The weather was accommodating while Joanne was here – it rained without interruption. As a result, we spent Tuesday inside – no distractions (but for the Sirs, who are very capable of disrupting anything for attention), no interruptions. Although Jo and I see each other once or twice a year, we began our conversation wherever we left it last. Given that this thread was picked up after forty-plus years of silence, it’s nothing short of amazing.
I can spot her anywhere – it’s her smile or her eyes moving from one point to another scouring the area around her to ensure its familiarity. Or perhaps it is the intimate awareness that comes from understanding another soul so well that it can call you silently. Alan said she has a ‘beautiful spirit’, a description that she wears far better than her too-loose jeans.
This year has been a test for which no one really prepared. Hurricane Sandy hit her neighborhood almost as hard as it hit her husband’s business. The intricacies of bureaucracies responsible for remediation challenged nerves already too frayed. Rebuilding is expensive, exacting payment from one’s wallet and one’s sense of well-being. She and Ben are well on their way, though anxiety chooses to linger and makes sure that its presence is never forgotten. Jo reminds me of a kite – always has. She flies and dips with the rhythm of the wind, making glorious loops and circles, dipping down precipitously and grandly, only to catch a gust of air to lift her up with easy gracefulness. There is something about the sun and the breeze and Jo in flight – it’s a visual that never fails to delight.
Yet life teaches you that sometimes you have to be grounded. You have to move forward in the far less appealing, plebian way of placing one weighted shoe in front of the next. There is the need to be present when present is the very last thing one wants to be. The relentless reminder that we are needed on this walking path. There is no flight, no game of tag with the wind. It is perhaps harder for those who revel in the movement of the air, those who are defined by their limitless potential for love, ideology, hope and a dash of resistant innocence. I can see the little girl within, arms folded defiantly, her chin raised and her bangs almost shaking with the affront of being grounded. And because I love her, I want for her to always feel the indescribable freedom of dancing in the air. And because I love her, I suggest that there is beauty to be found on the footpath.
And just as she alit on Monday, she was off again on Wednesday morning to warmer climes. But as is Joanne’s way, she left the essence of that spirit here. Sitting in the kitchen on this early Saturday morning, drinking some coffee and regaling me with her tales from the sky…