My father, too, was discombobulated by the pull of opposites in him—the magic, feverish lights of Broadway, Times Square, opera and theater and publishing and all the culture of the world made evident in a few numbered city blocks (the numbers of the elements on their neat grid, the strictly ordered spheres); and then the absolute quiet of the forested wilderness, the lonely green closure of the fire lookout on Mt. Washburn. The clarity at the transluscent heart of thermal pools, geysers, beautiful and foul-smelling and dear.
He went back and forth for years—Manhattan in the winter (living at the Allerton Hotel, often unhappily), the northwest mountains in the summer; aspiring actor and writer / seasonal park ranger—until leaving both for the high desert of the artists that was Santa Fe. Unable to choose, or choosing neither, in the end?
Having just returned from New York, I am feeling both worlds tugging me. There, here, everywhere and nowhere.
My favorite New York moments:
- seeing two basset hounds padding along 54th Street while I stood in line on the sidewalk for halal
- watching an upper west side writer in my favorite Greek restaurant next to Carnegie Hall, with open windows and fifty pottery jugs, scribbling on a lined notepad while eating a grilled octopus salad
- seeing Gauguin’s quiet mythological painting, The Moon and the Earth
My favorite California moments since my return:
- making some Jardin Sauvage tea with purple and marigold petals
- thawing the last of the green chili lovingly roasted by my mother
- grilling zucchini for a salad with radish sprouts and basil
- looking for floor runners
- overhearing “I have to go to Rio on the 29th”
- seeing the whole tribe of quails scattered across the driveway