We first met in August 1989.

It was freshmen orientation, late August in Colorado Springs.  Arwen Wilder, she was the first person I met at college.  And we hit it off immediately.

She was my friend, my ex, and a one time collaborator.  She was a dance major, and once our fling ended (it happened right away, really during orientation, but it was really about the transition into college – it wasn’t meant to last), we worked a number of projects together.

She is now a professional dancer based in Minneapolis.

Well, this weekend, Arwen is part of a dance performance in Ithaca, at Six Mile Creek, a park just up the street from my house.

I hadn’t seen her in 19 years, but this evening I walked down to see the performance at Six Mile Creek.  It was a dance about water, performed in the water, called Whirligig.  The title comes from the water beetles, whirligigs, and many of the dancers’ movements were based on the movements of these and other water bugs.

The dance was beautiful.  There were 6 or 7 dancers, and about 20 of us there to watch.  The dancers’ movements in the water were controlled and measured, and they made wonderful use of the water.  There was songs (perhaps a bit Meredith Monk like), music made with rocks and sticks, and a sort of narrative about human need for the earth and water (perhaps despite our heedlessness).

Apparently, whirligigs traverse their way through the water.  The side to side motion creates less of a wake, and the beetles are much stable.

I went to see Arwen, to talk to her again after 20 years.  I choked, and never spoke to her (it wasn’t clear she recognized me, though I did think I saw one double take), but at least I enjoyed the performance.

And in some way, we shared an experience again.


One thought on “Whirligig

  1. Reading this reminded me of an experience I had during my sophomore year at Alfred. During winter break I saw my best friend from kindergarten, whom I hadn’t seen in 14 years. She and I had arranged to meet up, though, and while neither of us choked, it was very surreal, and only became more so by the end of the night.

    Walking out the door of her apartment building the next morning and getting hit in the face with a blast of frigid wind as I started to make my way over to the 6 train was one of the more rude wake-up calls I’ve been given, not only because it was freezing outside, but I knew that she and I wouldn’t last. I saw her twice more, but it’s been a year and a half since I last spent any time with her.

    What’s worse, is the one roll of film that I thought I had shot of her on one of those nights was never exposed, because I never actually loaded the film back, and, naturally, didn’t think to check.

    I wondered why I had an extra roll of 3200 speed film on me the next day. I chalked it up to bringing a spare just in case.

    You know, so that I wouldn’t end up without any photographs.

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