I see her first in my rearview mirror. Black Mercedes SUV (do they come in another color?). Gesticulating vehemently, furiously too. She has one hand on the steering wheel, the other palm up, finger tips pulled together in a bud, the way the quintessential Italian gangstah says, “Ehh..whadIgottatellyoudisagain?”as if to slap you upside the head. I ease up on the gas, hoping she will drive beside me. Mostly I want to know if she is yelling at a kid in the back or to someone on the phone. No one is visible in the front seat, so who is this focus/target/counterpart/ally she is bombing at? As if agreed between us, she pulls up. I look to my left.
Bam! No one in the back seat. Some person on the other end of the phone is gettin’ it good though. I double glance through the side window just to be sure – are those Coco Chanel leather driving gloves? At the next red light she takes her blonded grey pony tail, raring off down a side street. I suspect she didn’t want to wait for green. I look at the bum end of her car and feel a wave of sadness wash over me. Well, no, not exactly sadness, more like a heave-ho sigh of recognition, maybe resignation. This individual encased in metal, wailing over the phone to a distant presence, primed for high fashion on a suburban road, rushing to get by, her exhaust pipe exuding the fog of an ultimate aloneness.
Once, long ago, in the heyday of my young twenties, when I had not yet forgotten to remember that life can be hard yet worth it, when I maintained hope for grand, sweeping brushes of brilliance (or at least brushes with brilliance), I was a student of a woman named Gabrielle Roth who taught a dance practice called The 5Rhythms™. It is a movement-as-spiritual-practice kind of a practice. 60 dancers and I were being trained to teach her work. Gabrielle was precise – she wanted us to know ourselves. Period.
So she puts us in the middle of the studio – sitting in a random clump. One by one she picks us off, as if in some soma duck, duck, goose game. “Which is it for each of these baby-teachers – body, heart, mind? Which is the thing that will catch them up most and therefore be their most compelling calling?” Like she’s looking inside us for something we have not yet seen ourselves – a creative justice (or maybe injustice?). I am the last one sitting in the middle of the room. She looks at me, walks around me, puts her finger to her mouth as if to bite a nail and says: “Body? No. Heart? Nah. Not sure. You’re an edgewalker. But if I have to choose, which I said I would, I’m sending you to the heart group.” And so it was.
Somewhere between the body and the heart, between relationship to self and relationship to other, between flowing and staccato, infancy and childhood, between mother and father, there is a window into me. This raging Mercedes, Coco Channeled lady – she seems to me to be like this too – her dire straits need to be heard is bodily. Her insistence as she rams the words over the phone – so heart. She is me, and I could be her.
And the truth is I know nothing about her story, barely knowing my own, but this is what walking the edge is – telling what is seen, seeing what is said. Making monologues out of moments of memory.
For who? For why? For meaning. It fills the open window, the in between spaces, and the spaces in between that; because on some days, meaning is the one reason (beyond breakfast cereal) to get up.
©Gabriella Strecker, 2016
Image courtesy of vowto.com