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Location: California

I love paper. Books printed on acid-free paper and bound in cloth turn me on. I'm crazy about bookmarks, and I buy too many stickers. I could spend hours in the build-your-own-greeting card section of my neighborhood craft store. My favorite thing to eat is bread, and my second favorite is fruit. (Mm, pineapple.) I read too much and too fast, and I watch too many food shows (two ways of looking at gluttony). Gloomy, rainy weather calms me and so I can't wait to move out of California, which will happen, sadly, too many years from now to count. I'm vegan, though I haven't managed to eliminate honey from my diet yet. I practice yoga; it's the only way I can keep fit. I have a better life than I ever imagined I would (or deserve to) have, but I do my best to enjoy it rather than feel guilty about it. That's my daily struggle -- and also to be thoughtful and observant and honest with myself.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Catalina Island

I'd never been on an island before. We took the boat at noon on a brighty sunny day, and after ten minutes of sailing we were in the middle of a thick fog. I couldn't see land ahead or behind, just beautiful dark restless water. I stood on the deck in the wind, the moisture in the fog condensing on my bare arms and on my glasses. What a feeling it was, the swaying of the ocean and that gloom and that air hitting my face and smelling of salt. There is happiness like this, so simple, so physical, but that I feel I could never tire of. Inside the boat I felt seasick and read Alice Munro and took deep breaths to quell my nausea.

There's a botanical garden on the island, with a tower you climb up to on a spiral staircase and from which you can see the ocean. They have a century plant in the garden, which flowers once every hundred years and about which I had read in a story by Catherine Mansfield. There are ironwood trees whose wood is so dense that it sinks in water. There's a dragon-tree whose swollen limbs make me think of my aunt's arms; this aunt is a fierce woman, overweight but with white and hard flesh on her bones, like stone.

It baffles me, but my parents are getting along again. In part I'm resentful about this, because I know this is the beginning of another cycle of love and anger, tenderness and violence. I marvel at the power of habit, the habit of being someone's partner for thirty years, and the fear that takes hold when you consider breaking away. I took this picture of them in the tower on the island and it was an accident of light, it was a picture I thought I would have to get rid of because I couldn't see their faces. But it suddenly seems fitting. I want them so much to step out into that light outside, that beautiful light. I want so much for them to have the courage to be happy -- apart or together it doesn't matter.


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