It’s hot, and I haven’t slept. I’ve become addicted to 10:30 television, which makes me stay up too late. I watched a series on the SF bay (or some of it, anyway — eventually I had to go to bed.) I watched a terribly sad documentary on a kid in foster care who appeared to have really succeeded, had a scholarship to a university but along the way became addicted to meth, started hanging out with a kid from a similar situation who shot her because she was a witness to him shooting others.

The world is a precarious place, it seems to me.

I’ve been reading That Old Cape Magic, by Richard Russo, and I think it’s pretty wonderful. The plot hangs between two weddings, and it’s about people who have been married for a very long time. It’s about what happens when your parents die and how unsettling that is. It’s about the difference between what you think your life is going to be when you first start out and how you see it as you look back on it. It’s about differing interpretations of that life by old married couples. There’s a scene at the first wedding which puts it nicely:

A precedent had apparently been set for the women at the table to speak for the men, and Joy went next. As she talked, Griffin found himself thinking how different it would’ve been if he was the one giving the synopsis. . . . It was how Joy characterized their present lives, though factually accurate, that really rankled him. Griffin, she told the group, was a college English professor. . . . making no mention of his screenwriting career . . . Yet in this instance it seemed that Joy wasn’t so much acting in deference to his wishes as simply stating what she considered to be the facts. As part of a past they’d by mutual consent put behind them, screenwriting was no longer germane. Which was now also why Sid’s call had initially slipped her mind. It was even possible she thought Sid’s death meant not just the end of Sid but of Griffin’s screenwriting career, the last dangling thread neatly snipped. He was now only one thing, a professor of English at a very good liberal arts college, whereas before he’d been two. She herself was the assistant dean of admissions, she informed them, and this, though it was precise, annoyed him as well. After all, he was tenured and she wasn’t, but to hear her tell it, anybody would have thought she outranked him. That sort of petty caviling was worthy of his mother, of course, and all the more unworthy of him, because Joy hadn’t meant it that way at all. Still, he was relieved when his wife let her voice fall, and the attention shifted to the two hefty lasses across the table.

Have you ever had the situation where what you are describing as the salient details completely miss what the other person feels to be that one most important thing? That thing which is the essence of himself? It’s not the most complicated book in the world. But it deals nicely with a particular period of life. I liked it.

I’ve got two wildflower hikes planned for this weekend — one nearby and one at the strange and mysterious Sutter Buttes — which I am mystified by every time I drive up Rte 5, but apparently, I have learned, many people don’t notice at all! Anyway, I’m excited. We’ll have to leave at 5:30 am to get there in time for our hike, but even that seems exciting. A road trip!


2 thoughts on “Hot

  1. Yes. I like that passage. I often mention the fact that my husband teaches but often leave off the musician/songwriter part because it’s not a “job”, it’s slightly above hobby but often you’re in a conversation that requires short cuts and simply facts. The long version of life is explained in a different setting, under different circumstances and in different company. Company that probably knows all the facts already.

    I’ll have to find that book. I’ve read one of his before and liked it.

  2. I like that passage, too. I tend to let that stuff go by the wayside, because as you already know, I feel less defined by a job than others do, and also because my parents have always done so much of that “interrupting each other to tell how it really was” stuff that I’m hyper-aware of it.

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