Lists Have Their Limits
There was the weather: a broiling sun and enough humidity to soak the freshest shirt.
There was the time: mid-afternoon on a Sunday—the lie down and doze zone.
There was the place: a Zen Temple five minutes from the French Quarter, with a clanging front door and black slate steps twisting up four stories (“It’s a mountain you climb,” the caretaker told me). Fortunately, we just had to make it to the 2nd floor.
There were things that went a little wrong: plumbing problems in the bathroom, an inopportune illness, blister inducing shoes.
There were the things that went really right: light streaming in the windows, rosemary infused potato chips, and most important, the 20+ people who toiled up 25 stern steps to a poetry reading.
Among the climbers: two mirthful and magisterial ladies who could have used an elevator; a baby held close by her young mother, who looked people in the eye with utter equanimity; an old friend who happened to hear about the event hours before; several people who don’t really like poetry readings—all of them leaving the comfort of familiar sofas to toss words around with people they didn’t know.
What we did: read poems to each other, in all kinds of accents. There was laughing, listening, a minor freakout, some satisfied sighing, some “I really don’t get this, but I’ll give it a try.” Together we made a little money for a good cause.
We made other things too, but these can’t be summed up on a list. Let’s just say going down those slate steps felt different than coming up.