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Saturday, September 25, 2010

These Are Not The Roads You Knew Me By

First, let me begin.
Let me begin by telling you how I got here.
I arrived years ago, but it wasn't until now that I realized it.

I decided to start "blogging" earlier this month when I realized that I was overwhelmed and disheartened by the pulses of social media, and other strange and seeming voyeuristic modern practices we have become accustomed to. Nothing against them personally, they just aren't always for me.
I found myself yearning to be able to share something more profound than clicking the "like" button on someone's post. The essence of where I am and what I'm doing entails so much more than locale. It requires history, knowledge of past and present, and the freedom of length and voracity of words.

So here I am. Sitting in my office on one of those perfect San Francisco days. It's one of those days that reminds you that if it were to be like this even 37 days out of the year everyone in the world would live here. It would be worth it.  As much as I enjoy it, instead I often prefer the depth of the cooler, darker days; when the fog clings to the certainty of the landscape like moss and the cold bears down to your bones like the legends of the heavy, sinking libraries.

There are things you become accustomed to living by the ocean. The dampness in the air, the smell of oxidization. There are other things one never gets used to. One in particular for me is the horns of the boats and barges in the sound. They sound most frequently at night and in the morning, especially on foggy days. It sounds low and long like a stranger, minor in tone and lingering. Often one will repeat itself again and again.
Are they are coming, or going? Is this the return to where they came from, or just the beginning? Where have they come from and what do they carry with them that would tell us their story?
I usually like to imagine that they are embarking on a new journey, but somehow their sound signals something else to me; it seems to say "I have arrived." As if that would tell us all that came before.

In composing this I was reminded of one of my favorite poems, by one of the great living poets residing in the Bay Area. I thought it was particularly well-suited for my first "entry".

"Within two miles of the Pacific rounding
this long bay, sheening the light for miles
inland, floating its fog through redwood rifts and over
strawberry and artichoke fields, its bottomless mind
returning always to the same rocks, the same cliffs, with
ever-changing words, always the same language
-this is where I live now. If you had known me
once, you'd still know me now though in different
light and life. This is no place you ever knew me.

But it would not surprise you
to find me here, walking in the fog, the sweep of the great ocean
eluding me, even the curve of the bay, because as always
I fix on the land. I am stuck to earth. What I love here
is old ranches, learning seaward, lowroofed spreads between rocks
small canyons running through pitched hillsides
liveoaks twisted on steepness, the eucalyptus avenue leading
to the wrecked homestead, the fogwreathed heavy-chested cattle
on their blond hills. I drive inland over roads
closed in wet weather, past shacks hunched in the canyons
roads that crawl down into darkness and wind into light
where trucks have crashed and riders or horses tangled
to death with lowstruck boughs. These are not the roads
you knew me by. But the woman driving, walking, watching
for life and death, is the same"
-Adrienne Rich, from An Atlas of The Difficult World

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