“A thousand half-loves must be forsaken to take one whole heart home.” — Rumi
In the last 2 1/2 weeks, I have traveled to Louisville KY, New York City, Ottawa ON, and Madison, WI (with a couple of rather skeevy stops near Hagerstown, MD and Dayton, OH thrown in for sleeping). In that same 2 1/2 weeks, Occupy Wall Street has grown from a single protest of a few hundred people into a worldwide movement with demonstrations taking place in nearly a thousand cities this past weekend. I marched in downtown Manhattan on October 5th, shouting and clapping and cheering up Broadway with two old friends from Chapel Hill and one of my newly-former neighbors from Brooklyn. The next afternoon, my mini-hoop and I danced in Zuccotti Park with a few of our our New York hoopfamily. Last Saturday I stood on the steps of the Capitol in Madison, surrounded by hundreds of Occupiers. Tonight, I am back in Carrboro, looking out the huge coffeeshop window–this building was once used as a showroom for landscaping and farm equipment–at the light warm rain. Pensive-looking grad students peer at the glowing windows of their laptops, as I do. Earlier, I grabbed a hot dinner at the co-op that I patronized daily (often multiple times) from 1994-2010. A couple of tiny dogs nosed my calves while I ate, their people happy to watch my computer while I went inside to bus my dirty plate. Still, the condition of aloneness stands around my life like a fence. No matter how much I move around, it’s still there somehow.
I’m lucky to count among my friends people with whom I do not have everything in common. One is a pastor. She once described to me how amazed she was, counseling married couples (when she was still single), to discover the wild love, attraction, and happiness that existed between people who might otherwise seem exceedingly nondescript. Older perhaps, maybe a bit overweight, doing boring jobs and living in ranch houses–and experiencing rich, satisfying, and yes, sexy connections with not just their partner but their spouse.
Tonight, as I was finishing my dinner, one such couple was sitting at the table in front of me. She was plump, with shoulder-length white hair, wearing a blowzy jean dress over a t-shirt. He looked like a pharmacist and wore the cap and jacket of his favorite team. They looked to be in their 50s. I didn’t take any real notice of them until he stood up to walk towards the store entrance. As he passed her chair, she turned to ask him something, probably to grab her something from the store. And when she did, his hand flew with a graceful hunger to her cheek, as if he couldn’t help himself. And how quickly and readily she turned to him! He lay his whole hand against the side of her face. She touched his hand with hers. When he lifted his hand a moment later, a few strands of her beautiful white hair sifted through the air, as though wanting to hold onto his fingers just a few seconds longer.
The exquisiteness of this moment was much greater than what language can express. It was more like an illustration of everything I don’t know how to say.