Reverence

I have this fear that, waiting so long to write you, I open up a space between us.

And I worry that each day of silence grows it, makes it harder to stitch up. But I’m suspicious of talk, of apology–it only puts more of the ordinary between us–and anyway what we have here calls for a different kind of devotion. Let me only say, then, that when I wrote you last, I was, maybe we were, living under different weather.

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Roasted Artichokes, Guacamole

There is a book I love, “On Being Blue,” and it begins with a list.

“Blue pencils, blue noses, blue movies, laws, blue legs and stockings… the rare blue dahlia like that blue moon shrewd things happen only once in.”

We may be surprised to find that the book is not about sadness, except in the way that all art circles back to sadness, which is the being it’s born of. In the end blue is about desire, but desire on the page, the stringing together of words, the, forgive me, the love of language.

So we get underway with today’s list, our string of green things: green apples, greenbacks, green beans; the green of the party, of the river, of the day, of wanness and bruising and the first breath of spring.

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A Question

Then there’s this pressing question about the things we look to to get us through our days.

As if days, weeks, months, years are only things to weather—to hunker down and power through—the uncharactered middle lengths of a road trip. In February I live by false peaks, and it ticks by fast, danced forward by its quiet drumbeat of minor celebrations. But now the Valentine flowers are dying. The office holiday Monday flickered away with the insouciance of a flaking dinner guest. We barely noticed the passage of the Lunar New Year; our city was buried, my family lived in a different world. And yesterday a birthday came and went, the saddest celebration of all, hungry as birthdays are, bloated as they are with exaggerated significance.

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Living Alone (or, Egg in a Basket)

Living alone has its advantages.

At dusk on Sundays I turn on a string of lanterned Christmas lights. During the week I work as hard as I’ve ever worked. Twice a day I ride the train, alone but not. Twice a day we’re all pressed together like swaying sardines in suits, and sometimes I look at the others, and sometimes I don’t. And sometimes I think, here we are, little fish, flying through this city in a train on stilts, and then I find it impossible not to laugh.

My thoughts have been running this way often. Here we are. Here I am. When you live alone it’s easier to recognize a life as your own, to locate your life in the noise of other lives.

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Heart

What you’re seeing here are stills from video I shot while driving cross-country with my mother.

There were things that didn’t make it onto the camera roll. There were 21st century teepees with signs that read Jeronimo! and signs that read Authentic!!! Indian Crafts. We passed many signs promising many differently punctuated authenticities. We passed signs for “Palin for America” and other signs for things “for America.” We were driving through Arizona the day the congresswoman, the judge, and the little girl were shot in Tuscon, and knowing this colored everything. We listened to talk radio. We felt appalled.

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A Destination

“Perhaps the hardest thing about losing a lover is to watch the year repeat its days.”

That’s Anne Carson on loss. A quote for the first days of the new year. And if that quotation does not sing to you the kind of swaggering, obvious, the-past-is-the-past, dead, caput; the-future-is-now New Years zeitgeist we’ve all loved and trusted and grown bored with, or worse, wise to, well, you’re welcome.

“I can feel that other day running underneath this one like an old videotape.” My mother has been running through the tapes. Last year she lost a great love, the great love, her mother. There we were in January a year ago. Here we were. “On the 2nd you took a red eye to Chicago. The next day we took her to the hospital.” The year after is the freshest. Next year, we’ll say two Januaries ago, and we’ll feel emptier about it, somehow, maybe. The tape will play in fading colors. But still it will play, on and on.

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Grand Marnier Truffles, Orangettes

Today, truffles. This wasn’t the plan.

The plan was to take a drive, to visit my grandmother’s grave. But it’s been raining in Los Angeles, and last night at my aunt’s house we put our plans on hold. You see Grandma’s spot is on a hill, and my mother and her sister had some concerns, something to do with tumbling down a muddy slope.

“We could always sled down, whee,” I said, and my aunt laughed before she stopped abruptly, like she remembered something, because she had: her poodle had just eaten eight pretty sizable chocolate truffles, and that is serious business, doggy-death business, and she was feeling sad, sad as a peeled orange, and that meant she wasn’t allowed to laugh.

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