Let There be Light
February 4, 2013 § Leave a comment
“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 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.