So much languishes, huddles, lounges, basks in the lost sock warp… not just the missing socks from the dryer, but essential, hah! things, thoughts, places, people… that won’t stay put where I can find them. Who knows what they’re up to, those escapees, those naughty, wild puppies, roaming etheric streets, free from human constraint and scripted obedience: stay! Refusing to stay! Gone missing: words phrases whole lines from poems I once knew by heart; beloved songs– first the words and then the melodies; names of friends, people I’ve known for thirty years I meet at the post office and we smile and exchange neighborly pleasantries, filling up the moments until the lights go on and we remember each other’s of course, how could I forget? name; and in my classroom I refuse embarrassment when I can’t recall the particulars of what I profess, which could be construed as not knowing– book titles, authors, characters, times and places, settings and plots. I hold up the self mocking mask of the good natured absent minded, still articulate, but ditzy professor. I say the information is hung up at a traffic light in Petaluma, or, my favorite refuge, we have data; we don’t have access.
Memory is now a sieve, more like a colander. And we all have our reasons and explanations: too much in the memory bank…the drawers stick and there’s no WD40, like water overflowing the vessel, too many onions for the basket…as if the brain hadn’t capacity. How much grey matter is waiting in the wings at the ready to receive the footprints of our migrations and discoveries? Lots, honey, lots. Well, ok, because of all that smoke in the days of rock and roll, not that we’re not still dancing. Stress, then, and preoccupation… my mind footsore and heart sore, my sleep troubled in time of war. I grieve for friends lost, gone by neglect, product of my nomadic inclinations, my longstanding habit of setting up camp, inviting kindred spirits to sit at my table, to take warmth from my hearth, then packing up the 10,000 things and moving on. And lost through the last breath those beloved whom I would not have left, who could not stay.
Friends keep so much of who we are, remember what we cannot even remember we’ve forgotten and carry for us what we cannot carry. My late great goomba, Ed Halley, bore witness to our glory days in Marshall in the 70’s where I had been fortuitously summoned from the endless winters and cold sap of Vermont to cook at the Tavern. A while ago we were pining for the good old days when time was available to fill as we would, when possibilities were possible and gas was cheap. He remembered my menu. I called the locally caught fish and chips fish, Tiburon, knowing how few would have ordered shark. He recalled an incident I had entirely forgotten which restored to me a sense of who I was in exuberant youth, an ebullient feisty young woman whose sardonic proclivities made her name what others have called Caesar or Nicoise, Irving. Salade Irving. One evening a distraught diner called her from the kitchen and pointed to the intoxicated fly staggering through the garlic suffused salad greens on his plate. “What is that?” he demanded. “That,” said she, not missing a beat, “is Irving.”
C’est moi though I barely know her anymore or find her smooth skin and unflappable, unharried disposition under the wrinkled knees and circumstances of a woman of a certain age, a woman who has lived and died a gezillion times, suffering the slings and arrows, fortune’s fool. What gets me, though, the lowest blow, the cruelest joke is that I don’t remember the words to John Lennon’s “In my Life” or Bernstein’s “Tonight” or what’s his name’s “Autumn Leaves.” No, blankety blank, what I do remember is the sappy and insufferable ballad sung by Eddie Fisher.
”First the tide rushes in, plants a kiss on the shore and rolls out to sea and the sea is very still once more.So I rush to your side like the oncoming tide….” Feh!