Monday, March 21, 2011

Recess

  It has happened again.

  The new digs at 409 E. Sola St. are not what you would call commodious, perhaps 18 x 18 in the main room, 17 x 10 in the kitchen, a modest shower-only lav, and a walk-in closet of about 5 x 12.  Neither you nor Sally feel cramped; if you did, you'd have a 50- or 60 sq. ft patio and an outer yard by way of amelioration.  And were this unusual season of rain to be at an end, you would doubtless extend the range of 'it."

You first became aware of the "it" happening again when you noticed the current issue of The Paris Review on the dining table, The New York Review adjacent the bed, The London Times Literary Supplement in the reading chair in the southwest corner of the main room, Harper's Magazine in the lav.  The Prairie Schooner is tucked neatly against the side of the writing desk, as though it belonged there.  What of The Kenyon Review?  Why, it, still in its mailing envelope, rests atop The latest issue of New Yorker, which is atop a stack of London Review of Books on the table against the south wall.  You showed great wisdom by not bringing Tin House inside; it is still in the car because you'd thought to read it at breakfast this morning, but that came to naught because, while diving for your reading glasses, you'd discovered also in the car a copy of The Atlantic Monthly.


The books are neatly shelved although you did notice the beginnings of a stack of recently read titles in a convenient space directly south of the four-tier book shelf in the kitchen.  You have been scrupulous about keeping this shelf neat so as to preserve the illusion of overall neatness.  This arrangement demonstrates how your reading habits have accommodated themselves to your by-now "broken-in" living quarters, seeming to require that you read different things in different places.

In mentioning the dining table, where you sometimes do in fact dine rather than bringing whatever meal into the writing desk.  You are pleased to notice a vase of flowers, including numerous camellias you have poached from the large house next door at 414.  What you had not expected to see there, in addition to The Paris Review, was your scarcely begun copy of the new Kate Atkinson, Left Early, Took the Dog.


Looking back at this at some future time, you'll have divined the significance of "it," the literary equivalent of the koi fish growing in size in direct ratio to the pond in which it resides:  books.  Books and magazines.  Books and magazines everywhere.

From time to time when you were still living on Hot Springs Road, a slight tick above the church elementary schools at Our Lady of Mount Carmel and El Camino Presbyterian, you'd hear that particular, high-pitched clamor of children at recess, reminding you of your own recess days, in particular at Hancock Park Elementary School, Third at Fairfax in Los Angeles.  True, you were at any number of others, some notably pleasant.  But Hancock Park recess was the recess you remembered; the world was beginning to unfold for you.  Games were erupting all about you.  You were sure of being chosen to play some game on some arena, although you did enjoy slipping off by yourself for that most wonderful recess of all, second only to reading furiously:  the opportunity to run until you were breathless, then gulp enormous quantities of water, your pulse still pounding in your ear, the advanced army of perspiration already forming under your arms, perhaps even on your forehead.

Games are still erupting all about you, but so, too, are books and magazines and journals and now electronic screens as well.

The images merge into one; you think of the books you wish to read and those you wish to write and, your chances of being about the playground long enough to attend to some of them, your own and others.  The bell has not rung yet.  Recess is not over.  The high-pitched clamor of excitement rises in your ears. You are thirsty.  You feel the pulse rising within you and the advanced army of drops of perspiration.

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