Holding myself in, from the Bazaar that somehow fills, for a moment, the emptiness that one feels in a foreign land, no matter how adventurous the spirit or how beautiful the setting one sees from a terrace overlooking a canal with resident birds, I manage not to buy too much, if you don't count the gold-lame fretted oversized shirt. But I did buy a little (is it brass?) owl, first, because it is the symbol of Bryn Mawr where I just missed my big Reunion to come here(was it a mistake? I mean, not just the missing, but the coming here?) and second, the badge of Wisdom.
So I am remembering one of my-- what are they-- messages? aphorisms? sayings? from the Book of Mimi, a little compendium of thoughts from a higher level, they seemed to be when she had them, that had brilliant pictures of her-- they could not help being brilliant, she was such a photogenic, adorable doggie- with thoughts that were equally as bright, because they came from her-- or was it him--? Happy, the dog that preceded her, who was just as smart? As my Aunt Rita said, when I sorrowed over my children: "But you've been very lucky with your dogs." I was going to do a book with that title, but it was around the time when books started to die, so I gave up the idea. But here's the saying:
Wisdom is what, by the time you get it, you may not
remember what it was.
So it is that I gaze on my little brass owl, and wonder.. if? or Huh?
It is so hard to keep your bearings when you aren't sure what they are. Fucking Fedex has failed to leave the packet containing the papers I need to sign for my children's (and mine, I suppose, too, if the provisions aren't too unloving) inheritance, so I will have a sleepless weekend that was kicked off by a half-viewing of Jersey Boys-- I couldn't stand to stay for the whole movie, it was so spiritually lifeless, when the show had been so much fun, and the only heavy hit I had had in later life was from Joe Pesci, whose beady eyes signaled lust-- and of course I am wracked with insecurities about whether this sojourn was a mistake, or a pellet of ethereal Wisdom tossed at me by a compassionate universe.
They left no instructions, the soon-to-go-out-of-business- I- wouldn't- be- surprised- in- view- of- the- internet Fedex, except what came to me on my phone a day later in Dutch, like anyone would understand the language who didn't live here or Wasn't. Even I, past master of many foreign tongues, have difficulty getting my ears around this one, I who actually learned to speak German, especially when beered up. So for all the challenges I have taken on, why this one? Well you may ask, and I ask myself. Answer: Where else am I going to go?
L.A. my lease, as you know, was cancelled, as a neighbor reported I was singing. New York I look out on a rooftop cluttered with citified garbage, tattered ladders and buildings going up in the distance obliterating what is left of sky, so high that if the land shifts, as the landlords probably already do, everything will topple, as pieces of them already have. Except for Jeannie in the basement and Cerene who comes to clean, and Ava down the hall who is 4 and doesn't know you're not supposed to talk to people unless they are in your circle or financial strata, I am alone in New York, and having just opted out of my Bryn Mawr reunion to make this exploratory journey, the chance of reconnecting with my East Coast friends is considerably diminished, as are my hopes of the Republicans easing up and letting it be America.
I am so sad for my good friend Benjamin Franklin who believed in reincarnation, and hope he did not choose this time to come Back. I am also sad for myself having just read the review of the revival of 'The King and I' in Paris, where the mere reportage of hearing 'Something Wonderful' brought tears to my eyes. And I realized what I lost in life, probably never to be recovered, was fulfilling my great ambition, musical comedy. Everybody was so sure all those years ago, when I finished Bryn Mawr, that I would have a musical on Broadway, after almost having left college early. I had passed Miss McBride, our president, in the hallway of the library, and said "Miss McBride, Shakespeare and Chaucer have given me all they can, and the theater needs me. So I'm leaving Bryn Mawr." "Well, Gwen," she drawled in her high line Main line manner, "try to be back for exams."
I mean, think about it: Frank Loesser, that gifted swine, saying "Kid, you're the biggest talent since me." And Yip Harburg, saying "those are as fine lyrics as any I have ever heard." Maybe I could stop short of actually believing, but I certainly could hope.
But the road of Optimism grows shorter and more rutted as you get to this point in it. So I am scared, and, at this point, having missed Fedex which didn't even leave a note because people don't do that anymore, I am really pissed, a word I don't like to use because it isn't pretty or mellifluous but who even cares about words like that anymore? I am SO from another time, I who was always the youngest in my class. But my class is now passed, and re-uned, and, apparently over. Shit. Another terrible word, but it does express it.
I am exhorted by a new friend, a doctor in this building but he is currently in Dubai so what good does that do me? to try and be more positive. I have been positive for the major part of my life, in spite of abusive and/or unloving parents one of whom I adored in spite of how crazy she was, the other who took himself more seriously than even Teddy Roosevelt at the height of his over-eloquence. But the reality is now that I am in TRULY a foreign land, which includes not only the geography, but age with its weaknesses and uncertainties (how long?) And even worse, how realistic is it to hope you can get a musical on, when they are only really welcome as grand revivals in Paris of hits from the '50s? And what if that was actually your Time, and you missed it? Although, when you think about it, you DID know Marlon Brando when he was still beautiful, and he DID make personal fun of you, and there has to be some satisfaction in that. And there WAS Cary Grant on your telephone.