when i arrived home last night i was feeling out of sorts... i had been moving heavy boxes from my third floor room to my ailing car for about one too many hours, and said good bye to my senoir friends several times, each time promising that i was about to leave, only to be carrying more stuff when they returned. the drive did not hold in it the kind of air that usually fills me bodily when i'm escaping school, and it wasn't before my home town that good music finally came on the radio, and i could bust out with whatever pearl jam it was that was playing and fly down the back roads to my house. when i arrived the sun was setting, and the house partially lit. my mom might not have heard me pull up, but my brother would surely come out to give me a big hug. when i stepped inside, i found that no one was there... so i started about my business of unpacking my car trying to overlook the fact that i was kind of disappointed and sad that no one was there. not five minutes later, though, they all returned from getting videos, mike with his girlfriend, and i finally got the hugs i needed, and my contemplative swarthmore silence was broken.
i definitely feel like a different person than the last time i was here... one thing is seeing mike with his girlfriend. i find myself thinking about how i was at that age (he's seventeen, so i can remeber that far back), and i joke about shaperoning them but am sure to lock myself in my room a little early, and don't give him too hard a time (but enough, of course, to show that i approve). it's wierd to think that at that time, i was, well, less innocent about some things... but watching him, i might be wrong.
so today i wake up in my pitch black closet of a room, and swing open the door onto a beautiful day. i'd been dreaming about people and situations at swarthmore, so it's a little off to be home, even though this is where i want to be right now. i have some buttermilk pancakes and then split to help sandy move. he's given me partial dirrections to the place he's staying, the home of his glowing yoga instructor, kirin. inside he shows me her purple-walled yoga room, and across from that the dinning room, with a low table made of a vertical slice of wood, beatifully finished and dark against the hardwood floor and accompanied by several circular purple velvet cushions and two candles. (when i mention this to big john later, he winces and comments that it's nice but he'd never want to sit at it. i think it's great). the house is strewn with krishna figures and paintings. sandy mentions that he would love to never leave... we both know he has to.
we go to pick up all his junk from the apartment he moved out of days or weeks ago... two more carloads of boxes and matresses and odd furniture, all taken to another friends small cottage for temporary storage till he finds out about his apartment. as we're completing our second run, sitting in the car, he tells me how much he hates depending on the charity of others, how, while he knows they don't mind, it is not the way he wants to live. he makes friends so easily and often needs their help... it makes things much easier. he's a dancer, and young, so his love still does not make him money. i can see how it has got to be difficult, even tho everyone knows he's not just taking advantage of their kindness... he really does appreciate it. it is still a tough way to live, and i assure him that it won't last forever. sandy is, however, perhaps the only person i know that is closest to the gypsy lifestyle, and i would not be surprise if perhaps he never does settle down. i'll find him wherever he is. all of our conversations are unfinished...
when i get back, after some quick pizza slices, mike and i talk about plans to go to japan, which will most likely happen. it would be about two and a half weeks in a buddhist monastary, meditating and working in the garden, cooking, perhaps learning to paint or finding a tai chi group near by. i mentioned the idea to sandy, and he asked me ifi felt spiritually able to sit still for so long tha way, and i say yes, and that it is something that i am looking for... some quiet time to relax and contemplate my center. i find that many things in my life are leading me to this experience. i also mentioned to him that i felt kind of bootleg in that i'm only spending a few weeks there, getting a taste but not really giving myself to the lifestyle... but i also realize that it's the best that i can do, practically, given my own nature as well as other plans for the summer. i do feel legitimate in doing it, and am rather excited about it, even if i don't agree with everything that zen teaches. living mindfully, though, seems to me to be the way to go, both a new way and one that i have practiced in my own way.
along the road going to drop mike back off at school, we stop by some people on the small bridge over the creek. they're looking at a beaver and her three little beavers, about thirty feet away. with binoculars we can see the little balls of fluff with faces that belong to childhood stuffed animals. i've never seen beavers on this creek in the nearly twenty-one years that i've lived along it, and never thought that i would. i don't think 've ever seen a beaver, not on the mulica river in the pine barrens, or along the delaware. it's another sign that where i live truly is out in the country, and hopefully will be for as long as possible.
john takes mom and i out in the new rolls royce limo that he's gotten... i thought perhaps to drive for business, but it's really because he's always wanted one, and this one he's known almost since it was made in 1952. the mobile itself is absolutely beautiful, with glass all around and a classy (not speedy) feel to it that is relaxing and luxurious in a way that only an antique car can be. my mom puts on the cheap plastic tiara place in the back seat and we wave to people at the corner milkshake joint. we drive up one side of the delaware river and down the other, talking about what kind of car i'm looking to get when my current one dies, cuz i'm probably going to drive it into the ground (sandy and i joke ealrier about driving off into the woods and seeing how far we get, and putting it to rest that way).
at dinner i talk with mom about my birthday party... we plan the sleeping arrangements, give faces to the guests, and decide on a menu. my favorite food and drink is all born in the crevaces of the swiss alps, so everything will have a hearty swiss-german flavor, even the aperitif, altho we do talk about laying our hands on quite possibly the most amazing dessert wine that has ever graced this earth and challenged the ray of the sun for the throne of luxurious sweetness. that combined with the opening of a case of 1978 red will make this perhaps the most incredible night of, well, my twenties... but i don't want to jinx it. as we get further into dinner and talk of wine, john mischieviously breaks away to the kitchen and returns with three glasses of a thick yellow reisling from a local winery. it is sweet, and on top of the white we've already had, keeps us at the table for a while longer. i ask john what his favorite coctail is, probably a gin and tonic he says, or a manhattan. we talk about my grandfather and his drinking habits that i had no idea were so joyously indiscrimate of the hour of the day. all this talk with my parental figures is, of course, a little wierd when i think about it, but my mother is so relaxed about this kind of stuff... she takes a hands-off approach that i think has kept me from having anything to fight against, and allowed me to make decisions for myself, without any concern for anything but my own pleasure. she admits that it is nice to hear my laugh around the house again... i always see her as so strong that i never suspect she would be so effected by the absence of her boys, but every once in a while she lets me know how much she really does love me and miss me, making it that much nicer to be home, even though the bed is strange and the nights silent. i went outside tonight, and the sky is evenly scattered with brilliant stars, like someone recharged the batteries of the sky since i last saw it at college on the outskirts of philly. i'm someplace between school and home right now, but my guess is that soon i will sink into the hot new jersey summer days, and for a while i'll also get a chance to recharge, underneath sparce cloudy blue skies and deep dark nights.