Sunday, September 21, 2014
"We need to talk about Savas," the conversation began. The speaker was a dance friend, a tech genius, someone I hadn't seen in many months. I was so startled that at first I couldn't imagine what he meant. It was Going Over, the Berlin novel, he was speaking of. It was a decision I'd made about a character, a young Turkish boy, that he was questioning. How? he asked me. Why? Should it not have been impossible to write what I wrote down?
My friend had questions, too, about Ada and Stefan, what my west Berlin graffiti girl saw, at first, in her East Berlin lover. He wanted to know about point of view, how I decided what was to be left on stage, and off. And where did the graffiti come from, he wanted to know. Were you (in a distant past) some kind of graffiti delinquent?
I kept shaking my head. I kept smiling inside. I kept reminding myself—Wait. He took the time. He read your book. He thought about it. He wondered. I thought later how unusual this was. To be asked, with real interest, about something I'd written. To be invited to talk—not about all that superficial stuff that interests me less and less, but about the story itself. It's a rare friend who makes room for this—who presses you, who listens, who may not agree with some of the choices you made, but whose interest, nonetheless, is genuine.
I have been dancing, on and off, for a few good years now. I'm no better at it than when I began. But I dance, like I do clay, for the conversations and the friends. Of this, today—among so much laughter, within such warmth—I was reminded again.
Congratulations, in the meantime, to Aideen, Mike, and Mercy, who brought us altogether. What a family you have. And many thanks to Ms. Tirsa Rivas. One of the best party-throwers in the land.