The poetry open mic was pretty much what I anticipated. A lot of lost hazy longing with a sprinkling of downtown urban angst and charged, probing sexuality.
It was a time in my life when, besides the hours spent in the Bible Room of the Cafe, I had a lot of time on my hands. Once, largely due to poor attendance, I even found myself a judge in a Slam Poetry event. Naturally, I was out of synch, marking the slow limpid pieces high and the showy harangues, crammed with verbal pyrotechnics, lower.
On this particular night I decided for the first and last time to take the stage. I didn’t have anything prepared, but I had a story–poetic at its core–I wanted to share.
It was my story, of course, but it was much more than that I felt. It went something like this.
There was a young man raised to believe sports, mathematics and the sciences were all important. For the most part, he was dead to everything else, although Life brimmed over here and there in wild drunkenness and inexplicable rages.
Narrow-minded and confined, he entered University to pursue his love of sports and physics. There he met a young woman. She would often be encountered in the hallway finger painting and drawing, maybe strumming a guitar. It was all so foreign to him he frequently scoffed, but she was beautiful and he experienced a strange unaccountable interest in what she was up to.
It’s somehow important to know nothing romantic ever passed between them, then or in the years afterward.
Well, the school year ended and they both went their separate ways. He back to his sports and little else and she to another city. But something was changing inside him. It was as if whatever she had been up to in the hallway, the painting and music, had touched a part of him that had been asleep.
Many years past, and they kept in sporadic touch. She built a modest career in modeling and acting while he…took his reasonably decent physics mind and turned it upon the problem of Life.
He read and learned a great deal on such subjects as history, philosophy, theology and religion, art, psychology, biology, and literature. But always something eluded him, an ordering principle, the key to it all.
She worked on her career and had a number of relationships, some short and some long. One day he was fortunate enough to be present at her wedding on a sunny mountaintop overlooking the ocean outside of Los Angeles.
Again, time passed. They were simply two people working out their destinies as best they could.
The young man, not so young anymore, traveled here and there, worked now and then, and all the while pursued what he saw as that missing key that would put everything he had learned in order.
One night, alone as he had grown accustomed to, he thought he would catch up with his friend down in LA. He dialed her number.
“Uh, hello?” It was her husband and in the background he could hear her moaning and crying out. ‘They’re making love,’ flashed through his mind, ‘but why would he be answering the phone?’
“Uh, we can’t talk right now,” the voice said, “we’re in the middle of having our baby.” Again, he heard her cry out.
And that’s pretty much the end of the story I had to tell. Oftentimes, we meander through our lives unaware of the role we are playing for others as they meander through theirs’.
And the missing key to it all? She, who completely unaware started me on my journey, handed it to me over the phone that strange fortuitous night.
Life is ALL there is.
I dedicate this post to her. Lisa.
If you have seen the Bruce McDonald film ‘Dance Me Outside’ you have seen her too, riding the back of a motorcycle.
Have a great weekend.