Meeting on the Quay

February 27th, 1999 – (I’m using italics for the spoken parts because they’re not exact quotations; they were felt thoughts, not thoughts.)

First there was this big plot arrangement that I was observing. It had a powerful patriarchal Lord (taking after Longshanks in Braveheart) with his advisor and they were discussing how to deal with a diplomatic “visitor”, who happened to be Nick. It was a political visit with military overtones and they were discussing how to neutralize him. The Lord figured that if he were put in the military company of his son, his son would handle him. The advisor, who seemed to know more of Nick’s personal history, was not inclined to agree. He was invoking “troublemaker”. Furthermore, given the span of years behind him, the advisor was asserting that Nick would possibly find the son quite malleable to his authority and personal sagacity. He would turn things in ways you would not expect. It comes out in this discussion that there is a lady in the party too, relation unclear. What the Lord and advisor don’t know is that Nick and the lady already know each other. So Nick will be making inroads that none of them expect.

So cut to the story, I suppose, but it bears little relation.

This is happening suspended (literally in the air), over a small seaside ocean harbour with a large stone/cement quay jutting out into the sea. I am hovering by the quay composing my first ballad, which is a seaside ballad that is homily and folkish. (I kid you not. It sounded OK though, the lyrics flowed nicely. I know because it was playing in the background as writ.) I’m using the edge of the jetty as a desk, and I’m sitting on a chair. Dressed in period, I’m assuming, in my blue Victorian dress. I found the idea of trying my hand at songwriting very amusing; all this time I’ve sat back and let them do it. And in walks the balladeer himself. I was quite cognizant of this association, and embarrassed as hell, but at the same time I was caught up in the rhythm of the moment. The music had vanished.

So Nick arrives walking casually through the air with a male companion. (-Moral support.)  I regret not remembering the conversation clearly. He made some sort of address, and I basically asked him not to bother me, I was writing. No kidding. I was much too modest to tell him what I had been attempting.

Be quiet, she’s writing, he says to his friend. I’m surprised he didn’t laugh out loud, but the overtone of respect was inlaid tongue in cheek. My response prompted a small exchange between the two. I’m beginning to register what’s going on, that we know each other already. Can you understand when a whole framework of perspective falls into place, this one beyond a lifetime, in an instant with no apparent changes? Suddenly all these associations and implications exist, where a moment before, there weren’t any.

They pull out two chairs out of nowhere on the far side of the next jetty. I’m starting to shrink a bit. Nick is drawing me out, peering over from the side of the jetty expectantly. I duck for a moment before lifting my eyes to face him. (What an old trait that was.) We’re both peeking around the cement jetties. His whole expression is like, Well? Are you done yet? Good grief. -As if that was important. So there was some form of salutation, I forget because it was not like hello, obviously, because that would be totally redundant. More like, it’s nice of you to (finally) show up.

This conversation has been waiting for a very long time. No posturing at all. No introductions or peeling of the layers, because there aren’t any. We don’t have time for it. The context is already in place.

So with little hesitation he abandons his seat and comes and sits on the jetty directly in front of me.

There was this little scene cut that did not fit where I took his waist in my hands; he was far too small in proportion for a build like my own.

So cut to the chase.

His question was, So, how long is this going to be for?

My immediate answer, but I’m a quick edit, would have been I don’t know, which I thought vastly inappropriate. There’s a good reason for this, of course a dualistic one, I don’t know whether to say for life or beyond death, and I don’t want to explain my apparent negligence in the knowledge department, after all this is supposed to be my ballpark. This is so typical a quandary. I don’t want to inflict him with my explanation, imply either sentence, so I dodge with the elusive comeback, or at least that is how I come off. -Even more typical.

A long time, says I, inadvertently invoking timelessness.

His eyes drop. A long time, she says, muttering askance. Oh dear. He didn’t like that one.

He takes a stray curl and casually twines it around his finger. (Why don’t you kiss me?)

So, you don’t mind (if you won’t tell me the ground rules) if I just pretend I know what I’m doing (when need be) and play along?

-Of course not.