I once knew two people who were best friends -- both the girl and guy looked alike, dressed alike, and seemed for all intents and purposes like siblings though they were not, nor were they romantically involved. When I saw them together on campus, I thought of the Carson McCuller's line about the two mutes who went everywhere in town together. The couple seldom spoke and when they did, it was in a language that I could not entirely crack. I worked as a desk clerk for their dorm and they'd sometimes come down into the lobby and play solitaire, each bringing their own card deck, sitting side by side, the only sound the occasional curse from losing a game that you're playing against yourself. The guy left for a week in the middle of the semester, and the girl spent a lot of time by my desk, talking more than she ever had. I asked her what she liked best about her friend, and she said, We can be silent together. We never have to talk and it's perfect. All that quiet scared me, but I understood her point. To be understood without speaking, the luxury of it! They had a falling out eventually, and I'd often see them alone. The quality of that silence had an entirely different tenor, a sad stretch of quiet that seemed to speak of brokenness.
Years ago I had a student bring in a framed picture of herself, one that had a big oval in the center for a senior picture and was surrounded with eleven circles for school pictures from each year beginning with first grade. She pointed to herself as a third grader and said, This is when my stepfather started abusing me and every picture marks a year that I had to keep my secret, she said, tracing the frame as if it were a clock, a clock in hell that is, and everyone looked at it with a respectful, awed silence before she started reading her essay about the experience. Despite a pretty decent long-term memory, I don't recall all that much about the essay except that it followed the pattern of these things -- trauma, secret, revelation, and aftermath. She could have chosen to read anything, but she chose to read her best paper, the most difficult one. The silence after was like that of a church, a deep abiding one in which anything could happen.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Thalia was a place were the dust seldom entirely settled." Larry McMurtry
Drinking novel suggestion: When The Light Goes Larry McMurty (the final installment of The Last Picture Show series)
Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Thursday! Go Pistons!