Two worlds in opposition: nature and neurosis. The external world, the salon, the garden, the mirrors, and the reflections of them in the mirror. The sense of unreality in the neurotic comes when he is looking at the reflections of his life, when he is not at one with it.
Anais Nin-Volume Four 1944-1947
The throw of the dice this week falls on adventures in reflection. The morning began with an ardent rose pink sunrise, threaded into a pale solemn blue sky, (even the sky has emotions) and a Chaplin breakfast, as I dutifully spooned coffee into the filter, closed it shut, pressed start, and returned to find the pot in the sink, and coffee splashed everywhere. As the first attempt to write since the Dragon series, I am unwinding with you, not at you, because you’re all closer to me than you think.
I begin late on Friday, looking out to Palace Avenue, half- lit with descending sunlight, the other bathed in asphalt gray, the solid remains of Tuesday’s snowfall. It is the hour before gallery openings, and free food at the Museum Christmas party, and the first Marcy Street Art Walk, and a wedding at La Posada. The city is drowsily, awaiting Christmas festivities, redeemed coupons at Albertsons, invitations to parties, unwanted and wanted guests from back home, the end of the year profits, what there are of them, and the ringing of the Church Bells on Christmas Eve at the St Francis Church.
My bedroom window is sketched with a cloudless blurry blue sky, and a pine tree, that drops buckets of needles onto my driveway. I am zipped into my down jacket and still have my boots on from a short walk, up Palace and down Alameda, passing by withdrawn sour tails, who looked as downtrodden as me. The artist can tolerate solitude, it is a skill we must learn, and I was born with it. That is both a blessing and a bummer, because when the party is over, I do not seek companionship, I hide.
It was a month ago, just after reading an email from Rudy, where, in paraphrase, he demanded I move out, and not ever write him again, that I got this idea. John and I were in the kitchen, beginning or ending dinner, and I felt pressed to seek escape, ‘I’m going to live on Amtrak!’ The idea blossomed over some cabernet, and we lingered there in the kitchen, while I cooked up this idea, of riding Amtrak across America, while writing about subjects I choose from a long list, and develop it into a documentary, and a book. “You’re thinking too small. You get the History Channel or the Travel Channel to finance it. You could ride all over; assuming you could live in one of those rooms,” John said. “Of course I can. I lived in 99 square feet for a year and half, with ……what’s his name. ”
Then, in the blinding morning light of reality, I realized how much effort it would take to launch, and live this idea that was born in the kitchen over a bottle of cab. We spent the day researching and looking at the bedroom suites on Amtrak. I went to sleep imagining myself on the train, and the inherent comedy that would roll out, from living in a room the size of shoe box. I watched movies about trains, and started reading Paul Theroux, The Old Patagonian Express.
There I am on Amtrak, with a laptop and a recorder, strolling through the isles, interviewing people, and then I’m in some unfamiliar city, and hopping from one place to another, and writing in cafes and adventuring. The illusion became real, like a dream that represents reality. I do see myself on such an adventure. This is what I consumed, day and night, to cross over from the Dragon, to the mouth of recovery. My life as I knew it has been dismantled, in the way the stage is after the play has finished its run. My run with Rudy ended, and so I must sculpt new routines, learn how to do the things he used to do, avoid reading his retired loving emails, make decisions without his opinion, blink twice when I look at the furnishings, gifts, and Southern comfort that erupt into a vivid memory.
After John left; the stage was mine to decorate so that every object and corner would ooze with a stroke of serenity that my inner wrath needed. I filled the candy dishes with chocolate, and the vase with poppies and lilies, lit aromatic candles that promise to smell like the French countryside, light a fire, and keep the Christmas lights burning all day. These pacifiers have proven to lighten the burden of a malfunctioning life, but they do not sedate my wrath. The Dragon, as I refer to the Bird, has marched into my soul, and is scratching at the core of my goodness. When we are tested for resilience and self examination, then we get know who we are. I don’t like who I’ve become; she is as discontented and repellant as a young woman on the verge of puberty.
My reference is the last two years, with John and, our blossoming patch of love, that drew out the most luscious and talented gifts I possess. He has remained in the corner, my trainer, wiping the sweat and blood from my face, urging me to stand up, to fight, to dream, to rewrite the ending. But the Dragons fire lit a flame of destruction that gives rise to wasteful protests, that if one of our beams fall, our foundation cracks. The final admission howls; how can a best friend turn into an enemy. I hear the chorus; ‘it happens everyday, it’s common, that’s why we have divorce,’ and so on.
As the moon fades into a rising Sunday morning, I am perched in between, clinging to the wisdom of my posse, whom I call on for solace, for answers, for encouragement,and you readers, who keep me adventuring in writing.