I spend the evening at my neighbor’s house. The two of us split a bottle of wine, read poetry, and listen to some seriously obscure tunes.
We end up spending half the night looking for this poem I love but of which I can only remember a few lines: “In the room the women come and go/Talking of Michelangelo” and something about measuring time in coffee spoons. No name. No author. We tore up her bookshelves and did countless Google searches and finally find it in an old textbook of hers. “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot. If you haven’t read it, you should. It’s a real cautionary tale about not ever making the leap.
During the search, Lily comes across a poem by ee cummings that she’d framed in a little Plexiglas holder years ago, and the paper’s a little yellowed with time. It’s something I would do, putting it in a frame and keeping it. The poem’s really beautiful, and there’s this line that just struck me: “…something in me understands/the voice of your eyes…” I don’t know why. I just like it. I mean, it’s pretty, right?
By the end of the evening, we’re lying next to each other on her living room floor, poetry and art books stacked up in piles around us, with our legs up in the air comparing our pedicures. Lily’s a small woman and her feet are tiny with incredible arches. She practiced ballet for years as a child but grew up to be this free-spirited scientist who can do just about anything from installing a deck to organizing a countywide coastal cleanup. She’s ten years older than I am, though our kids are the same age. I’m terribly impressed by her.
I don’t remember even remember what we talk about, but we talk and talk about everything. Sometimes we shut up and listen to the music. Lily’s my person to talk with about ideas. She doesn’t waste a lot of time on the small stuff. She puts it in perspective and moves forward. I like that. And how cool is it that she was willing to tear up her house to find a poem for me?