Our San Francisco Photos

We decided to go to San Francisco for Jordan’s spring break.  The original plan was to go to the cabin.  It snowed, and who wants to drive somewhere else to be cold, so we decided to stay home.  We quickly grew tired of hanging out at home, looked on-line at 9:oo pm, decided at 10:00 pm, packed, and left at 4:00 the next morning.  It was great that Jordan, Julie, and I could be so spontaneous.  Those opportunities don’t come up very often.  So, here are a few of the pictures I took while we were there.

The wharf out the window of our restraunt as we ate clam chowder from a bread bowl.

The wharf out the window of our restraunt as we ate clam chowder from a bread bowl.

A bird on the roof at Alcatraz.

A bird on the roof at Alcatraz.

Butterfly at California Academy of Science Museum.

Butterfly at California Academy of Science Museum.

Here’s to spontaneity.

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Ten Minute Free Write

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Here is a ten minute free write from our writing group:

Quoth the raven, “Nevermore!’ – Edgar Allen Poe, The Raven

Dark was the night as quotes from dead writers run vividly through my head. No ravens alight on the window sill. Frankly, no birds chirped or crickets rubbed. Dark and quiet at the top of the stairs. My journey too far come to be retreated. The white paint around the door, flaking and yellowed, more shadow than light. The porch light bulb flings illumination only a foot in either direction. I know from the walk up that the porch extends in at least 20 feet. The foot of light serving only to illuminate the contrast between what I can and cannot see, knowing that the not seeing far outweighs the seeing.

Emptiness lies heavy behind me. Do not look back. Do not give in to the urge. As an adult, I must not, could not, never would give into the desire to run the rest of the way to the door. Nevermore will this moment, this opportunity, lay before me. I ring the bell, muffled through a sturdy house, thick doors, made somehow more substantial with age. Wait. Wait with willful stillness. Fight or flight, raven? I am trembling as I anticipate what could come before me and, more importantly, what could come from behind. Wait. Wait, silently rehearsing my actions should, say, a zombie be lurking. Wait. Wait, pulling in my breath quietly, slowly, not letting it become raspy. Wait. Wait, the calm quietness on the outside of me only, not in.

As the door swings away from me, there is further moment of waiting as the interior of this familiar house in illuminated. The table to the left of the door pictures of young children emerges first. Pictures of my brothers and I at our family home.

The Palms

road-picFlashing through the wide open, sand blowing, anticipating the ring of Christmas in the desert. Shimmery and sweet driving to the Palms Casino, Dorothy by my side. Escape the only thing on our minds. “As you like it,” was all she said on our way out the door, running from our slow combustion. Combining sacrilege and treasured beauty as the mother Mary, green and fluid, shimmies on the dashboard. Lying quietly, no words have passed between us for the last 300 miles, not a peep, I stare off into the distance at far off mountain ranges. This is about looking out, never in, on our journey to the Palms. Christmas could never be as complete at home with our family eating pumpkin pie instead of devil’s food cake.

Images blur as I train my eyes to the road, backseat packed with only the bare necessities: underwear for two days, everything else can be bought when we arrive. We should possibly keep going to Mexico to trade in our few chips for pesos on the beach. Melted chocolate bars on the passenger side on our return from debauchery. Slip Knot loud on the radio, leather seats sticking to our thighs because the right skimpy outfits show just enough thigh. Enough thigh to lure in the one night stands, dripping with irony. Thigh enough to have our drinks bought. No need to make hotel reservations if enough skin shows at the Palms.

The first night was spent with business men, fat wives not giving them what they want at home. White bands of skin run their fingers round, conspicuous even in the dark. Paunches that show the life of blackberries and office meetings. Finally a corporate meeting they all can enjoy. Everything doesn’t actually stay in Vegas. It stays at home while you’re in Vegas. Three drinks more than any ordinary night, and they are putty. They hold cool drinks with ice ringing, cigarettes smoked, the smoke can be blamed on the casino, “Not my cigarette, honey.” Perfumes to be washed off. Our existence, a memory to be ferreted between them like blackmail. Not worried tonight about seldom washed bedspreads, we don’t bother to pull them down.

Sunday blooms, brightly uncomfortable, with varicose veins showing by break of day. We gather ourselves in the early morning as we run back to the car. My mascara smeared unforgivingly down my cheek, Dorothy a perfect reflection of my unwashed state. That beach in Mexico sounds like the best alternative. Home for us a willfully forgotten place, a place with few alternatives. Our choices lay ahead; there must be business men in Cabo, conferences to be had wherever we alight. Dorothy refuses, with a look passed between us, to soldier on. The car backs out of its spot. Pulls forward slowly, methodically, Dorothy and I both know our fate. She takes a left back on to the highway toward Taos and its hum. Toward home. The drive home filled with raucous laughter, giddy and chatting. Dorothy and I talking for the sake of talking. Our mutual plans, not being spoken of.

The Story

We’ve all heard the story: the crazy mom who named her kids Lime-Jello and Lemon-Jello. My mom was nearly that avant garde, at least for her own time. She did not name me Moonbeam or Karma as other mothers of the time were want to do. She didn’t, thank god, name me Kathy or Nancy. Imagine: my mother, sweat dripping from her brow, furrowed in pain and concentration. As big as if she were having octuplets, round and filled like Violet Beauregarde with my brother and me. Splashing forth in a torrent, as my mother describes it. Fluid like the ocean puddling around the doctor’s feet, rising up to his knees and thighs. If you listen to how my mother told the story, the doctor who gave us life was swimming in the lake she made, only his big gloved hands and bald masked face look over to her.

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My father just smiles and says, “there was a leak from the third floor, Martha.”

He cannot corroborate my mother’s story. He actually cannot fathom my mother’s story. But, he knows now after years that she will tell the story. The story told as my grandmother tells her favorite granddaughter story.

“This,” she says “is India she is my favorite granddaughter.”

Then, without missing a beat, I say, in exactly the same words as always, “that is because I am your only granddaughter.”

Last, and with a smile toward me because we both know how it ends from untold telling. “If I had lots you’d still be my favorite, I just wouldn’t tell anybody.”

So, there we were twins, not like the circus of babies my mother describes, born to Martha from La Jara, Colorado in 1969. My mother, salty not psychedelic, named me India and my brother Boston, both equally obscure in my mother’s mind. Both places that she’s read about only in books. Reading through every book at the library.

As I fly in to meet my sweet Martha.  My mother who has been gone from La Jara since she was old enough to read and yet never stayed away for longer than a week’s vacation with dad. I know she only sees her dreams of far off places through me. Boston, still near by, only made it one county away. My mother, though, named me well. Since I was 16, had an abortion, and moved to LA. I have never stayed grounded. My mother’s ambition born through me fed through the waters of my birth.

Drowning

As I pass through the light I remember that heaven searches wandering through without stop. Searching for sin and redemption, answers that never come. The light reminds me of acceleration and deceleration, two words that apparently mean the same thing. In this context, the words occur to me simultaneously. The ocean swirling on both sides. Light glimpses through the waves, through the surf. I could never imagine that the end of my days would be met here in beautiful, sunny Hawaii. This is my vacation, damn it. My grandmother met her end with stoic chagrin and, of course, a bottle of aqua vit. I can’t imagine I’ll be quite that graceful. This was to be the beginning of the rest of my life. Marrying the woman of my dreams and instead here I swish and swirl. Unwanted and alone. Lightness and dark switch and flow. Breath beginning to wane. Soon, I suppose, I will have to take a breath, my last. Can hold out for longer, I’m sure. The greenness that surrounds me is surprising, I figured that being pulled down by the surf would be blue and majestic. This is dirty and swirling and white. No majesty to be found in my circumstance. Now is the time to remember days past, and loves and losses. But no, things could not be that easy. I feel salvation and rescue and redemption with one touch on my shoulder. My wife pulls me up from what was to be my final resting place. Pulls me up with amused ease.

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“You lost your footing,” she says.
“No I was a goner, I was drowning.”
“You’re so dramatic.”

I suppose my days would not tick along as they do without a little make believe, a little drama. How do people live a life of sweet repose? I awoke this morning, the first day of the rest of my life. Sorry, I couldn’t help but adding that in. Ready to begin our lives together. Were my regrets just cold feet or could this be the perfect manifestation of my desires of this morning? To be gone, to wash out in the ocean to the other side of the world, to make my way through to the light and the dark, existing together, without border.

As my sister, Jan, zipped my dress, sufficiently understated for a lesbian wedding on the beach in Hawaii. Flowy, but not hippy-flowy more like sundress-in-the-Bahamas-flowy. White with sea foam green flowers trailing down the right side. Jan leaned in to my shoulder, covered only in thin strips of material and kissed it. “Are you ready for this, exciting day?” Her unexpected closeness, the brush of her lips on my shoulder brought the fears to the forefront. Tears, sprinkled with the mascara I just applied, roll only millimeters before I brush them away, concerned about preserving my make-up. I didn’t think these fears would lead to the drowning in the ocean that so nearly happened.

Jan hugged me, for a family so close, physical contact was unusual and unexpected. Rather than closing my eyes and surrendering, as it were, to the moment. My glance settled decisively out the window to the little courtyard. Refusing to acknowledge my outburst. Thinking of other less important things like my impending drowning.

Lake Powell Pictures

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Our beautiful Sweet Dreams house boat.  We thought that we wouldn’t be going back but it looks like we are buying back in.  I’m super excited about going back on our favorite vacation.  These are pictures that I love from Lake Powell.

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Jordan going down the slide last year.

Escalator

escalator1Escalators have always fascinated me. I am drawn forward with those straight lines into the distance at the top, going up in a never ending loop to an unseen horizon. Natalie and I are riding this together today. Unlike the countless times I have ridden this exact escalator by myself. Not today. Today, we join our destinies together at the top of the escalator, at the beginning of our ride.

My attention is drawn to the imagined world beneath the escalator. I can imagine a vast underground cavern with stalactites and stalagmites between the cogs and gears running an unseen engine, grease dripping from the walls. Sometimes I can see no machinery at all, only the cavern with a stream running through to power us all to the top. It’s the unrelenting continuity of an escalator. I have ridden this escalator and each time the world I create expands to include an ever changing expression of what I believe at the time.

My attention is drawn down, I am sure that Natalie has never given a second thought to the world beneath her feet. Frankly, much of the world is beneath her feet. I see her looking outward and upward; twittering to and fro to catch the bees of gossip on the wind. She is light and she is air, so slight that her feet barely touch the ground. Her beautiful red pumps balance precariously on each of the escalator ridges. This is not a skill I have mastered.

In front and above us, unmoving, blocking Natalie’s forward momentum, is a mother and small child. She is grasping her son’s hand tightly while she holds: hand bag, carry on, stroller. A mule loaded down for the trip to grandma’s. My load is light; I never feel the need to pack more than the one pair of shoes I am wearing. My shoes are flexible and sensible, they can go anywhere with me on our trip.

Waiting as Natalie checked her luggage, and drew attention to us with complaints of increased security and charges for overweight bags. The petite desk clerk, Cheryl, is business-like with her efficiency. Strikingly short hair for a woman lets the viewer know she is a no-nonsense woman. Not caring, she’s been here before, heard these complaints. “Ma’am the weight limit is 50 pounds and two bags. It is our policy.”

Conceding, graciousness difficult at the best of times, Natalie fills out the address cards with her new address and ties it to the bag’s handle. This tag takes up residency with four other past addresses that have yet to be discarded. Addresses and homes are disposable when unwanted. Leaving garbage out front with memories at residences she’s already forgotten. Checking my carry-on gives me the freedom of carrying nothing down the gang plank and nothing to get stuck in the escalator carousel.

The mother unloads with great clashing and rolling. Losing bits and pieces of her portage as she maneuvers onto the second floor corridor. Business men rush past on either side of her, watching as the child screams. Indignant looks: how dare she ruin my vacation/business trip/holiday. We stop to help, I can’t not. I understand what it is to be a woman alone with responsibilities. Her look is suspicious but grateful when I hang her carry on off the back of the stroller and she loads in the little boy.

In this time, Natalie and I have shared no looks. No engaging, “we are friends” or “we know what the other is thinking” looks. Her thoughts are her own, she does not share them with glances and suggestions to come and enjoy her companionship. She is a light, she turns on and off at the flick of a switch, now no light is needed, no switch is flipped. We flow together, wordless after our time together.

Wordless in a brutally loud place. The lights are loud, the linoleum tiles are loud, the people loud like the rushing of water through a faucet. As this rush of people draws us to our gate, we sit and wait. Any words now a dive that neither of us can recover from. Our trip home looms when finally the plane whisks, beats, chops us to our destination. No games to pass the time, I already know. I’ve been told that she does not play games on the plane; she falls fast asleep while I stare, eyes wide.

In the cab, Natalie flashes on like the bright light she can be. Talk turns to the mundane, discussions about how it has grown up since the last time we were here. New Wal Marts and Burger Kings. Chipper conversations, of change and progress. Natalie is bee-like, her feet never touching the ground. Flitting and flirting with anything bright and shiny. Never to stay and put down roots, roots that bind you to this place, this here and now.

This morning as I was readying for our trip