a saint who loved you

in a strange fit of nostalgia, leonard cohen reminds me of big sur, the henry miller library, an innocence in your early twenties, teeny's post, how important birthdays were even, how confident and nonchalant and wild we were. how we would sleep in the back of the truck on the side of the road without a shred of doubt, how i wanted to be a buddhist, how i loved the dharma bums and wanted to run down the side of a mountain and sleep in a shack cuddled with poetic men. when the storm clouds roll in i get a sudden grip of fear and sadness, as if fall were already here, as if i've lost another summer already, as if time passing loses its polish, as if fall were somehow a marker: too much time has passed, what are you doing? it is the reason fall is so unbearably bittersweet, the reason the cooler nights and the smell of hay and a late night road wet with rain and the taste of red wine when there are clouds streaking the moon, all get your blood sparking in a queer absynthian swirl. because those days were once and will nowhere live again except in the misty regions of your heart. your old best friends, where are they now? those who told you - what are you waiting for? those who teased and prodded and were funnier and wiser than they - or you - ever knew.

it all compounds in the blood, in the skin. you can tell by the way it gives you the shivers. the memories, the space they occupy as they occasionally flee, then return.     flee, then return.        the feeling of the side of the road at midnight, getting out to howl at the moon. because it is the year 2K and you are young and free and you stop at a dive bar in the middle of a northern nowhere town that is not even a town and there is an old indian woman getting drunk by herself and you are all delighted to make each others' acquaintance, if just for a while, if just for one beer. laughing way too loudly, the way it echoes against the pool tables and jukebox. you and your sister. always, addie and i. stopping to buy cherry tomatoes, lemon cucumbers, by the handfulls at roadside stands, little packets of salt, diet coke, driving all night, falling asleep at the wheel, taunting death, because we are so alive that how can we ever die, or age, or change? it's just this road, these dark rainforests along the edge of the vast ocean, the voice of tori amos, the careening road. a park near oregon's border looming close and foreign, every city an adventure, reading books to each other aloud, dreaming of boys in velvet jackets that belong to another time. nick drake. oh nick drake.

it was cool for three days, three eerie july days that remind me of when lucy was born, when a rare summer storm blew in and worried our wispy curtains all night and the cats sat peering out into that haunting brume. i baked a peach pie with peaches i had picked in brian hayes' orchard when missa and mary were in town. full of the spirit of children and friendship, that's what peaches taste like anyway, and they fell apart under my fingers, so ripe, the juices made tiny floods across the wooden cutting board. cornstarch, brown sugar, white. pinch of cinnamon, pinch of clove. pie dough baking and that smell of fall even stronger, the rain baking into the pavement, the way the  backyard lowers its voice into a whisper, quiet as the young buck with budding antlers takes a drink from the pool and eyes us curiously. and walks away on soundless hooves. now i call my babies to show them our friends. nothing is solitary anymore, always it is my babies on my hip, in my arms, a whisper's call away. show them everything new, from the ocean to the spotted fawn to the way the moon looks when she is full. and when the clouds come in july a summer rain makes us dance.

i heard of a saint who had loved you so i studied all night in his school
he taught that the duty of lovers is to tarnish the golden rule
and just when i was sure that his teachings were pure
he drowned himself in the pool
his body is gone but back here on the lawn his spirit continues to drool.

an eskimo showed me a movie he'd recently taken of you.
the poor man could hardly stop shivering, 
his lips and his fingers were blue.
i suppose that he froze when the wind took your clothes 
and i guess he just never got warm
but you stand there so nice in your blizzard of ice
oh please let me come into the storm.

- from leonard cohen's "one of us cannot be wrong"

also good listening for nostalgia: m. ward's "carolina" and "changes" by phil ochs (thanks to emily for this playlist) 
and also, "hard to find" by the National


damn leonard cohen and his poetic longings..but oh, he is swoonsome..

In times of nostalgia I try not to think of moments past as things that are lost, but memories as individual treasures growing in value and scale with each day/year that passes.

hold it all close and keep it all safe. your memories, your stories, your life, always growing, stretching ever wider that sometimes it's awe inducing how we hold it all in, inside these flesh and bone edges
Jessica said…
I've said it before and I'll say it again...you are the most beautiful writer! I can't ever get enough of your words!
martine said…
I never did any of those things, but you made me miss them just the same. I never had peach pie either, maybe I should. pictures of sleeping children always make me feel tender. thanks for sharing
Geny said…
This post just made me happy...I love you and the memories I have of growing up with you. I am so lucky to call you friend. That peach pie looks delicious too:)!!
Tera said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tera said…
You made me cry. I loved reading this so much, you captured so much, I love your writing! Poetic men :) What a dreamy life. For those who love the Beats, you can't get closer to the heavens than Big Sur. Your Babies...sweetness. I find myself pensive.
Teeny said…
good lord look at those gorgeous babes, your two little girl peaches, and you and Addie as young careless girls. What astounds me about these kinds of memories is how crisp they are, not just the details, but the feelings - you've articulated the wonderment of life so beautifully. I feel like I'm with you howling at the moon, an enormous sky above and beyond, and abandonment of society's corsetry...gleeful drunkenness and rambling but somehow the most meaningful of chatter with strangers that become friends. To see the world and life through your eyes is like looking through the clearest of lenses. Thanks for the shoutout, and i love love love your comments on my blog. Speaking of memoirs, you my love should be writing one. xo
anne said…
i loved seeing these old pictures! what a beautiful post. your words never cease to amaze me :)
Rachel Weaver said…
I have a million things I want to say, about how I miss making friends with strangers at bars and sleeping in cars and the poster I used to have of lew welch because my favorite beat was always the most obscure one I could find. But I can't say anything right now because I was already a little sad and this is sendings over the edge.
dolly anna said…
so perfect, i love the photo of you with your friends on broadway in pville! how dreamy, to end the post with the sweet peachy pie and your babies. a happy ending to all of your hearty and courageous wanders... love your writing here. it leaves me reminiscent for my twenties and i'm still living them! :) what wild and sweet women we are.xoxo

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