Monday, February 25, 2008


Spent last week in DC with my father for a conference on group therapy. During the day, I sat in rooms that vacillated wildly between too cold and too hot and tried, with a dozen or so others, to make sense of the trajectories of life. Why did it go here? Why not there? Why now? And that thing, that thing we know we need, and know it’s missing – love, say, or hope, or just a mind that can step off now and then and say all is good -- why can’t we just reach down and grab it? A mystery to us all, to everyone to some degree, and in the hotel conference rooms we passed around the mystery like a sleeping infant. We held it in our arms. We wiped its tears. We swore to do right by it forever, to never let it go sick or hungry, and then were, of course, met by our insufficiency. The gap between what could be and what is. A man with no legs sitting in a wheelchair outside the coffeeshop. The realization that your love has caused other people pain. You want to do better, of course, but she’s 3,000 miles away.

One night there was a party at a Moroccan restaurant. The happy crowd gathered; they dimmed the lights in the restaurant to pitch black and a bellydancer materialized on a temporary platform set up in the middle of the dining room, spinning and gyrating, flicking a sheer cloth around her shoulders and breasts. A beautiful woman, to be sure, but after a minute, you got the extent of her moves and an appreciation for her dedication to yoga exercises. Alas, there was another nineteen minutes to get through. And do you know that I was sitting next to a woman with no legs? She couldn’t dance like that but she knew this world is just the lunar eclipse’s smile.

The party was for a friend who is leaving at the end of the month for two years in the Peace Corps in Morocco. She’s been dreaming of it for so long and is stunned now to find herself face-to-face with the dream. Is she up for it, she wonders. Will it be what she imagined?

Back in the hotel conference rooms, therapists and therapists-in-training open up their hearts, brave the depths, sip water, shed tears. Dad and I take a class together on healing family trauma through drama. Several times he’s asked by other class members to step forward and play the part of their father. On the TV, the candidate of the hour is giving another talk, this time in Ohio. “Thank you, Ohio,” he says, over and over. Fatigue shows in his face and his speech sounds disjointed but the cheering, happy crowds aren’t really listening to the words. In San Francisco, a beautiful young woman walks a black dog.

Darling, it will be good. Travel well.


Blogger Abbie said...


9:59 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home