October 26, 1999
Alameda Autumn


I think I owe David an apology.

While I'm at it, I should probably apologize to the cities of Alameda, Oakland and San Francisco ... to the State of California in general, and to the Bay Area specifically ... to all of the local TV weather puppets, even Roberta Gonzales ... and [ohwhynot?] to Mother Nature herself.

I'm sorry, everybody. I take back everything I said. You really DO have autumn, here in "seasonally-challenged" California.

(David: "See? I TOLD you that this is the perfect place for you to live!")

True, it's not the sort of Technicolor, woodsmoke-and-plaid-flannel autumn I'm used to, as a native of the Pacific Northwest. I'm not gonna be running out and buying an umbrella any time soon.

I'm more likely to SCAN a pumpkin pie, these days, than I am to bake one.

And it's a little jarring to see oak trees and palm trees, both sharing the same space in my camera's viewfinder.

But in its own temperate, sunlit way, this particular autumn  --  or "fall," as David insists on calling it  --  is proving to be every bit as colorful and as invigorating and as life-affirming as any other I've experienced. Even if I'm not spending my Saturdays making chicken-and-zucchini soup from scratch.

And even if I am wearing sandals in October.

You've gotta admit that The Tree House was a pretty tough act to follow ... at least, as far as spectacular autumn views are concerned.

The Little Crooked Alley ~ Oregon City, 1998
I spent a lot of time last October sitting in that stoopid green plastic lawnchair in the middle of an otherwise empty dining room ...

... watching the sun set behind the forested hills of Oregon City ...

... listening to the trains and the traffic and the river, rumbling from three floors below me ...

... stalwartly ignoring the maddening, itchy craving for a Saxer's Lemon Lager (or twelve), and wondering if sobriety was ever going to feel as good as having a snootful and talking about Bicentennial condoms in the Baby Boomer Chat Room at 3 a.m. ...

... but mostly just appreciating the fact that I could come home from a long day at The Knife Factory, open the curtains, plunk myself into the lawnchair and enjoy this fabulous, life-affirming view for free, every night. 

(Or for "only" $550 a month, anyway. Plus returned-check fees.)

It was a little nightly ritual that helped *center* me. I had other rituals that helped get me through those terrible early days of recovery -- most notably, the nightly three-hour phone call from my pal David in California -- but sitting by the window in candlelight, watching the sunset, was something I did purely for myself ... BY myself. It was nice. It was soothing. It was sanity-restoring.

And I don't mind admitting that I miss it, sometimes.

It was a year ago this week that I began panicking in earnest about my upcoming trip to California, and my first face-to-face encounter with my friend David.

I was confused and concerned about what to wear ... what to pack ... what sort of weather to expect ... ad infitickulitum. In Oregon, autumn was in full, glorious, chilly bloom, but I had zero idea what to expect once I got to CALIFORNIA.  Shorts? Or jeans? Sandals? Or Doc Martens?

SPF 15? Or 1500?

But even more ohmygod-inducing, for me  --  even though I refused to admit as much, at the time: I remained stubbornly focused on the *weather dilemma*  -- was the prospect of meeting David in person.

We had known each other for three years by then  --  originally, as fellow anarchists in the Baby Boomer Chat Room: later, as a two-person mutual support system, dealing with recovery issues  --  and our friendlationship felt as safe and as comfortable as a favorite pair of ragwool socks.

There was no romance at that point. We reminded each other of that, every day. Sometimes twice a day.

(Sometimes twice an hour.)

What we HAD was a very sweet, intimate, lovely *connection* -- almost spookily connected, at times: I knew what he was going to say before he said it, and vice versa -- a connection based on mutual respect, trust, caring and shared interests. Not to mention $200 a month long-distance bills.

But it wasn't a romance.

I was coming to spend Hallowe'en weekend in California with David as sort of a "reward" for having survived that first hellish month of recovery, all by myself. He was concerned about the amount of time I was spending alone in The Tree House, and felt that a weekend in the Bay Area would be good for me. He would show me the sights, and feed me Chinese food, and take pictures of me in front of the Golden Gate Bridge; I would rummage through his record collection, and sit in the sunshine eating tangerines, and take pictures of him standing in front of the Golden Gate Bridge. It would be a three days of sweet, connected, PLATONIC fun. With me sleeping on David's sofa, by the way.

Because this wasn't a romance.

I wrote to David the day before my flight. "I don't know about you," I wrote, "but I am now officially nervous as hell. I believe it's temporary. I assume it's temporary. I HOPE LIKE HELL it's temporary, because 'nervous' is NOT a good look for me. (I think it was the lingerie section at Fred Meyer tonight that sent me spiralling off into panic. There is, apparently, absolutely no *middle ground* when it comes to women's sleepwear: it's either 'Honeymoon' or 'Grandma,' if you know what I mean. How come there's no 'Chastely Visiting A Friend of the Opposite Sex But Not Wanting To Appear Totally Dowdy' selection??)"

Amused, he continued to assure me that everything was going to be just fine.

"You're going to have a lot of fun here," he said reassuringly. "And you're going to love the weather in the Bay Area."

I wasn't at all convinced.  And when I finally got around to packing  --  ten minutes before it was time to leave for the airport, the next day  --  I "packed" an amusing mishmash of Arctic-ready sweaters and suitable-for-the-tropics T-shirts ... two pairs of sunglasses AND a pair of Isotoner gloves ...

... and the world's biggest, ugliest, heaviest flannel bathrobe. Because even though this wasn't a romance ...

... it WAS autumn. Even in "seasonally-challenged" California. And I was determined to be prepared for anything.


self-important blurb #1 will go HERE:  i know, i know ... i *poofed* on everybody this past weekend, without warning. forgive me. i just sort of shut everything down for a couple of days ... including/especially anything computer-related ... and spent the weekend in bed, eating pears and reading newspapers. it was lovely. frankly, i could have used another two or three days (or weeks, or months, or YEARS) of it.

e-mail o'the day:  "... While I'm enjoying your new format IMMENSELY, I notice that there is not enough stuff about one of your best friends in the universe: ED KAZ. I feel that you should devote an entire journal entry to this essential member of your *ensemble* as a sort of tribute.

We here in the *harem* would certainly enjoy an ED KAZ RETROSPECTIVE. The world awaits.

Graciously and Demurely Yours,

Courtney Bombeck"

special *howdy* to:  my pal, courtney b. an "ed kaz retrospective?" whut a wonderful idea! why didn't *i* think of that?  

a year ago

here's where i'll ask a *relevant* question:
were you worried?
no not especially/yes ... desperately/worried about whut?

amazingly profound thought of the day: "The best work that anybody ever writes," said Arthur Miller, "is the work that is on the verge of embarrassing him, always."