ADVENTURES IN LIVINGNENESS
“There is more enterprise in walking naked (in the Yeatsian sense) and being tough enough to survive such intensity of caring and such openness, between a driving need to share experience and the need for time to experience and that means solitude, a balance between the need to become oneself and to give of oneself…and of course they are closely related.” May Sarton.
The Journal of Solitude.
This book was one of the first of ten that injected my veins with the thirst to write. It was
1992, and while I scanned a bookshelf in Capistrano Beach, this book seemed to say, read me. Several months ago I ordered it online and began reading it after I wrote my segments on the Puzzle of Solitude. How curious that this is book I brought to read in Malibu; as I may teetering between this excerpt every moment of the day.
I landed on Pacific Coast Highway on the fourth of July and zipped up the curves of the road squinting to read the signs. This highway that was once my weekend adventure in a packed mustang filled with high school friends was now mine alone. Inhaling the salty sea breeze, and listening to Tom Petty sing, Free Fall, my heart opened to what I was about to experience. The doubt had vanished and as I crossed the lanes to turn up Encinal Canyon road, I broke out laughing.
Only a few days ago I was sobbing as my doubt and confidence were inflamed with childless fear. Just past Malibu colony the scenery seemed to sigh with relief from blaring radios in convertible Mercedes, motorcycles, and a river of beachcombers flip-flopping down to the shoreline. The terrain rises into a rugged enclave of sand crusted
boulders, as I passed the perfectly seamed and shaved lawn of Pepperdine College.
Chantal’s directions were exact as I pulled into the dirt and rock driveway and parked in front of the house. She has an alert buzzer on the gate so she was already on the flagstone steps when I got out of the car. Even before she welcomed me in words, a radiant warm aura illumined my response.
“You are LouLou, I am Chantal. Come, I will show you around.” Her effortless smile and fluid swaying hips led me through a garden of birds of paradise, palm trees, elm, succulents, pepper trees, cactus, and so many varieties of flowers that my first impression was already sealed, I was in Shangri-La.
“This is the main house, where you come and go as you please,” and then she continued through the open rooms sheltered in wood and glass into the living museum of the legacy of her deceased husband, Carl Gillberg: chest- high clay pots, bronze and cherry wood sculptures, masks, paintings, and photographs.
In the kitchen she announced, “Here, you see this shelf is for you, and here is your vegetable bin to put things, and you take what you want. Just because I bought it doesn’t mean you can’t take it. You see, we are very open and relaxed here. You just be at home; like it is your home.”
I followed her through a gate; to an open garden. Here is where we shower, you like it?” She looked into my eyes and her mouth widened with anticipatory pleasure. I glanced at the claw foot tub, expansive banana plant, and shower head.
“Does anyone else share the shower?
No no, just you and me. You close the curtain see?” and demonstrated the act.
“You will love it,” and as she parted the corrugated sliding door to my room and I looked inside, the chime of change rang.
“What is your nationality?” she asked placing her hands on her hips.
“Oooh la la; very strong.”
“I am French Haitian. I left Haiti when I was very young and went to France. I will tell you more. Now, where is your luggage?”
“I’ll get it.”
“You need some help eh?”
“No, I loaded it in so I can load it out”
Her cell phone rang. “ Oui, Cheri—it has been a long time since we talked. What has happened in your life?” Her fluid intoxicating French conversation sent me skipping off the flagstone steps to my car.
I was hopelessly impressed. The majestic mountains, slopping hillsides, and crusted canyons open to the faded-jean blue sea. The spring of joy rose like an orgasm as my eyes blinked with every turn of the head to capture another slice of the Santa Monica Mountains.
When I returned, she was preparing espresso?
“You like a cup of coffee?”
“I love it.”
“Good. We sit on the veranda and you tell me your story. You like my house LouLou?”
“ Chantal, this is Shangrai-la.”
She threw here head back and her birch brown curls took flight.
Over the next week my life was an interpretation of the beginning except from May Sarton. To be continued.