Pray to the Gods of Ankles For Me
After a morning working with Zac and Sammy on the driveway, I make it to the boarding school reunion by lunchtime and right away I feel at home. There is Rose and Cate, Cosima and Karen. Then I see Mark, Brady, Elliot, Ember and Devlin. I walk through the main doors of the new building and see Ryan, Brian, Frederick, Duey, Sally, David, and more. We’re here to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the school, to do work projects on the farm-based campus, and to have fun together.
My former students, most of whom I knew when they were 12 and on up into their first year of high school, are now getting ready to enter college or have already begun. I get to hear about their efforts – snowboarding, mountain biking, battle of the bands, first steady paying job, high school graduation, long-term relationships, acceptance into a technical college, taking a year off, and more. Their smiles and stories are as varied as they come and yet we all gather at this same place, at the base of the Black Mountains along the South Toe River, because we have something here in common. It’s a shared vision and even though many of us have moved on to other places since our time at the school, we still hold it in our hearts and bodies like a little seed that guides us in life.
After work, there is plenty of time to play. We swim in the pond and battle hard on the soccer field. I sprain my ankle but brush it off as minor and keep playing, laughing and passing to former students and friends over the course of our two hour game. After we’ve earned it, we jump in the river. Later, we cook dinner together (there are about 100 people) and do chores, we sing and laugh and at night there is an open mic and slide show. The most noticeable thing for me, personally, about the day is that I am more relaxed at this reunion than I ever was while I was a full-time staff at the school. Here, today, I am my best self with these kids and I love them for bringing that out in me. In the broader picture, the most noticeable thing is how easily we, as a group, can accomplish so many things because of the common threads we share stemming from the school. Our work is that of a miniature, model society that is consensus based and it feels good to see that after so many years and so many miles apart, we can come back together and things just fall into place again. This way of life, this community effort and style of living, is a slow and steady form of peace activism that I am proud to be a part of.
Getting home, however, is another matter entirely. By the end of the evening performance, my ankle is throbbing at about an 8 (on a scale of 1 to 10) and puffed over the edges of my shoe. I hobble to the truck, leaving a message for dad that I have to take it because I’m afraid I can’t hike the half mile up the driveway on my ankle. By the time I get home, I am full tears and sobbing, my ankle like a puffball of pain, and I am left in the dark at the top of the driveway to decipher the wooden steps that lead at a steep grade down to the house. I cry into the night, my sobs an embarrassment if anyone could here them. It must take five minutes to get to the front door. I crawl up the loft steps. I turn on the computer.
Tonight: Ibuprophen, moxa, arnica, medicated herbal plaster, and 10,000 prayers to the ankle gods to heal me. I can only hope this isn’t serious because if it is, I won’t be able to work (make money) and I won’t be able to my own house.