- The exhilaration and expectations of stepping out of one grid, of eighty thousand people in Santa Fe, NM to one million people in Los Angeles is something I didn’t really think out, it was more like, I’m going home, to Tara.
Santa Fe slow as a rippling stream manifests when I’m at a yellow light, and I think the driver behind me is going to have a heart attack if he doesn’t get through before it turns red. How serious, overly stimulated, exhausted and determined the Angels of Angeles evolved. Either you are so rich you don’t have time to say hello, or you are struggling with loneliness and can’t wait to say hello. When I lived here in the eighties and early nineties, the vibe felt in social arenas; Hollywood, technology, the arts, and real estate were promising ventures of investment. People in the know were opening shops in ungentrified neighborhoods, warehouse space was scraping the horizon downtown, real estate was affordable, and technology wasn’t the flag we saluted, it was more like we’re in real time paradise.
Century City, very close to my front door, is a memory. My father lived on Century Park East in the last few years of his life. He didn’t like it because it was all concrete, newly built, it didn’t have a history. Now when I drive into the satellite of HIGH RISES, mall music, billboards, shops, and cafes, I know what he means. It is changed, rushing executives, employees, shoppers, a pace that makes one slower feel extradited.
Then the parking, you will need a ticket to park, a parking pass, or you will have to circle the block four times before you find a parking space. The line outside the restaurant is too long, or not long enough, the business of dining here is a mouthful of expectation. The business owner of a shop sells me what I did not come in to buy, and the sales pitch is like a Hollywood script, and I’ don’t know the language. The wait for the Doctor is two months, and that’s if he takes your insurance, which I found out in California has very few Medicare physicians. If someone does speak to you, you can’t hear them because there is so much construction noise, pulsating bass music in surround sound, you find yourself shouting.
Flip the coin. The day after I landed a woman walked up to me and said, ” Oh, you just moved in, I’m Barbara, I’m at 1203 welcome to the neighborhood.”
We walked together with her little Boo dog. She asked questions, and I answered because she was that kind of person you want to talk to, she soothes, applauds, and comforts all in tune with your admissions. The next few days as I awaited my furniture, she glided by, and we continued our life stories, some from the past, some of the moment. My first friend materialized, like a new moon in a new city.
IN LA, because of the immeasurable density, people are always close by, not a foot between us. It’s the life here, it’s not the LA I remember, but it is home. So, like family, I am learning to accept and stay individual.
I feel like a butterfly wing, trying to fly without my twin. Hang on, we have to fly solo. The world feels harsher, the obstacles immense, one wing is better than none.
One winged flight with breath of fright, just a step I have to take to the next destination.
In a week of famous iconic people who’ve committed suicide, my heart breaks and my mind asks, why is everyone shocked? Chronic depression, anxiety, and loss of a life view are not particularly inviting topics of conversation. I know, the last two years of my life these disturbing emotions tried to get a noose around my neck… NO WAY. Enemies cannot win, whether they are in your head your heart or at your doorstep.
The answer is to get involved in someone’s mental decay, agony, and hopelessness is a risk most people are not willing to take. I suggest the simplest of remedies; accessibility by way of phone calls and drop-ins.
Suicides have increased thirty-percent since 1999 and according to Suicide Statistics one hundred and twenty-three each day.
Who do you know that needs attention?
Flushed from frolicking in Taos, with a man I’ve just met. He’s salt of the earth, strapped with degrees, awards, and maverick adventures as a wrestler, a horseman, ski instructor, rafting guide, and something else I can’t recall. An Irish and Scottish face, blue-black hair and unblinking blue eyes that have a life of their own. My smile returned, in response to his teasing, and playful sonnets on sex. We talked breathlessly, responding almost without thinking, the words hopscotched over our private, complicated, infuriating personal lives. His motives unclear, as are mine.
Doused in his manliness, aroused my womanliness until I returned to my bedroom, turned on the news and watched the report on the Texas Chapel massacre My heart descended, it felt like the climax of all the recent massacres exploding in that church. The clues are examined, the crime scene is sealed off, the investigation launched, but what are we really seeking? Some motive to reveal itself; gun control, mental illness, terrorism, political attack, family revenge? Once discovered then the news fades into another catastrophe. What can we do? What is happening to young men who have been expelled from society, taken to violence, and are willing to die.
Facebook offers a donate application. Click on that and key in Texas or Houston. I chose Houston Food Bank. Red Cross and Salvation Army are available.
I’ve had bar chats with Sam; many Santa Fe locals claim friendship; he’s our Santa Fe Shepard for independent thinking, accessibility, dust-bowl prolific honesty and still a flush hand of rugged classic looks. The last time I saw him, he was sitting next to me at Geronimo, writing in his little notebook and eating steak. He put his fork down when I said ‘Hi Sam.’ He talked about his novel (Inside Man), his Kentucky ranch, and showed me his new cell phone. When he held it, it was like a man holding a gun for the first time. Nothing about him was robotic, on cue, or predictable. When he gave me his phone number and said ‘Call anytime,’ I resisted throwing myself into his arms; now I wish I had.
When Shepard & Dark opened in town for three days, I was out the door within hours. I figured the movie theater would be packed, so I brought earplugs. I take my films too seriously and refuse to be interrupted with slurping and munching. Into the first scene, my concentration was bulletproof; I would have protested if anyone said a word.
Beginning with the footage; incredible home-made movies and photographs of early Sam. You will see him as a youngster on the ranch where he is raised, and Sam leaving home as he kicked his way through puberty. Then we see that chiseled frame of masculine sensitivity as a young playwright in Greenwich Village where you meet Johnny Dark. The dialog between the two men and the dramatization of their adventures through home movies and collected letters they exchanged over a forty-year period broke my heart. I felt the pain inside of Sam as if we were best friends.
It is as honest and genuine a continuum of conversation between two men that I’ve ever witnessed. The subjects: their father’s, destiny, fate, women, writing, dogs, tragedy, and loss. It is a wrap of cinematography, humor, philosophy and a pool-of-tears-ending.
Yes, there is a dusting of emotions on Jessica Lange.
Several lines I recall, in particular, to paraphrase Sam:
We can change our lives, our work, our wardrobes, our women, but we never really change. Our essence remains constant. I’ve always felt outside the whole thing, sometimes more than others. As a writer, you have to be selfish with your time. I’m always moving, going on the road, I didn’t know that was how my life was going to turn out, but it did.
The answer is absent. It’s not in a book, a song, a friend or an attorney. It’s not online, offline or any other line. Abstract, out of my reasoning skills. Where is it? Come to me in my time of need.