I have been thinking about the blog non-stop for days now, and all the things I would like to tell you and the photos I would like to post. I am still learning how to use my Smart phone, (it is so much smarter than me), and I am not sure how to get pictures easily from it to my friend’s laptop. So, I’m just going to write a quick update and you will have to imagine the visuals.
My trip to Northern California began with a very fast drive down to the San Fernando Valley to see my friend there who is dying from cancer. Literally. she is in hospice in her living room. I drove five hours, sat with her, talked, cried. She was very thin, very fragile, her breathing labored. What came to mind was when my dad was near the end, and seemed to be hanging on like an autumn leaf being ravaged by the wind. The leaf wants to hang on. So does the human.
At one point, she opened her eyes and said, “good things are going to happen!” I think she meant in the coming year. All I could say was, “they won’t be that good if you are not here.” But, I knew what she meant, and I tried to rise to her level of wisdom. It is not easy.
I left her, me sobbing, her sleeping. I left her and continued on to enjoy many happy things with other friends in other places. I just hope some of this happiness can fill the ethers and rub off on her as she gets ready to leave.
The next day, I had an amazing afternoon in the Carmel Valley listening to another friend of mine sing beautiful songs at an outdoor “happening” called “Todd Fest.” (Imagine having enough friends that you can stage an annual concert of friends with beer, potluck food, and horse shoes once a year. I only met you briefly, Todd, but you are a great guy and you deserve a fest.)
Perhaps we all do. Deserve fests of our own. This trip is kind of a fest for me. It is my birthday present to myself.
Last night, I went to UC Berkeley campus to hear a reading in honor of a young poet who died this past May, Hillary Gravendyk. Her friends loved her so much. She was an insightful poet, and had an amazing way with making words surprising. I was taken by her use of the word “knuckle” in several poems. I think I remember “the knuckle of the hill.” I bought her two books, so I will look for this.
Today, I will go back to the campus for a free lunchtime concert. (I love college campuses. This one, Berkeley, feels especially vibrant.) Then, I drive up to Guerneville to visit the poets who founded 100 Thousand Poets for Change, Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion. They are taking me to the coast and to the ancient redwoods. I am ready.
This would not be Frying the Onion if I did mention Georg, dad. (Ah, wait, I did mention him, up above, right near the beginning of my remarks.) He has been everywhere with me on this trip. On one leg of my journey, I found a blue jay feather at my car door, awaiting me. I know it was from him. I keep it in the cup holder of my rental car. It is guiding my way. Tomorrow is Thursday. Until death comes, let the fest continue.