It has been a while since I’ve written, but I have the best of reasons. For the past ten days, I’ve been sojourning in my old hometown, too busy living and creating and experiencing deep beauty to write. Also, my computer was broken.
But now, I do want to write, I want to write about all of it, and I am overwhelmed with all there is to say. So I will start slow. I will tell you about my Saturday morning.
I woke at the top of a mountain, before dawn. My hosts were still sleeping (not graced, as I was, by the benefits of jetlag) and so I slipped out quietly to walk. The air was cold, touched lightly by a fog rising from the sea, and smelled of sage, salt, and artemisia. The gate at the end of the road that led to the park was still locked, so I slung my bag over it and climbed carefully over the spikes.
All this little-known path was lined with flowers, bougainvillea blooming into huge melting puddles along the ground, spicy gallardia, geraniums escaped from someone’s long-ago garden. I tucked several blooms into my hair. A lemon had tumbled down to freedom from a fenced-in tree, and I ate it. The peels I kept for the feast I had planned with friends later.
The front side of this mountain is set with several stories of recycled-concrete steps, and each morning they are lined with fitness pilgrims marching all the way to the top. I took great delight in floating past them in my skirt and sandals, taking the path of least resistance for once. The sun was rising now, and the mountains all took light with breathtaking suddenness. No one stopped climbing—they were facing the wrong way—but I first froze at the beauty, then started running, two steps at a time, laughing all the way down.
There were toyon berries beginning to ripen, and I grazed on them as I left the park, but I was growing hungry for a proper breakfast. I remembered a small French cafe a few miles away. The bike trail along Ballona Creek led straight there. It is a concrete bike trail, a concrete-lined creek, but it has its own beauty. Cattails grow there, and wild sage, and mulberry and elder. I remember foraging along its banks as a young mother, supplementing our meals with cattail tubers and handsful of elderberries.
As I walked, I sang. One of the benefits of no longer living here is that I don’t have to worry about ever running into these people again. So I wrapped trailing strands of bougainvillea around my waist, and sang at the top of my lungs in bad Gaelic (this song, with which my children and I are all besotted.)
The little French cafe was entirely full. I’d forgotten it was Easter weekend. I found myself a table jammed along the back edge of the patio in the sunlight, brought out my journal, and reread my page of intentions for this trip.
Now, I’ve learned from MASTERS, and my intentions are not simple declarative sentences. They are flowery, sensual paragraphs crammed with adjectives and exclamation marks, so evocative that just by reading I can already feel them coming true. I read the one about desiring more music in my life, wanting to hear lots of beautiful, inspiring live music every day. Then I looked up from my journal, and there was the guitarist.
He was setting up not eight feet from me, and he was not just any guitarist. He was Lissa’s Dream Guitarist from Central Casting, with gypsy-long hair and intense eyes. He commenced to play some of the most beautiful music I have ever heard, straight to me. It brought tears to my eyes. I drank more coffee than has ever passed my lips in my lifetime, just to keep sitting there listening to that music. Listening isn’t right. It was more like bathing, or steeping, the way an herb steeps in tea. I sat there for four hours, and he never stopped playing.
The restaurant was full all around me, and the sun climbed higher, but those four hours were enchanted and passed like liquid. When it was time to go, I put everything I had into his tip jar. Twenty dollars, some coins, bougainvillea and elder flowers and a lotion bar. Our eyes met, and we both grinned like truant children.
Walking home, dizzy with caffeine and music, I went as slowly as I could, noticing every change in the sky, the swing of the sidewalk beneath my feet, the scent of the bakeries and buses and fountains. I felt the sun on my skin like a heavy hand. I stopped into a secondhand store and bought sandals that wound around my calves , simply for the joy of tying them. And then it was time to meet my friend and set up our triple whammy herbal pampering/radical pleasure/visionary art workshop.
But that is more than enough for now. My feet are tired from contra dancing and my heart is full from homecoming. That notebook was full of desires, and I cannot wait to write about the ways in which they all came true. For now, I am so grateful for the manifold beauty of this life, and for slow mornings in which to savor it.