391: “A Striped Dolphin School” (Alexis Pauline Gumbs)

                “In a striped dolphin school, only up to one-third of the school is visible at the surface. What scale and trust would it take to rotate our roles, to work not to fulfill a gendered lifetime ideal (husbandwifemotherfatherdaughterson) but to show up and sink back, knowing there is enough of all the forms of nurturance to go around in cycles?”
                -Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals

                I’ve been thinking about the different roles I take up in this dolphin school community of mine. Cook, sometimes, on lazy Sunday mornings, and sharer-of-food on Sunday night when a friend comes over or Thursday night when I go over to a friend’s. Teacher. Student. But more than those nouns, I’ve been thinking about the ways we show up and sink back. On Saturday I talked for almost two hours with a friend I’ve been missing for months. It was wonderful, and now it might be another few months until we have a chance like that again. The other day on the bus I leaned my head on the window and watched the water bead down the glass. I forgot my keys, and a friend let me into the office. I bought another friend nachos. I heard about someone’s break. Someone asked me, “How do you make community,” and I said “I don’t know,” and we talked about it for a while.
                All this becomes a thought about community, about our interweaving lives. About the chance to be nurtured by (and to help nurture) so many of the swimmers around me in some many changing ways. I’m so grateful for that school, and for all the ways it teaches me — lets me — inspires me — to be part of it.

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