Sunday, July 17, 2005

Yes, well, I have no oomph to write this post, so make of the sentences in between the photos whatever you want

A lawyer, an artist and a law prof set out for Devil’s Lake State Park. It was 100 degrees outside. At least. The artist was tired, the law prof was completely out of sorts and the lawyer was raring to go swimming.

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At a table next to ours we encountered a group of Poles from Chicago. How did I guess they were Polish? Well, the language, of course. And the swimming Speedos on the men! We chatted for a while. It felt like home. Safe. Like, get me out of this world and take me to my homeland. But then, where is my homeland?

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The lawyer and I took a canoe out. We left the artist to do his thing. The lake was spectacularly cool and calming. It should have calmed me. It should have.

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Back at the shore, we found the artist…. Reading.

Oh sure, he did some watercolor stuff as well. But no big canvases for him today. I knew exactly where he was coming from.

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I suggested ice cream. The servers were two Polish students, picking up some money during a summer in America. They hated their employer. Why? The first day on the job he told them: basically, I hate foreign workers, but I have no choice but to hire you. Downhill after that.

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At this point the lawyer wanted us to go swimming, but the law prof said no. The lack of oomph was catching up. The idea of changing into swim gear, then out again, was overwhelming. So the swim was scrapped and the great hike took place.

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The last time I took this trail was in July, 1981 – ergo, 24 years ago. I was very pregnant with my first child. Hope. It’s all about hope. I’d never in my life felt so hopeful as that month, back in 1981. I could easily say that today I was on a completely opposite slope. Isn’t it funny how one spot – a bunch of rocks around Devil’s Lake can leave such lasting impressions one way or another? Oh, and another thing: then, back in 1981, I was terrified of going into labor, right there, on the cliffs of Devil’s Lake. Now, in 2005, I felt terrified of … nothing.

A long post about not jumping into the pool

Say you have some major life’s changes in front of you that include, but are not limited to a move. Say nice neighbors convince you to go to the neighborhood pool party which is technically for pool members only, but nice friends get special permission from the board to allow you to come. (And no, it had nothing to do with the fact that the pres of the board is a former student of mine. Though you know you are getting along in your teaching career when the phrase “a former student of mine” keeps cropping up in all sorts of unusual settings, including at the neighborhood pool.)

Say you are in the kind of mood that makes you not show up for things and kind neighbors have noted this about you and so they come knocking at your door just before the pool party. And let’s assume you are sort of glad they did, as the alternative, sitting at home, will most likely lead you to be overwhelmed at all that needs to be done and steps that need to be taken and so you will do nothing but read a dumb book or, even more likely, stare at the computer screen wondering how many seconds have to elapse before the screen saver will require you to reach over and touch the pad so that the wallpaper, which is a pretty photo from Giverny, will reappear.

Say you head out and learn that there will be tons of food and bottomless margaritas and every neighbor you could think of will show up and that after a while, many will jump into the pool, sometimes with their clothes on, as the once staid neighborhood is getting a little more adventurous, -- though I would think that jumping in the pool is a thing that even staid people, even in places like stuffy Stamford, Connecticut do. In fact I know that they do this in stuffy Stamford Connecticut, as the family I au paired for when I was way younger had a pool there and it was not unusual for them to jump into it after drinking too much except, most often, they would take their clothes off. Ah, how the rich and famous love to play!

Say you nod and smile and think how nice your kind neighbors are to do all this for you.

And so you follow them along, with a deceptively sprightly step.

Now, everyone in the place knows you are moving. Why? Because you have a goddam sign in front of your house announcing it to the world. Maybe a dozen plus people have known the whys and whereofs and circumstances surrounding the move. But the rest do not. And of course they ask.

The first time you tell some condensed version of story. The second time you reach for the second margarita and hope they uncover the food soon as otherwise you will get way drunk on endless margaritas on an empty stomach and will be likely to jump in the pool before anyone else does, especially if one more person asks you why you are moving.

The tenth time your answer is way attenuated. It goes something like this: So I see you’re moving? Yes. Why and where? Downtown, because it seems the right thing to do. That usually causes people to launch into improbable and hypothetical ruminations about how that is just such a brilliant plan and they themselves would love to do the same because these big houses require upkeep and wouldn’t it be cool to be closer to State Street – all a ridiculous set of claims because you know they never in a million years would move downtown nor hang out on State Street. I’m not sure even I am likely to hang out on State Street, even though I work a mere minute away.

By the twentieth time you find yourself thinking that perhaps big parties where everyone in the world knows you are moving but few know the circumstances and everyone is eager to learn them, it being a slow kind of summer where no patio burglar has made the rounds and the hot drought conditions have been exhausted as a topic of conversation – maybe these events are not good for a person who tends to drink margaritas as if they were lemonade.

So I pretend I needed to use the facilities, and sneak out the back way and considered taking Mr. B out for a late night run, having with utter strong will and determination put a stop to the margarita drinking and having kept my clothes dry and my sanity about me. But then I think of peddling back home from wherever I would be heading and the vision exhausts me, so I go home and read a dumb book and stare at the computer screen instead.

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