Margriet deLeeuw ~ Birth of a Butterfly

Episode 13: As Time Goes By

part of: The Shadowed Ones

by Jeff Beardwood

Related by Daegle, Member of the Shadowed Elite in the Fourth Generation of the Wanderers

No matter what that song says in the old movie, Casablanca, a kiss is rarely just a kiss. Kisses convey lust, affection, love, curiosity, tenderness and anticipation, to name but a few possibilities for combinations. Each one is like a fingerprint of a moment, unique within the context of a general type.

Among my favorite general types are #33 kisses (long luxurious explorations with playful nips) and #23 kisses (full, pursed lips with an audible smacking sound, a short but loving reminder common to good morning greetings and routine goodbyes).

Katia’s kiss that first night, quickly rising to be among my favorites, was definitely a #17. Similar to the #23, it was with full pursed lips, but was more lingering, a slow tender brush of lips rather than the short smacking sound, in this case with her hand placed gently against my cheek from jaw to temple.

When she rocked back to sit again in the clover, she was smiling. “I like the way you kiss,” she told me.

I decided to explain my numbering system at another time and place. At a bit of a loss how to respond, I smiled back. She had invited me to ask any question. Now the list seemed to be compounded exponentially.

“A simple acknowledgement of the attraction between us,” she explained in answer to my unasked question.

I nodded. It was certainly true we both felt something. “Are all Wanderers…?” I paused looking for words.

“Such good kissers?” she asked laughing lightly.

I was glad for the darkness. For though she could surely sense the flush of my cheeks, at least the depth of the tint was my own secret. Or perhaps feeling it was more acute than the visual cue could ever reveal? I was not accustomed to such bold, direct interaction.

“A good question. I was thinking more like…‘such open communicators’, actually.”

“Ah. Well to answer that, probably most are. Does that make you uncomfortable?”

“Yes and no.” I replied. “While I’m not used to it, I think I could get to like it quite a lot.”

Katia nodded. Full darkness had fallen. We were bathed by a single soft greenish light from behind the fountain…the spot she had chosen was just on the outer edge of the circle of light. The garden around us was alive with insects clicking and singing. In the distance, the kitchen noises were dim but still discernable.

“This is all so surreal,” I told her. “All so complex.”

She said a funny thing then, “It is an appreciation of that complexity which brings wisdom.”

“Is that a Wanderer philosophy?”

“Something I have personally embraced,” she smiled. “Wanderers aren’t really about philosophies.”

“Tell me more,” I leaned closer to watch her eyes as she explained. Her words were slow in forming.

“Wow, big topic. Let me break it down this way, to the personal level. As a Wanderer, I don’t have any answers, only tools that are working for me right now.”

I was lost and told her so.

“Hm. Let’s see. I question everying, but never expect any lasting answers. That is, the only thing that even seems to approach an absolute is that change happens…a lot.”

“Ok,” I was with her so far.

“I’ve never met any other philosophy, religion, moral or societal model that took that into account,” she explained.

“And Wanderers do?” I asked.

“We try. Even after generations, we are still subject to the conditioning of our times. But we try.”

I nodded slowly, digesting what she had said.

Katia continued, “I’m sure you can think of lots of rules, commandments, laws…all of which argueably served a purpose in their time. Perhaps not perfectly, but they were a good working model. We can’t know all the circumstances and make poor judges because of that. But in a system that views rules as absolute, slowly or quickly the pertinence of most of those rules will erode, yes?”

“I see what you mean.” Examples of what she was telling me floated through my thoughts…family structures, our society in relationship to its changing environment, sexuality after birth control…the list seemed endless.

“So we don’t employ rules as absolute. Nor philosophies, either. We have a number of practices, which work for us now, are adjusted to personal preference, change from clan to clan around the globe but which all have the basic intent to constantly be vigilant against being trapped by our own rules. We question them, collectively and individually.”

“So Wanderers aren’t organized at all?” I was lost again, trying to grasp what she was saying.

“Some would argue we are very organized. A few clans don’t interact much, but for the most part we are among the most connected individuals you’ll meet on this globe.”

“But there seems to be nothing common to all Wanderers. What makes you a Wanderer then?”

“Ah. Well, there is a huge range of diversity, that is so. Some clans are pacifists. Most clans have a unique relationship style. Some are political. Some believe they work best in quiet isolation. Ultimately what makes them all Wanderers is the approach they use to reach those choices…all choices really.”

“What is this approach? How can you arrive at such different answers all using the same approach?”

Katia sat still in silence for a long time, communing with the crickets and the clatter of plates in the distant kitchen.

“I’m sorry if I’m digging too deeply,” I told her.

“No, I love this! This is exactly part of the process I’m talking about. You asking me this, from your unique perspective helps me to question my foundations. That’s at the core of what I’m trying to explain I think. Just give me a moment to form it all into words. You ask great questions!”

With this she sank back into her own thoughts for a few more minutes. I waited patiently, trying to digest what I’d heard.

“The approach,” she finally began picking her words, “The approach has a few common themes I guess. One is embracing that complexity we talked about. We really don’t understand jack on the grander scale and we’re probably going to be working from that place for a long time to come.”

“That goes against the human drive to control,” I chimed in.

“Boy does it ever,” she laughed.

“That’s a hard one,” I told her.

“They all take some getting used to. I think the next would be something along the lines of ‘taking responsibility’...that is, we’re a part of this universe; this life isn’t a grand illusion leading to some better future. Our lives aren’t controlled by deities, luck, fear or multi-national corporations. We live in these bodies, at this time, doing what we do by commission and omission as a group and as individuals. Some clans take that to different places. Many embrace a scientific approach. But I believe all would have at their core at least a recognition of that singular responsibility.”

“Does that mesh with the acceptance of your first point, about not being able to control everything?”

“It does for me. Chaos bombards me at every moment. Things happen that are way beyond my control all the time. For me, taking responsibility doesn’t mean knowing I can control anything. It means I’m living in this moment and get to make my choices based on the best information I have. Mistakes or not, it’s just me and the moment.”

“Okay, I get that.”

“From those first two springs what I think might be the most important point. Change is going to happen and I think all Wanderers try to build that into each moment. Making wise, conscious decisions from all the possibilities in each moment is our only way to guide change. We’re not controlling anything, mind you. Just having a full and honest impact on it without funneling that through outdated rules or personal misperceptions as much as possible. So far as I know, we are pretty unique in history in terms of embracing change as part of our societal structure.”

“Fascinating. I’m no historian, but I can’t give you an example,” I told her. “So what’s it like, in practice?”

Katia laughed the deepest laugh, so much so she rolled back and lay flat on the grass, her knees bent and her feet on the ground. As the laughter faded, I followed her gaze up into the stars in the clear night sky.

“Like any good life Daegle, it’s an adventure.”

“Like our meeting?” I prompted.

“Very much like that,” she replied. “There is a simple old Wanderer saying, ‘Life Is Never Dull’. That seems to sum it all up pretty succinctly.”

I felt a sudden impulse and acted on it. I got up on my knees and went to lay on the clover bed with us laying end to end, the very tops of our heads touching. Maybe it was all her talk about choices in the moment. Maybe I was only capable of such spontaneity within a certain radius around her. Together we watched the night sky in silence for nearly half an hour. The ground was getting moist with dew. The insects, perhaps growing accustomed to our presence, dulled their songs. We just lay there and breathed. Over time I noticed our breathing had fallen into a similar rhythm.

Finally a thought invaded my reveries.

“Why have you had no questions for me so far?” I wanted to know.

For a moment I thought maybe Katia had drifted off to sleep lying there. At last she rose up out of her own thoughts. She made a soft short humming sound…a sound of satisfaction followed by a deep stretch.

“It’s not a lack of curiosity, I assure you. We have a great deal of ground to cover Daegle. I have been glad to satisfy some of your questions, hoping that you would share some of your tale with everyone at dinner.”

“I’d completely forgotten about food,” I told her, sitting up and stretching myself.

“As had I,” she admitted. “Although now that I’ve surfaced, hunger is growing.

I stood and offered her my hand, pulling her to her feet. “Let’s continue this inside then and leave the crickets and the stars to themselves for a while,” I suggested.

Katia reached behind me and rubbed my back as she guided me through the garden to the kitchen door.