At three? At four? When do the summer time birds begin their strident songs, their call to territory, food, enemies? It is as if I am in a jungle full of toucans, parrots, and peacocks, but it is the call of owls, finches, cardinals, and jays outside. Just now, they have quieted, but it is a trick, for they begin again, warbling as the sun rises, as my coffee gets cold. The birds wake the cats who in turn wake me. I tell the cats it is too early for food, but they ignore my logic. They want to eat birds, I suppose, and poke me. It is hours before the Sunday Times’ arrival. In the early light, I decide to identify the tall, strong grass that has been rising steadily on the balcony. It is quack grass. Of course it is. A noisome sound, an irritant to sleep. In the end, they will win, with luck, the birds and the weeds, while insomnia will fell us. Best have another cup in the face of it.
Whole Foods finally opened on the Cape, and I spent a nostalgia-filled evening there after a play in Boston. I immediately spied the familiar pineapple chunks in a tub I haven’t seen in three years, the watercress that is not yet available elsewhere nearby, the pink lady apples. Though I am partial to my local health food store, a megalith has some different stock. Gulab Jamun in a can, check. Wild yam soba, check. Cold brew coffee in a bottle, check, please. There are still details to work out, like stocking Uncle Eddie’s Vegan Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies( I mean, this is Whole Foods, right?) and getting the black sesame slaw right.
I found my happiness ratio sharply increasing aisle by aisle. Is something sprayed in the air? Is it that luxury food shopping makes one feel better than shopping for clothes? Is it akin to buying shoes? It is easier, certainly. I needn’t decide between this color or that, but toss an item in my basket and moved on. Cardamom-coconut water? Lime-jalepeno chips? Organic socks?
I spent my paycheck, and came back the next day for more.
I looked out my window, and was struck by the flags flying nearby. It was as if I were seeing them clearly for the first time. I take the nature of freedom to choose in this town too much for granted. Every once in a while, I remember where I am living, and how different it is from so much of America. When I see a shy same-gendered couple walk by, I see their palpable relief that they can hold hands, in public, without embarrassment. They are on vacation, and for the time being, they are safe. It is 2014, and seems trivial to state the obvious, but civil rights are still fairly new in our world.
All around us in the world, new right-wing leaders are squirming into place, dusting off their shoulders, making sure their buttons are in place. We who are liberal are open-mouthed at their ascendancy, wondering what is next. We take too much for granted. Violence is perpetuated against women every day. Our society lets children shape violence in their hearts, and gives them guns. I write this from a comfortable chair, yet as a woman, I know that the threat of rape, of violence, of bias is part of my reality, and my life is shaped by that. Without a doubt, I dream more than I act.
Last week, a dear friend’s dear father passed away, Dr. Vincent Gordon Harding, who advocated in a gentle yet firm way for equality and liberty. He, together with his late wife, created and ran The Veterans of Hope organization, committed to educational awareness and action towards a more just society. He is remembered in obituaries for writing Martin Luther King’s Vietnam speech, for the books he authored, and causes he embraced. I remember him for his kindness, his laughter, and the lesson he gave me long ago which I use in nearly every class I teach. It is an exercises in remembering the stories of the women in our families, the ones whose stories get forgotten until they are repeated and shared.
My heart goes out to his family and, who continue to inspire me, whose compassion, intelligence, and joy I treasure.
When I travel, the muse accompanies me, but she flies first class, while I fly coach. Meeting her then is a happy accident. I am in San Diego, to see old friends and attend the 2014 Ashtanga Confluence. My muse can do ashtanga, all of the series. I don’t want to be like my muse, but I would like her light to light my light. What I seek is a way to get a novel started from a mere twelve pages of notes that I plucked from nearly 150. I came to the confluence to maybe learn steadfastness and keep on trying.
David Swenson, one of the yoga teachers here, said that one doesn’t seek a guru per se, except to take an unlit candle to a cave, say, and if there is a fellow there with a lit candle, maybe he will let you light yours from his flame. My teacher, Richard Freeman, said the most interesting things happen in the interfacing of ideas, while at the same time, the spaces between words are the most interesting.
My next move. My next book. My next time on the mat.
Move: Not dire. Soon, something will materialize.
Book: Not dire. Not Dior. Not a Diorama. Just a novel, a simple 80,000 word something between hardcovers, extending the life of Meterling and company. I have to situate the book in a specific decade. I was in my twenties in the eighties. My characters are in their twenties in the nineties.