Here I am in a big two-double-bed motel room, and without you.
Jerald & Lisa have their own room a few doors down. So I am in this room alone—or rather, I share the room with a transit, a map-case, an alidade, a stadia rod, two tripods, a water jug, a bucket with flagged rods, and I am still lonely. Where is Laura? Even if the transit and tripods slip into bed with me, I will still be lonely. I will still miss my Laura.
-- from letter to Laura, July 19, 19-- ____________________
There is really not much to write about. Sunrises and sunsets are pretty here. At the site we found maypops (fruit of the passion flower), the best find so far, in my opinion.
One more day, then one more after that, then one more. That is the way to get home again. Then one more and one more.
But I will be coming home, don't worry. The stars are over my head, and the wind talks in my face, and my life leans your way. I will be coming home to your body and to you. In a sense, I am always coming home to you, only this time I am coming home from a place 400 miles farther away, and not after an afternoon away, but a week. But the meaning is all the same.
-- letter to Laura, July 20, 19-- ____________________
To you, Laura, I offer the one thing that is in my power to offer—my alive body. All the love and devotion and gentleness that body can manage to bestow on you. And loyalty. I feel wonderful loyalty to you, as a human being.
Now, I never believed in loyalty. Loyalty to country, to nation, to state—I have always denied such a thing utterly. I felt no loyalty to what was merely a political entity, a human mental convention. Loyalty to my family, to friends? —No not really. I always preferred truth to loyalty. But I could feel a genuine loyalty—what else to call it—to some animals, to wild places, to the human animal soul when I saw it flicker in somebody, if only briefly. Then I felt loyalty—indeed sometimes intense loyalty.
Now I feel the intensest loyalty to you. I have seen the beautiful human being that you are; I have felt your gentleness and your bright, appealing vitality; and indeed I have felt your arms go around mine and your tongue talk to my tongue, and I have touched your lovely vagina and sensed its magic, and I feel loyalty. I feel loyalty beyond myself, Laura. I am not so sure that loyalty is not love, the feeling of love itself, only from the glint of a differing angle. It is a wonderful feeling, I know that. To touch you, to lean my skin against your body and come in all nakedness to you, to have you come in all nakedness to me, it is a glory, it is magic, it is the body calling out its love song, it is blood coursing and frolicing like the happy sea.
-- from letter to Laura, July 22, 19-- ____________________
I take this moment in the morning (see picture) to pause and, ignoring the continent between us, look your way. I remember you—I have not forgotten—and it is memory full of body blood and flesh for you, that wants to wrap legs around you and lie face to face—continent between us or not.
Southern California strikes one immediately with a sense of impermanence—of frailty. Nothing can quite come to life here—lawns (unless irrigated) can only manage a brownish, sicky yellow green, not living green. Water-loving trees cannot manage here—it is all tropical palms, Florida-like vegetation, only without the 4th great element after air, fire, earth, which is water.
There could never be an Everglades here.
Los Angeles, we learned, hasn't seen rain since April. Santa Barbara not much better. It is the normal summer drought. The mountains, thrown up like steep folds of earth, precarious hills, are yellow with grass and shrubs—essentially treeless. To me, it is alien landscape, uninviting.
To me the tropical palms and carob trees are unappetizing, unappealing. Give me lush growth and a watery world any day. I don't want water that is bottled into an ocean and not a drop spilled on earth.
Love, kisses, coitus. . .
-- letter to Laura, July 2, 19-- ____________________
This last night here I feel a strong desire to be alone—leave the partying outside at pool and at hospitality room. Leave laughter dimmed beyond the door. I want a chance to be alone and naked, crawl in bed, wait for another day. Crawl in bed, and come into naked presence with myself, my skin feelings, my tiredness, that wonderful vulnerability of being a quiet body.
It has been a corral of people all week, full of corralled talk of nothing new under the sun—not business talk necessarily, but nothing that undercuts our social presumptions. What might be spoken from feelings rather than learning.
It is so easy to note the darkness that reveals depth in a person, whenever it has its turn in them. Such a standout among all the busy noise of people's on-stage lives. And that darkness in them makes them immensely aware of being on-stage, and suddenly immensely shy about it, suddenly embarrassed. Because life, really, is not an on-stage affair.
It is not well-served by being continually pushed on-stage. We have to leave our darkness, our center of identity, behind, uncostumed and off-stage. We literally try to push it aside, folded out of sight. And so the need for sex, and unpremeditated, unexpected sex, to bring us almost to that experience of being off-stage.
All of which comes to me and you, and my desire to come home, come off-stage, and you with me. Really, no thought of sex tonight, —I'm too exhausted for that desire, no thought of talk, no thought of touch even or massage (a few thoughts maybe, but let them sleep), but thought of one thing and one only: of coming home to you and off-stage again. You and I are family. Between us we have built a little world for human darkness and life. Thus our satisfaction with each other.
So I ramble on. But beyond the rambling sentences on the page remember that I have missed you four days now. Have missed you, do miss you. I want to have shared these things with you—I want to have had with me these days what you and I have between us. That I could not.
How will I tell you the disturbing frailty and the astonishing beauty of Santa Barbara, and her ocean and mountains here? The exotic, marvelous plant growth here? The steady blue weather, 70's, and dry infra-red sun?
-- letter to Laura, July 2, 19-- ____________________
I wish you could have come with me—to have the experience of flying if nothing else. It is scary.
It scares me—to fly.
These small planes are that much scarier. Big planes isolate you from the sky, you forget, almost, that you are in a plane—they feel sort of like being in a huge flying building. The flight is smooth and isolated from the air, the way a large car isolates you from the bumps of the road.
These 737's get knocked about by the air. Ride along the crest of a cloud and the plane gets tossed about a little. You feel the air currents push the plane around, and you realize how flimsy the plane really is. The atmosphere is strong and immense, and you see the sheet metal wings shudder and bend. You realize you have no control over your life and your death—all relies on that flimsy plane and the competence or incompetence of joking, laughing mechanics. Your life in the hands of people who don't really think about it.
Yet it is magic, sheer magic—flying. The plane picks up speed, rushing down the runway; you cannot but think this heavy all-metal plane will never get fast enough to lift-off—it seems unlikely. And then it happens. The backs of the wings cam and the plane is suddenly arching up.
It happens in slow motion. You think the tail of the plane will barely clear the ground as the plane arches up, and then you see the runway getting smaller, and you can see above the treetops, and the cars on the highway look near, so near, below you. You feel like you are on a magic carpet. The toy roads and buildings and trees swing below you, tantilizingly real. The magic is, they ARE real.
I can never get over that this is what it looks like to be up in the air. The fields and forested lots and patterned subdivisions real below, just like pictures you have seen, but you look down and you think, this is really what it is like. This is really what being in the air is like. Frightening magic.
The plane keeps rising—eventually it crosses the cloud line. Above the clouds, often, you feel like you can step out, actually step out onto them like pillows.
But it is not really magic. There is something all too fallible, all too frightening about it. It always makes me feel how easily I could die. The small planes, especially, seem so frail, and from a mile in the sky, I feel so frail myself. It makes me long for you. I want to be safe at home in your arms. Where my frail body knows it belongs. Down where the flush of lovely life is, touching you.
On the way to the airport my father drove us along the Mt. Vernon parkway, the road which winds through the trees and hills around Washington's home. Then the road fronts along the Potomac—and there is a pure Virginia patch of land between river and road, with paths winding between old trees and lawnscape. We saw couples on the paths, holding hands, and couples sitting. One couple rolling on the grass in solid body embrace. It made me want so strongly to be there with you, so strongly to lie on the grass with you, to walk down a dirt path together, to look out over the Potomac, to fall together on the grass in the low evening, laugh and roll in the grass and make love.
We must not let life pass us by. We must not be afraid to make changes. But make them together, always, and always have each other's eyes to look in and love. And I want trees around us, big tall trees that know the earth. And outdoor air, strong clean air to flow over our skin, our whole bodies, and tingle us, tingle our senses anew into the recognition of the love we feel mutually, as bodies. And laughter that reaches to us across the air, and it is our own laughter, strange and lovely. And we look about us, with our clear moist bright eyes, and see ourselves laugh and fall back in the grass and make love.
I have a dream that I will laugh and make love with you forever. It is a waking dream. The plane drops out of the sky, the solid bounce of the wheels on earth again. I step out of the plane into the world of laughter and love that has its home in your arms. This dream is real. This dream is really, actually real.