Another chapter in the continuing the revision of a serialized adventure Walhydra first published on The Crone Thread in 1996.Part 9: The crisis
Walhydra was by now “in full weed."
This meant that it was very easy, failing a repeated act of will, for her to forget that she was stoned.
Which in turn meant that she easily mistook her flights of heightened perception as objective rather than metaphorical.
Will and intuition teeter-tottered back and forth, so that Walhydra—already a dizzy queen of a witch in her normal state—felt increasingly the rush of an amateur ropewalker on a high wire.
The gentle reader must remember, though, that Walhydra had put both will and intuition at the service of the Christ and the Crone before she ate The Brownie.
What's more, she was no longer just an irresponsible, would-be witchlet.
She knew the truth of the aphorism:
Maturity is the ability to recognize one's mistakesWalhydra decided that these facts gave her the witchy prerogative of finding perverse pleasure in the scariness of her high wire act.
as one is making them again.
For this particular phase of the party, the scariness was introduced when Dr. Bob pronounced his invitation to young D. to pass judgment on a newly discovered white wine.
People had been drifting back toward the dining room when Dr. Bob spoke. All eyes turned toward the youngling, who stood by the concert grand like a tenor awaiting his solo. As if fed by the spotlight, the 16-year-old blossomed into his role. He became more handsome, more poised. He even seemed to lose his baby fat.
D. delivered a concise, self assured critique which gathered nods from the people around him. Then he smiled—a gracious smile of innocence, which drifted only slightly into teenaged wariness before adults—and sat down.
Walhydra wanted to applaud.
[Note from the amanuensis: It should be observed that Walhydra has an educated layperson's palate herself and enjoys fine wines. However, she remains bemused and perplexed by wine critics jargon.
She can easily imagine the blurb for a certain red wine going something like this:
"An impertinent little merlot. It has subtle hints of blackberry, chocolate and peasants' socks, and no respect for authority."]
By now, meanwhile, with so much more material to work with, Sister Marijuana was quite ready to fabricate a delightfully amorous fantasy starring the young Mr. D. But Walhydra scotched it.
As always, Walhydra felt ambivalent over how easily she could be stirred to lust by a young man the age of her unborn children. Not distressed by guilt. Merely interrupted by the familiar ache of a longing she knew she would never pursue.
Beneath the delectable packaging, Walhydra knew, D. was a full-fledged spiritual being in his own right, one whose path only touched hers tangentially.
To bring him into her orbit would involve an immense bending of the space/time continuum. The consequences would also be immense—and damaging to all involved.
"Damn this Virgo x ray vision!" Walhydra muttered.
The voice of Nikki, Husband #3, teased in her ear: "But looking's free...."
"Oh, shut up!"
To distract herself—easily done in her current state—she decided to roam toward the entrance hallway, where she'd spied some elders gathering.
There she found M., the snowy-tonsured gentleman in the old cardigan, and T., the grizzled, shrunken Wise One. They were in communion with others of their generation. Walhydra hung around the fringes of this group, listening and hoping for a cue which might draw her in.
With these senior men were several women whom Walhydra had not noticed earlier. She realized that she had heard their voices from other parts of the house, yet they had been leaving "the men" to their own company for most of the evening.
One of these women was a benign-looking yet stately duchess in white. She received each comment with grace, and, when she spoke, seemed to caress her friends in reply.
Another, silent and formidable, stood like one of the famous Valkyrie, needing only her presence as armor.
The other women each had a clear role which the group loved and honored.
Walhydra listened politely to their conversation about subjects they seemed to have been examining for decades. When they broached a topic she felt she could address, she spoke up from her own 45 years of honest struggle.
The elders paused, acknowledged her comment agreeably and continued their discussion. Though she knew they meant no offense, it was almost more deflating than if they had said, "Run along, Child."
"Sometimes," she said to herself, "I wonder if I'll ever stop feeling like a barely tolerated, precocious child."
"Sometimes," she heard the Crone’s voice respond, "I wonder if you'll ever stop needing the grown ups to approve of you."
"Hmm,” said Walhydra, changing the subject. “I think I'll go sit in the living room."
The living room turned out to be another occultly weighted set piece. Walhydra took the one available seat—and then realized that she had poised herself at the nexus of a daunting maze of relationships.
To her right was the venerable concert grand. To her left, the almost as venerable—but far more impish—Dr. Bob. Dr. Bob in turn had one or two older friends to his left.
In the opposite left corner, young D. sat looking teenagerly in the halo of a table lamp.
Opposite right, Jim played Oak King on the wicker throne, his Yule red sweater glowing.
And, face to face with Walhydra on the near end of the sofa, sat R.
Here, in her ache for this one 26 year old, were all the Virgo conflicts of Eros versus Order, all the contradictory dimensions of Virgo integrity.
In fact, was R. perhaps a Virgo himself...?
Hmm. That had possibilities....
The next…um…stretch of time [who knew how long Walhydra had been stoned by then] involved a vertiginous conversation among the various parties in the room.
Walhydra was intensely aware of her longing for R. and—more disturbing—a stirring of undefined yet sorrowful memories.
She kept trying to say clever things to draw R.'s attention, interest...and desire. She wanted to impress him with her brilliant yet modest take on... um…whatever it was they were talking about.
But...losing track here...she was horrified of seeming to be trying to impress. And she didn't want him to really desire her, because she was happily married.
But...it would be nice to be desired….
Jim seemed alone in his corner. Not unhappy. Just out of the center of Walhydra's attention.
She looked at him.
For one horrifying moment she saw Jim's mother. Just as, in certain moments, she saw her own father in her own gestures or her own angry foolishness.
Then she saw Jim as Jim. Remembered how real he was to her. How whole. How unexpectedly just what she had wanted all along.
With that awareness, she looked again at R. and saw....
At the start of this story, the reader will remember, it was revealed that Walhydra left Lutheran seminary at age twenty-three to come out as a gay man.
Now we must tell why she went to seminary in the first place...and what loss sent its echoes down the years to this moment in Dr. Bob's living room.
As a college senior back in 1972, Walhydra had fought to stay closeted. Her struggle became that of Tantalus once—in the supposedly virtuous depths of Lutheran campus ministry—she fell in love with another young man.
He was a sweet, grinning, sexy pixie of an artist and tenor. He had a girlfriend, so he said, yet he clung to Walhydra as his best friend.
And he had decided to go to seminary.
The reader can connect the dots.
Horrible twist of fate: the Loved One decided at the last moment not to go.
Walhydra found herself a sincere and attentive Lutheran scholar, fully committed (she thought) to study in an excellent seminary...yet alone, in the closet and aching. Denial being the powerful force that it is, she had never let herself know that she was in love.
When, in her second term, a crush on one of her roommates finally drove her out of the closet, she quit school and fled back to her college town.
Only to be greeted by the Loved One.
Who had come out!
But who, for all their mutual affection, did not want to be lovers.
Fast forward to Dr. Bob's living room.
There sat R., the ghost of the Loved One, in all his beauty and gentleness and clever charm.
Walhydra had only recently unearthed that grief of twenty years past. Only recently named the wound she had carried, unacknowledged. And here sat this different person, half her age, stand-in for that first lost love.
What could she do but look back to Jim to find the present?
There's a coda to this piece:
People had gravitated back to the dining room. They ranged themselves again around Dr. Bob, who presided at the munchies table.
Walhydra noticed that the men were exchanging delightfully teasing banter with their host. They seemed able to say in a few words things which conjured up half a century of running inside joke.
The grand women came in from the kitchen and joined in this game.
Finally, something lifted Walhydra.
She remembered from their short yet quickly deepening friendship that she too was allowed to tease Dr. Bob. She saw an opening and tossed in her joke.
He laughed with delight. The elders laughed. Everyone laughed.
Then the turn passed to somebody else.
At this point, Walhydra realized that all through this badinage she had inadvertently blocked T., the Wise One, from joining the circle. He had said nothing. Merely let his presence seep into her Weed-mellowed consciousness.
She looked for a discrete moment to yield him her place.
Jim stood opposite her in the circle. As if fitting in the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle, Walhydra slipped across to him and gave him her hand….
…and there was a sudden, insistent beeping.
"What the hell is that?!" Walhydra wondered.
The Crone clucked.
"That, My Dear, is your beeper. You are on call at the prison. Remember?"
[to be continued]
[Note: Walhydra asks her gentle readers to help her identify the artist and original source of the "On the tightrope" image. Her own source does not give attribution. Thank you.]