I had such a lovely break from the city–sunrises by the sea, swanning on tree-laced hammocks, cartwheeling in big fields–and such a bumpy reentry. On the drive back a glass-encased candle–an uncrossing candle, no less–exploded in my car, my phone abruptly went dead and still is not fixed as I type this, and so many serious accidents took place on the highways that the normally 3.5-hour trip took 7 hours. It’s not just that my nerves were shot; it’s that I could feel everyone else’s were shot, too. Finally somewhere in Connecticut I broke down in tears–the messy kind, not the pretty kind– and had to pull to the side of the road. Aloud I said: “Okay, higher spirit. You’ve secured my attention. What do you want me to know?” In response I could not just hear but see the Rilke quote: You must change your life. And here I’d thought I already had, though I guess thus far said change has been inflicted rather than invited.
I know some of what I need to do but if the rest were obvious or easy, I’d have done it long ago. This is, after all, the human experience: We learn by expanding our horizons, by stepping out of our comfort zones, in this case literally. Living so isolated from nature drains me to a degree I only acknowledge on the rare occasions I’m by the ocean or beneath a tree by myself. Yet the craving for unadulterated fields, for the noisiness of birds and wind and crickets, pulses beneath all the decoration of my New York life no matter how I try to drown it out, and it grows stronger in the shadow of dystopia. Even as I zoomed back to the city I no longer love monogamously I still heard the heartsong I breathed in that big air, and how to return to All That now looms as my biggest question though others should take precedence. Being middle-aged, it turns out, teaches us to heed older rhythms and wiser notes than what our tiny brains can measure.
Grace is glad I’m back, anyway. My friend takes my absence so seriously that I could hear her weeping as I climbed the stairs to my apartment. Witches and their familiars should never be parted.
Today we taped our last episode of Talking Pictures at NY1. When I was a kid, I watched Siskel and Ebert obsessively, and my big dream was to review films on air with two older grumps. Boy, did I get my wish–and I loved every minute of it. I loved working with my big brothers Neil Rosen and Bill McCuddy even when we fought. I loved the immersion therapy of seeing so many films each week. I loved introducing gems and clunkers to our surprisingly passionate viewers. I loved flirting debating with such rotating guests as Michael Sargent, Jack Rico, and Rafer Guzman. And I loved living out the dream of an 8-year-old Boston girl. To everyone who watched the show, stay in touch. I loved connecting with you guys most of all.
Spotted this morning in Tompkins Square Park: three (3) men puffing on cigars (are they back? oy vey); one (1) woman tenderly trilling an aria to her poodle as the two trotted along; two (2) drunk homeless dudes telling each other super dirty jokes via Burt and Ernie puppets (a la “Beaver”); and two (2) overly coiffed girls decked out in pink pearly Lycra and pink pearly makeup. “God, I would NEVER live in New York,” sniffed one of them. ” Honey, we would never have you,” I said. “THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID,” bellowed one of the Muppeteers. Everyone but the pink girls burst out laughing.