Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Love of the critical kind

What an incredible event in Portland -- I know it's going to be great, because I arrive a little after seven and all of the chairs are already taken, the store is bringing out more and the event starts at 7:30. It's a really beautiful combination of readers – Ezra RedEagle Whitman, River Willow Fagan and myself, all bringing a different but complementary engagement. Of course, before the reading starts I'm all edgy, rushing to the bathroom to shit, why all this edginess? And then, as soon as I start -- this packed room all the way back and everyone's there with me right away, then I feel calm. I notice it in my delivery, even -- slower, more musical, more space.

The store apologizes at the beginning for only having 16 books -- they ordered 25, and more are on the way. That rarely happens: stores don't apologize for only ordering 25 copies, that's pretty standard. But then, this crowd shows up -- later the event coordinator tells me this is the biggest crowd they've ever had in that store, Powell’s on Hawthorne, and on my way out the people working the register say that it’s the sweetest group of people they’ve seen -- how beautiful!
And the Q&A, a question about HRC and bridge-building between radical queers and the gaystream -- that's a fun one to answer. Someone doesn't agree, not quite a question. Questions about intimacy and intergenerational contact and dark feelings and It Gets Better and the structure of the anthology to bring on conversation, I love all these questions and conversation and one thing I notice is that I feel so present in my answers, even more present than usual -- it's the energy of the crowd that builds inside of me, and these are the kinds of moments when I feel so much more than present, how do I describe it? I mean: like I'm on a roll. Like my articulation actually surprises me.

River and Ezra have interesting things to say too and I would tell you about what we all say, the whole conversation, I wish it was recorded, I hate wishing that kind of thing after the fact and today of course I’m pushing against the disastrousness of exhaustion, how will I pack, how will I get ready, in less than two hours I leave to catch another train, tomorrow another event in another city and when I took a walk in the sudden sunshine of course my head cleared but my head is not clear now, ready for bed again but now unfortunately is not the time for bed, there isn't time with everything else and at least tomorrow I won't be in the basement although it is a back house so it might be dark too but really, the event last night, the energy in the room, the intimacy of engagement, the intimacy of something communal or collective, disparate but not daunting, clashing but critically open, questioning and even confrontational but not dismissive, or not dismissive except when necessary, and I want to say something about hugs, now I mention it at the end of every reading, that I love hugs, that if anyone wants a hug please come up, and the space that that opens up too and I want to call it love all of this, all of this I want to call love and I want to think about this love in my body and hope that my body won't always feel so messed up afterwards, so messed up, such a mess, I'm a mess but I do feel like I'm getting somewhere with this tour, an important conversation is opening up and people are relating and this might be my best tour ever, I mean the beautiful intensity of the events and the way everything is coming together and that's the work I'm doing but it’s working better than ever and that's something to think about too, more hugs and more intimacy and more possibilities for engagement and yes, love, I'll use that word again, love of the critical kind that means we will hold one another and we will hold one another accountable.

2 comments:

katia said...

Fabulous! The best tour ever. Love, critical engagement, clarity.

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Yay -- thank so much, Katia -- and, for pointing out the important words as I wake up and face another day of fabric softener -- but wait, a walk, yes a walk...

Love --
mattilda