Saturday, April 29, 2017

Nonesuch as She

Saturday is like heaven
An endless free hall pass

It was the rare Saturday where that sentiment rang true for me. All week long, I'd anticipated a day with not a single thing written in my datebook and nary a deadline in sight, both rarities.

My morning walk down to the pipeline walkway was thwarted because of how high and furious the river was, a fact underscored by the muddy edges of Brown's Island as I attempted to reach it. I forged on anyway, found the pipeline underwater and doubled back, passing a guy sitting near the very edge of land for the second time in five minutes.

We not only struck up a conversation - I learned he was a graphic designer - but he also joined me on the canal walk as I headed to the other side of the pipeline. We talked about Richmond's thriving scene and how necessary it is to be out every day in order to find inspiration in the world. The unexpected surprise was that he once lived on the same block of Clay I call home.

Small world.

Once I finally made it on to the pipeline, I wound up in another conversation, this one with a guy fishing for shad near the very end part that was underwater. He admitted the raging river didn't make for the best fishing conditions but it was a satisfying way to spend a Saturday morning.

As we were chatting, a Boy Scout troop passed by, one of the boys so busy shooting video with his phone that he almost lost his footing. Had the troop leader been right there with the boys - he was hanging back on the walkway, looking for all the world like a man terrified to walk on rounded, uneven concrete - he might have addressed the issue.

At Lowe's leisurely shopping for flowers for my garden and balcony, I ran into a favorite photographer who peered at me under my straw hat and tentatively asked, "Karen?"

Over the years, we've run into each other so many places - lectures, music shows, films, book readings - and now with the obvious horticulture connection, she pointed out that we had an awful lot in common not to spend more time together. Sealing the deal, she said she lives on the water in New Kent, so we should spend a day sitting on her dock and deck, admiring nature and talking.

Who's going to say no to that?

Even better, we both live alternate lifestyles, so we're not limited to weekends for socializing or anything for that matter. When she mentioned she often works on weekend days, I told her many's the time I do the same to make deadline. Our Saturdays are not like worker bees' Saturdays.

Except for a change, today was. For both of us.

Despite the sudden onslaught of summer (the Man About Town described today's weather as taking on the "characteristics of a terrarium and we are lizards, splayed upon a rock, still, except for our flickering tongues") and it being the hottest part of the day, I couldn't come home with 40-some new plants and not begin planting.

Damn, but it was hot and sticky getting them into the ground, though.

Once I'd showered off the dirt and debris, I couldn't help myself, scouting for a simple way to pass a little time without making a real commitment.

A poetry reading at Chop Suey was just the ticket: an hour of being read to was not only the ideal way to close out National Poetry Month but also celebrate Independent Bookstore Day.

And, I'm not going to lie, the metal folding chairs felt wonderful against my overheated back.

Allison Seay began by reminding the crowd that events such as this one matter, not just because naysayers have been predicting the death of poetry for years now, but because of the sense of community they inspire.

Her poems were born out of her own mental health issues, which she'd conquered and then used to inspire her poetry ("And it was not yet a metaphor for everything").

From her chapbook, Gina Myers read from "Philadelphia," her 2014 long poem about adjusting to a move to the city of brotherly love, touching on goals ("We will have fun until we won't"), self-acceptance ("I don't have to kiss every guy I spend an evening with, but I can if I want to"), and heartache ("Tonight I'm going to listen to every sad song ever. This will take the rest of my life").

Best conclusion drawn: "Love is the fiercest reason for living."

Reading from her phone - I know this is done now, but it lacks the soul of reading from a book or even a sheet of paper - two groups of poems, some serious, some not, she spoke of the number of planets dwindling and, yes, heavenly Saturdays and hall passes.

Favorite advice (even for those of us who took it nearly a decade ago) offered: "Remove yourself from the slow drain of 9 to 5."

That way, you have time enough for walks and conversations with strangers, planting flowers and poetry.

And, if you're truly lucky, time for the fiercest reason of all.

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