Guest Posts, love, poetry

How to Love a Stranger.

November 13, 2014

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By Adina Giannelli.
How about we meet in Chicago, a city neither mine or yours, and see what, if anything, might be found there;
And you will fly in from a small southwestern city, not your own, and I will arrive at O’Hare late, owing to unanticipated flight delays, and I will meet you in the lobby of the Hotel Godfrey, and you will be there, waiting;
And our hotel will be full of Europeans and people looking for a time, a show, a warm body (always a warm body);
And I will talk to you for hours, that night, about unanticipated subjects of all kinds; you ask for a year-by-year recitation of my life, and you ask are you okay? and how are we doing? and does this irritate you, the barrage of questions. Some people find it cloying, you will tell me, but I think it kind;
And we will sleep, strangers in a large cocoon, and your hand will slip quietly over mine;And we will float, curious, upon the muddy waters, in our rapid riverboat, our bodies anchored to metal folding chairs, our necks craning to see the city’s architecture from our watery vantage, the sun shining bright against us, in spite of and through the wind;

 

And the boat will rock and occasionally rise, the tide high or low (but I don’t know), and we will glide in our seats, unsure of what is flowing forth before us, certain only of our bodies, separate and together, moving easily through space and time;

And we will lie in the grass at Millennium Park, while the city’s choir of children belts out their music in rehearsal onstage, in anticipation of the President’s visit that evening, in expectation of something resembling future fame and glory.

And I will watch your face as you ask me questions, your fingers drawing imperceptible circles in the grass, and you will listen intently to every word I say, however petty or banal, even in moments of characteristic distractibility, you are present, and I am here;

And you will speak in circles or in tongues, and I will find myself enraptured, enlivened, captivated by every word, I will not forget the way your eyes light while you are speaking, the strong and steady cadence of your fingers (yours are doctors’ hands);

And we will wait for something said or unsaid, but the cadence of our footfalls on pavement and grass and urban paths tells more than enough;

And I will anticipate your stories, seek answers to the questions that have eluded me for many years, who keeps your secrets, how do you love, what makes you safe;

And you will laugh at my jokes, and give me space and time and freedom, all the while providing comfort and generosity, a sense of home;

And I will smile at the slight curl of your hair, the wrinkles growing at the corner of your eyes, which contain within them the slight imperfections of your skin, this face I want to touch;

And you will bring your running shoes and I will forget mine—you will remember your suit and I will forget a suitable dress, but we will go to the symphony and I will cry at the siege of Leningrad, the idylls of the English countryside, the way your hand looks curled fast around an orchestral program;

And I will walk these streets, under the city’s rails and over the iron bridges that run like clockwork at every intersection, bridges built with no shortage of sureness, a hundred years before. And you will hasten your pace, in recognition of your back, cramping at a walk, yet inexplicably fine at faster pace. And you will slow down, on sight of something beautiful—a carved trestle, a young child, modern architecture, the light dissipating against a garbage truck in an alley at dusk. This is what it means to love a stranger, even for a minute. And love makes everything beautiful, even urban sanitation.

 

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Adina Giannelli is a writer and teacher living in western Massachusetts. Her writing has appeared in publications including Babble, Book Lovers, Feministing, Juicy, Role Reboot, and Salon.
Join Jen Pastiloff in The Berkshires of Western Massachusetts in Feb of 2015.

Join Jen Pastiloff in The Berkshires of Western Massachusetts in Feb of 2015.

Writers! Join Jen Pastiloff at a writing retreat in Mexico this May. Jennifer Pastiloff is part of the faculty in 2015 at Other Voices Querétaro in Mexico with Gina Frangello, Emily Rapp, Stacy Berlein, and Rob Roberge. Please email Gina Frangello to be accepted at ovbooks@gmail.com. Click poster for info or to book. Space is very limited.

Writers! Join Jen Pastiloff at a writing retreat in Mexico this May.
Jennifer Pastiloff is part of the faculty in 2015 at Other Voices Querétaro in Mexico with Gina Frangello, Emily Rapp, Stacy Berlein, and Rob Roberge. Please email Gina Frangello to be accepted at ovbooks@gmail.com. Click poster for info or to book. Space is very limited.

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1 Comment

  • Reply Petra Perkins November 13, 2014 at 9:29 pm

    And you will remember this poetic, musical essay forever because it touched you deeply.

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