Paul is on a plane which is headed to Amsterdam.
He left at about 3 pm and will fly for 8 hours and arrive at 6 in the morning.
There is something very basic about large switches in time zone that the mind has difficulty grasping.
We clearly did not evolve in a milieu that contained high speed travel.
From Amsterdam it's a short jog to Warsaw- about the length of a flight from Minneapolis to Detroit.
He will be staying with a friend in Warsaw and commuting to Krakow, where the Institute of Pharmacology is, for his exams and his defense.
He will be in Poland until December 3.
That is, he leaves on a given day and arrives back in the U.S.
on the previous day, and one of those is Dec.
3, but I forget which.
It is 7:48 by my microwave clock at the moment but it feels like ten or eleven; it gets dark very early now that we've had our archaic daylight-savings ritual, and the shortened days and cold-ening weather make your body start to prepare for hibernation.
Buy canned food, your brain starts to tell you, primal parts of it that receive information directly from the supraoptic nucleus (the timekeeper, the cells that watch the light.)
Hole up in your little $630-a-month cave.
Go home when it gets dark at 5 pm and make a little nest out of blankets and sit there with something to read, or just sit, letting those metabolically costly higher cognitive functions chill out for a few months.
Go home, curl up, be warm.
It's a kind of nice feeling, when your brain is telling you this.
You become your own mother, keeping yourself safe and warm.
The apartment becomes the den, the womb.
Then, when days lengthen and the air smells like melting snow and wet dirt, it's time for another adolescence, a bursting out from the chrysillis to mate and engage in other risky behavior.
The drive now is to explore the world outside the apartment, particularly male bodies.
There is a giddiness, and a sense of anticipation of great things, something transcending mere rutting.
The whole world is coming alive, all for you.
I could describe it better if it was around the equinox right now.
As it is, I'm in winter's-approaching mode and I find it hard to relate.
Not that we don't fuck in the winter, of course.
But it's different.
In the winter you fuck for survival.
You do it to stay warm.
You do it because you're both huddled in the cave together, so why not.
It's comfort food, to keep from getting too cold and skinny.
It's your alliance against the elements.
We two specks can stay warm and alive within the onslaught of winter by cooperation.
In the spring your human actions are offensive, not defensive.
Then your fuck is a creative act.
Then you're showing the world your glory, and all of nature is procreating alongside you, rather than acting in the opposite direction of life.
Humans are not as rhythmic as some creatures, true.
We do not have a mating season, or even a monthly estrus like the other apes; we do it all the time, for any reason.
When we migrate, it is more based on conscious planning than deep instinct, unlike the birds and the whales.
Imagine being one of those, and feeling each year the primal and powerful stirring to go a particular direction, that direction being as plain in your senses as the color red is different than green, and it's calling you, and you need to follow, as part of a huge group of others that all feel the same way, and you'll go together for thousands of miles, because you have to.
But we humans have our rhythms.
The cortisol, the body temperature, countless other variables going up and down, up and down with the turn of the earth.
There are seasonal rhythms too, some in twelve-month periods, some mysteriously in six-month periods.
The immune hormones, the reproductive hormones follow a seasonal cycle, in women and in men.
It is intensified the more seasonal your home.
Those raised in the tropics probably have no idea what I'm talking about, this desire to crawl into your den when the days are getting short.
People who live very far north, on the other hand, go into national hibernation in the dark months, and go crazy in the days when it is light for 20 hours.
In the northern reaches of Scandinavia, women stop menstruating in the dead of winter, the vast secretion of melatonin (the night substance) acting drastically on the other hormonal systems.
I have lived all my life in places with seasons.
I lived so many years in Minnesota that the seasonal changes in Philadelphia seemed too small in amplitude.
I felt like it got to about Fall, and stayed there in an eerie limbo until Spring.
Now, though early in the evening, I want to go to sleep.
I had to make myself coffee.
There is something else very weird about the evening, which is that I will not talk to Paul on the phone.
I keep accidentally waiting for our nightly hour and a half to two hours of meaningless banter, until I remember with a jolt that he is travelling to the other side of the world.
What is the level of daylight for you now, Paul?
Is it dawn yet?
We are normally 700 miles apart, but his presence firmly exists as disembodied voice coming out of a little slab of plastic each night.
Now it's like that presence has, in its turn, moved away- a meta-long-distance relationship.
Despite the fact that with the international phone cards I still will pay only a few cents a minute to talk to him.
It is only Novermber 8, and I live in Michigan.
There are months of real winter ahead, but they are just snow and wind, and can't get inside the apartment walls.
[ Back to top ] [ Author's Works ] [ Skein home ]
Content © copyright 2001 by Michelle Wirth. All rights reserved.