“Message in a Bottle”
The throw of the dice this week lands on adventures in livingness; friendships.
The subject pierced me yesterday morning, and came by way of Anais Nin, a passage in her diary.
“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”
― Anaïs Nin, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 1: 1931-1934 Today, the first in several months that the atmosphere is ripe with thought, and has brought me back to the writing of the moment. The delivery trucks have not opened their doors and dropped their ramps, the garbage trucks have already passed, and the traffic is so slight it feels like Sunday.
Fall is brushing nature with a varnish of sunshine all day, the sky is swimming pool blue, and so I sit in the garden on the lounge chair, shaded by the droopy elm tree. I hear some cheerful shouting on the sidewalk, a horn breaks the sanctuary, and then a dove lands on the wooden lattice and we watch each other. I breathe deep, close my eyes, and feel my noon time tuna sandwich thumping in my belly.
The stream of consciousness is threaded to the deeper blanket of anxiousness. I am going in circles, not physically like I have been moving from one bedroom to another, one closet to another to accommodate, the vacation rental guests. I am in the circle of chaos that seeps into every day activities. Tempers are flaring, combative street encounters rouse the hum of music on my porch, authoritarian behavior is exhuming from Managers and Owners, employees are jumping ship everywhere. People are relocating, selling possessions, or using succulent lips and breasts to lease men for financial support. We are all a bit edgy.
Just as we adapt to one highland of composure we lose another. On Yom Kippur I attended synagogue in Santa Fe. There were only a few empty seats, so I took one and opened my prayer-book. I tried to read the portion I missed but the two women behind me were chatting. The expectation of searching your soul does not come easy when two women are talking. The same annoyance follows me everywhere; I always end up seated next to the talkers. Whether it’s in on an airplane, a restaurant, or a movie theater, the talkers seem to trail me. The passages from Yom Kippur service remind us of: sensitivity, tolerance, love of thy neighbor, selflessness, jealously, and trust. There I sat, silently scolding the two women who continued to chatter and laugh. Rather than deter my soul-searching, I changed seats, and asked forgiveness for my intolerance. Above all my flaws and quirks, the altar of shame lies in the hiss of distrust. It is a hiss that rises from my gut, and enters my brain. It wasn’t always a malignancy; as a young adult I trusted everyone, unless they asked me questions about my Dad. In recent years, the tumor of trust has splintered friendships. The Rabbi chose the subject of trust as his closing narrative. He said that a person who suffers from lack of trust, runs the risk of becoming paranoid. I sank lower on my inner backbone. Yes, that seepage of paranoia has invaded my trusting heart. When I got home Rudy was painting the new double pane door to my room.
“How was the service? Hand me that screw will you?” He asked
“Guess what the Rabbi talked about?” I said and handed him the screw.
“Well of course that’s embedded in the Torah. But his personal message was about trust.”
Rudy continued to insert the door into the archway with his screw-gun. “You inherited distrust from your father, I don’t know if you can rid yourself of it.”
“I have to!”
“Good. I’m so hurt when you don’t trust me, I mean after thirty years.”
“You still lie.”
“They’re not lies; they’re white lies, so people don’t get hurt.”
“But I know when you’re lying.”
“I know you do.”
“And the lies really hurt.”
“Well then we’re both guilty.”
“You still don’t get it.”
“Yes, I do. You’re not listening to me.”
“You’re right. I’m about feeling, and you’re about telling. ”
Why do we lie; is it to protect the other person’s feelings or
is it because we use deceit and dishonesty to get what we want, If we could change a single human gene; it would be the fib factor. Just imagine how different our life would be.
Reader View: Random chats make life sweeter
Posted: Saturday, June 8, 2013 10:00 pm
One day at a time. People with terminal illness, suffering from a shattered romance, a death of a friend, a natural disaster, always say the same thing: One day at a time.
Walking up Palace Avenue on a day spread with sunlight, and a continuum of power walkers, bikers and runners, passing by in whiffs of urgency, I took my time. I didn’t feel like flexing, just evaporating into the shadows and the moving clouds. I walked by a little adobe that once was a dump site for empty bottles, cartons, worn-out furniture and piles of wood. A year later, the yard is almost condominium clean. Just as I was passing the driveway, the little woman whom I’d seen walking up Palace with her bag of groceries, appeared like a gust of history in the driveway of her adobe casita. She wore her heavy, blanket-like coat and a bandanna on her head. Regardless of weather, she’s bundled up in the same woven Indian coat and long wool skirt. I stood next to her, a foot or so taller, and she unraveled history, without my prompting. She told me about the Martinez family, the Montoyas and the Abeytas, all families she knew, all with streets named after them.
Estelle asked me my name, and then took my hand in her weathered unyielding grip, “Oh, I had an Aunt named Lucero, and we called her LouLou.” She didn’t let go of my hand, and then she told me that the families, some names I’ve forgotten, bought homes on Palace in 1988 for $50,000, She shook her finger to demonstrate her point. “You know how many houses they bought? Five! Then they fixed them up and sold them.”
I could have stood there in the gravel driveway listening to Estelle all afternoon. She owns the oral history I love to record; but it is difficult to understand her, she talks with the speed of a Southwest wind. We parted and I thought about the times in my life when the smallest of interactions elevates my spirit. In older people, who are not addicted to gadgets and distant intimacy, I’m reminded of how speed socializing has diminished the opportunity for a sidewalk chat.
Luellen “LouLou” Smiley is a creative nonfiction writer and award-winning newspaper columnist.
Posted in My view on Saturday, June 8, 2013 10:00 pm.