Monday, 11 AM, I see my therapist. I trace out the Amherst English department good and bad. The initial good, followed by the less, and the knocks to a college professor's son's self-esteem, which leads to the girl problems. Which, yes, leads to, at my therapist's prompting, and I don't need it much, to see a link to my own professional self-esteem.
She asks me about my experiences at the Bethesda Writer's Center. Do you ever talk to writers, about your writing? I think of the workshops I've been to. Their talk of the characters having 'through lines,' i.e., what does this person want, what does that person have in mind... Show, don't tell. "This bit of dialog isn't working for me, because no one in this situation would say that." Don't get me wrong; helpful things come out of workshops. But for me, something missing. Why do you write? What in the spirit prompts you to go deeper or put it down. If you knew, or know your own, why, then you could write one off like Larkin. And you probably know, somewhere, your own reasons. Which you can only discover by writing. In the course of doing so, you might feel a bit like an early Christian, the same inspiration, the same separateness, a sense of being taken as outlandish. Yes, as per the writing seminar I just missed up at the National Cathedral memoir writing, spiritual writing, the seeking of how you truly feel about something in your own words and experience, is 'counter-cultural.'
Back from my session, the steaminess of Washington DC in the summer under my skin, I meditate in corpse, and a half hour later admit to the need for a nap.
Another shift, under my belt, and then today I am mortal again. The thirst overcame me in the final inning of Monday Jazz Night, a late hit at the bar, regulars to check in with and juggle, a return of late night Russian lady who's come in with two friends new to the place for dessert, coffee, a glass of malbec, finally leaving peacefully after a bit of 'oh, I'm drunk again, ha ha ha.' I play the rope-a-dope, skimming along the surface rather than being drawn in, nervous previously grated.
I close up, in the company of my coworker buddies, and then we go up the street to their little rented house on a corner for a night cap and the different mental landscape of a parlor for shop talk. The final story of the waterfront mess, a shoving match with the aggressive twenty year old El Salvadoran kid who pushes into you, then threatens you. Then there is a downpour, and I must wait 'til it subsides. It turns out to be a nice slow ride home. That's the key to strength in anything, going slow, letting the muscles have a chance to commune in their motions.
And so of course, halfway into the week, such as it is, today I am mortal again. Would rather seek the answers in that inner world of deeper consciousness found in meditations rather than the outside the outside the outside world and all its offerings. What a luxury that would be.
Yes, I ate bread, with some cheese José the busman brought back from El Salvador in the throes of hunger at the end of the shift. I feel it in my knee, in other joints, even in ear wax. The memory of an almost disconcerting thirst, mediated by keeping to the Chinon and then a final Guinness once safely home with a roll on the bike on the training stand, why does it take so long to unwind....
The early Christians, gathered in what looks to be a barroom, low key. Wine to ease the tensions, to help the therapeutic flow, of opening one away from the fetters, the concerns, the veil of the material world. Humanity ever circling, but not quite grasping. The barman waiting for the end of the night to come, to go home in peace.
It is a bit disconcerting, to the uncentered, a bar lined with tipsy people, chirping at him like birds. It makes me wonder, subliminally, if the godly beauty of the creature, both male and female, just as they are, has not been lost along the way, now a need for drastic things, bizarre transformations...