Monday, December 13, 2004

I wish i had a river so long

Went to a late afternoon Xmas party this past Saturday, at a cozy home atop one of the summits of a flange along an eastern flank of the Cascade Mountains. The typical thing: food, drink, sweets, merriment, well-dressed folk, live music. My energy was low, so the batteries quickly wore down and I coasted on reserve into the early evening.

A faint blue hue enveloped me, one I didn't try to resist. I was in no pretending mood whatsoever, especially with myself, so, after a reasonable round of holiday greeting and conversing, I found a quiet unassuming corner of a room and sat with a glued-on arc of a wan smile, lest anyone inquire or intrude into my personal holiblah glaze.

The party was a precursor to a dance held at the local chapter of the Eagles. A band called Phoenix was scheduled to play. Figures. Birds within birds; myth intertwined with the prime reality.
They supplied the live music at the party with a barebones acoustic version of their regular act. So, as the party concluded and after a quick stop home to re-caffeinate, we all headed down to the Eagles Lodge.

It's a fairly big place: stage chest high, tables on three sides of a roomy wooden dance floor, two bars, pool tables, dining area, glinting garlands twisted up along every available festive pole.
Phoenix plays the typical beer-bar fare exacting everything from ZZ Topp to Creedence to Seger to Thorogood, songs I would normally have turned the dial against, but with a few surprises thrown in.
The Cars, The Kinks, The Beatles, and even Journey got some nice renditions played as their lead singer can hit every impossible high note Steve Perry used to be able to nail with ease. No easy task, unless you're a castrato, I might add.

So I danced and danced some more, recovering calf muscle injury and all, only to newly injure the good calf due to favoring the not-so-good one. The tennis gods, of late, seem to be exacting their tariffs and dues for decades of unhampered playing now that I am in my 52nd year.
And I'm not too happy about it.
Taking a break from the dance floor and running cocktail napkins across my sweat-matted hair and brow, I could hear the faint throb of a sad piano, a Joni Mitchell song called River rising from a long way off, from somewhere deep inside of me:

It’s coming on Christmas
They’re cutting down trees
They’re putting up reindeer
And singing songs of joy and peace
Oh I wish I had a river
I could skate away on

I wish I had a river so long
I would teach my feet to fly . . .

There was comfort in my vision of the mighty Columbia frozen over and my sore calftorn legs carrying me westward downriver towards the Cascade Locks, except the locks and dams were disappeared and only the river raced glazed and unobstructed toward the sea as it had for millions of years.

My river was all iced-over in a blue mirrored gateway that refracted the sky all the way to the apron of the cold Oregon sea, drawing white veils of scented snowspray as I skimmed along on wondrous skates of light, past Astoria, Ilwaco, skirting the agitated confluence of the Pacific, collapsing at last into the willing arms of Cape Disappointment.

Only later would I come to find expression for this mood, this undercurrent of sorrow, when I spoke with Celestina about my feelings for Nicole, how she is still so deeply inside of me.

It may be that I will carry this river within me for the rest of my days. So be it. Like so many who have said it before, I am happy to have loved once than never to have loved at all.

When two souls encounter one another as mine and Niggi's did, there is no mistaking it for anything else.
Perhaps one day, the river will move again, though I can't imagine it now.
I don't want to.
I don't need to.

I wish I had a river . . .


Blogger Kyle parried...

I can relate. Been in a marine layer mood myself. I know you know our old friend Coastal Eddie.

December 14, 2004 10:49 PM  

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