May 4, 2017 (Thursday)

by Yule Heibel on May 3, 2018

Sometimes, when I sit down at my desk, the scent of incense I bought in a “Tibetan” store in Cambridge and which I keep on my desk wafts up. There are two kinds: one, the ubiquitous Nag Champa, which I love, and the second, a traditional kind I love even more but whose name I’ve forgotten. The Nag Champa comes in sticks, as incense does. The other – I want to call it Amber, but I’m not sure that’s right – is a chunk, wrapped in a small package made of hand-printed and cheap paper. The print is red ink. A flower center and petals could be what the simplified image suggests, I don’t know. I’ve never unwrapped the package, the scent is so strong even through the paper. It’s about 1″ x 1-1/4″ big. The only marking put on it is a yellow price tag, $5.50. It’s sold by weight. It smells wonderful.

Yesterday I met Z. at T.[cafe]. Before I went, I thought I’d walk to W.-Street to see if anything was moving on that Freemasons-Hall-to-condos conversion. On my way, I passed A.- and E.-Streets, where J. and B. live. As I walked by I saw J. in her driveway. We talked, got caught up, and I finally got my book back, which I had lent her years ago. While J. hobbled inside to get it (she has mobility issues), I got to admire – gawk, just gawk – at this home improvement project she and B. had done: a brand new attached garage with an in-ground resistance pool in its own attached-to-garage pool house, plus shower (of course), all enclosed and attached to the stately old house with a hallway, heated, with a little elevator for J. to circumvent the stairs into the main house, and a huge flagstone or slate patio out back, tremendous capacity table, flanked by at least a dozen chairs. J. doesn’t need to trek into Boston anymore; she took early retirement from [college] a couple of years ago, partly because her weight had reduced her mobility to wheelchair use and the college wasn’t a great place for that. She had been there for 30 years anyway, so “early” retirement was an option. Built herself this pool she swims in daily, and is now fitter, slimmer, and walking without canes or assists. The power of exercise…

I’m not sure why we never became friendlier after we met – when? 2013? 2014? –but I suspect that as a straight, and far too normal heterosexual woman, I don’t really fit into her and B.’s circle of engaged lesbian artists and theorists. There’s undeniably a completeness to what J. and B. have built up in their house, which serves as a hub of intellectual activity. Alas, it doesn’t align with my interests enough. Our orientations are decidedly different; not opposed, but neither aligned.

It’s another golden-green dawn today. Every day the leaves grow fatter.

This afternoon I might drive to Cambridge for the showing of another of Judith Wechsler’s films, this one about Svetlana Boym. I looked up Boym – very interesting work. I’m curious to learn more. I always hunger to learn more about interesting women (even if we don’t align…).


When I arrived at T.[cafe], my now-retrieved book in hand, Z. was already there, having run into a friend, maybe 40 or 41 years old, but looking a lot younger, very “bump” pregnant with her third child. When she stood up, I saw how impossibly tall she is, in flats much taller than Z. in heels, her pregnant middle just a bump in that enormous length. Slim, too. Very open, fresh face, masses of bronzed curly hair held in place by product. She was with a much older woman who I thought might be her mother, but wasn’t. Mother in law? Not anywhere near as tall as Z.’s pregnant friend, though, whose name, like that of the incense I love, I promptly forgot.

I liked her, though.

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