Sunday, August 23, 2015

in my blood, your vessel ran

For what is courtship but disguise? 
True hearts may have dissembling eyes.
--Thomas Campion, Advice to the Girl 

You know you've picked the right parish when they have a post-Mass reception that includes brie and champagne.
Champagne at 1pm tastes ebullient and elegant.
Champagne at 1pm tastes like the East Coast and wrought iron fences.
Champagne at 1pm tastes like: oh we're not in Kansas anymore.
Nor are we in Minneapolis.

We are not at home.

Finding yourself perched on the edge of childhood and adulthood: too young to have lost your youthful desire to be a doctor of the Church, too old to be humble enough to admit to those desires, you wander through the crowd of seersucker sport coats and sharp leather shoes.
Your jejune ideas are patted on the head by those just a few years older, and set to dry out with the kindergartners' finger paintings.

The air in August in the city is stifling. It feels like acid coffee from a bodega mixed with all the smog and smut of MTA's electric dragons running underneath the earth. The only wind is from the train pulling into the station, and the taxi that clips your sandal. And even that air is inert and listless. There is no energy or life in the atmosphere. It's as though the molecules just got shoved around, but all the atoms inside of them are limp and lethargic, enervated by the oppressive heat.

The movement feels false and foreign. It doesn't spring from deep within. It's like dog-paddling to stay afloat versus diving into a deep pool.

I stare into the falls by the Mississippi river, and I feel a different sort of listlessness.
Here, at St. Anthony Falls, there is no real motion or activity. The water runs through the lock and dam, eager to leave the cold north and find the clement Southern gulf.
The activity is not here--here is the quiet, still North where the falls gurgle joyfully downstream--the activity is there.
Here there is no motion, there is no movement.
Here there is quiet--a deity the MTA daily dethrones.
A quiet conversation on a subway platform is interrupted by the iron roar of the approaching subway, barreling down the tracks.
We pause. Endure the racket. And move on.

But here, there is quiet, uninterrupted by the MTA.
Here, there is peace.
Here, people do not roll about like tumbleweeds. They settle. They grow moss. They grow roots.
I roll around, and tread on all their toes, a sharp stone, not yet smoothed by moss.
And I feel vaguely out of place.
But not in a sudden way--in a way I have always noticed, but never bothered to attend to.

We are, perhaps, still not at home.

Because here, in the quiet--in the blessed, blessed quiet--the air moves.
The air moves here.
The air is alive with a crisp frost, even in August.
It moves with an energy spurred by the winter that is always just around the corner.
It darts across smooth lakes, rustling their surfaces with small waves of ripples.
It rushes across the cattails, and it runs in through the open front door, off the prairie, and into your home.
The air is alive with something here.
Perhaps peace and tranquility are ideal conditions for cultivating fresh, vital air--the sort of air that fills your lungs with strength and builds up broken spirits.
I am not a quiet person.
But I think this quiet, living air agrees with me.

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