What a beautiful morning I’ve had here so far.
And it didn’t start out too great. I woke at my usual 4:44am, sort of dreading the fact that I have to drive into town later and buy more groceries. Even though I likely have antibodies for the virus now, it still just freaks me out because going into town (in the next county) was how I caught the virus in the first place. (And just FYI, the virus has flattened here in Ohio and Muskingum County still only has 10 confirmed cases. So I probably should have gone to the markets here in this county instead of the next county, where they have 114 cases, but oh well. Too late.)
Plus, I was just feeling really at odds with myself this morning — not understanding who I really am, or what my purpose is in the world. (I love when my mornings start out like that and the sun isn’t even up yet.)
Yesterday, Nick Cave sent out a Red Hand Files letter regarding plagiarism versus the tendencies of indigenous types of music (like rock & roll, jazz, blues, etc.) to progress upon the shoulders of songs that came before it. (I’m using my own words there — not quoting him.) (You can read what he actually said at that link there.)
In it, he briefly mentioned Arvo Pärt, and it made me think of Arvo Pärt’s piece “Spiegel Im Spiegel,” which I used to play a lot but hadn’t listened to in a really long time.
So after my breakfast, and after making entries in all my many little journals that I write in at the breakfast table each morning to keep me from drifting too far from Sanity’s shore, I went back up to bed with my coffee cup in hand and put “Spiegel Im Spiegel” on repeat on my phone and listened to it as the sun came up.
And, as always happens in my contemplative life, a ton of beautiful memories came streaming back.
The reason I used to listen to “Spiegel Im Spiegel” all the time was because of a poet I used to know. We met when we were in our late 40s. She was incredibly gifted. She’d had several poetry collections published by then, and was bilingual in Russian — wrote poems in Russian, also — and her work had won some prestigious poetry prizes.
I liked her a lot, just as a person. But as a writer, I absolutely loved her. Her way with words.
She spent most of each year living in St. Petersburg, Russia, which is one of the few places in the world I have always wanted to visit. Like, passionately. (Helsinki and St. Petersburg are probably the two places on Earth that I haven’t been to yet that I have always wanted to visit.) During the months she would live in St. Petersburg, she would write the bulk of her poems each year. And, honestly, I cannot tell you how much I loved her poems.
One day, I asked her about her inspiration — where it came from; that kind of thing. And she said that she listened to a lot of Arvo Pärt and, at that particular time in her life, “Spiegel Im Spiegel” was what she listened to the most.
“You’ve got to buy it, Marilyn, and listen to it. It’s so inspiring!”
So I bought it and I did indeed listen to it. And this morning, as I was listening to it again, I got a few of her poetry books down from my bookshelf. And I drank my coffee, and listened to “Spiegel Im Spiegel” and read her amazing poems in bed. And renewed my decision that she is a truly gifted writer.
I broke off contact with her several years ago. She knew how much I had always wanted to go to St. Petersburg, so she invited me to come there and live with her for a few months. Just hang out with her and write all day. Cook meals. Drink wine late into the night.
I remember that she said, “You’re going to have to surrender your passport once you get here, but there’s nothing to be afraid of. I speak fluent Russian. They know me here. They will give you back your passport when you leave. I promise you.”
As much as I wanted to go (and I came very close to making that trip) I knew I was falling in love with her and that if I wasn’t in love with her yet, living with her for a few months in St. Petersbrug, writing all day, cooking meals together, drinking wine long into the night… Well, I would be in love with her for sure and she was absolutely 100% heterosexual.
By the time I was in my late 40s, I knew beyond all doubt that falling in love with straight women was a serious dead-end street. Just in a hugely BIG way. So I didn’t make the trip and, almost immediately upon realizing what my heart was doing, I stopped being in contact with her. Didn’t go visit her even in America anymore.
I don’t know if she ever wondered what suddenly happened to me — we had a couple of writer-friends in common in NYC and in LA, but I never actually heard anything from them about it. I’m guessing she just assumed I was nuts , which is generally a good assumption to make about me. However, it leaves out some of the key things that drive me to nuttiness. (L-O-V-E, in particular.) But it’s okay, I guess.
Still, wow, was it beautiful this morning. It was mild enough to have a window open, so I heard the birds singing as the sun came up, too. And that music and those poems? My goodness. What a lovely morning. Life is so beautiful, isn’t it? And before I knew it, the tone of my whole morning had completely shifted in the direction of love.
So, I’m going to get started here. I like to get to the market close to when it opens, since there are fewer people. I did sew a new mask yesterday, btw. I no longer own a sewing machine, so I sewed it by hand and it took forever. But I watched Bad Seeds TeeVee on my phone the whole time, which made “forever” go a lot faster.
Life has just gotten so weird, hasn’t it? Sewing little cotton masks while endlessly streaming intensely intense songs by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds? (There’s poetry in there somewhere, I’m sure of it.)
Anyway. Okay. Thanks for visiting, gang. Enjoy Wednesday, wherever you are in the world. I leave you with 9 minutes of stellar beauty. Perhaps it will inspire you to write award-winning poetry, too. Who knows? You might even be fluent in Russian and not even realize it yet! Go on — put pen to paper, hit “PLAY” and see what comes out! I love you guys. See ya.