Last week I had the book-writing equivalent of a healing crisis, an occupational hazard when you’re writing about your childhood, maybe. Essentially I wrote my way into some unhappy revelations, then got so sick and unmoored that I dipped back into a romance that was a dangerous dissociation the first time around. It was a total “what’s it all about, Alfie” moment, no doubt triggered in part by the fact that I was actually getting somewhere. The only way I could coax myself into working again was to write some present-set essays, two of which I’ve shared here. But I must honor this memoir that’s been roiling in me for years, especially as I’ve removed myself from the flow of my regular life to so so. Far from here old white men are choking us on what’s left of their power, and the country is on holiday for what rightly would be a genocide remembrance day. Right around me, soft rain is falling, and the woods are hushed by the downpour. Grace, who never approves of my slacking off, is pacing like a schoolmarm who doesn’t know what else can be done with her unruly subject. I flash again on that Beckett phrase, “I can’t go on, I’ll go on,” and write to you.
I once dated a man whose mother I loved. I loved the man, too, but our relationship came to an end simply because not all romances are meant to last eternal. When it did, I wrote this woman a letter expressing regret that I would not become her daughter. She wrote me back something I never forgot. “The woods are my church,” she said. “When I walk in them, I say prayers for all my babies, and this includes you.” As I’ve walked through the woods of the Outer Cape this last month, I’ve often thought of her kind words. Love doesn’t end; it just changes form. Nature teaches us this every day.
Friends from Boston sometimes visit me in my hermitage, as Beztie calls it. Rachel made time between a trip to Ireland and adopting two Corgi puppies to spend a Sunday with Grace and me. We had a very Lisa and Rachel visit, which is to say we bought everything but the wallhangings at a French bakery, feasted beneath a lady-like umbrella, and made wishes at a bay beach. Like a good fairy godmother, she brought the big cup and the bigger sweater I’d been craving, and we skipped our grown-up plans in Provincetown to tell each other secrets not suitable for Facetime. My overfamiliar presided over us on the screened-in porch.
Melina, the friend with whom I’ve adventuressed since the late 1970s, took a ferry over and we visited that bay beach, too. As the sun set, we slipped out of our sand-filled suits and into the still water, sleek as sea lions. It was my first time skinny-dipping in decades, and the ladies enjoying their wine on the sand were horrified. The purification was necessary after our Ballston Beach escapade, though. Continue Reading →