You get to the end of the week. Jazz night is busy again, a full house. Friendly second-date couple hangs out as I clean up. A good week for business.
The Tour is racing through the hills of Beaujolais, up the Cotes de Brouilly, through the town of Morgon. Very much like the countryside of the Mohawk Valley farmland. Fertile, green, the sun golden on the valley. The hot tar has arisen to the top of the roads and sealed them smooth. Grass and hewn wooden fence posts. I allow some of my jadedness to depart. I see beyond the commercials to the weather and the move across the earth, the side of an interesting roadside farmhouse structure. A white horse saunters joyfully across a field, feeling the power of life within, able to rise herself, her back, her entire body with footed sensual ease as if her very hide was vibrating with light energy. She shakes her mane with a happy certain knowledge of everything and food. Less am I noticing the odd specifics of fit men in lycra on agile bicycles. I am encountering the deeper idyll of the land, the heady breathtaking feeling of soaring over sweeping land and lines of forest. A sun and foot-worn town around a castle. A sudden thick stand of pines near the top of a hill, a ridge of foothills, now shifting in perception from the green and tan brown of fields to an earthy blue, rising far behind, the floor of the valley unseen, almost unimaginable. "Like that nicer part of Route 81, in New York State, suddenly high above a valley low," my body proudly remembers, and I think of the sweet sadness I feel when leaving my mom and driving back, the long way back to this almost invisible life I have here, a road driven now many times as day and night flash by, adding growth rings to the tree. Barns and silo below, a river, a town with a church spire wishing to be a center of learning and culture but more forgotten into the everyday and auto parts than otherwise, and I'm on the road leaving it all, pressing forward to the city with vast expanses of commercial gloom, the difficult passage of Scranton and Wilkes Barre on the road ahead. What am I doing, leaving all this, leaving the valleys of Central New York? A writer is, perhaps, like Kerouac, a momma's boy, who idly watches idyllic clouds, not aggressive, not much a planner, not one to point to other people, "hey, you: Do this." Not one to drill for gas. More the spider's careful strand of web, what for but to catch the meaty fruitful energy of the divine emanating Big Bang sunlight, source of all things. To make some sense of things. I watch myself fumble away.
And a phone call finds that mom has visited someone, a former colleague from the university woman biologist with a garden of indigenous plants somewhere near Hannibal, New York, met there a man who is growing hops with organic intentions, as they do outside of Munnsville, the towns of Brother's Keeper where I used to bicycle in my own sun filled afternoons of youth, the road big and dropping off past farm protecting dogs with a mighty hairpin near the bottom and the stream, and also Waterville beneath the gentle bosom of Tassle Hill, the recognizable feature of the ridges toward the south from the open fields above our old house and then where Dad lived up past the college.
Nostalgia is understandable. With the insights time and age bring, you get the sense of how rapid the changes of everything within and without. The thoughts and emotions of the previous week no longer apply and I've burned through another week of work to find myself standing alone again though it offends me not to do so often enough. And now what. Changes. That Kundera's sense of the lightness of being, Matthiessen's The Snow Leopard's deep poetic sense of the uncomfortable embarrassment of finding yourself alive, as the sherpa stands around waiting for whatever it is to wait for. The Buddha's sense of everything burning, of no solid fixed self, the hardest of thoughts to really grasp... Is that contrary to womanhood, this suggestion that entirely shifts the importance of things that is itself deeply shocking and scary, making one wonder if he is some form of traitor... Nice to have a task like laundry to grasp and carry out physically in time, one foot in front of another. And hunger rises. Who am I, what am I doing, where am I, that sort of thing, as energy and the ability to do things seeps back into the body. Do I deserve anything, have I accomplished anything, what claims may I make. Does anyone have the right to talk to a person who has over time become the stranger she originally was... Why do we talk to anyone; what are our motives, particularly if we barely take care of important professional things ourselves?
A plane crash no one wants to think about. A different day in history, in the things that actually happen in the world.
And yet, by surviving another week, by putting the hours in, standing there, doing a reasonably good and efforted job, by thinking honestly, by working responsibly at what you do actually do in life as far as earning tasks and by being a reasonably good person with all whom you encounter, you somehow are indeed a better person, a continuity of an inner noble nature that is often quite confusing to bear. Still with health insurance but without retirement plan, yet with a reasonably good understanding of a healthy body and what to give it and how to care for it without completely dismissing it away.
And there is something within us, silent, that deserves tenderness and direct and giving affection and love, a spark, a glow deep within behind our eyeballs or breathing within along the spine that makes our belonging true and significant.
I am a writer, I suppose, even though I've never for a moment understood the job or why. The thought of making money at it, by now, would make me laugh.
Suddenly the Tour riders are on flat land, the approach of a town, the complications of its traffic, and then a little more farmland intercedes, woods coming down to meet the road before the final stretches to the finish line, a breeze gently sweeping through the trees that line the wide main road into St. Etienne.
Must one be stupid to find intelligent things to say; I wonder.
Outside there is no one on the street. The writer is a tiny percentage of another tiny percentage of humanity, and no wonder he feels like a freak, it might be perfectly natural. No hot dates tonight. I hope to walk in woods, meditate on the log that overlooks the stream, and I hope a bike ride too.