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Nicolas Poussin: Blind Orion Searching for the Rising Sun (1658)
"Musing's almost never about actually discussing anything."

The Muse's frequent lengthy absences best typified our exile years. When we lived outside of DC, she'd spend at least a week each month in Colorado. When we relocated to Colorado, she'd spend about the same time away in DC. This left me out there on my own for what seemed like lengthy periods, often eons, fending for myself, batching it. I always somewhat reveled in that freedom. There I was all alone save for the cats, and out of view from anyone who might care what I did. I could sneak a cigar thinking that I'd likely recover before The Muse returned. I'd been domesticated so long that I would find myself out of practice and default to grown up status rather than revert back into adolescence in her absence. Those days seemed long and hollow, though, reinforcing my notion that good living demands that one somehow must be in service to another and not just to themselves. I'd reheat the bottomless pot of beans for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and never think of concocting anything more complicated or nourishing. I'd hold dialogues with the cats, bouncing ideas off them, continually asking them how they were doing in lieu of anyone asking me that question. That was a Museless existence, hollow and unsatisfying, rendering me The Invisible Husband.

She'd call, of course, more or less daily during her absences, usually on her way, a few minutes late, for her first morning meeting and/or in the final few minutes before falling asleep after an overlong day of briefings and a late sociable supper.
She'd be increasingly exhausted as the week progressed but also energized by her many interactions. She'd attempt to share her enthusiasm but it inevitably came out in strings of acronyms which I could only pretend to understand. I responded with supportive noises. Early on, I'd insist upon driving her to the airport and returning to pick her up, though she could have expensed a cab or shuttle bus ride. I didn't mind driving to Baltimore in the predawn hours before The Beltway shut down for the day, or finding a secret passage down to National through the slumbering Capitol, though I refused to drive her out to Dulles, which is conveniently located near Cleveland.

The Denver airport, situated in Eastern Kansas, was a seventy mile round trip from our Front Range home and it seemed like it was always snowing. It came to pass in our later exile years that I'd often refuse to chauffeur her to her predawn departures and fetch her upon her late night arrivals. We concluded after some discussion that my refusal didn't mean that I didn't love her, but that I found the drive to the airport terrifying. She took to taking cabs instead. Once, running late, she just took the car and left it at the airport. I later rode my bike down the mountain and hopped the light rail to the airport to fetch the car back home, a real adventure that took me a half day to complete. It beat sitting at home conversing with the cats, I guess, and beat driving in the dark before my cataract surgery brought my vision back.

Musing's almost never about actually discussing anything. It relies more upon proximity to perform its alchemy. A presence bounding solitude to prevent it from overwhelming the performance. A small aside causing a world view to shift. The simple reassurance that the place contains more than just first person constructs. It's often an inconvenience, taking another's preferences into consideration, but this provides some balance. She deeply dislikes me referring to her as my muse or The Muse, for she insists that she's A Me instead, her role and presence demeaned somehow by any defining label. I concede that she's more than The Muse, which is hardly a sidebar description of the least of her talents. It's my conceit speaking, that I might be worthy of a muse, let alone The Muse advising me. She's not my advisor but my companion, except when she's traveling like she is this morning. She called last night after i'd gone to bed and we chatted as she drove back from her busy day and evening. I had little to add, my day having been tame in comparison. I fear I was no inspiration to The Muse, but then I'd been in isolation since Wednesday and so I had no news other than that the Apricot Cat had chased Max to the top of the gazebo but that I'd come home just in time to save his skin.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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