So my joyful stay in Beverly Hills grows close to an end. I go back to New York September 10th, to, hopefully, set SYLVIA WHO? in motion. I finished the last song (I think it is) last night, in the middle of the night, as the movies always depicted songwriters as doing, when there were movies that did not feature robots and violence, and there were actual songwriters, instead of rappers. This has been the greatest adventure in a life that, looking back on, has provided a number of adventures, many of which involved travel, romance, the hope of romance, sorrow over loss, and a gradual understanding that that is what life is about, learning to deal with loss. Because you cannot have wonderful things happen-- love, success, the elation of True Spirit, without equal portions of agony and loss, and the only thing you can really count on having is Change.
But there are also PULOTS. Minor, but as sweet a discovery as it is unexpected. One of the things that has kept me going in this not easy voyage Westward, coming back to this scene of my sort-of youth, has been the Farmer's Market in Century City, where I have gone every Thursday for flowers and fruit, two of the glories that California offers besides fine(usually) weather as the rest of the planet suffers. And of course the illusion of peace as the rest of the world explodes.
Still, it IS Beverly Hills, where if you are lucky enough to have neighbors, they may be friendly. But if you come back after several years' absence, unless you arrive on a float of publicity and sales to media, it is a struggle to make contact, as one's humanity is not necessarily prized here. This is a place where a smile and a song count a whole lot less than publicity and credits, and as it will be a while till my latest creative effort flowers, which I have every hope it will, and soon, few are those who care that I am here. So I have been quite alone, my dogs having died and my children being (don't ask) less than a comfort, my darling husband having left the world a very long time ago, and my being (to my surprise) older.
SO: ABOUT PULOTS. They are a new fruit, a hybrid of plums and apricots, about neither of which I have ever felt passionate, or, even, a less heated word, interested. Still when you center yourself, or try to, on the things that keep you going in-between songs and rewrites and connecting with people who seem genuinely interested or kind, it is nourishing, in many senses of the word, to discover something fresh and sweet in Nature, which of course we rarely pay attention to. So in-between a blossoming friendship with Roberto, who sells flowers on Thursdays in the mart at Century City, and my neighbor Katie, a breath of fresh air, being as close as I have come to a genuine and adorable ingenue outside of a script or a casting office, I have found pulots. And as in all the loneliness landmarks of my life, graduate school at Stanford, where I cooked for my classmate, Bethie, from Bryn Mawr's brother-in-law and his roommates, my baking for Aunt Tillie's Health Food store during the ordeal of my lawsuit, and my staving off isolation in San Francisco after Don's death, with jams made from fruits bought on the highway, all lined up atop the shelf in my kitchen, glittering in emerald glass jars, only one of which fell, mercifully, during the earthquake, I have turned to the comfort of my Inner Grandma,-- she was one of the great cooks ever-- and made jams. The best jam you have ever tasted I would say without hesitation, now that I have found pulots. So send me your addresses and I will get you a jar.
Not without suffering, though, this ancient but re-acquired way of showing love, which I believe cooking is, as I couldn't find the Sure-Jell needed to make the whole thing solidify, so had to wing it. Last night I went to sleep with a sense of having failed, as the little jars, from The Container Store, (marked 'Fruchten,' in the curious way that the German language has of making delicious things sound unappetizing) still looked very liquid-y, so I was sure it hadn't worked. But HOORAH! I woke this morning having put them in the fridge, and they're fine.
And more important, I finished what feels like the one song that was missing from the show in the late hours of the night. And beautiful Amber, the darling and sweet-spirited friend I made on first re-aligning my life with Los Angeles, an adorable and gifted young woman whose heart stopped in the middle of a soccer game last week, given CPR by her team-mates till the ambulance got there, is going to be all right, I fervently pray, which I have been moved to do with no trace of doubt or cynicism. How clear it makes the fragility of life-- how lucky we are to be alive, and, in the best case scenario, well.
Taste everything. Feel it go down. Live every moment. And swim if you can find a pool.