Fin in a Waste of Waters

"These moments of escape are not to be despised. They come too seldom....Leaning over this parapet I see far out a waste of water. A fin turns....I note under 'F.,' therefore, 'Fin in a waste of waters.' I, who am perpetually making notes in the margin of my mind for some final statement, make this mark, waiting for some winter's evening." (from Woolf's THE WAVES)

07 August 2006

Washington D.C., home, etc

So now I am back in the States. More, I am back at my parents' house. In order:

I hit D.C. a few days ago, landing at about 10 pm Wednesday night. At first I didn't feel too much out of place (except for that whole driving on the wrong side of the road thing...anyone who wants to know how the traffic confused me - and I really didn't think it would - ask Tony of JKC how he saved me from getting hit by oncoming cars on our way to the Washington Monument), since 4 out of my 5 first interactions were with Indian people (two of whom didn't speak v. good English; my cab driver was actually from a neighboring state of Rasheed's father & spoke a variate of Tummel). But it was still...unnerving. Returning, I mean. The announcement at the airport: "And if you are a returning citizen, welcome back to the United States!" And D.C. at night was so...quiet. There was traffic on the street (when I went on my 7-11 adventure for a phone card), and the occasional pedestrian...but not the people in the streets I'd been used to. And over the next few days: a huge lack of languages. Everyone here speaks English. During the tourist season in London, I had unconsciously adjusted to hearing a multitude of languages.

Then, I had an email from my mom on Saturday: Steve died. Next-door, alcoholic, skeleton Steve. He'd fallen, getting into bed, hit his head - they don't know if the impact killed him, or a heart attack caused by the shock of the fall (apparently, the coroner has been particularly uncommunicative). My dad found him. I'm not sure how he's doing with it. Right now, he seems to be just be dealing with business, the funeral, Steve's family, the "estate" (or the run-down house that will need to be destroyed) etc. But this death - it feels more like exorcism. I think of that empty brown house (just right next door to me now) - it's seemed empty even in these last years of his life, as though he did not live in it, but haunted it. Ever since he and Cathy got rid of the horses, and the bulldogs; and then when Radar, Steve's dog expressly, died; and then when Cathy bolted for Florida (and another codependent, likely abusive, man); and when all of the remaining barn cats finally died, ferile and mangy even when alive; and when the pastures went wild and he let his lawn grow knee-deep...this is when it became empty. Even the big white Cadillac left undriven at the front of the house seemed a monument to a life that had already passed. But still, his presence persisted. And this, for some reason, makes his death more unsettling...the loss of this intangible emaciated spirit whom I remember last stumbling up the steps at the front of the house and pausing to look in my bedroom windows scaring the hell out of me but at the same time inspiring in my gut an almost agonizing pity for this man who had once been so large but still always smelling of beer and cigarettes and possibly something harder that I wouldn't have recognized as a kid. I hope I'm gone before they tear down the house.

And skipping ahead - coming home. My parents did pick me up at the airport, and it was great to see them (my mom cried; now I know at least she really didn't mind the drive). When we got home, though: they had rearranged my entire room. My bed now points feet-first out of my door, a Feng Shui faux pas I'm not entirely down with: this is how the Chinese traditionally carried their dead out of the door. And my mom had re-"organized" what I'd left behind. Everything is out of order, and it's not an out of order that I understand (at least my own "out of order" has its own intuitive system); that, and my mom has lost my mobile phone (thus, most of my phone numbers - if you read this, and I don't have your number, email or call or something) and a number of other of my things ("But I thought it was right here!"). But my music - all of my music, my CDs and vinyls - is here. I'd only taken a few "essentials" with me on my flight. The first I picked to listen to this morning as I work? The Big Boi disc from Outkast's Speakerboxxx. I can't believe I didn't take it with me.

And skipping back to D.C. I've run into another one of those characters who will inhabit my imagination for an indefinite amount of time. Only the fourth in my life, after Kat, H.K. (until I learned that what she had on those headphones was DMB), P.K., perhaps Elsie (though I feel like I know her story like I know my own; we are the same in that we are dancing souls). He is one of those people who gives away very little, and thus is fertile ground for my imagination to make what it will of him; on first meeting him in a group of scholars, he confessed that he wasn't very "interesting," which of course, tells me he is. He is not a performer like most of us (and especially me) were there at the weekend; unlike me, he has not been selling himself since he could talk/write/paint/photograph/dance. He relinquished just enough detail to give my hooks a hold; the full flesh will be my conception. He is like a little boy in man's clothes - a future lawyer, dressing in green-striped button-ups and pressed kakhi shorts with New Balance tennis shoes. His talk is affected - "Good evening, gentlemen..." - as if he is in constant rehearsal for his future lawyer-life, including smoky evenings at the club, world events over cigars, but his voice is still teenager-young, not in depth, but in self-assuredness. It was this (likely) perceived vulnerability (and his weak stomach: bread & applesauce) that intrigued me. He confessed on the last day (Sunday) that he was a preacher's boy, which explained the religious-resentment vibe I'd been getting all weekend: I had blindly (lazily, more like) guessed ex-Catholic guilt. Now I wonder if religion has let him down - if his church father, his father, has let him down (which now feeds into, perhaps will deepen my writing of Eilert), though I cannot speak for the Big Father. Suddenly I had an image of that same little boy in Sunday shirts and shorts - here he still was, thick blonde hair still too big for him...especially right behind his right ear, halfway to the back of his head...I wanted to touch it, get a sense of its texture (you know I am a tactile person), but again, just because I've invented this person in my head does not mean I know the real subject well enough to touch him. But his face is old; it is his age. Perhaps a little older. I'm not sure exactly how old he is, but I'd set him at mid/late-twenties...probably closer to late. 26, maybe. But there is a serious maturity (not aging, though - gravity) in his face that says 30s. He has very clear-cut, stone-clean (granite), potentially monumental features: the kind of features that I would have given anything to sit firmly down in the studio in front of a black drop and take high-contrast black & white photos of in medium format film (and likely large-format, if I had much experience with it). He has the lawyer-look: lean, slightly hungry but well-fed, sitting back in his chair but still pushing agressively forward with penetrating eyes hooded by low brows. And an ironic mouth, a thin upper-lip. Perhaps a potential for cynicism. But still, a vulnerability.

This will be the extent of my writing for the day. I've decided to give myself a few easy days - today, will work on Fulbright paperwok & entry clearance; perhaps some reading; tomorrow...don't know; day after, newspaper photo shoot & work; day after, doctors; day after, Rasheed's visit. And family, of course.


At 8:45 AM, Anonymous Cheryl said...



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