… The White Album; Where I Was From; Slouching Towards Bethlehem – all stories of distant places in a distant time – scattered with searing observation that make place, time and distance irrelevant. Joan Didion has the capacity to invade your thoughts, for days on end:
Notes from a Native Daughter (Slouching Towards Bethlehem)
Perhaps in retrospect this has been a story not about Sacramento at all, but about the things we lose and the promises we break as we grow older; perhaps I have been playing out unawares the Margaret in the poem (Spring and Fall – Gerard Manley Hopkins):
Margaret are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving? …
It is the blight man was born for
It is Margaret you mourn for.
Where I was From – Part Four
Flying to Monterey I had a sharp apprehension of the many times before when I had, like Lincoln Steffens, “come back”, flown west, followed the sun, each time experiencing a lightening of spirit as the land below opened up, the checkerboards of the midwestern plains giving way to the vast empty reach between the Rockies and the Sierra Nevada; then home, there, where I was from, me, California. It would be a while before I realized that “me” is what we think when our parents die, even at my age, who will look out for me now, who will remember me as I was, who will know what happens to me now, where will I be from.
… We kissed, we had a drink together, we promised to keep in touch. A few months later Nancy was dead, of cancer, at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. I sent the recital program to Nancy’s brother, to send on to her daughter. I had my grandmother’s watercolor framed and sent it to the next oldest of her three daughters, my cousin Brenda in Sacramento.
I closed the box and put it in a closet.
There is no real way to deal with everything we lose.
It has been an obsessive and busy summer. When thoughts jostle for space, I escape – two wheels at speed empties the head, concentrates the mind and lifts the spirit. I seek out empty and abandoned places – I want no distractions.
Before departing I had worked out a circular route going north along the A68, into Scotland towards Selkirk and then south to Kielder. Not for the first time, I was thwarted by road closures, this time the B6357. When did this become the norm rather than the exception – much to my annoyance, I was briefly distracted 😉