Friday, September 26, 2008
Not Yet October
"You have turned the heat on in your house already?," she said.
I let her laugh at me, despite the fact that I was as serious as a heart attack with my previous disclosure that it was 55 degrees Fahrenheit in my (temporary) home the other night, and that I am already sleeping with 4 blankets on the king-sized bed, whose size alone seems to sap all of my body heat.
What I did not reveal is that I am already walking around in Ugg-insulated slippers and a warm, fuzzy robe on top of a thermal fleece, an undershirt and a pair of thermal yoga pants. I have gathered wood for the pot-belly stove in my (temporary) living room, and I am already making hot tea on this stove in the chilly evenings.
(And, yes, I am still freezing cold on a good day.)
So, I mumbled something about the bed, how it is built to accommodate two sleeping elephants, its unrelenting stiffness and I how I am convinced of its agenda to remind me that I won't be getting too comfortable here, despite the idyllic view of the terraced backyard with the fall leaves at my window...
She laughed and reflected out loud. The basic gist was that I should find someone to keep me warm..."you know...in the meantime...".
Suddenly turning more serious, she recommended the 55-year-old poet in my office building who regularly joins me in the copier room to make chit-chat when possible. Last week, we had a brief yet thoroughly engaging conversation over the whir of double-sided copies about Primo Levi and the psychology of survival. I compared Levi's work to that of Jack Kerouac, a young guy on the adventure of his life. The poet found it compelling when I said that it seemed to me that Levi's survival of Auschwitz and his post-Auschwitz journey back home was based on the way he conceptualized the experience as one of adventure rather than a plague or punishment. Levi was young, adaptable and able to live in the moment. Perhaps he was very lucky, too, but he certainly had all of the psychological elements of a survivor...and so maybe we could all learn a thing or two from Levi...
While there is something (somewhat) lyrical about him (the poet)--his energy, his work, his life, and the way he continues to look at me when I pass by in the hallways...I reported to my friend that I must draw the line at any potential relationship with a man who graduated from high school the same year as my father.
To this, my friend rolled her eyes but conceded that I have an obvious point.
What about the Obviously-Arab-Writes-A-Lot-About-Muslim-Integration-in-Education-Guy in the education department? He's cute and closer to your age, she continued...
I was fairly agnostic with this one because I ran into Dr. Obviously-Arab (with his lovely Arab skin, nice smile and characteristically gorgeous dark eyes of the Middle East) at the library the other day and spent a healthy 10 minutes chatting with him in the cerebrally-engaging way that people with PhD's chat in public places. There was a small bit of friendly eye locking, but I could tell that any potential liason with this fellow would likely take more time and energy than I have to offer at the moment. He seems like a good person with the essential qualities I would ideally look for in a friend and a potential long-termish mate. At the same time, he had every opportunity to ask me for a lunch or a coffee, and he didn't go for it. Call me crazy, call me completely old-fashioned, but I have never been in the business of making the first move. I believe that this robs men of their sense of agency, confidence and ingenuity, which I find very important. Don't get me wrong, I flirted enough with him enough to indicate a basic interest without being aggressive, but he failed to take the lead. In turn, I smiled my best smile and wished him a good day.
With this, I explained to my friend that I am fully aware of the fact that I am not in a place (perhaps in my own head) right now where I feel any compulsion to perform the necessary work of in falling love, let alone making it.
My point of view is that it will happen when it happens. For what it is worth, I am very comfortable in my present state of limbo. The bed I am sleeping on may not be the best, but my minimalist creature comforts are met, I am healthy and productive...and life is not so bad...
My friend, on the other hand, very dramatically considered this entire situation "one of the biggest tragedies of the 21st century" that I, of all people, am not spending my evenings in the company of a male person, curled up in the glow of the aforementioned pot-belly stove, and sipping champagne over a frivolous game of tootsie...or some such thing...
I laughed, of course. But, silently, I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry. (For both of our sake's.)
So, I changed the subject. And, inwardly, I pondered the idea of getting an electrical heating blanket.
It's already feeling like a long way 'til December...