I spent the entire day at the Taos County Courthouse, in a long, difficult jury selection process. We were told early on that this was a criminal case. Vehicular homicide. A young woman accused. Drinking and driving involved. A young man dead and a woman badly injured. This is going to be a difficult and emotional case for all concerned.
I'll cut straight to 5:00 this evening, when I was not selected as a juror, and then back up to the rest of the day...
Reporting to anything at 8:30 in the morning is a big deal for me. My typical morning starts at around 7:00, when we hear the funny red coffee maker going pshhhh in the kitchen. Rick brings my coffee back to me in bed because the house is cold in the mornings this time of year. We hang out for an hour or so, answering email on the laptop, before braving the chill to get dressed and head for the frozen studio in my oldest, ugliest clothes, my hair pushed back with a hairband, and lip balm my only makeup. On a jury duty day, I need to plan further ahead. I get up early, head straight for the shower, look for clean jeans and a warm sweater, and hope my hair will dry before I have to leave the house. Otherwise I have to use the blow dryer, and that never works out quite as expected.
Today I made all personal deadlines, except for the hair drying one. A little tumbleweedy, I was out the door and at the courthouse in plenty of time to be stopped at the metal detector, finding that I was now familiar to the security guard at the door, who knew right away that it was my boots making the thing beep. I'm still surprised that no one ever asks for ID. I could be anyone, claiming to be me. But then, why would anyone want to do that? So eighty-something people find seats, and hoping for a short day, prepare for a long one. Thankfully, we were given the opportunity early on to state any reasons why we felt a five day trial would be a personal hardship for us. I raised my hand, and mentioned yet again that without actually doing my work, there was no work to sell, and my family would have no income. I didn't expect it to get me off the jury hook, but as the day wore on, I realized that they weren't asking me any questions at all. I was full of answers, but no one wanted to know what I thought. I finally guessed that I wasn't what they were looking for this time, and was just going to have to sit it out, waiting to be set free.
Somewhere in there, I began to feel something strange... something like balance. Balance in a big way, like whatever happened, everything was just as it should be. I looked at the ugly cinder block walls, counted the pink blocks, and then the turquoise ones. I read a little from "Writing Down The Bones". Encouraged by Natalie to actually own up and BE a writer, I took out my notebook and wrote. I met Rick for lunch. I sent Lauren a text message. I watched and listened carefully to what was going on, just in case. I chatted with total strangers, and a few new friends from our jury last week. I looked at the wall some more. And we all waited.
Near the end of the day, I was having one last moment with the wall, and I spotted something I hadn't seen before. In one small section of pale yellow blocks, high on the wall, over the jury box, some enlightened, creative, mischievous wall painter had formed the letters L O V E into the shapes of the blocks, in white paint that barely shows, but is most certainly there. LOVE spilling onto the jury. LOVE beaming into the courtroom. LOVE hiding behind the bench. Hiding, but there just the same. I leaned to the man next to me, and pointed it out. Good thing I did, because a few minutes later he was chosen to sit on that jury. I think it will help him. I think it will help all of them, whether they know it or not.
Balance at the end of a difficult day is the best we can hope for sometimes. Today I'm happy with that. I even feel like I had sort of a day off, hanging with friends, learning a thing or two, and coming home to relax and start again tomorrow, with Rick, the red coffee maker, and beads that are patiently waiting for me to make them.