Sunday, March 18, 2012

Wall of Sound

Mannnn, I go away a couple times, a couple things happen and blogging goes out the window. I can hear the skittery passage of virtual tumbleweeds in here and I can't blame anyone. If I were alone, I'd whistle a little*, but I'm in a cafe and rainsticky playing. So at least that distracts me from the tumbleweeds in this blog space.

*If I could, but I suck at whistling.

I suppose the relative quiet is good. Because people have been talking to me A LOT lately. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a hermit. I love connection. It just seems that the incidence of strangers-who-share is quite high these days; and while I find this comes in waves, it's usually a spurt of maybe two or three really interesting and random ones, followed by months of no such thing. But this time, it began with the trip to New Orleans and it has happened steadily until a few days ago. I'm not complaining. It can be interesting to give over, settle in and wonder, "well. Where's this going to go?"

For example, I just took a short trip to New York City recently. Now I had purchased a stupid-early flight going in because it was either that or stoopid flight combinations like so:

Detroit -- > Atlanta.
Atlanta -- > New York.

Or arriving quite late in the day, and for more money and then that seems like a waste. But it was so stupid I allowed myself to forget that it was, indeed a 6 AM flight. "Well." says John, who runs a paid cab-limo (really a white SUV, but fine), "How early?" I tell him and he kind of half chuckles. "Well, I have another fare, I can combine you in there, but I'll have to pick you up at...five of 4." He whistles. "How does that sound?"

"Fine," I say grimly.

"It sounds early," says John. He calls me back later.

"I have good news and bad news."

"...okay" I say.

"The good news is! The couple begged out, so now, you know, I can let you sleep in a bit more, that'll be better for you." It's perfectly obvious he had been equally mortified by the first pick up time. "...the bad news is -- well, not for me, for you -- since you're the only passenger, it's gonna cost you more."

"....Right. Okay."

", you know. whatever you want to tip, hahaha!" he chuckles. Ok, John.

So, with John I knew what I was getting into, as he had picked me up from Detroit when I was returning from New Orleans. With a few mmhhmms, no really! But what about~~?s he talked steadily for the entire 50 minute ride. Now, one can resent being a captive audience. Or one could be rude. One could refrain from asking questions, when it becomes clear that one won't be listened to or questioned in return. But he's an appealing character. He texted me a few times about where *exactly* we'd meet, to reassure me he was where he said he'd be; and nodded and raised his hand in greeting when I popped up by his car. Curls of his silvery chin- length hair peeked out beneath a fuzzy Nepalese knit hat with ties dangling on either side; he has a nice smile and sparkly eyes. 

He worked for one of the major cab companies for years, until new management rerouted it poorly in his opinion; a handful of anecdotes about atrocious interpersonal dealings were shared. So he eventually went off on his own and it has turned out very nicely, thank you very much. But before that, in his youth, he drove just long enough to save up enough money so he could spend six months in India, which he did repeatedly. India has always fascinated me, so I dug into that. There was a young woman here, an artist on the art fair circuit, a failed romance after several years -- and there was also a guru. As to the woman -- "I didn't see it coming! I got a Dear John letter -- and obviously, it said, 'Dear John,' but you know it was also like, 'Dear John'!, right? And I was crushed, I mean crushed, like really, really depressed."

So he moped along, in a barely functioning existence, until one day when he discovered The Book of Secrets (Osho, formerly Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh). He had been curious about meditation for some time, so he decided to check it out.* It took hold of him. He taped black plastic bags on his windows to keep the light out, so he could meditate in more complete darkness. He used taxi downtime to stare into the fog over local ponds, to get into a meditative state. He told me parables that appealed to him. He was meditating every day; and then several times every day.

*{This turn was also of interest to me, because I periodically flirt with the idea of meditating -- but so far, the very reason it would be extra good for me -- the chattering "monkey brain" they talk about in yoga -- also makes me think it would be especially hard/maddening to do and I stay away ~~} 

And then it happened: a state of sustained bliss, where ego fell away and he was able to contentedly observe petty emotions pass and live life, while suffused with something approaching glory. {I should note that he said this was NOT drug induced}. And the monkey brain (that part of your consciousness that provides unending narrative, conjecture, worry and pretty much insists that it really, really matters, regardless of how trivial matters are) fell silent. This lasted for about three weeks. And hokey as this may all sound, I do think it was rather remarkable.
So of course after that he needed to go meet his guru in person, see if the man was as truly enlightened as his teachings. And he found him to be so, "though you know, they totally got on him about all those cars he owned, know~~"

"Porsches? Ferraris?"

"....Noooo, they're like limos~~"

"Rolls Royces?"

"...yeah. But his followers bought those for him, because a lot of them were really rich and loved him. And he was still of this world: he liked Rolls Royces: So. What."

Which, in the end, I don't think he told me that much about India proper (though this was awhile ago at this point, I am forgetting some things). He went through lots of small villages, where they hadn't seen white people, much less a young guy with blue eyes and long blond hair, so he would be followed and surreptitiously touched, out of curiosity. Mostly what you usually hear: visually stunning, plus a mind-numbing disparity in wealth.

So that was trip one. Trip two, I was barely awake, grim about it and not tracking so very well. He was talking about existence and an online debate he had recently engaged in -- and it was more developed than this, certainly, but this was kind of what I picked up: "...And he wrote, 'I think therefore I am" and I was like he's TOTALLY missing it, he's completely arrogant, Descartes wasn't talking about the LARGER state of being-- I shot back, 'I think therefore I am NOT' and I think THAT stopped him. Your thought does not precede your being! Being IS and being in the moment-- truly-- is NO THOUGHT.  Any thought is either past or future, it is not NOW."

I thought that I would like more coffee. Or perhaps more sleep. My brain seemed as if it were starting to hurt. "Say you lose your keys: where were YOU when you lost them? You were lost in thought.You were not in the present moment: that's why you lost them. You were too busy thinking of THIS thing or worrying about tomorrow, but the point is, you were not THERE." I blinked. Dammit, this seemed to hold some truth. I tried not to slump against the passenger door. We arrived at the airport and the time for talking was past.

Or so I thought. A small group of gangly young teen girls shuffled in the security line behind me. Their impatience made them space invaders, their jangly energy ensured they jostled their elbows and bags into those around them. Their young selves could not be quiet. Their sentiments seemed to flit indiscriminately amongst them, as though they were a highly trivial, annoying Greek chorus.

Why are people SO SLOW, I think it's like a MIDWESTERN THING, like they're NICE and they're SLOW. They don't care about being fast it's like god get on or get out I know right OMG I totally want McDonald's do you want McDonalds Cara? Awwwwwww yeah, Cara's in,  getting the McD's, I mean seriously, what's the DEAL. Look at him, I HATE it when the person in front of you expects you to nudge all their bins along like I'm not moving your stuff *I'm bored* You know move your own stuff have you talked to Lisa Chhhhhh, Lisa doesn't even KNOW like she has NO idea Look at that girl, Kim, her hair is even SHINIER than yours its like super shiny it like GLOWS I'm totally getting fries

At one point, I silently mouthed ahead of me: SHUT. UP. This was momentarily pleasing. I removed my sparkly sweater and then my shoes.

Getting onto the flight itself feels like a bleary triumph. But then we are grounded for about an hour and a half, due to various unfortunate circumstances. At one point the pilot comes on: "Just to give you an update, folks, when I was testing a backup engine generator, I fried some of the circuit board. But everything's okay now! We should be up and running soon." If you want to a do an extra double check of the circuit boards, that's cool with us.

The driver of the car that meets me at LaGuardia owns three dogs: a chow chow, a german shepherd and a something else. Months ago, she erected a party tent in the small backyard, because they don't like to go in the rain. She brushes the white furred Bella in the backyard
"And it looks like it snowed! Like I could make a while nother dog from this dog! I'm not kidding!...I tell you though, I'd get rid of my kids before I'd get rid of my dogs. I tell them that! They know! They're all full grown anyway..."

She is currently living with her brother, who is in his thirties, but seems to have some kind of mental deficiency (maybe?) and can't hold a job (or is too much of a lazy bum, she alternates.) But not for much longer -- she has an apartment lined up in Jersey City and she's sorry, but he can't live with her again. She loves him and will always be there for him, but just not to live with. "He stays up all night, talking, and I think,'I'll have to kill him.'"

"That's not cool, you've got to get your sleep. That alone would make you crazy."

"Am I telling you! Right! I'm drained to the point that I'm....drained." The brother is problematic: he has alienated everyone in the family but her, burned all his bridges, and now he has trashed HER on Facebook.

"And my Father! I'll tell you! He once bought my brother a BRAND NEW truck, paid in full with cash and gave it to him! And you know what he did? He traded it in! For a truck that NEEDED payments and don't you think that's a big "FUCK YOU GO FUCK YOURSELF" to my Dad?!?"

There is sudden silence. She jerks her head around to me. Apparently, I had missed my cue. "....Right, why would you even trade it in?"

"RIGHT!! It was like a big FUCK YOU. But so anyway, he's still there right now, he was gone a few weeks, he's got another baby, with another woman, but now he's back and my son says,'OK, Mom, he can be here, but if he says anything against you, I'm gonna pop him.'" Her son's a good boy, he comes over for dinner and leaves money folded under her pillow, because she feeds him steak, even though it's tight.

Amazing, the endless stories floating around. So many people have them walled up, many slowly divulge, while others unfurl them at the slightest provocation, like pushy rug salesmen to passersby: "You like this, you like this?? Highest quality, best price~~" I felt rather worn out, by the time I reached my destination, luckily to be hosted by good friends who don't feel the need to be ON all the time. Everyone loves an audience, but the size of audience required -- and the frequency desired -- varies to a fascinating degree...

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