Charlie and I seem to be ok again and, just to prove there are no hard feelings, he's given me another assignment.
Actually, he has given me work, though I don't think it has anything to do with hard feelings. We do seem to be relaxing with each other again. He approached me after lunch the other day and, looking somewhat embarrassed, asked if I minded another assignment.
"You don't really have to, you have my vote," he told me, "but there's something I'd like you to do."
"Charlie, you know I'll learn anything you care to teach me," I said.
He flashed me a very quick smile.
"I'd like you to write me a report on all the things that could possibly threaten your spot in the woods and what you, personally, can do to address those threats."
"When you can."
It's odd, thinking about it, I really have spent very little time actually talking with Charlie. We seldom have long discussions. Aside from the occasional lunch together, most of our interactions probably last less than a minute and a half. And yet I feel like we're together almost all the time--when I'm working on an assignment from him, he is present for me, challenging, supportive, exasperating, just Charlie.
Anyway, I'm glad to have a project from him again, but I do wish he'd given me a deadline, because with "as you can" I'm not likely to feel comfortable until it's done. It feels like it's supposed to be done immediately. And yet, later that day, I did manage to go to a party.
More and more of us are getting the votes we need to graduate, and frankly we're getting a little silly. I mean, most of us already were silly, but there's a loosening. For example, this party. It sort of erupted out of this week's Callaloo, the "open mike" concern Kit hosts. I don't go every week, but this week I did, and about half the rest of the graduating class did, too. I think only two or three people there weren't part of our group. It was weird, like a convention nobody had to invite anybody to, we just showed up.
When the big crowd showed up, Kit sent a couple of people over to the Dining Hall to snag more snacks and some alcohol. Not a lot of people actually drank much, but it just being there made things seem more festive. A couple of people played or sang--I remember Dan (who is not me!) doing "Eleanor Rigbe" on his cello, and Raven G. singing something or other badly. A group of us, yes, me included, formed a chorus line and sang "Those Were the Days," while kicking our legs and falling over ourselves. Tommy, who I don't think I've mentioned before, sang "Proud Mary," and a couple of women, including Joanna, jumped up to sing back-up. That one surprised me, that Joanna would sing back-up--it was girly in a way I would have thought she'd find negative.
But that's kind of what I mean by silly--people doing things they normally wouldn't, just letting themselves go a little bit.
That's what Steve Bees did. The latter part of the evening became a concert for Steve and Eddie, singing mostly early and classic rock and roll and some Motown. That music is happy, light-hearted in a way most newer music isn't. Eddie favors it and sings that kind of music a lot.
Steve doesn't--he likes to listen to it well enough, I've seen him dancing to the music Eddie makes, but when he sings, he's usually serious. For a year or more, Steve's been a man on a mission. It's not like he never enjoys himself, but his passion, the important part of all his days, has been social justice. It's what he talks about, what he reads about, the end to which he is transforming himself. When he sings to himself, under his breath, he'll sing anything, things he likes, things he doesn't, ditties from commercials, but when he sings for us, it's always on message. He sings well, now, and we like his message--having deep conversations is a big part of what we do, here--but it's just something we notice about him. Steve is serious.
Which is why it was so good to see him perform some Chuck Berry and just having a good time.
Eddie, of course, is more or less always having a good time, but that's his message and he's always on it. His infectious joyousness is deliberate, religious, even political. This time, for once, there seemed to be no message, no challenge, nothing to think about, just two men with a couple of friends accompanying them on various instruments, singing "Rock and Roll Music," goofing off in their talented way.
Towards the end of the song, Steve sang alone, sweat visible on his face, as happy as I've ever seen him, while Eddie jumped and jittered and windmilled his arms, dancing around the little open area we were calling a stage. We were all on our feet, dancing.