, at least one and a half times, and processed a broken heart, at least twice. Hmm… speaking of patterns. Here, in this room now where I type on a borrowed laptop, here is where I learned how to put those shards back together into a rough mosaic; just barely complete enough to take that heart back into the world and give it another go.
The things that come up from free writing; from ‘daily pages’. The things I’m willing to share now. Interesting.
Lying here, now sitting here, sifting through impressions of the people that mattered to me most when that room was the center of my life’s gravity. Many things I can’t say there, because while it’s my right to tell my story however I want, it’s not right to tell the parts that intersect with others’ stories too much. I owe them far too great a debt of gratitude to say things they’d probably I rather not say. They know who they are, and how they helped make me me.
I can say that I remember learning to juggle with Wade, R.E.M. on the stereo. All those late high school afternoons. Cassette tapes and Slurpees and… God — what did we talk about? Who were those adolescent boys, quickly and recklessly becoming men? Probably 94% about girls, and the rest music. Perhaps a little bit about juggling, but probably not as much as it would seem obvious to me to discuss now. I didn’t really know anything about craft or the process of learning a mechanical skill then. I wouldn’t have analyzed it this way, because it’s one of the things that taught me how to do this.
I also can’t remember whose idea it was to make that a “project” — ah, so great — but it was almost certainly his. I always leaned towards the bolder, creative types for friends. People who would drag me from my reluctant shell, like a gull dropping some gooey crustation from the air to the hard packed sand, to pop it open and see what was inside. Wade prompted me to learn to juggle, Eric to draw and play guitars, Cindy to see myself as an artist. S… well, yeah. There’s another one I can’t say, exactly, but I think fair to put it that she showed me one way to love.
I saw Wade yesterday for the first time in two years; an appointment carefully planned in advance and crammed into overly-full middle-aged lives, because I narrowly missed him last year and it made me so angry and sad. We had indoor street tacos which were unbelievable, and I told him almost everything about this past unbelievable year, and he told me things about his view of the world and Buddhism that would have been literally unbelievable to my locked in, Black Iron Prison brain but that now seem not only wise but very compelling. Go figure on that one, author of a blog called Alms for Oblivion.
Anyways, he and I learned together, 30 years ago — where were you then? I’m afraid I know — how to keep three balls in the air pretty well. Bouncing along to the rhythm of “Orange Crush” and “Ages of You” and “Bandwagon”. Improbably, with very few reps in the intervening years, I can still do it. Not listen to old songs on the “stereo” — juggle. At least, for a moment. I could do it better with a little practice.
Everything gets better, with a little practice.
And I was thinking the other week about how I never learned to add a fourth ball. It’s not 25% harder; it’s exponentially harder. Like a completely different thing. In my new life, with my new brain, that seems like a good thing to try to figure out. It seems like a project. It’s now on my list.
I’m in California dreaming of the way we used to be, when we were young and free…