I’ve been grappling the last couple weeks with a piece of writing that started out simply enough, but has since transmogrified into something of an idea monster, all-a-wiggling with unruly flexing and flailing tentacles of thought. Not by needs a bad thing—it’s very satisfying to throw together a mess of apparent irrelatives and order them into an approximation of themed meaning. I tend generally to think and therefore to write like this (downright headache-making for a couple of my more tradish college paper readers), and I really love reading this kind of writing. It was so inspiring for me to discover Rebecca Solnit, who has made a successful career out of this sort of thing, though she’s a bazillion times more aloof and erudite than I, and isn’t afraid of sentences like: “Once I loved a man who was a lot like the desert, and before that I loved the desert.” O the pithy. Anyway, in order to write in this way without sounding insane you have to keep it stylistically tight, and your brain has to be ex-tree limbered-up and lithe. I haven’t been on my A-game, not with my scribin’ nor more generally.
And I know why—it’s totes the trauma hangover of stuff with my dad—who is by the way doing amazingly well, is back at home after twenty days in the hospital, excelling at his occupational and physical therapies, with his mental faculties almost completely intact (he was bummed the other day to have had trouble summoning a particular word—that word was “atavistic”). As it turns out he didn’t have a stroke after all, but what the doctors think was a seizure, which he may have been susceptible to because of his near-deadly bout of West Nile Virus nearly two years back. He’ll be on anti-seizure meds from here out and probably won’t drive anymore, but it’s better than any of us dared to hope for and we’re all drenched in gratitude.
I think it’s once you know it’s all going to be okay, once stuff isn’t up in the air and you can rest from the stoic emotional juggling act, that you begin to feel all those feels you’ve kept at bay. And so hand-in-hand with relief at Dad’s recovery and return home came a creeping yellow fog infiltrating my head-state. Nothing too extreme, just a subtle funkification. On top which ye olde social calendar has been going off, which is wahoo, but overmuch sohsh-ing wears me out, particularly when I’m not super centered to start with.
Then this last “weekend” Rama and I went camping and it completely set me right. It’s funny how simple the recipes for happiness can be (as basic even as exercise + nourishment + sleep). A couple days in naytch and I synced back up with that transcendent thrum thanks to that o so truism that nature saves and salves. Ramz and I hadn’t pitched it since the fourth of July and we both missed it more than we realized.
We left Monday morning; I was still skirmishing with the tail-end of a cold I’d caught off Maddy and Rama who’d been ailing the previous week, but I couldn’t be cooped up any longer. I think for me acting sick keeps me sick; if I carry on as normal (once my body’s strong enough that I’ve regained my will to live that is) my turnaround time seems much quicker.
Throughout the morning Rama packed and prepped while I tidied up the house, then we hopped into the shower (showering before camping is paramount) and hit the road.
Rama’s mood was I could tell becoming a bit poo with all the prep and logistics and traffic (yadda yadda yadda etc.). The tricky thing is even when he isn’t being overtly crappy I’m such an energetic sponge that I feel my own cheer take a hit, and then I myself get pissed, on top of which I’ve got a complete hair-trigger re: dudely moodiness because spoiling the fun-times with a personal funk was pretty much my ex bf’s MO. It can get combustible. I had my little boil-over in Whole Foods; Rama was being an undercover butthole pushing for us to make pho for our first night’s dinner when we’d agreed on stir-fry. Totally quibbling quarrel, but there were other forces at work.
Rama is one of the best humans I know, but when he’s in a mood he gets very Aries-ish and contrary. Most days we’re ultra-simpático peas and carrots, but when he gets into the fussy naysaying zone it makes me loco. I told him, “I feel like your first impulse is to say no, and my first impulse is to say yes.” Rama paused, then granted that it may be so. I don’t even think it’s just him and me—it might partly be man/woman thing. I’ve always been intrigued by the beginning of Bill Callahan’s “I’m New Here” and his deliciously uncooperative intro: “No. No. No. No.” And then I think of ultra-feminine uber-wench Molly Bloom’s many, many punctuating yes-es. There’s something to it. I was just delving through old Irigaray trying to find this bit I vaguely recall from the ol’ schooldays, the idea being that since (old-school status) a child’s first and closest relationship is with her or his mother, where a female child recognizes in her mother a same-ness and a “we,” a male child sees a difference and a “not-I,” forming a negating, individualized identity rather than the “female” associating, communal one. Mmkay wow, I've always been terrible at writing about theory plus I'm stupid about it, but that was pretty disgraceful.
Anyway, we find ways to get along, are ourselves the choreographers of the daily dances we with our partners perform. Rama can be stubborn, but he is also one of the kindest and most energetically open humans I know, to the point that I feel like an asshole ever criticizing him because he takes it so much to heart. In this matter I asked him simply if he’d please try to resist his initial urge to “no” and instead take a moment to hear and consider whatever it was I was saying.
And he has been. (I don’t know if it seems weird to write here about silly squabbles, but it seems like I’d be full of shit if I only talked about the easy-breezy smitten-kitten lovey-dovey dream-life.) But now here’s some of that good-good:
The drive out was very cloudy and pretty.
It felt really dang nice to be back in Salt Point, and waking up there the next morning felt even better. We got buttloads of sleep which was amazing, and woke up “on the right side of the air mattress.” Poundy did too—he was such a cheerful little buddy all day long.
Rama made us dope open-faced fried egg and baguette sandos and sautéed kale,
and himself a couple avo toasts to boot, and then, well-anchored, we rolled out with the hope of finding some dog-friendly hiking and beachiness.
One of the only bummerish things about the Sonoma Coast is that it’s not the dog-friendliest. Through trial and (picturesque) error
we found a place whose signage indicated that a leashed horse-like dog was legal (yay rule-abiding). We tromped along beach cliffs in blissful ignorance for a mile or two,
then found a likely cliff and scaled down it, me with the aid of a palm-scorching, fiber-pricking rope (I’d made the invariably unwise choice to prioritize fashion over function in my selection of footwear and had zero traction on my gorgeous knee-high leather boots).
We at Rama’s urging clambered over some rocks to round the bend to a second sandier cove, et voila, paradis. I gathered a pocketful of ceramic-esque white “China hat” (the Latin is just as weirdsies) seashells and found a perfect tiny baby abalone shell,
which tickled Rama’s fancy and he joined in on the hunt. Poundy mostly just shouted about his stick.
I eventually retired to the shade while Rama and Pound continued to rove, and then they returned and we cheesed and crackered and brew-hah-hah-ed.
Then it was time to roll.
We made a short jaunt north to a reception spot to ensure all was well with out dearests, then managed to get back in time to have our traditional bubbly date with the sunset.
The sun’s position this time was striking, lined up with our blanket so the scintillating triangle of the retreating reflection seemed a beckoning road. Beauty. Pre-sun-dip we reckoned it would be wise to return to camp for cook-prep.
On our hike back to camp we caught the vanishing moment but no green flash.
Rama made gnocchi and his goat milk “cream” sauce with reconstituted morels and also shallots and peas (which, lacking their bitter asparagus counterpart slightly over-sweetened the overall flavor). It was still scrut as all get-out, and I incidentally polished off the leftovers for brekkie today. Forgive the really unappetizing food pics, but heck it was delish plus Rama and I have vague idea of making a camp-cookbook.
The next morn I was so refreshed and recharged and all that jazz I wasn't even bummed to be heading back to to the working world. The coastal drive back was of course lovely.
And then we capped it off with the giant bowl of clam-chow at Lucas Wharf!
Anyway, I feel the need to tie a bow around this turd of a post, so here's my parting invocation: do what you know you love to do.