(Copyright V. Love 2011)
If you waken in the night to free-floating anxiety, know that you are not alone in that heavy darkness. Its folds encumber many another insomniac. Join the club.
For heavy-stepping Change approaches our careful, committee-constructed world, with its built-in response to the Outrage Factor. Our world of mod-cons, sit-coms and condoms feels, uncomfortably, more and more like a Great Con. We are not sure who the perpetrator is. But deep down, we all know that for every finger pointing at someone else, four more point back at ourselves.
The galloping hooves of Change, clippety-clop, echo down the night-damp alleys of our minds, the eternal forerunner of inevitable cosmic advance. Those advancing columns appear first as phantasmagoric terrors, inflicting death-wounds on the secure and well-established. Ever seeking moderation, Nature’s key to survival, we dismiss the phantoms, declare them to be imaginary. The results of another flawed opinion poll, or a badly conducted study.
Still, the hooves gallop on, all the more awesome perhaps because the tons of flying muscle and bone we fear are impossible to locate. Where does the echo of hooves come from? Which direction are they taking? No one can tell us, but as each evening newsreel unfolds, we find ourselves at a loss to grasp the issues confronting us.
Slowly, we are becoming less startled. The thundering engine of Change melds into our day-to-day cacophony as inevitably as the automobile or the locomotive did a century ago. Like those long-ago spectators of societal transformation, we, too, see only the short-term effects, bemoan immediate deaths and the ripping away of dusty, tried-and-true Old Reliables.
Perhaps the most visible sign of Change’s speed and impact on our lives can be measured in clothing… jeans, bikinis, track suits, trouser suits, reeboks. The length of our false nails. Big Hair. Interior clothing — silicon bosom re-arrangements, most visible of all; shouting either the presence of, or resounding absence of, change. But the most noticeable victim of fashionable progress has probably been that small detail, the hat.
As late as 1955, my upright Aunt Mona, preparing for grocery shopping, would slide a pearl-capped hatpin into her black straw hat, perched neatly over a tidy cornucopia of braids. A lady’s uniform. The Hat. No grocer or butcher ever saw Norah without a properly covered head.
Whatever you may think about Princess Diana, you have to admit she had some great hats. Personally, I loved her. And I have always loved hats. I leaf through catalogues and go window shopping in bohemian streets, hoping to see a re-emergence of the hat. So far, in vain. But down the years, I’ve always had one or two stuffed away in my closet.
Once, it was a man’s felt hat. What did they call them, homburgs? I found it in a second-hand shop and stuck some silk daisies in the band. Cool. With blue jeans, high-heeled boots and a sequined blue butterfly blouse, I felt like a movie queen.
Another was a small, not-so-proper, black straw edition with jewel-studded black net veil. On a summer evening in Victoria, following divorce from my Scottish husband and its emotional watersheds, I took steps to overcome a fear of eating alone in restaurants.
Enough already, I said to pizza delivery. Dressed up in a sassy-suzie black and white suit, I topped it with the black hat-and-veil, and went out to dinner. The fine restaurant, dimly-lit, teemed with couples and groups. Appalled but smiling, I accepted the cramped, central table waiters inevitably offer the customer dining alone. Calmly, slowly, forced my Self to eat every bite of a four-course dinner.
Then I took out a small, enamelled lady’s pipe with blue and yellow flowers hand-painted on a tiny bowl (in those days you could still smoke in a restaurant) – you can buy such pipes at a tobacconist’s – and quietly smoked it, sipped my coffee, and watched the other diners. I was never afraid to eat out by myself after that – everyday dining paled by comparison.
The pipe never saw daylight again. It was merely a surgical instrument, slicing through cyst-like encrustations of old rules and meaningless proprieties. A freedom-giving purveyor of fresh air, a tobacconist’s paradox.
Determined to rise above the psychic tsunami of a divorce, I set about finding happiness. I’ll change my style, I thought, not sure exactly what style was. I’ll search for true love until I find it. No more hanging back. This time, I want it all.
So it was that, in my mid-forties, I discovered romance. On this improbable planet, spinning obscurely through time and space around one of a trillion sun-stars, I found a man who loved making love to women.
I had to write about it, afterward. The freeway of poetry, spread across horizon’s edge, invited cruise control. When some impressionable editor typeset my appetite and placed it between the immaculate sheets of his newspaper, something inside me sighed deeply and relaxed.
Time, space, event. The earth moves, providing all three. After that, it is up to us. We must overcome inertia. Deal with resistance to beginnings and the dull stillness of endings:
Sitting alone in a grey restaurant
I think about this short tablecloth
Unlike the longest tablecloth in town
Under the shelter of which his cheeky toes
Crept up my thigh, making it hard
To eat clams nicely.
This rare find, this lover of women, was short and lightly muscular, his skin varnished to antique glow by the suns of Portuguese beaches and Mayan ruins; he wore soft cotton shirts in blistering white or masculine pastels, freshly laundered. He smelled of soap. His skin was velvet, his hair iron-grey. His sheets were printed with bright parrots, and his home reverberated with thick blues and rich saxophones.
He stirred the occult kundulini, coiled for decades deep at the base of my spine.
He taught me to drink strong, sensual coffee, to shop for good wine at low prices, and to grow basil for home made pesto, thick with freshest parmesan and garlic. Heavy with oil of sun-drenched olives.
There was a small restaurant. Set back off the street, modest in appearance. I recognized it from the first; it was the intimate world of daydreams, where picoseconds last forever. A virtual reality place, an escape from stuffy classrooms and oppressive family situations, a place you never tell your mother about, and she never tells you about, but which you both know about; the daydream blueprints which suffused our youths with rosy forward-looking.
To make these dreams come true requires another presence, an opposite energy, fully accepting, magicked by our being there. Time, place, and persons; the explosive compounds of experience, spinning memory-galaxies, the knitting of infinite effect.
In this cafe were aromatic herbs, crusty hot breads, immense bouquets of dried flowers, green silk willow trees melding their energy fields into a potage of beguilement.
With Capricorn appetite, I spooned greedy gobs of garlic mayonnaise. Clam and mussel shells, gleaming wetly, littered wide bowls of thick, tomato-ey bouillabaisse. Lights gleamed ruby-red through wine glasses against heavy white tablecloth, munificent lengths of fabric draping my toes.
The tender meat of clams and fantasy, and brown, brown eyes. All of it now irrevocably drifted off, like rain-forest mist, into what we call the past, when Earth had danced her sun-moon two-step only a thousand million times. When the Sun was younger.
His eyes, deep brown, were both deep and soaked with brownishness. Immersed in thought. How to approach that night’s exacting of mutual satisfaction. Gazing imperturbably at me through pipe-smoke, from the far end of his oaken kitchen table.
“Turn away thine eyes from me, for they have overcome me…”
Romantic love, say historians, was invented in the West, along with the Model-T Ford’s mobile privacy. They overlook the Bible’s love-song of Solomon.
Whatever else he was writing about, the scent of Woman-Lover drifts from those rice-paper biblical pages. No richly-scented modern-day magazine, screeching new routes to female orgasm, has yet equalled this ancient Biblical libido-stirring incense.
Between the night my lover’s brown eyes locked with mine over the bouillabaisse, and this particular still winter night, stand twenty-three years of earth time.
Time has “passed” as they say, since the events in the poem…almost 8,400 days. Or, 3,626,608 seconds. More or less.
Every single Canadian bear has hibernated, in secret caves I will never know about, twenty-three times. A lot of Zees.
In the Arctic wastes, birds, whales, sea lions and enemy warships have gone about their destined affairs time and again. The man-faced moon has cast its womanly length along iceberg-littered seas in obedience to my kitchen calendar an exact number of times.
Millions, whatever that means, of children in Rwanda, Darfur, Somalia and the Balkans, have spent the twenty-three years in intensive time-management training. Carrying guns, running for cover, burying family, searching for love. What a schedule.
In purdah, Islamic women the world over have dreamt their own two-hundred and seventy-six months’ worth of dreams. I suspect their reveries differ in tense – passive, as opposed to my own active. Not finding, but being found by, a man who loves women.
My prince will come, the universal song.
What is this persistent thing, this profound calling to Romantic Love, to the possibility of starting each day awash in worship of another? We dream on, wanting it to be so, trying again and again.
However, to succeed in this search, we must be more flexible than we know how to be, and we must become open to Change.
Hands up, who likes Change? Wow, only maybe 1% of the audience.
In rigidity lies the falsehood of safety, it seems. However, the heavy hooves of galloping Change bear down upon us continually, pushing us into areas of discomfort no matter how we dislike it.
And as our form and function change in response, we see our journey toward the ultimate love affair with new eyes, expanded vision, more comprehensive desires.
From the day we introduce our little girl-babies to the concept of Prince Charming and Cinderella, we lay the foundation for a lifetime of vulnerability. We teach her that a man will provide for her, and without one, she will be in bad shape indeed.
This fable ensures that she will grow up to see someone else in a position of power…definitely not her.
Fortunately, nowadays, there are many influences that weaken the pins on that out-of-date, power-destroying fairy tale.
Trouble is, we still want romance. Oh, the Hero, riding toward us, if not to save us, still, to thrill our girlish heart with his presence.
We want the romance for sure, but we also want to be the one in the driver’s seat…or the saddle.
Does one cancel the other out? We are learning to create a symbiotic relationship…we still get the Hero, he still gets the Girl, but we both get to be in charge of something. Besides the kitchen, I mean. This is a Work in Progress for our entire society. It would be speeded up by the deleting of Cinderella from our consciousness.
We are as sensual as ever and, more and more, we want to continue on being sensual after romance and marriage. This is the gift of an abundant society.
Perceiving a burgeoning connection between sensuality and the newly-visible woman, we hold tightly to whatever reins might control this relentless, galloping Mare. Seeking her soul-mate, she shrieks to the night-wind, flees across the pastures of the world, craving both the ultimacy of love and the passion of freedom; symbiotic impossibilities.
East or West, society is careful. For example, if you look around, you will find but few long tablecloths, with their dangerous cave-like secret privacies where toes can climb the thighest heights.
Looking back down the decades, I recall one or two luxuriously long tablecloths. There was the one in our church at Thanksgiving, covered with harvest pumpkins and big bunches of chrysanthemums.
There was the one spread carefully over your knees by the pastor’s secretary, when you went to ask him how to deal with a problem.
Nothing to do with split ends of course, but something important. How to handle the pain of being an unmarried church-going woman of, say, twenty-seven. So few eligible men in church. How can I accept this aloneness, apparently god’s choice for me? I long for loving, for touching, for children. I want a home. I long to be a good wife. Like the Book of Proverbs tells me I should. My price, far above rubies.
I see the Pastor now, sitting behind his wide oak desk. He keeps his eyes carefully above the long scarf in my lap. Its ends sweep the floor, cover everything from the waist down, including the modest grey wool skirt, mid-calf length. Meek three-quarter inch heels peek out surreptitiously from beneath the scarf. But he is being careful. No glancing.
Accept God’s will, urges the deep baritone voice.
But acceptance is impossible. My body is real. It screams, demanding touch, a vineyard dying for lack of sun.
If you are over, say, thirty, you probably had to, at some point, borrow a hat. Going to church with a girlfriend and her family. Unless your own family went anyway. Then you had a hat of your own.
Wearing such hats kept us from getting things like crabs, which I did get from my brown-eyed lover. Or even worse things, like AIDS. Which I didn’t get, I checked that.
AIDS came along big time just a few months after I left him and his jungle-patterned, parrot-littered bedsheets, tiring of the wine-inspired, verbal viciousness arrowing across the oak table toward me in flights of acute intelligence.
However, this man I loved. No doubt about it. But I love myself more.
Perhaps being loved by him taught me that, however.
Seconds fly away with the rays of the sun, dashing across our faces. You can’t hold on to a vineyard, even your own. It goes into the ground, or into bottles, and lovers drink it, and gaze:
A coffee-bearing waiter
In black and white attired
Gives gracious service to a pair
Who dream-gaze, starry-eyed.
Their gaze is promise-laden
Glow-kindled from beneath
The longest tablecloth in town,
Where sauce is served with feet.
Here in Canada, despite complex safety-nets, we not only have sexy feet hiding under the occasional long tablecloth, but more, we have the dangerous female coif exposed everywhere to greedy male eyes.
When did hair, its length, fullness, visibility, join the pelvis in loss of innocence? The mesmeric power of an anointed vagina I can understand, but coiffure??
The prevalence of men who love women is, of course, directly related to the prevalence of belief systems which witchefy women. In the Cameroon, women have witchery in their vagina. If you are looking for a good source of witchcraft in New Guinea, say you need revenge for some reason, you won’t find it unless you can find a good vagina. Although, to be fair, a vagina can help to attract game if you are hunting, too.
In New Zealand, the vagina is the house of the dead. In parts of China, a special hell is reserved for women using the vagina as an exit route – it is forbidden to die in childbirth. Behave yourself.
Primitive societies, fascinated with the birth canal, seem to have missed the import of the feminine head, covered or not. More recent religions, however, stumbled across the truth: orgasm begins in the brain. So keep your hat on, lady.
Of course, Canada, too, has its faults. Great lovers may be hard to find. AIDS and crabs may abound in measured share. However, witches, more and more, are white in soul, whatever their skin colour, and may even be Goddesses. They can be found openly drumming at the moon in the rain forests of British Columbia, thundering huge apple-pie shaped slices of love out across the earth, empowering their neighbourhoods with clean white light.
A surprising number have abandoned the old model as hopeless and have turned to other women instead, giving up on the struggle to find a Hero in the male. Perhaps, to find a Hero at all.
And many, many Men, having perhaps given up trying to find what they might need in a Woman, turn instead to the physical strength, the old reliable powerfulness, the comprehensible presence of the Male, tangled in their bedsheets. And a great, great many, often most beautiful, Men, are born only for the delight of other Men.
A great number of women, however, still desire to be loved by a man who loves women.
As for my sun-kissed lover and I, the speed of light has claimed our loving, whipping it far from this moment and all further moments to come, forever.
The plummy MG cools down
Outside the restaurant with the long tablecloths.
But I sit straight
And eat my clams
One day, all those who kill love, and the longing for love, be they holy-book dealers, young men with Glocks, or arms dealers, will be found only in history books.
In the end, Love wins. Our children and our descendants down the coming Ages will find that the quest for the Ultimate Romance, while different, will be more attainable.
For Change is coming. Can you hear it, Cinderella?
And underlying all the social, political, financial and even geographical Changes that are yet to come will forever stand that highest pinnacle to the human heart…
The thrust forward in our endless quest for eternal, lasting love in all its worshipful forms and functions.