The beginning of this second week finds us looking for conversations.
We’ve been learning Greek. We know how NOT to order a sweet coffee and how to say “thank you” and, importantly, “yes.” We’ve also been talking about work, about art, about fresh tomatoes. We’ve been talking about sore muscles and why walking between villages as the clouds rise from the gorge’s sleepy clutches is a better commute than the subway or the quad.
As the student’s presented their improvised movement pieces to us, the results of just three morning sessions I managed to puppeteer, I heard a word I hadn’t heard in awhile: polygon.
I’m resisting the urge to look up what Wikipedia thinks that word means. I’m sure it’s meaning is nestled somewhere in between polynomials and 4th period in my canned-tomato and American-coffee-drinking mind, way back in the part of my brain that hadn’t seen this place yet, way back 9 years ago, before I met my work family here in the mountains or the clouds or the sleepy scorpion occupying my shower last night. But my theatre-brother, Danny, who has taken to the Greek language over the past 9 years (while I’ve stuck mostly to “please” and “fireflies” and “NO sugar in my coffee, thank you”) just casually translated it for me as we breathlessly trekked up the mountain to the house:
While we luckily spend most of our days outside, trading space with bees and ants and beetles and the erratic flies that seem impossibly excited to have us around as warm landing pads (and who always seem to be laughing at us as we swat them away … we give the flies great joy here) there are still corners. The mountains are imposing bricks of stone and tree and goat. The language seems, at times, sharp and impenetrable. And the second week seems to usher in, almost invite, conversation with these corners.
The exercise, a series of couples moving together, making a story out of short phrases, is fascinating to watch for its limitations.
Everyone’s doing a good job, sure, and I’m surprising them with repetition and hard requests. And they’re talking about corners with their bodies and discovering the many physical manifestations of Polygon, a word that one of the students pulled out of nowhere and is now using to devise work.
But I’m distracted. I’m suddenly shocked by what’s happening.
One after another, they’re hugging. Hugging with their knees, their hearts, their eyes. Hugging each other like lost friends or siblings or children. Everyone needs a hug.
And it’s beautiful to watch but it’s also a conversation. With the corners of this second, hard week. They’ve met and bonded but the hard work is just getting hard. They’re sore and tired and getting into a routine, a seductive corner to move into. Instead of getting angry and frustrated, they’re combating the limitations, not with resistance, but with hugs. Not with cautiousness, but with love.
So as we move into the sharp edges of the second week, I realized we’re all a jumble of corners and soft spots. All of us, flies. All of us, mountains.
All of us, polygons, navigating the corners with love.