I felt it the other day; summer turning its cheek. The afternoon was bright and warm, I was standing on Lakeshore, and the light was different. More golden, swifter to darken. Last night we went walking in the hills as the full moon rose. We walked back in moonlight, stumbling sometimes over rocks and roots. An adventure.
Where is summer going? It slipped away from us while we were painting and scraping and arguing and loving and making phone calls and making dinner and watching movies, and…
I get caught in expecting great things of summer (actually, I get caught in expecting great things of everything, but that's another story.) I expect renewal, change, inner and outer. I expect huge fun, big adventures, peak experiences. I remember summers past--hitchhiking across Canada, trekking through France--and want that again.
Today the fog is blowing in and out. There’s a mess of windfall peaches on the ground and I’m going to gather them and make peach pie to bribe G to let me watch Olympian gymnastics on his hi-def TV, and I’ll make peach sauce to serve with latkes at Chanukah.
Summer has gone by so fast! And I did not complete the first draft of the musical, did not become a buff 148 pound mile-swimmer, did not get an agent or do a vision quest or even plan my fiftieth birthday party.
I did write an unexpected show for Elizabeth Mendana (go to www.mendana.org to find out about it; it will run September 5, 6, 12 and 13 at St. Gregory of Nyssa Church, 500 DeHaro St., SF.) I did revise Shame Circus for the umpteenth time and sent it out. I did spend quality time with my Little Sister.
I’m about a third of the way through a long essay about Carla, which I’ll send to the NY Times Magazine when I’m done. I’m working very carefully on it, combing over each sentence, excerpting pieces of her songs, her blog, and her show to interleave with the story. I want it to be exquisitely structured, really worthy. And: I want The Times to take it. If they don’t, I’ll send it somewhere else.
And I started another essay, about working on the house with C, that I could send to Modern Love when I’m done, except I’m afraid the editor might think it cliched. Couples working together to rehab their house, ho hum—I’m sure it’s been done (though not by me.)
I have a poem in the latest Syracuse Cultural Workers Women Artists Datebook, and six poems of mine are finalists in a contest. Another poem, Ode to Vegas, is going to be published in an anthology called “101 Odes.” So many of the poems in See How We Almost Fly have been published, accepted for publication, won prizes, or been runners-up for prizes, I know the work is strong. It’s just taking forever to get the manuscript as a whole accepted somewhere.
Wednesday night, C and I went over to dinner at Carla’s. Gerry joined us and we had a great time, sitting around eating salmon and watermelon, talking, laughing, listening to music. It was blessedly normal, amid all the weirdness of ALS and the state of the world. Then we all went out to The Albatross, a local pub which serves grown-ups, not just college kids, and continued to have a lovely time.
We asked each other the question, “Who would you like to have dinner with?” assuming someone famous and probably dead. Carla picked mostly singers. She named Billie Holliday, and some other musicians, Lou Gehrig (alright, he was not a singer but a ball player.) Gerry said Martin Luther King, Jackie Robinson, and maybe Frederick Douglass or Paul Robeson. C wanted to have dinner with inventors. Thomas Edison, and Ray Kurzweil, and Oscar Peterson. (“But really,” he says, “I’d trade any of them to have dinner with my Dad. To get him in an unguarded moment, to ask him about what being a Dad meant to him, how it changed his life…”)
I said Tony Kushner, Suzan-Lori Parks and Jane Addams, the first social worker. On reflection, I’d like to add Chekhov to that list, and Shakespeare of course. But really, I told C later, the best dinner companions I can imagine are Carla Zilbersmith, Christopher Bates, and Gerry Thrash. This is it, we are it, right here and now. Someday we will look back and realize this was the time of our lives.