(Continuation of The Divinest Sense 1.0)
When Emmy and Rory finally met up the net morning, they had quite conversation. The first salvo, I guess, in a family that had always swallowed words unsaid. The discussion is a matter of public record, in fact—Rory recounted it in detail at the hearing. What Emmy said about the conversation differed considerably from the official version, though. Knowing Emmy, her version probably isn’t the gospel any more than Rory’s was, but her story more interesting.
With the temperature finally above freezing at dawn, Emmy emerged naked from her trailer for her morning exercises. Instead of doing them right off the patio, where she’d done them last year summer, surrounded by birch and pine trees, she decided to see if the exercises were more meaningful if she did them on the dock, out over the water. She’d have a better view of the sunrise even if being right over the water didn’t help her connect with the elemental part of her being more deeply.
First, she sat in the Butterfly Pose, almost the same as the Indian style pose the elementary teachers use during Circle Time. Instead of crossing her legs, her feet touched, just like the Yoga book she got from the library showed. Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale. Keep the spine straight. There’s the eagle, flying in a lazy circle around the reeds. Focus.
Head rolls. Foot stretches. Shoulder rolls. Inhale, exhale. Deep breath.
“Morning has bro-ken, like the first mor-ning. Blackbird has spo-ken, like the first day.. .Praise for the sing-ing, praise for the mor-ning, praise for Him spring-ing fresh from the grave.” Slightly reedy, not always exactly on pitch, Emmy began every morning singing the sun up as part of her exercises. Facing east on the dock, she felt like an essential part of the process. If she took a breath, would the sun slow its ascent? If she stopped singing, might the dawn never come? Emmy knew the scientific explanations, but a secret part of her wanted to believe that she made a difference in the process.
Next, the salutation to the sun, again courtesy of the Yoga book from the Nicolet county library. Prayer pose, inhale, exhale. Raised arm pose--stretch out the back. Hand to foot pose-stretch the other direction. See the minnows between the slats in the dock. Down, stretching out each leg, one at a time. Watch the spine, keep it straight. By the time Emmy finished the twelve poses, rotating backwards to end up in the Prayer pose again, all the cricks and cracks from sleep were gone, and she was ready for the day, physically and spiritually.
Saluting the sun from the dock was incredible. Emmy decided to continue her morning ritual on the dock as long as the weather held--October at the latest, this far north. Inspired, she dove in, perceiving that a morning dip in the frigid water would cap off her exercises perfectly.
The sound of Rory’s car driving down the gravel lane was drowned by splashing, so Emmy didn’t realize he was there until he started down the stairs to the dock.
“Lord, Emmy, isn’t the water freez.. .Where are your clothes? You’re as nutty as everyone thinks! Damn, girl...” As Emmy climbed back on the dock after her impromptu swim, goosebumps formed on every part of her body, as Rory could no doubt tell. Although she was unself-conscious about her nudity, she also knew that no one would be around for hours, certainly not at dawn. There were a couple neighbors at the far end of Loon Lake, but no one that ever seemed to be moving around this early.
“G’morning, Rory. Nice to see you, too. Had breakfast yet? You can join me if you want.” Emmy padded back towards her trailer unselfconsciously, Rory sputtering behind her.
“What in the hell are you doing swimming in almost freezing water, naked besides? You need a keeper.”
“C’mon, you’ve skinny dipped in there many times. I’ve been with you, so don’t lie.”
“I wasn’t grownup then. And I never swam in the lake before June. You could get frostbite.”
“You have always been the mama’s boy,” Emmy retorted good naturedly.
“I’ve been sensible and responsible. Which reminds me-”
“Yogurt or bran muffin?”
“Breakfast. Do you want yogurt or a bran muffin. Or both, I guess.”
“Muffin, And coffee, if you have any.”
“No, I--you did it again. I’m always getting side tracked when I’m talking with you. Listen for a minute.”
While Emmy got a spoon out of the drawer and poured her tea, Rory looked around the camper Emmy called home. It was their home away from home during summer trips while he and Emmy were young. The overhead bunks where he tossed and turned, crowded in with Emmy and Amy on their jaunts to whatever destination their father picked. I remember hearing about when Rory broke the compact kitchen table he was sitting on. It was supposed to raise up, making room for a bed to pull out from between the benches, but unthinkingly, Rory sat on it while waiting for supper one night. He spent the rest of the trip sleeping on the floor, partway under the broken table, legs sprawled in front of the doorway. He got kicked every time someone left the camper to answer the call of nature in the middle of the night. He claimed the kicking was his penance for breaking the table, so he didn’t fuss too much about it.
“I’m listening. Just doing things while I listen. Go on.”
“Steve Calvert talked to me last night-”
“--and told on me for quitting my job.”
Rory fidgeted, knowing Emmy’s tone too well. “Em, he’s concerned.”
“He doesn’t want to train someone else.”
“Well, probably. Can you blame him?”
“I guess not--but I feel dirty keeping a job I don’t need when I know others who do need it.”
“Oh? Won the lottery lately? Keeping your marriage to Bill Gates a secret? Lord, Em--what do you mean you don’t need the job?”
Rory’s voice had raised a pitch or two, and his mouth tightened a bit. Emmy knew that she was straining Rory’s patience. “John Denver died.”
“Quite a while ago. But we’re talking about you. You’re testing me, girl. Stay on the topic.”
“This is the topic, Rory. I’ll explain once, because I assume that you’re concerned as a loving little brother. It’s a stretch, honestly, but this once, ok. When John Denver died, I started thinking.”
“Let me finish or I won’t ever explain. Maybe Denver wasn’t at the top when he died, but he’d taken risks. Maybe he was the punch line to a lot of jokes, but at least he’d been brave enough to try to be something. Lives of quiet desperation, like Thoreau. Remember junior English? I do. And I swore that I’d never be a person living in quiet desperation. When Denver’s plane crashed, I remembered what it felt like to be 16 and full of . . something. Life. Hope. Whatever. I’m done plopping overcooked beans on school lunch trays. I don’t need money that badly. I have to find my place in the universe, and..
“And you’re crazy. Who quits a job to find their place in the universe? Crazy people. Go to church on Sunday. Teach yoga to housewives. But don’t do crazy things. It looks bad. People are talking.”
“Which bothers you more-- People talking, or the idea that I might be a drain on your savings account? A little less self-interest, Rory. A bit more sincerity. Then maybe I’ll believe that you came here because you’re worried about me.”
“Yes, I’m worried about myself. I’ve got a business, kids. A place in the community—a small community. It doesn’t look good for any of us if one Arden’s crazy. Guilt by association. Jason and Katey shouldn’t have to go to school and hear kids talk about their weird aunt.” He stopped for a breath as Emmy refilled his tea cup. “Furthermore, it’s no sin to worry about my bank account. How are you going to support yourself? I don’t have that much, Emmy, and Jason’s only a few years from college. If won’t look good if I let you starve, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to buy you wheat germ and tofu.”
“I’ve never asked you for anything. I’d be willing to talk, but I’m not a child and I don’t need either lectured or yelled at.” Emmy turned with her back to Rory and began washing dishes. Her stiff back, proud carriage and busy, calm hands undoubtably told Rory, who knew from years of reading Emmy’s body language, that the conversation was over. Pressing her further would be asking for trouble. Even though he was upset, pushing Emmy past a certain point was asking for more trouble than he could handle. Rory might not be Solomon, but he was wise enough to know when to let things be. This was one of those times.