Thursday, February 19, 2009

Alternate lives

Cafe Hafa, Tangier.
When AOL stopped auto-deleting all the new mail, or mail kept as new, that had been hanging around for 30 days or so, it lured a shadowy part of my nature into a state of hoarding correspondence. The fact that there was no well-functioning printer at the time needs to bear some of the blame, but that weak and procrastinating part simply let things pile up. No need to mention just how many things but as the computer began to slow down and give me the electronic equivalent of the stink eye, I started sorting - printing, saving in files, deleting or releasing.

There was gold there, as I expected; there were also serendipitous mailings, one of which connects to something I've been thinking about for a few days. It was a call, forwarded by a writer friend, for "innovative film writing," which was described, in part, as "...attempt to implant your cinematic experience in others." Dangerous doors to open for one who can take (as may be witnessed in previous postings) a phrase or interpretation from any book, song, movie or word-centered presentation and go riding off like Jeremiah Johnson, alone in the high country, to track whatever realization has left its prints in the snow.

After several evenings of watching for a second time the Jason Bourne trilogy, what stayed in my mind was the name of a city, a Bob Dylan song and the fact that I am actually 64 years old, though my mind works like hell to sidestep that reality. "If you see her, say hello. She might be in Tangier," never has been and now, likely, never will be about me. The location filming in the Bourne movies, seen closer and on a larger tv screen this time around, was something of a wonder. It was not Toronto or Prague posing as Moscow; it was Moscow. But much as the visuals - and the plentiful chases, studies in deep black ops endurance - helped me escape along with Jason, it was just the simple mention that he had traveled (from India, we knew) through Tangier, before the third picture took us there, that had me twirling through my past.

I can't say that I really, actively chose the path my life took; it was more like an unmarked car which pulled up to the curb and I got in. There were never moments in which I thought, "Instead of sitting at this typewriter, I could be renting motor scooters on Corfu," or any Mediterranean coastal island or town. Life was just life, with goals and dreams that didn't involve world travel. I never saw myself, and don't imagine anyone else did, as exotic, adventurous, daring, mysterious or likely to be found in Tangier, but I suppose the possibility existed, for I didn't actually admit until a few days ago that my evolution into such a creature was unlikely to happen.

Nearly 30 years ago I worked with a woman, who might have been found anywhere. She and Bob Dylan were friends - he dedicated a song to her at a local concert. She could walk a tightrope and didn't believe in car insurance and in looking at the two of us through the same lens, I felt pretty much like someone who would be instantly recognized as some version of regular, while she would be compared to the fragrant smoke from a joss stick...sandalwood, patchouli or something unidentifiable, something other.

Allowing myself to accept the fact that her sort of otherness had ceased to be an option was not painful so much as surprising. I don't expect that at this point I will learn to water ski either. Perhaps it is just my mind that processess the passing of time in increments that have pretty much nothing to do with how rapidly the years go by. Tangier or Corfu or faraway places in general are not likely spots for women of a certain age to have new beginnings. But grabbing hold of other words, a Marianne Fathful song called "The Ballad of Lucy Jordan," in which she sings, "At the age of thirty-seven she realized she'd never ride through Paris in a sport car with the warm wind in her hair," it is clear that there are some alternate lives which I choose to hold onto a bit longer.


Erin in Morro Bay said...

I remember at about age 35 thinking, now I'm too old and will probably never learn to downhill ski. In the 22 years since then I've come to realize that it wasn't the skiing that appealed, but the snowy landscape and the roaring fire in the lodge accompained by a hot drink! In my mid 40's I thought, oh well, I guess I'll never get to travel - but lo! and behold! - right after 50 I changed my life, found the woman of my dreams and in the last 6 years have been to Paris twice, Scotland, Mexico, Canada, England, Vencie, the Caribbean and countless new cities across the U.S. It is interesting how the possibilities we think are gone forever, sometimes have a way of coming around again and turning into reality. So who knows - maybe at some point we should look for you in Tangiers or whizzing by on that Vespa in Corfu!

michelle ward said...

Tangiers? You never know! I do know this - you are a great travel guide. The way you write always takes me somewhere. Consider my passport stamped with another MK journey of thought. xo

p.s. love Erin's visual of you on a whizzing Vespa in Corfu.


Ahhh . . . I am instantly taken to the world of Paul (and Jane) Bowles . . . and the thought that we must all have our dream itineraries at the ready. Love Love Love this writing! xoxoxo K

Marylinn Kelly said...

Karen - Thank you. We must, indeed. Some dreams don't fade. xoxo