Saturday, January 14, 2017

Good Timing (January 14, 2017)

I have such a love-hate relationship with Facebook. It inspires such envy in me when I'm at my worst, or most tender. And it can remind me of the good in people. I do like the little reminders it sends us of where we were last year on this date, or 2 years ago, or 3. Today, January 14, I got a reminder from January 14, 2014.  Here's what I wrote:

I'm not even sure where we are exactly but we are within a short walk of the sea and near The Hague and we are in the most incredible seaside hotel. The day spits grey mist. I took a late-afternoon walk through the dunes, mostly heathered shades of green and brown brush, yellow-red berries the only color dotting the day. The sea opened up before me, after a promenade of little closed stands promising ice cream and pizza to summer children, boarded up by the dunes' end. The sea, the open sea, calm, like Lake Michigan in late winter. Too far north to feel like ocean to me. I walked for hours it seemed, got lost in the sand and then the forest. Finally found my way back to the 3rd floor room with a view of the dunes and a large bathtub. The only thing I hear is a hum of the old heaters, a seagull squawk like a cuckoo clock, and the wind against the old paned windows.

The writer in me is so grateful for this post. "the day spits grey mist". I can use that. 'heathered shades of green and brown brush" and now I remember that walk exactly, as if I'm there, on those trails next to the foreign northern sea.  I remember that hotel room. I don't remember the tour at all, nor the show that night, but I remember that walk, those dunes, that sea opening up to me. 

The sky right now is brown-grey, if there is such a thing.  4:30pm in January and the sun will start setting if it not already on the descent. It is spitting rain all day, a mist hangs over East Nashville. It is neither warm nor cold. Damp. Chilly. Warm tub kind of weather and we have no plans tonight. Jamey lays on the couch watching football. I have headphones on listening to Debussey while I write.  And as I write, sentences spill out of me like the rain, no direction, stray clouds.  A metal sign hangs off my shelves next to my desk. It says "Breathe". I bought it in Woodstock, NY the year I lived in a small shack in Shandaken in the Catskills in the shadow of Hunter Mountain.  The shack was damp and had a sharp tangy scent, a biting cold undertone that could have been mold.  It was owned by Johanna Pleasant. I spoke to her maybe four times that year I ran away.  She was in her late 70's. A gravel-voiced woman always in a terry cloth house robe and slippers or fur lined boots, depending on the season, a cigarette dangling from her well-lined lips.  Her voice was as New York as Fran Drescher's "Nanny", a gnawing thing.  She lived in the house at the bottom of the hill, overstacked piles of newspapers and magazines lined the hallway walls, various rusting gardening tools lay strewn about her front yard. My shack was at the top of the hill, "Pleasant Way".  I rented it for $500 a month. It included wifi. There was no phone. No TV. Cell phones didn't work there. The only heat was a small cast-iron wood oven and I had to chop the wood myself. I had forgotten all the details of this place.

A few days ago I became obsessed with remembering.  It bothered me that I couldn't remember when THIS event or THAT. Not the year. Not how old I was. I had to find out. So that adventure took me to our attic, to boxes of journals, and I spent the day reading through 15 years of journals, making a timeline on our chalk-board wall in our writing office. It started at 1994 and went to 2009, when I moved to Nashville. 

I don't recommend this activity for anyone who is not in therapy or recovery and even then, I might suggest you don't do it.

Pages and pages of the same old complaint, the same story, same chaos, different characters. It was like I was starring in the same movie each year with different actors in different towns that had a different name, but it was the same plot and I had the same lines. It was fascinating. And then I began to see where the script changed and HOW it changed and when I had written down on this time line every person, every lover, every chaos, every move, the years, the dates, the seasons, I stood back, looked at it.....

....and laughed.

Yep, I laughed. I didn't cry. 

A few years ago I would have cried. A few years before that I might have cried AND gotten drunk AND contemplated a high dive off a bridge.

But last week I laughed. I remember where I was on that timeline when I met Johanna Pleasant and rented out her house. I also remember just a few years back getting a note from her daughter letting me know that her mother had died of lung cancer.  I wrote "The Killer In Me" during a blizzard there. My friend Abbie lived there when she ran away from her life.  It was a good place to hide, deep in those hemlock woods.

It was October through May 2007. I now know this and that means something to me. It means that I was moving through to somewhere, although I didn't know I was.  

So, today, looking at the Facebook reminder is nice. I once took a walk along the sea in The Hague on a  cold, damp January afternoon.  That was the most memorable, enjoyable thing about that day, two years ago.  Today I sit in my writing room, the wall above me is a collage of framed photos and pictures, my mother in her wedding gown, my grandmother in her nurse's uniform, a baby photo of my sister and me, a photo of the canyons near Lyons, Colorado given to me by Kathy Hussey one year at Rocky Mountain Folks Festival, a piece of art Kira gave me that says

when she finally remembered
what she was
she laughed;
it had taken
so long to get here,
yet she had arrived at
the perfect time.

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