Sunday, February 24, 2008

Well, now that I think about it . . . a Valentine

I come home from a family reunion type ski vacation to find that one cat is in the garage, having overturned some stuff, or so it seems, and another has locked herself in my bedroom going after her image in the mirror on the back of the door, thus bottling her catshit and its smell. Likely, the one in the garage followed me in, though that leaves other perhaps more troublesome possibilities for who or what scattered the stuff around.

But they weren't dead, and I should be grateful for sure. Up against the other possibilities, I got off easy, although the logistics which pile up in front of good relaxed reading time never seem to shrink.

I didn't think I'd be able to ski, so out of shape have I allowed myself to become. But I rallied, and we all had a good time. There are no really good reasons for everyone to have gotten along as well as we did. Among us; a lawyer, a housewife, a born-again (and again) without any worldly knowledge whatsoever, leaving her subject to whatever bloviations I or others professing worldly expertise, might impose, plus our hosts the young retired.

The range was from full blown, and quasi-religious, skepticism, to Bible-as-literal-truth brain freeze. I myself realized only lately into the trip that it was, rather precisely, a kind of silver anniversary for me. It was 25 years ago Valentine's Day that I emerged from a cocoon of sorts, thinking I might be about to flex my wings. I'd been living aboard a ridiculously small old wooden boat through a record-breaking cold snap in Connecticut - somehow minus 20 Fahrenheit seems actually accurate - and likely experienced some sort of cabin fever induced brain melt-down. I warmed myself by a minuscule coal stove after having been roused by icebergs pounding the hull, and proceeded to write my heart out.

Since then I've labored, dilettantishly at best, to fill out the already perfected but not quite communicable crystalizations realized by my pen.

So, here we were, a somewhat extended family plus friends, preoccupied, of course, with the pending election and the state of the world. Our collective carbon footprint was huge, having flown or four-wheeled or super-trucked in to this moutain. Still, there was some friction about the recyclables, and no real consensus about what to do either for the good of our personal lives or that of the world. There was a pretty clear consensus for Obama in the election, alongside some difficult lettings go of Hillary's outright competence and some coy silence from the super truckers.

So while I'm trying to finish up Gore Vidal's Empire series (working my way through Hollywood) which is incredibly informative toward this, and perhaps all, upcoming elections, my brother is reading Jim Kunstler on a World Made by Hand. He's the Peak Oil guy, who cries Chicken Little like about the doom pending post oil. Well, I don't think he's Chicken Little because he speaks the obvious truth, but I can't exactly divorce my actions from those of everyone else whose louder-than-words clear conclusion is that we can drive and drive forever.

I think it was by virtue of love, precisely defined, that this grouping of friends and relations had ourselves an absolutely wonderful time. There was no necessity for doing so, and certainly an alternative was to allow petty differences, frictions, and irritations to overwhelm, since there were plenty of them just below the surfaces. After all, there were married couples here, alongside, say, me, who has acquired an apparently autonomous revulsion from ever re-entering that dance of suppressed antipathy, resentment and a sexual frustration far more sharp than that of mere abstinence.

Now, exhausted, I am willing to see beyond the depredations of oil gluttony and addiction. This is surely a gift, like that love which drew my new friends and family together. We have seen through suffering and pain and even dream of death deferred, on this mind-altering high of post armageddon technological bloom. If for the moment we remain enveloped in cocoons literal and virtual, there is still the hope that we can emerge as something new and more human. For now, technology isolates, and we like it that way, cradled in leather, craving repose in only apparently moving or apparently stationary wombs with views. Video encompasses, encloses, comforts, narcotizes but also extends and could possibly liberate a still inchoate consciousness.

I crawl into bed, shocked at how clammy my sheets are after having indulged myself with the furnace where normally I wait for the wood stove before releasing my shivvers. Then I realize that I have surrendered myself to a stinking mess of cat piss. Well, it could still be worse.

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