Wednesday, May 25, 2011

All Walks of Life

 It is nearly three in the morning.  You were walking off the considerable energy from writing you had in those days.  If, in fact, it had been a few hours earlier, you might have gone to one of your favorite neighborhood lounges or ventured up on the Sunset Strip, thinking of exotic drinks such as Pimm's Cup Number One, with a diagonal cucumber slice.  It was all about the romance of having written the day's output, wanting some ceremonial way of commemorating it before taking to sleep.

The beam of a searchlight finds you, blinds you momentarily with its harsh brightness.  "How's the novel going, Mr. Lowenkopf.?"  Two of LAPD's finest, out on neighborhood patrol.  You are at that moment not much different from where you are at this moment, ninety some miles north of where you started out your life, awaiting the consequences of a finished work, embarked in a new project which has no tangible end insight.  It is another era.  Even in the portion of LA where you were stopped so frequently, walking at that hour, the attitudes of the officers would have shifted; you would not have been profiled as a writer, embarked on a project with no tangible end in sight; you would be profiled as quite something else.

Santa Barbara is more of a walking town than LA.  Your neighborhood is about four blocks east of the main drag.  Were you to walk two blocks east of your north-south cross street, Laguna Street, you would be approaching the hilly portion of town called The Riviera and a winding whimsy of a street with the self-important name Alameda Padre Serra, named after you-know-who, and the real estate would be rising in price and self-importance along with it.  You invariably chose the other direction, which reaches toward another kind of self-importance altogether, that of resort-town self-importance which,in Santa Barbara, is self-importance with red-tiled roofs.  There are, within your present walk parameters, places where you could get a beer or ale, which seems to be your drink of choice these days, possibly something with a tequila base, and even two opportunities for coffee you consider quite superior to the likes of Starbuck's.

It is good to be back at these walking tours; they remind you you are walking not so much because it is good for you to be indulging a weight-bearing exercise as because it is something you often did when you were finished with the day's writing.

Walking under such circumstances is often a bittersweet experience.  It is good to have written but it is not always good to be through writing for the day.  Sometimes, as you walk, you pass offices or living quarters where persons are seated at computers; they are not through writing for the day.  Seeing them strikes you as having visited a lost opportunity.  Even on days when you despair of having anything to say about anything, you feel the sense of being at a computer or note pad is something of a comfort, a chance that were anything to come through, you'd be able to get it down, perhaps shape it into something.

You envy the neat integrity and mesh of completed work, but so long as you shall live, you believe you will see time spent away from this damned delightful madness of writing as missed opportunity.

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