My 6-year-old nephew called me yesterday, wanting to speak gibberish. I don't even remember doing this with him when I visited in September, but I must have, and clearly it made a big impression. "Ooga lubiski na wee doo da fee-wop," I said.
"Gee na noo noo dama dama ching!" he responded excitedly.
"Ba-lay na rama gee da nama da nama bling sameeoh," I shot back, and we went on like this for five or ten minutes.
Why is it more intimate to make nonsense with someone than to "talk seriously?" When we're speaking in English on the phone I ask predicatable auntly questions like, "How's school?" and he answers with predictably first grade monosyllables, "Fine." But when we speak gibberish we both giggle, as if we were in on some secret together, one which neither of us even knows.
Valentine's Day morning I went with Masankho and Melinda to perform at a transitional school--sort of a step between a regular elementary school and juvenile hall for kids with issues. We were the only three who showed up out of a 25-person company, but we did a credible 45 minutes, including a gibberish segment in which I announced that Masankho and Melinda were the world's oldest living couple and they had been married for 100 years. They lived on an obscure island somewhere in the Pacific and only spoke Glabiglaboo language so I translated for them.
The kids asked a million questions, and it became clear after a little while that the younger ones actually believed us! ("Why he don't leave her?" one kid demanded.) I'm intrigued by this fascination with other tongues on the part of children--I guess it's part of wanting a secret code to life, which I searched for when I was young (and am still searching for, truth to tell.)
I came back to the ongoing reflection on love that is at the heart of my life--being surrounded by so much love of family and friends and not being anyone's wife (or even proper girlfriend.) It's an interesting contradiction. No shortage of truly heart-opening, generous gestures and expressions of love from the old, young, men, women and children in my life, blood family and not--no shortage of intimacy, physical and emotional--and yet no life partner.
Whom did I ache for physically, want to hold in my arms? The kids. Eli's solid little body landing on my lap like a cannonball, the creamy round arms of my nieces, the warm weight of David's baby on my hip.
I got to enjoy the warm weight of adult bodies pressed against mine when I performed with Wing It! at Cynthia's PSR class. One lady made a comment about how we didn't seem to need much personal space for our dance, which I later figured out meant that she had been a bit taken aback when we crawled on the floor and each other.
In truth, it's not so much erotic for us in the company to entangle our legs, arms, bodies with each other as it is just comfortable, like the intimacy one has with an old lover. The snuggling is an end unto itself and not foreplay. Or, when we use each others' bodies as climbing structures, it's more like the innocence of kids stepping all over one's lap--they're not thinking "This is such a turn-on," if they put their hands or feet on your breasts or crotch, they are just enjoying moving, wriggling, playing, hanging upside down, or finding a new way to slide over your shoulder and down your back.
Later last night G and I watched another episode of The Sopranos--we're almost through season 3--and drank a little champagne and appreciated each other. It was an episode where Tony's red-hot extra-curricular lover, played by Annabella Sciorra (she's brilliant) goes crazy on him. She is indubitably gorgeous, and their affair started out with fireworks, but ends in ashes. G said that he loved a woman like that once, a fiery stripper who was also sexy and crazy. He now prefers hanging out in friendly companionship and warmth with middle-aged me.
I'm wondering, "Is it possible to have both? Can you have great sex and great friendship?" I have always been good with the friendship part. Aging has not put a crimp in my dating life because men have always enjoyed talking with me. But what about the hot stuff? Monday I improvised a poem at Wing It! practice that was pretty smoking. I can feel the dormant embers stirring, after a long healing vacation. I'm ready to get back in the game.
Monday night Elizabeth and I went to see Dreamgirls, and like everyone else on the planet I was knocked out by Jennifer Hudson's performance. Awesome power, fire, vulnerability--and in one so young! Watching her give everything she has, espeically in the scene where she's begging her lover not to leave her, left me open-mouthed. To be able to inhabit that total desperation and still sing like that is a gift from God.
I'm also savoring a bittersweet book of cartoons, Cancer Made Me a Shallower Person, by Miriam Engelberg, which Robbie Strand sent me. Her willingness to be exactly who she is is liberating. It allows me to be the sudoku-playing, People-magazine reading poet and writer that I am. Anyone who is willing to embrace the real, unglamorous shadow side of our lives is a hero to me--and as it happens, Engelberg's particular shadow looks a lot like mine. How funny.