Saturday, February 18, 2017
voids in your timeline waiting for color
As we cycled weight through our feet in class, I noticed a place in my left foot that wasn't passing the weight from heel to little toe to big toe. Feeling the drop out in the pinky toe part, how quickly weight passed across my foot from heel to big toe, I paused and rolled through the place it seemed to avoid. Pressing into that quiet space triggered a response in the back of my right pelvic half, close to the sacrum and I can only describe the sensation as the minty freshness my mouth feels after brushing my teeth. I've been slightly nauseous and have felt weirdness underneath my outer ankle in that same foot since last week, when we focused on PNF patterns, and when we sat down after this particular exploration, I looked at my foot, to search for clues in its hills and valleys. As soon as my eyes landed on that pinky toe edge I remembered getting my foot stuck under the wheel of a forklift, years ago in a warehouse. Of course. The flesh sucked away from the bone, the horrible sound I made, my hand on my friend's arm to stop him, while I tried to pull my foot away but couldn't. "Did I catch the steel toe?" he asked me, his body tight with fear. 'No, but I need you to back up.' I responded through clenched teeth. I dragged myself upstairs and put ice on my foot for half an hour then slunk back down to finish pulling orders and putting away pipes. I limped for most of a month, but I didn't speak up, I was a soft skinned baby and a girl in a world of men who had mostly known labor, it was the first time I had any real source of income - that 25k a year was more than my mother had ever made in her life, and I couldn't afford for my hours to be cut or my boss' potential anger, the doctor's visit, or the probability that something might actually be wrong. But I should have known that not dealing with it then would mean I would have to deal with it at some point. One of the older men in the shop had cut a half inch off one of his fingers back when he worked as a roofer, and had to get regular surgeries where doctors would scrape out the tiny sliver of nail bed that tried its best to grow. Just last week one of my friends from that shop told me about getting trapped under a heap of poorly stacked steel, and in his automatic response to push it away, in the hopes that it would tip in the opposite direction, on of his finger tips got caught and the flesh was ripped clean away.
I wonder if, just like ballet dancers, a certain way of being in the world (person) is drawn into the kind of professional realities that require appearing graceful and strong no matter how much pain they might be in. But there is no Art Historian's Eulogy for the laborer, there is no record of the grace or strength they may have shown in the face of dire or overwhelming circumstances. When guys show up on crews with busted knees and broken backs, they are often regarded as a problem, something that slows everyone down, someone that can't pull their weight, someone that all of us must work harder to compensate for - rather than having a flesh record of how much of themselves they have given away for some elusive 'greater good'. I've seen the evidence of these men from decades and decades past, while renovating educational institutions - places where the drawings I've been given aren't very well related to the existing architecture and I have to make a different choice than the project manager thinks should be made - and I have seen the echoes of choices made that mirror mine, and I can almost see the man that sat where I was sitting 40 years ago, with a hammer drill in their hands, considering their options.
With every footfall right now, I can feel the splinters of an experience in my feet, how my refusal to be vulnerable in that moment has turned into something more all encompassing. It travels through the body like a ghost, my knee in that left leg regularly gets painfully congested in daily walking and I usually wait for the bones of my lower leg that connect to it to pop, alleviating the build up of pressure. The whispering response around my right S.I. joint. How easy it is to ignore the things we can't see. How the buildings we live in are just like us - an architecture formed out of an idea, brought into being by the choices and reactions of a great many people and relationships. Like us they carry the weight of other's hopes and dreams, and like us, they can only be what they are in the face of our expectations. As I sit in my living room, I am embraced by a long history of other people's choices embedded in the walls, the layout of the floorboards, the furniture and trappings that have come through my roommate's lives to overlap in this space, and I wonder now if maybe the one true thing we can ever claim as ours are the choices we make.
After coming from an Alexander session last week, I picked up a drill to bore a hole in a ceramic item for my roommate, the potter. A reoccurring problem, the holes getting filled with glaze, and my steel bits kept snapping with the heat and lack of anything to grab, to disburse the pressure of its center point. Still feeling the space and width in my backbody, I felt settled in, empty of the high alert I often carry with tools that fatigues my hands so quickly. You can both hear a change in the sound of the drill and feel a subtle difference in the kind of vibrations the gun gives your hand when it is about to punch through a rapidly thinning surface, and the response to those changes - in my body, though I assume its similar for a lot of us - is a springing together of the shoulder blades to draw object and gun away from each other since the force of weight required to make the hole could send the drill suddenly somewhere dangerous or painful. But my body wasn't responding, post-Alexander, the way it should have, and when the bit snapped, the shattered bit and all of my strength punched a small hole in my left hand, the one that had been stabilizing the object. Considering the blood that wouldn't stop, that was the first time I really understood how potentially vulnerable playing around with my patterns and responses can be, especially with how I move in my professional world. I think I could actually afford to be much more vigilant about what I am giving away, as the consequences for these changes are rippling out through space and time. I have a choice in this particular renovation, one that is deeply essential that I make use of. I am the architect of my own experience.