Monday, October 15, 2007

I am trying to find my way through a rundown section of a strange, small city. I am meeting someone, and finally find the right building (early morning Hopper-like light, dusty and bright), a ramshackle storefront. As I peer through the window, I come face to face with a coyote crouched in the space slightly underneath the sidewalk. She is sleek and black and both of us finally relax as we stare at each other; her cool nose against my palm. Very busy agenda in this new place, quick car rides through the streets, up steep, rickety, wooden staircase to some apartment, split-level. It's one of those dream houses, part hotel, part old farmhouse, mish-mash of estate-sale furniture and lots of other guests. I get assigned a room, and encounter another coyote, long-legged, almost white with blotches of caramel and chesnut coloring. She is deeply joyful to meet me, and, like the other encounter, we stare and stare, her size fluctuating with the intensity of our mutual study. At one point, her nose seems to grow long and flexible, like an elephant's trunk, as she leans in to sniff my face and neck. Again, I am late for some appointment, and as I rush through the streets of this odd city (broken concrete, lots of short, steep blocks and hills), I scoop the coyote into my arms and then I am going so fast that it's as if I am wearing her mottled pelt like a wrap. We arrive at some hall, full of women who I know from all different eras of my life. We're making preparations for some party or dinner, hauling boxes of linens and table decorations. Many women are nervous about my large coyote companion, but she is so sweet and eager to please, that it's easy to treat her like a pet dog. Then, as in a film, there's a jump cut, and I am back in that hall after having been away for 10 weeks (in Asia?). Everyone expresses regrets that I have just missed Wendy M.'s graduation party (another all-female event). I've also missed a wedding and a lecture-dinner and I feel terrible about having missed these events. Wendy hands me a paper plate with a last slice of cake, and I ask about her plans next. She starts explaining her ambitions, but I can't pay attention because my coyote has leapt across the room and is pressing against my legs so avidly that it feels like our bodies are merging.

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