So I have left the cold, weatherwise and personal,of New York to return for a while to LA, where I know to expect emptiness. On the way out I flew Jet Blue and tuned to the Fox Movie Channel which back-to-back showed first Carousel, and then The King and I. So I had a coast-to-coast weep, for the beauty of the songs, for the death of the American musical as we knew it, including mine own, which I understand now I must give up on, seeing what's happened on Broadway. Landing in a fog, the weather's, not mine, I drove North with a quiet ferocity, since my assignment for Christmas dinner with friends was Cranuberry Much, something I learned to make in a cooking course in DC during the Carter administration, which included a Thanksgiving dinner with grits. But the stores were all closed, so I couldn't buy cranberries, and Ralph's, which was open, closed its doors just as I pulled up. I pleaded, but they said their cash register was broken, so so was that bubble.
Christmas Day I joined my wonderful friends who had exiled me last summer because of the Reports, Republicans who wrote me they were inflamatory with one 'm' and I didn't correct the spelling. But life is short and growing shorter, and the woman, my best friend at Bryn Mawr, had a health crisis so we healed it, and I went to their daughter's Christmas as I had last year, when the husband, Rummy's good right arm, raised his glass to the Republic and to those who had fallen in her defense and I gagged visibly and asked some searing questions, but this year kept my mouth shut. That discretion did not extend to the gift I received from their beautiful child, whom I love, but gave me a poetry book by Maya Angelou with whom I have a great deal of history and know how full of merde she is, although no longer in Paris. God Bless America, truly the land of opportunity especially if you are revered by Oprah.
Mimi was wearing her fur collar from her godmother who espouses simplicity but apparently not in dogs, and was loved by all.We returned to the apartment rented from a friend I will not name as the joint is out of joint, as Shakespeare might have put it if he was a little less clear. I had planned to clear my own head/soul via a daily morning swim as I did last year in Bali, but of course the pool is not heated and it's cold here, though nowhere as cold as New York. I have to get a parking permit daily, as there's no room in her garage. The TV doesn't work, but last night my friend Joie came for dinner bought at Whole Foods which charged me $5.99 apiece for papayas that were supposed to be 2 for $2.99 but I caught them, (Whole in LA apparently doesn't mean what it does in the spiritual realm.) Joie figured out how to work the VCR and we found tapes of the great old series The Prisoner, with Patrick McGoohan, so after she left I watched the first episode. And I was young again, and Don was still alive, and the two of us enjoyed what was without question the most innovative and commanding show on TV. It was all shot in the village of Port Merrion, an actual place built by an inspired, apparently very rich lunatic in Wales, that I visited during my Oxford summer, after Don had died. I don't know how anyone can really live there.
Then the VCR stopped working, and there was nothing for it but to be with my own thoughts which boiled down to this, that i wrote on the top of The New York Times because I couldn't find a piece of paper: 'A Life well lived, with all its pain, loneliness, silences when you would have noise, and noise when you would have silence.'
Then I wrote "Life at base is a..." and then a word i cannot read. I have studied it for many an hour, but cannot make it out. I think it begins with a p, but cannot be sure because I scrawled it in the dark. Perhaps it will haunt me the rest of my life. Perhaps I had the answer to everything, the riddle of the Sphinx, the reason for it all. But if I did, it has eluded me, as, I suppose, all great answers to everything are meant to,
But I did manage to write in the book I finally found, a gift from Mimi's indulgent friend, something I can read:
The test here is to love life with all its difficulties, its irritations, its disappointments and challenges, its rude awakenings, and to feel absolute ecstasy in those rare moments when things go right.
Much love to all of you, and a better year to come.