Let There be Light

February 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

readinginbed.2

“Have you started dinner yet?”
“No, I’m reading your blog.”
“Okay, that excuse works.”

Nothing like describing how you’re enjoying making dinner to kill the pleasure in making dinner. But it’s his turn anyway, though I still feel guilty whenever he cooks. I grew up with my mother in the kitchen and I don’t find this oppressive the way I do having men think women are stupid or weak or Satan’s tool (a porno flick even Dante would love).

What I love is that it’s growing lighter. I feel like I’m coming out of a strange prison: not only January but a sleep/wake cycle that had me in bed until noon, awake until 4 am. Hardly any light at all. I felt like I was crawling through a tunnel. Now I’m getting up earlier and the sun is lingering into the cocktail hour, not that I have cocktails at this hour, but I love that phrase for some reason. Maybe because I associate it with sunset at Lake Winnepesaukee (1965-1970) and with that moment when all over the city lamps are turned on and the windows glow.

I’m not getting much writing done, but have a few editing jobs and possibilities, and am making jewelry. Venetian glass, pearl, fire agate, lapis, coral, lava rock, rose quartz, crystal. I’m not quite ready enough for serious creativity—all those blasts of emotion and desire. Writing novels is sexy work, whether you’re writing about sex or not, and its scary. I’ve never been fond of fear, but at least when I was younger I could feel its connection to excitement and the unknown. Now it just feels nasty, like discovering a nest of scorpions in your chest cavity. Remember the last time that happened to you? You had to put the wire down your throat and turn on the electricity, then deal with the biting and burning and the godawful stink…

I told a client the other day that when you’re blocked it’s good to write scenes because the action takes over and you think less. I get the same result from writing this blog. I suppose the action is the back and forth of remembering and forgetting the reader—which, in some ways, is even sexier than fiction, but not as s&m. No, that’s not quite right…a blog is a flirtation; a novel is adolescence, prostitution, marriage, divorce, the grand passion that wrecks your life.

I’d rather feed the scorpions.

Over dinner, which we share with the cats (and Fitzroy eats more of what I cook than my stepchildren ever did) we talk about moving to Panama, Costa Rica, Ecuador—the scattered, low-rent Florida of the baby boomers. I’m addicted to the pictures: roomy homes with terraces or balconies, gardens, views of the mountains. But New Yorkers relocating is always dangerous, even for the sleepy and most agreeable among us. The rest of the world’s a vacation, or a backdrop for reality TV shows.

In Antigua

“In Antigua I am famous. I am bathed in jasmine 
and pressed with warm stones.”
—Carnival Cruise ad in the New Yorker

In Albuquerque, on the other hand, I am infamous; children 
throw stones and the elderly whisper behind their hands. 
In Juneau, I am glacial, a cool blue where anyone can bathe 
for a price. In Rio I am neither exalted nor defamed; I walk 
the streets and nothing makes sense, voices garbled, something 
about electricity, something about peonies and cheap wool.

In Prague I am as fabulous as Napoleon and everyone 
knows it. They give me a horse and I tell them this horse 
will be buried with me, I tell them I will call the horse either 
Andromeda or Murphy and all applaud wildly. In Montreal 
I am paler than I am in Toronto. In Istanbul I trip over cracks 
in the sidewalk and no one rushes to take my elbow, to say 
Miss or brew strong tea for a poultice. In Sydney they talk 
about my arrival for days. I sit outside the opera house 
waiting for miracles, and when none occur in a fortnight

it’s Ecuador, where the old gods include the small scythes 
of my fingernails in their rituals and I learn that anything 
can ferment, given opportunity, given terra cotta. In Paris 
I’m up all night. Off the Gold Coast, I marry a reverend 
who swears that pelicans are god’s birds and numbers them 
fervently, meanwhile whistling. Near Bucharest I go all 
invisible, also clammy, also way more earnest than I ever was 
in Memphis. For three Sundays I wander skinny side streets
 saying amphora, amphora.

–Kerri Webster

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