We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

Staying Open. Paying Attention.

Imbolc                                                                       New Life Moon

Got up late today, around 8:30 am so I’m writing this after noon. Feels a little weird since it’s usually dark outside when I work on Ancientrails.

South-ParkColorado-Fishing-MapKate and I went to Aspen Roots today. Jackie tints and cuts Kate’s hair, cuts mine and trims my beard. She’s a good lady. Learned today that she taught her son fly fishing. Her father worked for Eagle Claw and started taking her fishing when she was five. Can’t be too many sons who’ve been taught fly fishing by their moms. Right now he’s logging and had a nasty accident when the saw cut through his boot and into his foot. She hopes he’ll become a fishing guide.

Coloradans and the snow. There were flurries last night, some periods of heavier snow. So most folks stayed home from mussar vaad practice. MVP. Geez. I find myself saying this every once in a while up here: “If Minnesotans didn’t go out when it was snowy and cold, they’d never leave the house from November through March.” It’s definitely better to have Minnesota conditioning for Colorado winters though than, say, Florida or Texas. Both state contribute their share of new Coloradans.

Melon choly. Still ripening though not as pervasive. I’ve not felt this, as near as I can recall, since Minnesota. A certain heaviness, a certain I don’t really feel like getting out of bed. A gray veil.

Bee-guyMy best guess as to why now is a little odd. First year we were moving in, orienting ourselves. Prostate cancer, too. Second year Jon’s divorce, my knee replacement and then Kate’s first bout we identified with Sjogren’s. Since September though Jon moved into his new house. He’s calmed down, a lot. Sjogren’s and its effects, while not pleasant, are at least known and we have strategies to cope with them. After a year plus with the knee, after p.t. and now several different workouts, the knee has no pain and functions, for the most part, as it did before the bad arthritis set in.

So we’ve had since September to adjust to a Colorado which is no longer introducing us to new medical or familial dysfunction. We have friends and a small community now at Beth Evergreen. Rigel doesn’t have liver cancer. Joe and SeoAh are doing well. The grandkids ask to come up here. Things have calmed down, life has tilted toward the positive side of the scale.

Now what? That, I think, is the cause of the melancholy. What do I do now that I’m finally here in Colorado without serious distractions? Are elements of the Minnesota life germane here? Some are clearly not. The Sierra Club scene was disappointing. Sheepshead, too. The Denver museum scene is dull normal. Gardening and bee keeping seem too daunting here, at least for my current energy level and financial resources. (I’d garden in a decent greenhouse, but $$$$.)

agencyWhat is mountain life? Colorado life? Life in the arid West? For me. Sure there’s reading and writing and thinking. The Great Wheel. There’s family and Beth Evergreen. Good jazz. But how does it fit together? What’s the coherence? Where is the tao of this moment?

Apparently my psyche decided that the way to answer these questions is to slow me down. Push pause on the recent past. Let stuff bounce around a while, let different parts clang into each other. Such slowmo has often preceded life changes for me, sometimes after a period of guided reflection like the Ira Progoff Journal Workshops. Sometimes just after time passes. Staying open. Paying attention. Waiting.

Waiting on the Christmas Tree

Imbolc                                                                        New Life Moon

alchemyOne of the odd things about melancholy, any mental illness really, is that life goes on while it visits, just like having a cold. The texture of daily life changes, but the need to pay bills, cook, read, communicate with others does not. And in the doing of those daily chores sometimes melancholy slips away, forgotten for a moment. Yes, one way to dig out from the lesser mental aberrations is to stay in the moment until they pass.

But in this case I’m listening. I’m trying to sit at the table with my friend melancholy and see what he has to say. This is not easy. It’s not self analysis either. It’s listening. To the self, yes, but to the self in another guise, or to another aspect of self. In this case some part of me is dissatisfied with things as they are but is uncertain about how things should be. Thus, a sort of mental stasis, a grinding of the gears. A slooowwwwinnng down.

Pay attention to the writing you’ve been doing, Charlie. Is it the work you want to do right now? See Kate and the grandkids and Jon and SeoAh and Joseph. Are your relationships there what both you and they need? All this immersion in Judaism, where’s that going?

Over the last few days I’ve been wandering my library, looking at the books, remembering why I bought them, wondering if I might pause a while to read more, get back into Ovid, or magic, or emergence or Taoism or the Great Wheel. There’s a project of daily readings focused on the Great Wheel, another on Lake Superior. These require concentrated time. Should I shift some time their way?

christmas treePart of me wants to stop everything, just sit. Ponder. Wonder. Imagine. Reenchant. When this feeling hits, I do stop. What if I did that? Would my work fade away? Does it matter if my work fades away? How long do I have to just sit and read? I mean, 71. What if I spend a year reading and studying, learning, then discover I have a fatal illness? Other than that universal terminal disease-life-that is.

A lot of tire spinning, smoke curling up, but little movement. I’m a dragstrip racer gunning my engine at the starting line waiting for the Christmas Tree to turn green.

Melancholy. Again.

Imbolc                                                                            New Life Moon

hitchikers melancholy robotCame back from a short trip to the post office and the doggy drug store. While driving, I realized I had sunk further into melancholy, the gremlins now over the wall of my subconscious. Perhaps that’s what this feeling of new life trying to break through is, a sadness about the immediate past, or perhaps it’s part of a deeper thread carrying those moments of doubt one accumulates in a life time. The overcast to my inner sky is real, whatever it is.

Negative emotions are closer to the surface, bursting out yesterday in a confrontation with Kate over to how complete a project. Anger is a handmaiden of melancholy, its easiest to access expression. Not proud of it. Kate responded out of our mussar learning, letting the stimulus and her response separate in time. Proud of her.

611333-ancient-roman-wall-with-street-nameboardIt’s been awhile, I think, since old man melancholy came to visit, set up residence as a guest, in Rumi’s characterization. But he’s moved in for the duration. Still don’t know what to do. Hunker down? Act better to feel better? The mussar way. Doesn’t feel right to me, at least not now. Go down the holy well from which this manifestation arose? If we do meet the gods in our pathologies, then who is this tromping around my psyche?

Spent much of yesterday reading I Never Promised You a Rose Garden by Joanne Greenberg, a member of Beth Evergreen. Almost finished in it one long gulp. This is a profound and well-written account of a journey through madness, a psychosis with gods and demons populating another world, the world of Yr. In terms of background to melancholy, it shows the further reaches of hospitality, when the guests become multiple and their stay overshadows all. It also underscores the agony associated with mental illness.

Admin bldg, Richmond State Hospital.

Admin bldg, Richmond State Hospital.

We know that agony in my family with my Aunt Barbara, Aunt Marjorie and Aunt Roberta all diagnosed as bi-polar. Aunt Barbara and Aunt Marjorie both succumbed to the disease, Aunt Barbara spending the bulk of her life in a mental hospital, Aunt Marjorie starving herself to death. Aunt Roberta managed to get out of the same hospital after a long, severe episode. Psychosis is not faraway, at least not for us.

Not sure how long this journey will take. Not sure what new truth it wants to pull up from my inner world. I am sure though that this is a necessary path for me to walk. Where it heads, I do not know. I do sense that this ancientrail has an important purpose, probably about redefining how life is now, how it can be.

So, here, welcome to the table, old man melancholy. Dine with me for a while.

 

Gospel Aversion

Imbolc                                                                      New Life Moon

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The Winds that will be howling at all hours
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for every thing, we are out of tune;
It moves us not—Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn
Have sight of Proteus coming from the sea,
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

The World Is Too Much With Us, William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

 

GaithersWorlds collided last night and I found it unpleasant. Rabbi Jamie, the Evergreen Chorale, and choir director Val Robinson combined for an evening of Jospel music. That’s gospel music done in a Jewish idiom. Val was a spectacular director. She had the choir energized, crisp in its delivery, and used all of its members as if she were playing an organ. A Beth Evergreen member, Cheri Rubin and her husband Alan, helped make this happen.

Rabbi Jamie seems to blend in with other traditions, yet not lose his distinctively Jewish identity, a feat I admire. Last night he was in gospel mode, adjusting his usual musical style to the more upbeat, quick, punctuated rhythm Val and the music brought.

The worship began with a real memory dredger and heart massager, We Shall Overcome. Appropriate for Black History month and for a setting which commemorated the strong Jewish involvement in the early civil rights movement. So far, I was with the program.

As the music went on, words projected on two screens to either side of the sanctuary, though, I found myself wanting to be elsewhere. Too much God language with too much evangelical style emoting. The woman in front of me sat with her hands palms up, forearms lifted, elbows on her chair rests. Then, the God language got patriarchal with God on his throne and the heavenly father with an excellent name.

BlakeI didn’t realize the distance I’d come from Alexandria and the gospel music style of Bill and Gloria Gaither, my high school teachers who went on to become big stars in the niche genre of popular gospel music. No, that’s not quite right. The style is treacly and sentimental, pop in its overtones while churchy just underneath. That doesn’t push me away though it’s not music I’d turn on voluntarily.

What pushes me away, what I felt physically as a desire to leave the room, was the patriarchal God language, though even that is not the nub of it. The nub of it is the presumption of knowledge, certainty, about a god. That certainty which presents an anthropomorphic deity, gendered and crowned, comes from a text based religion which confuses the words of others with revelation. This confusion, common in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, leads to all the poisoned politics which those monotheistic faiths engender. (ha, a pun there.)

No thrones. No gender. No person like god. No. That cannot be read in the wind howling down Mt. Evans. That cannot be known from the blooming of the bloodroot in spring. That cannot be found in the cry of a new born animal whether human baby or puppy or calf or tiny turtle scurrying toward the sea. That cannot be learned from the glitter of the stars at night or the gentle silver light of a full moon.

No. Just no.

Reconstructing

Imbolc                                                                     (New Life) Moon

valentine birthday71 times Valentine’s Day and I have shared a moment. This was a quiet one, a good one. Decided I would cook Kate a special meal. In all our years together I’d never done that. It felt great. Went to Tony’s Market (upscale groceries, great meat). Bought a ribeye and some model thin asparagus. Kate found some tiny potatoes. Candles and jazz from Kate’s Pandora Satchmo and Ella channel. Just right. Later, a dusting of snow.

Based partly on the Rumi poem* I posted, sent to me by Tom Crane after I wrote about that old debil melancholy,I’ve decided to lean into my uncertainty and ambiguity. Life purpose seems to be up for reconsideration. Or, perhaps, reconstruction, reimagining. Or, best, reenchantment. But, instead of forcing my way into a new life, I’m letting it come to me. Waiting. Testing. Entertaining.

Bits and pieces that have floated in. All my 70’s, barring some very unusual event, will be lived in Colorado, hopefully in the Rockies. So, this decade, the one I’m now firmly in, is a Western, arid lands, mountain decade. It also has a strong Jewish accent, spoken in a Beth Evergreen dialect.

reenchantmentAt one point concentrating on Colorado and the west. At another, more Taoism. Stop writing novels. Read more. A lot more. A year of the Tao or a year of the West. Travel. In our immediate region. As much as possible. Continue with the sumi-e. Take classes? Go to a Progoff workshop?

Not sure where this is going, but for some reason turning 71 has made me unsettled, willing to reject or set aside old purposes, find new ones. Or, possibly, reaffirm current ones. I’ll know when I’m done with this, moving into a new chapter. But, I don’t know when that will be.

 

*”This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all…” Rumi, The Guest House

Be gone, Gremlin

Imbolc                                                                      Imbolc Moon

gremlinsFelt myself slipping into that old debil melancholy this morning. You know, the usual. What have I done with my life? Have I wasted it, wasted the gifts granted to me by genetics and being thrown into this amazing moment on the world’s journey? Look at how much others have done. Kate. Joanne. Ron. The rabbi. Deadly, comparing. And, pointless.

I know that. Most of the time. But this morning a gremlin slipped up from the collective pool in which we all swim, burrowed through my unconscious and grabbed my self-perception by the collar, shook it. “Look here. See this! See you! What’s. Been. Going. On?”

One of the grace marks of age though, thank God, is experience. Oh, I know you, Gremlin. You’ve visited before. Often. And listening to you is bad juju. I’m going to go on about my day, get this done and that done. Think about what I can be up to right now since yesterday’s gone and tomorrow’s not vouchsafed. In the present your grimy, gremliny thing is irrelevant and the present is all I have. Yes, I remember that.

Gremlin shrinks back from the horizon of my consciousness. Well, I’ll be going, but I won’t be far. I’ll come to visit you again.

I know you will. And that’s ok, because in your aftermath I appreciate my life in this moment so much more.

Gremlin shrinks in size, looks ashamed.

Yes, we all have, and need, spurs to invigorate us, make the pony gallop. I remember those spurs, rawls they called them, on the wall at the Chilean ranch we visited in Puerto Mont. They were a circle of sharp pointed metal tines, vicious looking. You’re nowhere near that bad, not anymore.

And there, the gremlin has disappeared, diving back into the deep pool, swimming with other beasties, ready to come try for a bit of the Self, of the Soul next time. Until then.

Shoulder, Trees, Writing

Winter                                                                         Imbolc Moon

shoulder-arthroplasty-Mayo-ClinicHippity hop to the ortho shop. Kate’s got an appointment at Panorama Orthopedics today. Her right shoulder. She can no longer hold things up with her right arm and has to use two hands to put dishes away, sometimes to lift a cup. Annoying and painful. Screws up her sleep, too. She needs some kind of solution, more than likely a shoulder replacement. This is the first step, a consult to see what her options are.

A friend of Kate and mine is having surgery for breast cancer today, too. It’s a cancer that has the improbable, but very desirable, cure rate of 100%. In the sort of piling on that getting older can deliver, her husband, only a week later, got a diagnosis of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. It’s a killer, but slow, maybe 5-10 years. He’s mid-70’s. Mortality is always stalking us, but seems to knock on the door more often past three score and ten.

Sister Mary tells me she’s been invited as a visiting professor to a university in Kobe, Japan this summer. Very close to Kyoto. And, great beef. Congrats to Mary. Brother Mark is in Bangkok right now, chillin’ in the tropical heat.

Tu B'ShevatAn interesting week ahead. A session on green burial tomorrow night at CBE. It’s part of a conversation about creating a Jewish cemetery up here in the Evergreen/Conifer area. Oddly, I think I’d like to work on that. The next night, Wednesday, is Tu B’Shevat, the New Year of the Trees. Judaism has a lot of pagan inflections, Tu B’Shevat and Sukkot, a harvest festival at the end of the High Holidays, for example. Looking forward to this one because there’s a seder, too, with seven species of fruit and nuts. I’ll explain more on Wednesday. After the this celebration is another Kabbalah session, more double letters in the Hebrew alphabet.

NovelIdeaRigel has her second appointment at the Vet Referral Clinic with Dr. Bayliss this Friday, too. I’m excited about it because we’ll get a clearer picture of what’s going on with her. And, it’s not the dire prognosis we anticipated when we took her in a week ago last Friday.

Meanwhile, I’ve finally levered myself back into writing, now on both Jennie’s Dead and Rocky Mountain Vampire (only a working title). Not sure exactly how I did it, just did it, I think.

Getting closer to using the sumi-e brushes, maybe today. Yesterday I tied string at the base of each new brush after applying a bit of glue all round, too. That had to set for a day. I gathered some towels, watched a couple more videos. Youtube is a fantastic resource for all kinds of things. Jon watches Japanese woodcrafting videos to calm down, for example.

Next week is Kate’s quilting retreat in Buena Vista.

 

Big Guys Do Cry

Winter                                                                  New Imbolc Moon

Being sick, even mildly sick as I’ve been for four or five days now, takes me into strange territory. Mortality flits across the mind. All the obituaries that include the phrase, “after a brief illness.” Labile. When I saw this video about Ronnie the Donkey, I cried. And, too, when I read about this special organization, Cayleb’s Senior Dog Rescue. Kate and I donated.

Donkey And His Mom Celebrate Their Emotional Journey    This donkey was so depressed after he lost his baby boy. But the woman who adopted him knew exactly what he was going through and figured out the sweetest way to make him feel at home. Today on Party Animals, Ronnie’s mom is throwing him a very emotional 5th rescue-versary party to celebrate their amazing journey 😍

Posted by Party Animals on Saturday, January 6, 2018

Got to wondering about being labile. Why is that part of illness?

I asked Kate. Less energy to maintain your defenses, she said, in essence.

Castle Dinas Bran, Llangollen, North Wales

Castle Dinas Bran, Llangollen, North Wales

Which raises a second question. Why the defenses? Why would I need to place a barrier between my feelings and my expression of them, especially feelings of tenderness? Is it too difficult for my sanity to rock my inner world? Somehow I don’t think so. It seems more likely that big boys don’t cry. As our president might say, Sad. Why not recognize when the heart softens, when it takes in a moment of love and responds? Why not just go ahead and cry? Tear up.

Maybe one of the functions of illness is to remind us of our heart truth. When the body feels threatened, insulted, perhaps the mind takes the opportunity to reexamine our spot in this world. Perhaps it allows the cultural constructions, the moats and castle walls we put up, to crumble a bit, so we can know they exist. We do tend to forget about those fortifications, the ones built by stereotype, by social convention.

dinas bran. I visited these ruins in 1995.

dinas bran. I visited these ruins in 1995.

We northern Europeans seem to have well-built walls. Perhaps that’s why we can be gulled too easily by ideologues who have burnished their fear of the other, who take their fear and embarrassment as cues for violence rather than compassion. It is a danger we could altogether eliminate, if we let the right feelings in.

As for me, I’m going to try. The moat drained, the walls down. Good. Let them stay that way.

What Was I Thinking?

Samain (last day for this year)                   Long Nights Moon

identity

sometimes we steal it ourselves

I’m having a crisis of sorts, it will pass and life will return to normal, probably later today, but right now I’m having an identity crisis. Remember those?

Here’s a Psychology Today article about identity. As I took the short quiz at the bottom, I had two achieved statuses, politics and gender roles, one moratorium status, career choice, and a difficult to assess religious status. This latter status, religion, is perhaps more achieved than my current feelings suggest since I’m deep into a context which challenges my commitment regularly.

I’ll bracket the religious question for this post since I do have a position, one I’ve established over many years of thought and with which I’m comfortable. I think the oscillation, tension there is reasonable to expect given my current immersion in Judaism.

The other moratorium status, career choice, is a different matter. It may seem odd to have a career choice moratorium* at 70, but it is so. Unlikely to change now, too. Having this realization again, (it’s not new) is the emotional side of this crisis.

careerI thought I had my life direction nailed down. College, graduate school. Some sort of professional career, perhaps lawyer, perhaps professor, perhaps something not visible from within the boundaries of an Alexandria, Indiana horizon. Then, my mom died. That threw my final year of high school into turmoil. God, this hurts just writing about it.

No one’s fault. A random event, but one with devastating emotional consequences for me. I hit my first year of college, just about a year after her death, with high hopes, probably even fantasies. I’d gone through GQ issues over the summer and picked out a navy blue blazer, charcoal pants, oxblood shoes and a madras sport coat. I had a vested herringbone suit from my junior year. These clothing choices symbolized my desire to become someone new at Wabash.

madrasMost kids heading off for college, especially in the fifties and mid-1960’s, had a similar desire. Shape that adult self. Live into an adult role. The expectation was that college would provide room for exploration, trying on this and that persona, in effect researching skills and passions, until something coalesced. Then, earning money and work would merge into an expression of who you were. That’s why college was called then, the moratorium years. College was explicitly a time to be low on commitment, but high on exploration.

Didn’t happen for me, in terms of career. At Wabash I picked up three bad habits: drinking, smoking and self-doubt. The first two were fraternity based, lots of drinking and smoking. This was 1965, just before the emergence of the drug scene, so I was conventional in those choices. But, I was also an addictive personality so drinking and smoking would require much time and energy later to overcome.

Self-doubt happened in a way not uncommon, I imagine, for small town valedictorians. Wabash, at the time, was highly selective, only 200 in each class, all male and each bright, accomplished. I was not only not the smartest person in the room, I wasn’t even in the middle. Over time I imagine this would have sorted itself out, but I was too emotionally fragile, still grieving. My dad tried to understand, tried to be supportive, but I didn’t let him into my agony.

identity-cover socionic

identity-cover socionic

And so began a pattern. I left Wabash the next year, putatively over financial issues though I had a partial scholarship, but really it was the combination of drinking and feeling overwhelmed by the academic demands. I did well enough, mostly A’s, except for German, which almost resulted in my first D or F until I dropped it, but my nights were spent in anxious dreams, waking up with sweaty palms. I didn’t fit in. I hated the fraternity, but had no choice except to be in one due to odd Wabash rules for freshmen.

In 1966, a time of tumultuous change in the country, especially for college students and especially male, draft eligible college students, I chose, for reasons I don’t recall, to go to Ball State. It was close to home. That may have been the reason.

In another odd circumstance my love affair with philosophy, begun at Wabash, found me only a few credits shy of a major after four semester long philosophy courses I took in my freshmen year. That meant I could take a couple of philosophy classes, secure my major and move onto something else. Anthropology.

anthroI loved anthropology, too. Enough, it seemed, to make it a career. I combined my interest in philosophy and decided to enter the narrow field of theoretical anthropology, thinking about how anthropology works, how it could work, how it should work. That turned out to be a mistake and one I didn’t recover from. I applied to, and was accepted, at Brandeis and Rice, for graduate programs. But because my field was theoretical anthropology, I got no financial awards. That meant I needed a fellowship and I was nominated for a Danforth. In the end though, the end of college and of a political career based on radical politics at Ball State, I chose to do nothing. Just. Nothing.

Judy came into my life right at that point. A someone. Another mistake. For both of us. I did end up in Appleton, Wisconsin with her, moving there after a disastrous few months as a manager trainee for W.T. Grant and Company. What was I thinking?

This question, relevant to career, would become synonymous with my choices, one after the other. Seminary. I stayed in and got ordained. WWIT? I worked as an administrator. WWIT? I became a church executive. WWIT? I left the church to write. In this case I knew what I was thinking, but never got all the way there as a writer so, WWIT? For a moment I went back to the ministry as a UU. I was serious enough to intern at a UU church in St. Paul where I agreed to be the development minister. In this case, a really, really big WWIT?

what-was-i-thinking-webAnd so, here I am at 70, no career I really chose except writing and that one I couldn’t have sustained had it not been for the grace and love of Kate. There’s my identity crisis. Who have I been? What have I wanted to do with my life? Late in the game to ask these questions though to be honest they’ve surfaced right along since Wabash.

I could use help reframing all this. It’s not like I’ve drifted through life, doing nothing at all. I just never wrapped it up in a social role to which I felt like I truly belonged. Don’t know what that makes me at this point in my life. In a sense the third phase is the point when this question ceases to matter. That particular race finished a while ago and I’ve come into the pits. No more laps. Yet. What does, what did it all mean? I really don’t know at this point.

In yet another sense, and one I fully support with most of my being (ha), the answer doesn’t matter. I’ve lived. I’ve loved. I’m still doing both. The essentials. And, enough. I know. I know.

Yet the question lingers. What did I do?

 

People high on exploration but low on commitment are in a category that Marcia called “moratorium.” This means that they have placed a hold on making the major decisions in their lives.  They’re thinking hard about what they want to do but aren’t ready to commit.” from the article linked to above.

 

“You’re not supposed to do that.”

Samain                                                                       Bare Aspen Moon

Assistants_and_George_Frederic_Watts_-_Hope_ 1886

Assistants and George Frederic Watts                         Hope  1886

 

Yesterday the bagel table, an informal shabbat service with, yes, bagels, focused on three stories in the Torah that dealt with difficult situations involving sexuality: the stories of Dinah, Tamar and Potiphar’s wife.

The conversation included several #metoo acknowledgments, including my own. I was ten or eleven and on the train to Dallas for a couple of weeks with my Uncle Charles. I regularly took the Greyhound to visit relatives in Oklahoma, but this was my first time on the train. There was a layover in St. Louis and I decided to get out and see the downtown.

It was a Sunday so the streets had almost no people on them. I had my brownie camera with me and went looking for someplace to take pictures. I did that, finished a roll and needed to change film. The air was pulsing with heat, so I went into the alcove of a closed store to be in the shade. I had the camera open when a man approached me.

Squatting down beside me, I was also in a squat, he reached between my legs and touched my testicles. I said, “You’re not supposed to do that.” got up and left. He did not resist my leaving and my memory is that he was gentle. Though it did ruin the moment, I recall feeling relieved that he didn’t use force. He did accept my no as a no.

It’s a little hard from the distance of 60 some years to recall how I felt, but I know that for me it was scary, but not scarring. I remember it, so it obviously had an impact, but I don’t remember it as different from any other sort of scary moment in my childhood. It was the only time I had that sort of experience and that may have weighed against any larger impact. If I’d had a string of them, as some girls and women do, I sense my reaction may have been stronger.

 

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