Today felt like fall, finally. The recalcitrant summer has raised its arms in defeat and gone into preparation for the next year, I hope it loses track of time and gives us a long, lively spring.
I told a friend of mine I’d not spoken with for sometime of the project Larry had given me of “developing an edge…I don’t want to toughen your tender heart, just for you to build a little shell around it.” And yet he tells me to “come down off the bleachers and join the game.”
“Seems like opposing efforts,” I said.
“Not at all,” he replied. I didn’t feel like arguing.
I told this friend over the phone, he said, “You sound different, you sound like you’re getting that edge.” I received this with a sense of satisfaction and sadness. Coming from him I knew there was some disappointment that I’d even engage in such an endeavor. He thinks I ought to always live in “AmyLand” as Larry calls my dreamy idealistic state that leads to skipping steps and soft singing at any random time.
I don’t know that I feel the edge. I still want to believe every word the ladies in recovery say despite the knowledge they may be wheedling or manipulating or using me. I still wander through the terrain or my inner landscape arriving back in the moment without a clue where I’ve been. I approach the development of an edge with caution, knowing a part of me exists already with a proclivity toward cynicism. Then, even Jesus said, “be wise as serpents and gentle as doves.” it is possible to balance, to love in truth. Truth is hard. Love is hard too, come to think of it.
I feel the load I’ve been laboring under lately is lifted, at least lightened. Our fourth roommate moved in yesterday. I came home from work and walked into a room full of furniture. “This doesn’t look like my apartment,” I thought. Lindsey, Amblyn and I have been spending the last two months on camp chairs and sleeping bags. Maureen had said she didn’t plan on bringing her furniture until Sheila was gone.
“I saw the empty room and thought, ‘Oh hell, I have so much nice furniture to share.’” She said in her matter of fact, shrugging way. Maureen is lovely. Last night I cooked dinner for she and Amblyn and I. When Lindsey came home we set up the living room, put pictures on the wall, celebrated a house that looks like a comfortable home.Earlier that day I’d had a meeting with Martha, my manager, Larry’s wife; the model of a mature women who has mastered the dualism of professionalism and femininity, gentleness and strength. Just being around Martha is a pleasure. Having a meeting was even more so. It was our first since I’d started working. Of everything we discussed that hour the greatest for me was the reassurance that she was happy I was there. I am still such a child, longing for approbation.
In Martha and Larry I’ve found the mentors I often wished for in my adolescence. I wanted someone who could see potential in me while aware of the roughness that shielded it. In my experience most people either see only all good and are enamored, or they are indifferent, regardless of what they see. An example of how Larry and Martha defy this: My inability to make a confident decision and aversion to even attempting this is maddening to Larry (and debilitating in my line of work) who levels a blow with immediacy and accuracy. While we were sitting on the porch swing outside the admin building the other day, lamenting the tenacious grip of summer temperatures, I said,
“We may as well be in
“Yeah, but I hated
“See there. I believe that deep in your marrow you want to make decisions.”
“If you really do that’s something I’m willing to help you with.”
And Martha. In our meeting she calmly assured me.
“Maybe these things you’re perceiving as personal weaknesses are just areas you’ve never been exposed to.” There are expectations that are high, but not unreasonable. Practical, precise Martha counsels me on the value of checklists, appropriate questions and at the end of it all, acceptance. For the first time in my life I am encountering adults that I trust and respect almost on a level with my parents. And how precious it is to witness their love for one another. Today, with the wind blowing yellow leaves from trembling grey branches; Larry, Martha and I walked from the house to the admin. building. He put his arm around her shoulder and cradled her tiny frame. She laced her fingers through his. They laughed together over something I can’t remember.
Today Larry took to calling me “Pickle.”
“That’s a good nickname, I think I’ll stick to that…I’m going to make a pickle song just for you (Larry is a master of impromptu ditties, even the lawnmower man has a theme song). You’ll be surprised when we’re in a meeting and I introduce you, ‘Here’s Amy ‘Pickle’ Nee’.”
I wouldn’t be too surprised.
Re-reading this I’m a little amazed and ashamed. I do need to get off the bleachers. Even when I’m physically in the game my mind sits up there, watching. I’m focusing on a single player, the one that’s out there running around brainless because her minds too busy watching herself to be engaged.