16 August, 2006

Message in a bottle

After a good month and a half of not hearing much from my host family, I got the most charming email, which suprised and delighted me and couldn't have come at a better time: questions from the kids! "Will your family miss you? Do you have pets? Will your pets miss you? Do you like ballet? Which video games do you like? Do you like to ride horses? My room is peach and pink!" They sound like completely normal, funny, loving kids. My heart almost fell apart when X wrote: "I will give you lots of hugs every day so you won't have to miss them [your family]". Plus they're meeting me at the airport "with a big sign!!!" Oh my god. Thank you. They do exist, and they are nice. Whew.

The past few days have been strange. Lots of emotion, coming up in all different ways at unexpected times. Sometimes I feel frustrated for no apparent reason, and lots of times I feel like I need to escape all the people and their noise. Then other times I get this longing to be in the middle of everyone, like a craving for good human conversation. Here at VH camp there are lots of inspiring, beautiful souls and we all sit together and sing and eat and talk all day long. At dinner last night I was sitting at a table full of these ladies, and Kathy asked us if we wanted to draw runes. By this she meant to reach into a black velvet drawstring bag filled with polished stones, each of which had a particular symbol carved on one side, and to see which one we got. When you reach in you have to be thinking of a specific question, hope, or issue in your life that you'd like some guidance on. The rune symbol that you draw stands for something, and you look it up in a book that Kathy has. Well, we all reached into the bag and pulled out a rune, and then went around the table reading out loud what our runes meant. The air was really charged with that feeling of something important happening, a realization about to occur. It seemed like each of us got a very potent answer to our questions, or at least some interesting guidance. I wondered what the other women were asking about. I especially wonder about the women my own age. The youngest at the table, Annie, is someone that I've wondered about all year long (she lived in our building). She's a very private person but we have good talks sometimes. Those talks are like gems. I don't want to freak her out but I'm so fascinated by her. The other person our age is Heidi, a gorgeous curly haired songwriter who reminds me of a lot of girls I used to look up to. The older women at the table were all beautiful, middle-aged mothers who laugh a lot and have hot flashes and I look at their silver hair and listen raptly to their stories of what they did in their mid-twenties. I need to write more about these people but that's for a different journal, not the travel one.

Here at the Roundhouse there are puppies and there is an old dog. Her hips are sort of frozen up and the floors are very slick (because they're wood, but also maybe because the dogs pee on them whenever they feel like it). She can go up the stairs but when it comes time to go down them again, it's a lot less certain. She has to go really fast and it's kind of a sketchy process. So she stands at the top of the stairs and I swear, if a dog can look apprehensive, this dog does. Yesterday morning I was sitting with Ken watching the dog look at the stairs, and I was just saying how it seemed like she needed someone to carry her down, when she fell. It was awful. She was trying to right herself but just tumbled all the way down. We jumped to our feet and ran over to the bottom of the stairs and I felt this awful panic. It was really freaking scary. I thought the dog would end up twisted and broken, but she just lay there splay legged and we helped her up and she tottled away, like she was emabarrased. When I was in middle school our family dog was old and frail and I was too pissed off at the world to do anything about it. I should have spent more time with her but I was scared and grossed out by her body failing. Now I have a lot of old-dog guilt. I feel like I should have done better. So the dog falling set the tone for a really shaky morning. I was misplacing things and making silly mistakes in my music and getting really impatient with some of the less-than-charming elements of our motly crew.

I leave in a week. I can't believe this is really happening.

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