Soon after falling asleep last night I startled awake, realizing that I’d forgotten to turn down the damn thermostat. Last month’s gas bill had been a whopper; I could hear the rushing sound of the wall furnace and imagine PG&E snickering at me. Opening my eyes, I was momentarily confused to see shadows of branches on the ceiling, and then remembered that we weren’t home, we were in our tent at Salt Point State Park. This was my birthday present, the half-moon was shining like a moon-and-a-half, and the whooshing I was hearing was the sea. Ah.
What a day. We’d walked down to the rocks, the ones that look like rumpled tan sleeping bags, had a memorable chicken salad with chunks of orange and avocado, then walked some more. One year we’d gone far enough to find a huge crowd of seals and sea lions honking and whooping on the rocks, but that was in May. Too early this time; the only sounds were the waves and gulls.
Back at the campsite for the evening, we opened the bottle of Sicilian Nero d’Avola, which was satisfying when first opened but stunning when given a chance to breathe, and I heated the lamb shanks with gnocchi and shiitake I’d cooked the day before. CB had lighted the fire-pit, the moon was directly overhead, and the mood was beyond mellow.
After finishing the dessert tiramisu we snuggled and kissed by the fire until the embers were down to a safe level, then retired to the tent. Candles, grappa, ancient Armenian music, and our own ancient dance, richer with every passing year. Out of respect for the small children in the neighboring campsite, we did not whoop. Later, out of respect for the moon, we opened the tent and walked naked into her light, giving thanks for the blessing.
And then in the middle of the night, I heard the seals whooping. Happy birthday.
—From the Fool—
I was dreaming a lot last night, I guess because I ate an omelet and drank a beer. It was a hard day being a Fool because there were so many regular people being one. And things got pretty fierce in Dreamland.
It was a city like Santa Rosa but maybe in South Carolina or some place where you wouldn’t expect to find it. They had a big political fight going on. About transportation.
Some people wanted to do more public transportation, like more buses, maybe. But the Mayor said it would wreck the city. People had cars, he said, so why give a ride to people who didn’t?
Problem was that lotsa lower-class people took the bus. “If they go anywhere they want,” said the Mayor, “they’re probably going to rob and rape and shoot their boss, so better they stay at home.” But what if they shoot the mailman? “Shut down the post office,” he said.
Some lady said she had a car but the streets were so bad she didn’t want to fall in a pothole and die. And now with the Uber thing there weren’t any taxis and she was afraid just to get into some stranger’s car and get raped by a total stranger. “Then do it at home,” was the answer.
Pretty soon the whole debate came down to the issue being Transportation. Should you go somewhere or just stay where you are?
Some people said that Transportation was the American Way: go west, take a trip, hit the road, get outta Dodge, run for it. But others said it was Transportation opened the way to smelly immigrants and jailbreaks and escaping Reality. “Home is where the heart is,” they said, “so stay the fuck home.”
Things get fiercer in Dreamland every night.
Camping tonight on the coast at Salt Point, celebrating Elizabeth’s birthday. Good food, love, the ocean. And for me, a vacation—whether a day or a week—means a chance to work in a vastly different atmosphere. For writing, I can’t stay anchored very long in one spot: on a given day, I’ll do three or four rounds of Pickett’s Charge at the keyboard, interspersed by any frail excuse for interruption I can find. If I’m in a campground or a city or an airport, the exoticism of the surrounding allows a longer anchorage.
That may be changing a bit as the obligatory business stuff of the so-called artistic life lessens. There’s less to do with the promotion, the funding, the data management, the thousand technical issues of production; and so there are fewer excuses to draw me away from the jaws of creative work.
But it’s not easy to become acclimated to a lower anxiety level. There should be some term besides “retirement” for the condition of continuing full-time work without the grinding necessity of incessant scrambles to pay the bills. The needs and the money have come into healthy balance, and so we can afford to give KING LEAR sixteen months of preparation, then periodic performances that grow the piece without wearing us to the bone. We can afford to write this weekly blog (now in its third year) with no discernible objective whatever, other than bringing it into existence.
Indeed, it requires very careful fiscal management, which Elizabeth provides, and maniacal obsession, which I supply in abundance, and the skills of creative collaboration that have been our teeter-totter specialty for 55 years. There are many things I’d like to do, laurels I’d like to win, immortality I’d like to achieve that I almost certainly never will. But I’m savoring the moments of work, the moments of silent meandering, the moments of intense delight. My life now is comprised of moments, but they add up to something beyond my imagining.
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© Bishop & Fuller 2016