Tuesday, November 23, 2004

It's taken two whole days ...

to finally let go of a dream weekend on the north coast. As promised, there were stars (living in the city I'd almost forgotten about them except on NOVA, maybe), gnarled cypresses, a single exotic bird resting for a full five minutes on the roof edge as if posing for me; at least one glorious sunset, small cafes, galleries, bookstores to crawl around in, white caps crashing against harbor seal-bearing rocks; the works. A time to cherish and to feel whole without the constant awareness of those tiny hairline fractures in my psyche ... unnoticed or ignored ... but gathering silently waiting for release into either ecstacy or pain ... .

Then the Sunday drive toward home through the filtering sunlight in deep redwood forests for endless miles -- speeding past vinyards dressed for autumn and brightening the Anderson Valley in that burst of maroons and golds and oranges and scarlets that appears just before the dormancy descends with the first frost of winter and the vines take on the skeletal beauty of dark wiry woody twists like endless acres of free-form pre-basketry ... and apparent death.

All that -- most of which I'd forgotten or ignored in the daily busyness of life in a troubled city.

Stopped along the two-lane country road long enough to absorb enough to commit the pastoral beauty to memory as insurance against Monday morning's headlines and the shouts from the world's wars and mounting body counts and the arms race, and ... and I wanted to turn around and drive back to a place where all that seemed far away and manageable ... to the place where at least some personal answers had been found by some and where all else could be held off with hope; a disconnected reality providing sanctuary in the moment if not in the days or weeks or years.

Dorian had done well on her own. After many years of living independently the return to live with me has taken its toll. Try as I might, I'm sure that I slipped seamlessly into the mother role to her "child" and have caused some regression for which I'm sorry but am helpless to control. We invited Chris, a longtime friend from Clausen House (program for the developmentally disabled) to stay overnight, and the two of them had the apartment to themselves. The Mall is a short distance away so there was plenty to keep them busy. She had a chance to enjoy being the "single head of household" for a weekend, and rose to the challenge admirably. And, except for a single telephone call home, so did her Mom. We're connected now by the magical umbilical cord of cell phones.

Yesterday it was back to meetings and commitments and plans for one more exciting project involving the Centennial. We met aboard the SS Red Oak Victory -- the Kaiser ship donated to the city by the Navy four years ago and that is now being lovingly restored by some of the men who built her or ships like her during the frantic arms race of WWII. Absently looking up in the rigging at the huge booms that will play a part in our project, I was reminded of how much we continue to be defined by the wars of our times, and about the human tragedy we've been forced to live that now is best-defined by ambition for power more than by defense of a nation. I tried to recall just why we're fighting and killing in Iraq and couldn't find an acceptable answer within.

At one point I looked out at the incredible blue of the water of the bay and let myself think of the last time I'd stood here. It was from this deck of the Red Oak that -- only a few short years ago -- I'd gathered into my hands the remains of my son, Rick, and together with one-blood-red-rose-at-a-time -- cast his ashes into the wind and onto the waves below. Rick, had lost his private war to his demons long before. The year before he and I with our small family had scattered the ashes of his long time lover, Gordon, from this same ship. Time has softened those memories and -- except for an occasional reminder (like now) -- I've released them both to eternity.

I turned back to the small group of five women sitting in white plastic molded chairs busily planning our project -- let my mind return to Mendocino --to my dear friend -- and to the eternal and ever-changing endless ocean and felt the echoes of the tranquility of that moment on his deck -- binoculars in hand, and, the most important single thing in the entire world -- a magnificent red-white-and-black visiting migrator taking up my entire being and crowding out a world at war, and the excruciating pain of the loss of a son. That exquisite creature of nature symbolized for me the mind's power to create its own reality.

One day soon I'm going back to that place to re-create that reality.

I suppose that's really the only meaningful antidote to the madness that threatens all of existence in our time.

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