Strangely, I am in Amsterdam. Strangely, because of all the places I have been in the course of many non-careers, this is the one where I feel most connected. Here is where I came mainly by accident, it being the place the plane went when I left Scotland, where I had been visiting Rosie, my friend from Quaker Meeting in Paris, whose life changed when she counseled criminals and ran off with one of them, leaving her husband, the head of a department at the University of Edinboro, I think it was, and several children. Not a happy finale, though, as she rode on a bus and saw her lover lying dead by the side of the road. But aside from that, almost a movie.
Nothing in the world anymore seems to be almost a movie, and I imagine that is because of jet lag, one of the least pretty figures of speech in the English language, but more than a little accurate. It is now ten days, I think, since I left wherever I was, Los Angeles to the best of my cloudy recollection, and I have failed to catch up with myself or whoever she is. Handsome Daniel, my acquired scamp from an earlier journey, was waiting for me at the airport in Amsterdam, took me home to his totally unsettled (except by every friend who comes through and a few teenage children and all his daughter’s friends over the weekend) apartment, a ground-floor with a back porch with a roof that is sinking into the cellar below. I love him very much, (friend only,) but organization is not his suit—he is a mountain climber. His walls are decked with pictures of slopes, I think they are, and books, mostly mysteries, more than I have read, or probably ever will now, and pictures of his beautiful daughter and son (beautiful as well,) by an angularly gorgeous Dutch woman from whom he is long estranged except over the fates of their children. I trust he will not be angry with me for revealing this much inside info as he has no wish for fame, notoriety, or fortune, but wants only to keep climbing, earning a living however it makes itself available.
I suppose if athleticism were this available instead of compulsory education and the option of non-material goals in America, there might be this much mountain climbing, or even climbing without mountains—they have rocks or just artificial things I don’t remember the right names for, as I am still painfully behind, maybe never to catch up, it feels like. But I am lucky to have found this little corner of the canal, and the beauteous souls afloat in it, no matter how cluttered their environs—not a criticism, just an observation.
And it was gorgeous, and privileged, to have had a little side trip to Copenhagen to visit my beautiful Danes, Kristoffer and Maria, picked up on the streets of New York when they were working for the UN, with one beautiful little year-old girl checking
Herself out in a mirror. There is another one now, a three-year old, Winston, who tore my heart out as the taxi pulled away from the Tivoli Gardens where we had gone for the evening, as he mouthed, uninstructed, “I love you, Granny Gwen.” Never before have I taken being older as a gift of Grace.
I am still hopeful that this sluggishness of mentality might be jet lag, and not what I can expect forever, or what there is to be of forever.
The place where I am now is a café/restaurant in a building right next to Apple where I will have a lesson in an hour to try and move me up to the next plateau of using this thing, so I will not feel so retarded. I am hoping it is only the weariness that has made me so slow, and not having lived as long as I have, to my surprise. Darling Jack Carter, a very fast-talking, fast-thinking and nice(in-between insults) standup comedian, who was a friend has an obit in today’s New York Times, gone at 93—a pretty good run, it seems to me, especially for a comic. As I remember, we introduced him to an ex-girlfriend, or maybe it was a wife, of Warren Cowan, the publicist, and he married her. She was not mentioned in his obit, but some of his jokes were. A really good guy, which it couldn’t have been easy to be, the way that business was.
And maybe still is, though from what I have scanned, racing through the TV stations, it has become much different from my idea of funny. As love has probably become different from my idea of love. Though decency and caring have stayed pretty close to my idea of decency and caring. At least in Amsterdam.