October 2021 MoonBite: In Her Element, In Her Audience

In Her Element, In her Audience

She is in her element, behind a bar, hair off her face, dressed in black and white wait staff garb. Professional. Detached. Disinclined to suggest froofy drinks and happy to ply the regulars with standard issue mixers. It’s too early in the microbrew era to have many local offerings. I liked Full Sail Amber, more so than Widmer Hefeweizen.

She was on stage too, at work, come to think of it. Maybe not acting like in high school but in this way the eyes were on her and she could leave the conversation on a whim, at her discretion, or ignore me altogether.

Oblivious to my role in her audience, preoccupied with the newness of my adulting: job, apartment, going out on back to back weeknights. Freedom.

And sharing her house with her, a welcome relief on rent and all the weight of her finances.

Allies for once.

Neighborhood dating scene after hours at the Yukon, our local dive. This time we share the same side of the bar. And yet I sense our conversation is a foil, her waiting for an interesting neighbor or current crush to come in.

I’m a temporary audience. In later months we sit excitedly talking about our coincidental crushes, both named Jimmy. “My Jimmy …” and “Your Jimmy…” to distinguish the context. Weird, sharing that intimate coincidence. Maybe weirder than if they were both named Bob.

I think of gyroscopes: a spinning wheel in which the axis of rotation is not affected by any tilt or twist. It is stable in navigation, though other pieces may be spinning around it, or it in turn is spinning itself.  Which of us is the axis, and which is the rotating elements around it. I think we spin around each other, independent.

How close could we be? Separated by 7 years, but even farther given her staying in Portland with Dad when Mom took me with her and her new husband to sunny California.

Our mother painted these as our choices, when neither of us really could do that on our own.

My sister stayed with her teenaged understanding of friendships and family. I followed my mommy. Our mother bitterly considered it a betrayal, my sister felt unfairly punished, and I played the middleman between them for years.

Now, allies.

Maybe even friends.

Leah Nagely

A Civil Engineer into Pavement. And wordplay. A writer, mom, musician and project management consultant making her way in the world today.

Photos by Jonas Jacobsson on Unsplash

Author photo by Lara Blair Photography
Graphic design by Teresa Berkowitz

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