June 21, 2017 (Wednesday)

by Yule Heibel on June 20, 2018

For last night’s summer solstice we actually had partly clear skies and a wonderful sunset. It was hot, but overnight the temperature dropped considerably and I didn’t have the A/C on at all. In the late afternoon I carried two patio chairs, the heavy glass table, the umbrella, and its cast iron base up the two flights of stairs to our deck. W. was on a late train home, and we ate take-out pizza, drank wine, and watched the sky.

Yesterday, an impromptu late afternoon coffee date with Z. She said something curious in answer to a question I put her. After telling me about a trip to her home state last week, which she had enjoyed tremendously (especially as it got her out of taciturn New England and into friendlier territory), I asked, “So, how does it feel to be back [here]?” She seemed a bit startled at first, but then said, “I’m just biding my time here.”

Biding my time – that struck me so hard somehow.

It’s how I feel much of the time – and I don’t have nearly the investment or social capital here as she has – and it just seems so emblematic of us, women of a certain age who never really made a career out of anything, and who are like a formerly 3-legged stool that has lost a leg. So we balance, we bide, we wait, hoping to grow that third leg back so we at least have the purpose of being a stool.

Maybe it’s the wrong metaphor, “3-legged stool.” We don’t want to sat on, nor do we want complete stability (we already have that, to an extent), nor does being stationary signify our desire. We want to be able to grow, but we’re not plants. We’re bipeds, we want to move. Two legs is good, a third isn’t needed. And yet, the 3-legged stool metaphor isn’t completely off. It’s the “3-legged” part, it works. The “stool” part, not so much.

Tripod. The tripod is an extension of ourselves, it’s one we want to carry into all sorts of situations and places, and it has to have three legs so it can stand stably, not fall over. On the tripod we want to be able to attach our main tool – a camera, say. It’s no good if the tripod can’t stand up. Why is the tripod needed? Why not hold the tool – the camera – in hand? It’s needed to go deeper, it’s needed for the detail work, the close-up, the professional edge. It is a conduit, it channels or mediates between the tool (the aggressive analytical western eye, say, the desirous eye, the “camera” – which is the eye’s substitute) and us, the “intenters,” the manipulators, and the ground on which we happen to stand, to have placed ourselves, to have journeyed to at any given time.

The tripod is meant to be moved, by us, and it’s meant to hold the camera, our “western aggressive aim-taking eye,” our will. It is a conduit. And if it is wobbly or broken or just on two legs instead of three, we have to put the “shoot” on hold – bide our time – until it’s fixed. Until we fix it. Figuring out what the tripod’s legs consist of is a first step.

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