Thursday, March 04, 2010

Longing, Returning, Leaving

A few days ago while I was foraging for lettuces and herbs in my back yard, I heard a familiar cry. At the top of a tall power line the sparrow hawk was hailing me. He was back to raise another brood, teach them to fly and then head back to wherever they go when winter returns. For me it was a hopeful sign that this very long winter might be coming to a close.

The next day I got on a plane and headed to far West Texas. An hour flight and a three hour drive led me back to Marfa for a wine dinner. The journey in is always a mind cleanse for me. From home base, the hard core urban setting, to the airport, where all of our fears are laid bare as we walk shoeless though filters poised to reveal anomalies in hope of finding evil, so that it might be rooted out. Then to a dusty, rural airport, Midland, home to my dear Uncle Lou and his family, amidst oil wells and childhood homes of world deciders. But the real purge comes in the drive from Midland to Marfa, when the landscape that is revealed sews itself in ones pocket so deeply so as not to ever be lost. There are many people at my final destination that night who are longing- longing for art, longing for love, longing for simple. One night under a universe of lights wont abate that longing, more to serve as a reminder to the city dweller that a larger universe of ideas, of Everything, is still there in spite of our tendency to narrow it down to an explanation that puts each and everyone of us in the middle of a micro-oxygenated universe of our own making.

Nothing you can know that isn’t known.
Nothing you can see that isn’t shown.
Nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be.
It’s easy.

I have done my 200th wine dinner, again. They are like kites- trying to keep them in the air, making sure the tail doesn’t tangle, hoping the kite doesn’t tear away, and when the kite finally flies and one runs out of string and the kite sails for 30 minutes or so, to reel it in? Or let it go? This night I got the kite up in the air pretty quick, got the room where I thought I wanted to go, like some West Texas preacher testifying about the Revelations of Gaglioppo and Inzolia. The dining room, high ceilinged, like a cathedral, held the dry air. I didn’t need to shout. I started channeling the poets, Lennon, Neruda, Whitman. I had them, the tail was untangled, the wind was blowing steady, calm. And then, just like that, I let all the string out and freed the kite. To the West Texas heavens under a full moon, the last vestiges of winter under those sent whirling back to their private universes.

So we sailed up to the sun
Till we found the sea of green
And we lived beneath the waves
In our yellow submarine

Afterwards, some of the group wanted to pilgrimage out to see the Marfa lights. Having been indoctrinated in those mysteries long ago, but only recently having become a Believer, I was up for it. I have a fantasy of someone putting a bar out there, like those blue bars we used to go to in Italy in the 1990’s. A piano, dark blue lighting, a great selection of single malts and grappas. Then a window to the vast unknown in search of those famous lights. But we stood out there in the high desert, shivering, our lone companion a traffic cone that had been placed over the telescope that is used in warmer nights to seek out the origin of those mysterious lights.

Would you believe in a love at first sight
Yes, I'm certain that it happens all the time
What do you see when you turn out the light
I can't tell you but I know it's mine,

When I was putting the wines together on a sheet for the dinner I was searching for a way to start a conversation with the people coming to it. One of my dinner companions remarked that he recently had a dinner for 12 people and they discussed the food and the wines. A salon. Yes, of course, I would love to come back and do something like that. But this night I was imagining these five wines as lines from a Beatles Album, the Yellow Submarine, in an effort to strike a match against the imagination and start a little fire of non linear conversation. Alas, it was probably something that was meant for My Universe, perhaps too much of a stretch. Too non linear. How did one of my teachers tell me, “Al, save the imagination for the drawing tablets.”

Follow her down to a bridge by a fountain
Where rocking horse people eat marshmallow pies
Everyone smiles as you drift past the flowers
That grow so incredibly high

My experiment with wine and song having wilted, I consoled myself under that cold and deep desert night with the happiness that other teachers had cultivated a biodynamic rebellion against those who would have me be a square peg in a square hole in a cubicle somewhere in a square building. Of course, we must report back, head up the elevator and slip into the meeting, hoping that someone in that meeting will be receptive to the accounts from the front lines. As long as I don’t make them too poetic. Or out there.

Out there. Out there. As I was driving back the next day to get back to the city and a tasting of Super Tuscans and Brunello (acclimate, acclimate) I found myself wasting time, putting it off. And as I drove, the radio playing Holst’s “The Planets” made it even more difficult to leave, to return. I stopped one more time at the base, this time the traffic cone had a retiree in a Winnebago for company.

Pulling away from the highway out of Alpine, the junction, one to the Big Bend and the other back to the Big City, I had a visceral reaction. I felt sick to my stomach, maybe it was the huevos rancheros?

As I left the wilderness, returning to the power line that I always came back to, I promised myself to come back here again, for a week or more, to camp, to hike, to clear out the Big City. I really, really love the desert, it is my Tuscany.

One, two, three, four
Can I have a little more?
five, six, seven eight nine ten I love you.

Lyrics by The Beatles


Thomas said...

Going home. Nice.

Samantha Dugan said... spun me. I love it when a writer has me feeling like I'm sitting in a cone, their words spinning around me and word, one painted picture, one phrase brushes my arm, my back and I feel connected. Like I said, spun...

Marco Bagheria said...

"where all of our fears are laid bare as we walk shoeless though filters poised to reveal anomalies in hope of finding evil, so that it might be rooted out." I am always bowing to your prose-poetry, amico. Pretty.

Anonymous said...

Holy shit, I hate to even say this, but it is so the CAPRICORN in me: Holst's The Planets. Holst. But I completely identify with the siren song of West Texas, the Big Country, a place people cannot fathom till they have been there. I don't want to go to Italy or France anymore. I want to hike the southern rim in Big Bend and rejoice in the javalinas again. Yip.

Alfonso Cevola said...

well, I am humbled y'all. And. Speechless.

Kate said...

As an expat Texan (with roots in Marfa)living far away in Italy for the past 20 years, as a Beatles fan,and as a wine lover, I so very truly loved this post. Thanks.

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