Wednesday, June 6, 2007

HOME

I am writing this in flight over the western states—not the Rockies, but the places where crossroads look like new geomtric forms—straight and simple in their exactitude. It is such a clear day I almost feel like I am flying free, with nothing separating me from the vastness and the gravity. I feel my own weightlessness though.
I was away. I went home to Boston and also to Cape Cod. I spent most of the time in Wellfleet, which is a magical otherworldly place. It feels like you might be at the edge of the world, which is kind of funny since apparently the Pilgrims first stopped in nearby Provincetown on their voyage but, finding it too rocky, … they continued on to Plymouth. (Why don’t they spell it Plimoth like they used to?) Wellfleet was also home to the first translatlantic radio broadcast, in 1906, by President Teddy Roosevelt. The name is most often assumed to be some version of Whale Fleet, and from 1670 to 1740 there was an active tavern in Wellfleet of which a few artifacts remain. It was probably a magical, nutso place back then too, since whalers would come in after weeks at sea seeking, well, I can only imagine the most debaucherous versions of human interaction. That was on a place called Great Island, which is the most pristine of beaches and sadly, a large-bird graveyard. If its got to happen somewhere though I can think of worse final resting places. During his presidency Kennedy actually made the Cape Cod sea shore a nationally-protected park… so, it is especially lovely.
Anyway, a few highlights of my time:
There is a swamp which you can access at Marconi Beach which is the playing field of all Cape-area frogs and fairies… Grimm’s Tales crossed with the Lord of the Rings and you are starting to get a picture… there is a wooden plankway low and unobtrusive but making it possible to wander through. It brought me back to my days in Brooklyn/Paradise doing Gale Gates et al’s performance installation of the Divine Comedy. [Always a great place and time to return to in my mind—I think the performance is enough fodder for even one-time viewers to have images to last a lifetime. Big ups Gale Gates!]
A sunset party in Truro at one of those ten little grey cottages you see in all the paintings and photographs. When you stand at the top of the dune you really have the sense that life has not changed in these environs for at least 50 years. Simple and still and the ocean being enough to entertain indefinitely. [Thank you Jessa and the Bomb Shelter for being such a fine meeting place]
The play MOJO at the Wellfleet Harbor Actor’s Theater (WHAT). Personally I think Adam Harrington stole the show… so what if I am a bit biased. I saw it 3.5 times and I got more out of it each time. By the third time the interesting and sometimes awkward threshold/device of theater was gone. I was transported and engaged and cared deeply for the characters and their suffering and their livelihoods. Adam Clem (as “Baby”) was also a standout for me, capable as he was at capturing his character’s vulnerability and bullying sociopathy. The complexity of his eye movements, (not when he was looking at things, but when he was thinking about things, or remembering, or listening), reminded me of the Wooster Groups’ Kate Valk—and for me, she is the top.
Mac’s Shack, and the Harmon Gallery, food and wine and art, in this case, with family and friends. I especially enjoyed the Martini glass appetizer filled with tuna and avocado, tomato, and with homemade tortilla chips. If you go there—you’ve got to try this. I don’t really eat fish and I just couldn’t resist—which is saying a lot!
[there is a Madonna video on the airplane system and god, is she in good shape. Inspiring really. And Par Cours—it looks so fun and easy—ahh, an illusion I’m sure]
Then, in Boston:
I went to the Codman Academy graduation and it was probably the most inspiring experience I have had this year. The school was started by my mother, and just finished it’s 7th year. It is in Codman Square, Dorchester, in Boston. There are too many moments to share here but as it is also the MOST-documented school in America if you are curious to learn more there is no doubt a bevy of media sources available for your perusal. One tidbit I have returned to in the past few days though was from a teacher’s speech to the class—though it actually highlights words from a student. The teacher spoke movingly about one particularly hard day hours before the then-juniors were to begin performing their original hip-hop opera called “Diallo.” Students didn’t know their lines and were disappearing in droves to get their hair braided or get pedicures! Aaron said he was losing it, yelling, probably waving his arms, when he felt a hand on his back and a quiet voice whispering to him… “Aaron, love yourself. Love yourself.” Ahh, a lesson Aaron had been trying to teach the students over the four years he spent teaching them Humanities. Clearly, he taught them well. They spent the first minutes of each class meditating and the graduation was no different. He led them through a meditation asking them to ‘close their eyes, and feel this moment. Feel the warmth and love and support in the room. The pride. The glory. This was the moment of their high school graduation.’ You could have heard a pin drop despite the entire Huntington Theater being packed to the gills. [I wish I had thought to meditate at my own graduation—I might remember it better!!—but I will use this as an opportunity for the future. Sometimes it is best to just be still a moment and take it all in, isn’t it??]
Teacher and students alike were crying remembering the hard time and the brilliant ones and I am confident they will be in touch after Aaron settles into his new home in the monastery he is leaving for. When he came to interview six years ago my mom told him these kids would be his “Zen Masters.” He didn’t believe it then—but he has found this idea to be quite true.
Sitting by the pool with my young cousins Maggie and Lucy and their babysittee, Isabelle, … talking about “puberty.” Unbelievable. Lucy has to do a project interviewing her parents “about when they got their puberty,” and puberty was defined to Isabelle as, “what happens when a popsicle melts” (Maggie) and “what happens when you get older” (Lucy). The setting sun was dancing on the water and the conversation was but a quick interlude between handstand contests, noodle floating, and lifeguard-chasing.
There is nothing like getting away, or, going home. Sometimes these are the same thing, sometimes not. The idea of home changes as I get older and living 3,000 miles away. I am lucky to feel at home in many places and travel so frequently between them.
Thank you to everyone who made my travels so rich.

Adam, Meg, Moriah, Chris, Steve/Windwalker, Sarah, Jeremy, the Harringtons, the Collins, Alex, Elsbeth, Charlton, Tracey, Julie, Sarly, Jessa, Kevin, Risher, Andrew, the cast and crew of MOJO, Codman Academy, Maggie, and Lucy.

2 comments:

Adam said...

Cape Cod was lucky to have had such an astute observor, keen historian, and eloquent writer visits its majestic shores.
Cape Cod thanks you.

Cape Cod misses you.

Harvard Perspectives Press said...

Indeed, not only Cape Cod, but all of Massachusetts misses you! But it is very nice to have this connection, this blog, this eloquent piece of your remarkable soul.