I appreciate a good distraction.
It’s Tuesday and today I find out if I’ve been accepted to the Yale School of Divinity. Of course, “today” is five hours earlier in New Haven, (Spain has not yet turned its clocks forward for spring.) so while it is nearly 7:30 p.m. in Madrid, it is only 2:30 p.m. in Connecticut. And, not surprisingly, I don’t know yet.
I mention this to Gordon, who is sitting next to me, and who expresses surprise when I tell him I have not been checking my phone every few minutes to see if the email has arrived.
I am equally surprised as I have vivid memories from not so long ago, of sitting at my desk hitting refresh on the computer every few minutes, waiting for I-don’t-know-what to happen. Not unlike my wandering into the kitchen to check the refrigerator every few minutes – each time imagining I might find something new added to the shelves since my last look.
Except I will receive something new via email if I wait long enough, whereas the contents of my refrigerator will remain static unless I leave my house and bring in something new. Which is essentially what I am doing now – once again filling my creative coffers. Artist Date 116. A distraction.
My friend Spencer developed the Unamuno Authors Series, bringing poets from around the world to Madrid. Tonight Mark Doty will read his work.
My friend Julie counts him among her favorite writers. A portion of her “fan letter” is included in the paperback version of Doty’s book, Dog Years. Later I will take a selfie with him and send it Julie via Facebook. But for now, I’m just waiting.
Not for Yale.
Because at this point I’ve turned off the sound on my phone. I don’t want to hear it. Or look at it. Or be reminded of it. My phone. Or Yale’s decision. Because I’m not sure if I can stay present in this moment knowing it. So I choose to remain in delicious, hopeful, not knowing.
Doty is a perfect distraction. Engaging. Both serious and playful as he reads his own words about dogs and fish, AIDS and murder. His mouth is tight, his words clipped with a “Locust Valley Lockjaw.” I wonder if anterior neck work (massage) might change the sound of his delivery.
My musings are interrupted by a poem about Doty’s old lover, gone now. He questions why he can no longer conjure up his face without first looking at a photograph. Feel the warmth of his brown skin against his own.
And why can’t I? D is neither dead nor even gone from my life. He is merely far, far away.
We haven’t seen one another in nearly eight months. Since I left Chicago. We do not Skype or FaceTime. This is his choice, not mine, and I do not argue it.
However, as the pages of the calendar turn over onto themselves, I have a harder time recalling his smell, his voice, and yes, even his face, without the aid of photographs and voicemails. I do not want to lose these palpable memories but it seems almost inevitable unless, until, we find ourselves in each other’s presence again.
I recall some years ago, speaking on the telephone with Stu, and then later, Jason – men I had dated when they were little more than boys and I, little more than a girl.
“Oh…that’s what you sound like,” I said upon hearing each of their voices. I had forgotten.
Perhaps this is the brain’s wisdom – making room for new smells, news sounds, new faces. Allowing us to move forward…from a relationship that ends in death, or in distance. From disappointment, words we’d rather than not read or hear.
“The Admissions Committee at Yale Divinity School has completed its review of your application. I am sorry to inform you that unfortunately, we are unable at this time to offer you a place in the Fall 2016 entering class.”
It is nearly midnight when I log on to the Admissions Page. After my Artist Date. After dinner with Spencer and Doty and his partner.
I think that I shake a little reading the email and that my breath catches – stuck in inhalation. That I cry a little too. But already, I don’t remember exactly.
I send Spencer a text, telling him the news, and I go to bed – too tired to do anything else.
And in the morning, I am again waiting. This time for a decision from Yale’s Institute of Sacred Music – my top choice for graduate school. I am assured it should arrive within the next few days.
Until then, I remain in delicious, hopeful, not knowing – distracting myself with dogs and fish and conjured up memories of old lovers. With art and words and daily life. With moments of presence.