Friday, August 8, 2014

Walk with ME: Finale Walks at Walker Open Field: What a Great Night!

If I would have known how awesome the atmosphere of Thursday Nights at the Walker were. I would have asked to do Walk with ME on all the Thursdays. :) It was a great night. It wasn't too hot. It wasn't too cold. It was just right.

I got to the Walker a bit early. Drinking down as much iced tea and water as I could. For some reason I am ravishly hungry and thirsty this summer. I am not working out much so I am not sure what my deal is. I went with a slightly more aggressive approach of hanging out more zines. Also, there was just a more social feel to the Thursday night. There were three different programs of the Walker presenting events. So it was a busy night.

I went up to the Open Field Social table and handed out some zines and a woman exclaimed "Oh the hand holding project! I want to do that!" Now large companies PAY people to do that. Exclaim out of no where their excitement for a product or a person or an event, and wow! Here was a willing participant. Nicole was her name and she was one of the hosts of the Social event. I told her we would keep it short so she could get back to her job of hosting and away we went.
Pic taken by passer by couple

Nicole is a confident, beautiful woman who felt no nerves about holding my hand. We spoke about touch and our culture. She told me how she thinks it is silly we are so weird about paying for touch from massage to sex. I have to agree with her. My father thinks massages are for sickos. I get massages sometimes three times a month. I don't think I am sick. I think I am trying to balance out my body and as a single person that tries not to sleep with people outside of a relationship (and I haven't had a relationship in quite some time) massages are not sexual but they are intimate. Something I need just as much as sex is intimacy. Massage therapists give that. As far as getting paid for sex, I think there is nothing wrong with it in principle. BUT patriarchal prostitution I have a problem with. If EMPOWERED women and men could get paid to give sex to others. I think that is great. And I am sure there are a handful of sex workers out there that give just that. It is the women and men in slavery that shouldn't be giving sex for money. This is a huge topic. One I have no answers to but I agree with Nicole. Sex should be something that can be given in different contexts. Though what I am finding out about myself is that I am very comfortable with touch and cuddling many folks. I am far too sensitive to want to have sex outside of a well constructed romantic monogamous relationship. I don't know if it was my up bringing OR just who I am. As I start to date we shall see how I navigate this.

Nicole and I went straight into the heart of the mini golf set up. Catching a few glances but mostly just cruising around. On our way down there a nice couple took our picture while another couple laughed at us. There were many pairs holding hands. The Walker First Thursdays brings out a lot of people on first dates, older couples who love art, and families. The diversity I saw was amazing. Nicole is a social worker, a thankless job if ever there was one but I could tell that Nicole must be an amazing social worker with they way she handled this unusual experience. With grace, boldness, and savvy. I felt really lucky to have Nicole be willing and excited to be a part of my project.

When Nicole and I had left, a woman had shouted out "Oh!! You are going for a walk with her!" And I knew who my next walker would be. Her name is Jessica. Very tall woman in her 30s. People dress up to go to the Walker. That is the way we treat special events at cultural institutions and I think in Minnesota people look for reasons to dress up. Jessica immediately started telling me intimate things. A fight her and her boyfriend had about hand holding! how perfect! Why she likes her boyfriend including his dimples. I love this about hand holding. That she felt ready to share right away. We walked around the Sculpture Garden and I loved watching Jessica gesture. She gestured about being together and intimate as this straight line between two people with her hands. That gesture will stay with me and i hope to use it in my next performance. I liked hearing about Jessica's relationship. It gave me hope for my own. She let there be inconstancies. The way in which people infuriate you and make you swoon. From dimples to communication we make things work because we want to. We learn and we commit. I find this amazing. Jessica had been divorced and she is doing this thing called love differently this time. How wonderful. I loved Jessica's energy. As the walk ended things shifted and I spoke a bit about my boy situation and she was supportive. After reading Jessica's notes. I could tell that she was sort of waking up to the fact we were holding hands. She started to leave the just the two of us stage and see that we were surrounded by others. Which can be frightening. She wrote that afterwards she felt exhilarated. Full of adrenaline.
I wonder what part I play in that excitement. Do I create a channel for that? By holding hands to I give you a bunch of my energy? I know while traveling. I gave it all away. I was a ball of tired by the time I arrived in Georgia.

I am much more centered now. And a friend of Jessica's came up to walk. His name is Mark. Mark is hearing impaired and wears hearing aids. He asked if it would work for him to walk with me because of his hearing lose. I told him I have done silent walks so I couldn't see a problem. We started out silent but it wasn't hard to turn and talk to Mark so that he could see my lips for the lip reading he does. It was a very sweet walk. It was easier for Mark to speak than for him to read my words. But we had a great conversation about his cats Petey and Penny. Penny the grouchy older cat. And Petey the cat that found him at the shelter.

I liked how deliberate things felt with Mark. Slowing down to understand eachother. His hand was easy to hold and there was a small hitch in his elbow but overall it felt like he was relaxed. He even when explaining him meeting Petey he showed me how Petey's face moved around in the cage, getting closer and then farther away from my face. I was so unprepared for that! And it was so playful.
Mark has never lived anywhere other than Minneapolis and one year in St. Paul. His mother died and he has lived in that house ever since. It was interesting to hear of him speak about the stress of moving. How he just doesn't handle that and doesn't want it. Which is so different to my attitude about moving and stress. I see those things propelling me. Moving me places that bring around change. I am starting to get this staying still. But I wonder. I wonder what we do when we push ourselves and we change things up, what that does for us? I like someone who has never lived outside of the state. And well that scares me. And I thought of that while walking with Mark. The thing is. Moving doesn't equate to success or emotional stability or many positive things. I really like how grounded Mark was. I liked that he doesn't believe in fate. he believes in happy coincidences. I am opening up to this view point. I explained how much I had moved and he was astonished. I don't know what I am driving at here. Maybe that it is ok to want to be where I am. That I am letting go of the modern idea that travel is where all change comes from. I think change comes from within. I am ready for some real change. I am thinking about it isn't if you can afford to travel the world. Being invigorated by the world is a mind set and a choice. Mark shook my hand as we said thank you for the walk.

Now, three walks is a lot to do in a day. Three is the most I had done in a day. Until today. I knew my co-worker was coming to walk. Which was really exciting to have that type of cross over. As I may have mentioned in my blog. I really like my job at MTN. And Jessica is someone who has impressed me with her professionalism and smarts. She also is adventurous and seems to have a full life outside of work. I envy her that. She showed up just as I had ended an interview about feminism for another awesome Walker Open Field project. I discussed how I think gender is fluid, #YesAllWomen and it's powerful message, my thoughts on supreme court and birth control, and being a woman who rides transit.

I was nervous to walk with Jessica, she is a very pretty young woman. Though we are co-workers I am aware how so much more prettier she is than I. We started right out to the Sculpture Garden. She told me though she has been in MPLS for 3 years just a few weeks ago was her first time at the sculpture garden. Our conversation was pretty nervous and about work. Then we spoke about the garden itself. How Jessica hadn't been there. We didn't look at each other much. But holding Jessica's hand felt familiar and easy. She wore stripes. She spoke about the arbor and the glass house arboretum and it's similar structures as tunnels. I loved that.
We looked at the flowers. Talked about an amazing project some folks in Rochester are making to help new Minnesotans understand that park land is public and free. What they can do with their children in those parklands. Like bike ride, look at flowers, picnic, etc. Towards the end we took a photo of ourselves in front of the Spoon Cherry. Me discussing how when I was younger I thought the spoon cherry was the WORST. Being an art student, I didn't see the profound importance of it. Now I think it is great, it gets people who are not into art, near a museum and maybe they will learn more about art by looking up Oldenberg.
At the very end, Jessica opened up about herself as we walked through the Jenny Holzer part of the park. It reminded her of New Harmony, IN. An Utopic tourist destination that I almost accepted a job at. We talked about her family connection to the chapel there and how she had dreamed of being married there. It was a small glimpse for a reserved person. But that place is magic and I like that we both know of it.

It was a great way to end the walks, walking with Jessica. She wrote that she felt energized afterwards! And that it was so nice to walk with someone her own height. That is probably why it felt so easy. I am fortunate to start a life in Minnesota where I work somewhere that has openminded adventurous smart people. People who even support my art. Doesn't that feel great?
This night was a great way to end the stint of Walk with ME at the Walker. I enjoyed talking with Gabi and Laura. I enjoyed listening to Balkan music after my shift. I enjoyed the one glass of wine I had to come down off the high of walking. My cold summer squash sandwich. I am settling into Minneapolis. I am letting go of expectations. I am trying not to set too many goals. I let the night air cricket, rippet, and rustle me through Loring Park and to my bus stop. I am tried to reach out to someone I care about. And I have to be ok when they don't want to connect. I am going with the flow and I know that each day brings me love and surprises I can't be ready for. I walk now with a confidence I didn't have a year ago. I feel my feelings and I know that they come and go. My effort remains the same to give what I got and to smile, cry, and touch with extreme passion. I feel very lucky to be alive.

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