I have about an hour in New Haven before the car must be returned and the train should be boarded. And a list of destinations to visit that are ever diminishing in possibility. The sushi place is closed on Mondays, the cafe of the world’s greatest lemon ginger tea doesn’t gps nearby, and I really need to eat lunch more than anything. There is that line from Douglas Adams about lunch time illusions and the doubling of said illusions.
As I’m driving through a street that runs the perimeter of the old campus, I see caps and gowns down the street and a perpetually changing wedding party full of families sitting at every outdoor cafe and shop. Lovers holding hands. A mom and day with daughter alone at a fancy restaurant. A group of twelve asking where the grandfather is, who was all in white and had two canes to walk around and was missing the story about how they found the drywall dust in the graduate’s shoe as evidence that he had in fact kicked a hole in the wall. He was one of the ten best of something, of what that I couldn’t quite catch, as I waited for my food I’ll eat as I walk around.
How much time do I ever really have anywhere? Is it ever enough? What’s enough?
Two days — enough to finally remember the name of the town, as I was leaving.
Eleven and one quarter hours — from brunch to the beginning of Gemini at ten fifteen pm — enough to make new friends, discuss retirements, visit the mill and the river with the yellow flower experience and the bluff but not even park there and then nap and write and drive to the retreat center with just enough time to get pads from the pagoda and temporarily stay for the eighteenth sitting on the fourth day of a full retreat and then, after the quiet sun entered Gemini again, hike up a cliff bluff to a platform overlooking the valley (again) in the dark and watch stars all rotate in unison against the prestige of a fixed blanket of clouds. We are there for too short of a time — but wait just long enough — and the sky clears for twenty minutes.
Twenty minutes — enough to watch the moon set, and then unset below the lower crest of the clouds, and then set again with the finality of the candles end, the light of the wicker still undulating behind the clouds in backlight. Twenty minutes — enough for silence and awe.
Ten — enough to walk just barely through campus to the empty sea of chairs and the unionized entropy of the ceremony grounds, and place the take out on the empty stage so I have both hands free to make an image.
Five — enough to learn from the couple on the platform heading back to Delaware that there were — supposedly — seventeen thousand seats.