View from my deck · First snow · Pacific under cloud · Big Sur at sunset · Sunset on a different coast · Chinese New Year · Temperance Fountain · New York Haikus · Atchafalaya Sunset · Great Egret · A Life's Story · Charleson fence · Big Sur coastline ·
Ah... San Francisco Bay Area, home. In many ways it feels like I never left. Drowsy with my last bout of traveling sickness from Peru, I can still drive all over the bay area on automatic pilot, eyes unseeing. I'm thoroughly American now, I thought. (Americans do not see?) This way of being in familiar territory, though it brought me a happiness of comfort, security, and being home, it also brought a slight irritation, a subtle let-down of my senses. So used to absorbing and processing so much in each moment, my senses and my mind are having some difficulties with the drop off, regardless of me.
Reading El Comercio on the plane home, I hear more about the terrorist group Sendero Luminoso's resurgence near Ayacucho, and worried about people I hold dear.
Yesterday on a meandering walk I found myself at the Berkeley Rose Gardens, surprised by the roses in full bloom. A serendipitous discovery: I was traveling again. I see the flowers with their velvet delicacy, the pine cones weighty and solid, and something's different: I can not only see them but also FEEL them. Things are more real than I remembered, than I expected, than I have a right to expect. I'm reminded of Ingmar Bergman’s Cries and Whispers, one line that comes to me often: come what may, this is happiness.
Chinese New Year's parade and festivities, Chinatown, New York. It's the year of the Ram, or Goat, or Sheep, or year 4700. The festivities are mostly a facade, thin. The details are nice, but without the crowds, there's not much of a show. But I appreciate the young men and women with their bleached and colored locks and their good looks doing the drumming, taking up the baton of tradition that's the lion's head, dancing their way into each storefront and wishing auspiciousness for the coming year. Some traditions and some sense of community are passed down. I pass through the parade streets alone, reviving old memories and collecting new ones. I'm an outsider to this Chinese community, and most others, yet I appreciate them deeply, if only for a smile on a Chinese baby girl's face.
New York Haikus
In Greenwich Village
There are some beautiful things
click clack goes their heels
Behind the billboards
the suits watch the world go by
Times Square timelessness
Shows open shows close
beauty traded for a song
the neon stays on
Another New York haiku
to say I've loved you
Monologue on a Savannah bus
"Man it sucks to be homeless when it's cold, man!
"Those homeless shelters get too full and they don't let you in and you have to stay out in the cold, man!
Savannah offers a free tourist shuttle. It's a good thing and as many locals as tourists use it. (Though eventually I saw that locals use it partly because the rest of the public transportation is lacking, not only because the shuttle's free.) Almost always, the locals on the shuttle are black, and the tourists are white. This afternoon the shuttle was fairly full. I heard two men greet each other, started to chat, then one man's voice grew louder and louder, and his voice and what he was saying shortly silenced the entire bus, so that we all listened to the monologue:
"You don't know how many times I've been staying out in the cold, man!
"I've stayed in so many abandoned buildings, God it's cold!
"I've heard there are people who die from the cold, from the, frostbite, man!
"I'm glad I'm spared that, man!
"One time, I was staying in my grandma's, garage, man I think it was, it was 30, degrees, I was so cold! Not through the night I had to knock on the door, and say let me inside! Man!
"My grandma, she doesn't care one bit, man! But I still go see her when I want to see her, man!
"One time, she kicked me out, and I made it all the way to California! Man!
"She kicked me out, but she didn't know I'd go all the way to California! Ha ha ha!
"My brother, he called her and told her I was in California!
"She was so worried, she didn't know where I was, for, a whole week!
"I could have bought a house in California! Man!
"Houses are cheap in California!
At this point some tourists laughed a little. I could not see the man from where I was sitting.
"Three bedroom house, you could buy for $28,000! Here it's $56,000! Man!
"There are some that are $130,000, even! Man!
"I could have bought a house in California!
"But hmm, I came back to Savannah, because, I heard this news report...
"They are going to invest in the Southeast of the US, man!
"They are going to invest in these parts!
"They are not going to invest in California!
"See ya, man!"
I realized it's my stop too and quickly head for the door. I see only his back, outfitted in a long jacket and baggy pants of some shiny white material, both decorated all over with small American flags and silvery paint. The size and texture of the suit and the American flags made me think of a spacesuit, and as we step off the bus into the mottled afternoon sunlight, I half expected him to proclaim he's landed on the moon, and God bless America.