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Affinity

affinity
Leaf from Gratian's Decretum: Table of Affinity
(c. 1270-1300) Italy, probably Naples, 13th century


"almost identical, always unique."


I met Mark and The Muse on the same day, September 14, forever after a holiday, a day for celebrating Affinity, a mysterious attractor, a ceaseless benefactor. I cannot recount or recall how it was that we found ourselves so connected. It seemed quite natural at the time, nothing entirely unexpected yet also something absolutely extraordinary. It seemed as if we could always finish each other's sentences, always understand, always empathize. Now, when Mark visits, old patterns revisit, too. An ease. A conversation cadence more than familiar, so natural as to beg identification. We just are together, picking up wherever we last left off, continuing the narrative where it had always seemed to be headed.

Mark and his wife Rita were the first to visit The Muse and I when we entered into exile.
We'd barely arrived, mere days before, and still ensconced in that temporary high rise in Roslyn, the one overlooking the fire station where a fresh passenger jet roared over every forty-eight seconds from six am until just before eleven pm every blessed day, where the cats went a little crazy, before we'd found a place to rent and a place to live. There they were, as if to remind us that we might have lost our home and freshly mortgaged our future, but that Affinity had survived and would continue.

We try as we can to stay in touch between visits, but what with The Damned Pandemic and careers and such, we don't connect as much as we know we should. The calls work, too, always the same rhythm, the same easy pace. No race to get to the bottom. No competition. Mark might drop a subtle notion which I won't quite connect with at first. It's sleight-of-mind magic, a first gambit, a surprising turn, and before very long, we're immersing ourselves in something again. A fresh provocation. A different perspective. Mark's brilliant and I sometimes feel a little dim when in the shadow of his presence. He long ago accepted that I'm hopeless with formalisms. He once eschewed intuition but came to change his opinion. I like to think I might have helped influence that migration. He, too, has deeply influenced me. He's a master of metaphors, a separate secret language we share.

The Muse and Mark seem no less sparky. They started on the same team in that workshop I was teaching when we met. They outsmarted themselves together and never looked back. That learning experience challenged and ultimately changed them both. Neither returned home after, but arrived as someone different. After, it seemed as if their lives just kept crossing, and I was sometimes there, too. Then The Muse blew up her life and went on to become my wife and the Affinity just lengthened and deepened to where it's now an unshakable feature of who and whatever we've become. When Mark comes to visit, time stops and opens up. Suppers turn expansive. Conversation runs rampant. Something significant always results.

He was here shortly after we first took possession of The Villa Vatta. He was the one who reported that it was raining in the basement, a report which resulted in us digging up our front yard, felling a marvelous old Hawthorne tree, and replacing sidewalk and retaining wall to install new sewer drains after the tree had compromised the old pipe. We had to shuttle over to my folks' place to use their bathroom for the duration of that visit. Every time we get together, something different follows. Every time we get together, the same patterns emerge, almost identical, always unique. Affinity's gift.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved







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