where i am right now

by "where i am right now" i don't mean geographically, although at this moment, in a micro-geographic sense, i'm typing on the bed with maisie curled up at my feet.  a cat and a keyboard: who could need anything more?  (except another cat; mae-mae is in the other room.) where i am right now might be summed up by the fact i'm collecting quotes about light.  here are two:

"in order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present." ~sir francis bacon, philosopher, 1561-1626

"though my soul may be set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light, i have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night."  ~ from "the old astronomer to his pupil" by sarah williams, poet, 1837-1868

aren't they beautiful?  and isn't light beautiful?  i'm living in a place that's sunnier than what i've been used to for most of my life, and nearly every day i look out to see white light bouncing off the pacific, illuminating lemons in the trees, casting shadows on the mountain and canyon.  but still i'm in touch with darkness, most of it inner--maybe all writers are?  maybe all human beings are...

i'm thankful for that darkness.  it's helped me understand the things people go through, the really painful stuff we all wish would just disappear, go away, or even better, never have existed at all.  i'm writing about this now, because during the next few months i'm going to ask you to come on a journey with me.

the picture above shows me with two brilliant young filmmakers: rubie andersson and tamara edwards.  when i'm not writing my new novel, i've been working with these young women to create a series of videos connected to little night.

the novel deals with a dark aspect of family life: domestic violence and how it affects everyone.  i've experienced it myself, and know that healing is possible, that the dark night ends and daylight returns.  little night is very much about how a woman wakes up from a nightmare--with the help of friends, family, and the right kind of love.

along the way, i've interviewed three women who've been affected--either themselves, or in one case, her daughter--by abuse.  tamara and rubie have done such beautiful, sensitive filming; they're in the process of editing, and i can't wait to show you the results.

Try to remember the kind of September

September is the most beautiful, still so full of summer, warm sands, salt water holding onto August heat.  The humidity drops, the sky is clear.  Bright blue, high clouds or no clouds.  Achingly gorgeous sunsets, topaz, violet, and maroon. Sometimes hurricanes come in September.  We'd ride them out at the beach, leaning into the wind.  Waves would rise to cliff-height and crash down, seething white over the sand, across the boardwalk, into the boat basin.  And then the weather would clear, and we'd clean up the branches and leaves and broken windows.  My house was built in 1938, survived the famous hurricane that devastated our area, and all storms since.

Early September brought conflict, i.e. school.  It required a complete alteration of mind and mood, a radical revision of self, to go from the beach's freedom to school's schedules.  We learned a lot in both places.  But to this day I know I was one person at the beach and another once school began.

Yesterday a friend and I walked through the city.  We headed downtown from 23rd St.  The day was hot.  Tenth Avenue reflected the heat.  We were on our way to a meeting.  Business, like school, starts up after Labor Day.  I wore loafers and real pants, not jeans.  My teeshirt wasn't torn or gigantic or from Surfrider.  It looked vaguely legit.  I sat around a big table with bright, creative people who talked about exciting things.   I had a coffee.  My friend brought amazing cookies.  We all partook as we discussed.   I particularly enjoyed the carrot cake cookie.  It felt good to be part of a whole--the way I always wanted school to feel.  My desk, the cats notwithstanding, can feel lonely.

Have I mentioned I was a September baby?  I, and other September children with whom I've spoken, always feel renewed this time of year.  One dearest friend and I have birthdays separated by just a few days and for many years have managed to celebrate them together.  She lives in LA and I live in New York but that never seems to matter.

On September will go.  Soon I'll be heading east on the way to my niece's wedding.  By dusk I'll be swimming in the Sound.  I'll have a massively festive reunion with whomever we're lucky enough to see.  The cottage is inhabited by ghosts, no joke, and we'll be glad for their company.  One early morning I hope to walk the beach, through the marsh, up the hidden path.

The air will be warm but not as warm.  I'll smell the leaves changing.  The air will be spicy with rose hips and young grapes.  The bay will flash silver with bait.  I'll swim as often as there's time.  My thoughts are already deeply with my niece, for whose wedding we'll be gathering.  It's the main thing.  Sometimes, with such a big, important event on the horizon, this one in particular because it's so dear, so incredibly tender, it's hard to imagine bothering with all the minutia of the days leading up.

But life being life, there's a lot to do before getting to that moment.  It's a moving meditation, the way of September.  Ineffable beauty.  Deep dreams and memories.  Things to do.  Including swimming.  Attempting to fathom the unfathomable.  Attending a wedding.  Celebrating Molly and Alex.  And to quote my sister Maureen who was quoting someone else, "love, love, love."

Try to remember. Thank you, Jerry Orbach.