Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Sanctuary ...

Woke on Thursday morning with just a touch of vertigo -- shortness of breath -- and with a feeling of unease that persisted well into the day. My work was being effected by the pressure of suddenly becoming "visible" in new ways and at odd times.

Yesterday I'd fulfilled an obligation to a family member to be her guest at an event in Berkeley -- as one of three women being presented to an audience of about 100. I love Berkeley, and despite the fact that celebrity fatigue was becoming a problem, it felt right to allow others the chance to draw from this font of whatever-the hell-this-is -- as well. It seemed as if I owed something to those in whose estimation I'd justifiably acquired this new status -- and maybe it was pay off time.

It was a lovely party at the North Berkeley Senior Center -- a favorite gathering place -- but was stretched out over more hours than my stamina could handle. Arrived at the appointed hour of 1:15 with an ending time of 4:30. The time would be shared by a "Reading and Book Signing by the author, Jerri Lange;" "An Accomplished Jazz Pianist, Marysa Kenyatta;", and "Our National Guest of Honor, Betty Reid Soskin." Those words were followed by the increasingly mystifying "Cultural Anthropologist and Writer," that continue to give me a feeling of over-the-topness. After all, this blog is my only writing (except for work-related pieces), and I'm not too sure what a cultural anthropologist is.

Turned out to be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel's back, and I vowed on the drive home that day to flee the field and head for sanctuary. I would pack my overnighter and head for Mendocino early tomorrow. After all, Dorian is now fairly well-adjusted to living on her own again and David can be depended upon to monitor that part of my life. Mendocino is where I would be able to slow the world enough to climb off for at least a weekend and get myself back into my box without all the strings hanging outside blowing in the winds of confusion!

It was a strange drive. Unlike other times when I see the changes in weather patterns, wildflowers along the roadside, new growth of bright greens -- the various shades of new and old foliage, and the dramatic changing effects upon the landscape that form this beautiful drive north -- this time I'd find myself using the tripmeter to furiously push forward into the miles. I was measuring the 3-and-a-half hour drive into how many cd's it would take to get me there -- and as fast as I'd pass signage that indicated how far to the next town -- I'd set the tripmeter back to zero and chew up the miles as fast as my little red Beamer could do so. Caught myself careening around at 80 mph at times and had to consciously lighten my foot on the gas pedal each time the speedometer would climb as if on its own.

This trip that I usually enjoy so much had been reduced to little more than directional signs -- San Rafael, Novato, Petaluma, Santa Rosa, Windsor, Geyserville, Cloverdale, Philo, Booneville, Navarro -- and with a sudden exhale Route 128 gave way to the merge with Coast Highway #1 and it felt as if -- just as I did that final ascent to the top of the grade -- at the entrance to that scenic wonder where the Navarro River meets the ocean -- it was as if I'd experienced some kind of "pushing of an invisible re-set button, and perspective re-asserted itself with a vengeance! Everything began to fall into place again -- the seascape in its vastness exposed the fact that I'd been living in the foreground of my life over the past weeks and that this had narrowed my sense of both my self and the world.

Tonight I would see stars again in that immense universe; stars that are normally lost to me under too-bright urban skies. Today there would be the ocean crashing against the western wall of the continent -- my north Pacific Coastline! Mendocino is where I still experience all that, and where fear and trembling is diminished to its rightful place in the panoply of important and unimportant factors in my life. For the next 48 hours there would be no search helicopters circling menacingly overhead nor police sirens blaring nor gunshots in the night -- in a cacaphony of the sounds of city life that I've incorporated so totally that I'm only aware of them now in the stillness of this environment -- in this absence of 21st century street sounds that masquerades as peace.

... As does war in our time ... .

Photo: The view from his livingroom -- an 80-degree sweeping panorama of vast ocean interrupted by nothing unless one's eyes can reach to the shoreline of Japan ... .

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