Tuesday, July 19, 2011


This is my life now. Absurd but unpredictable. Not absurd because unpredictable but unpredictable because absurd. If I have lost the meaning of my life, and the love of my life, I might still find small treasured things amid the spilled and pilfered trash.

~ Joyce Carol Oates, "A Widow's Story"

I went up to Big Bear Lake to go kayaking this weekend with a friend.

We arrived early enough in the day, checked into our disappointingly adequate room and headed out the door. She turned toward the lake. I turned toward the village.

"Don't you want to check out the marina?" she asked.

"Let's have a drink first," I replied.

It is a phrase I hear myself saying rather often of late. It should make me feel badly, I suppose, seeking this most pedestrian of refuges. Frankly, it does not. I should probably be calling an agent and seeking treatment with the good Dr. Drew or, even more onerously, the bad Dr. Phil, but I do not. I have my dignity. And I am cheerful when imbibing, in ways I am not when entirely clearheaded. My mind goes blurry around the edges and for a little while I can almost remember who I used to be.

My friend eyed me dubiously. "Well, okay. One drink." We struck off in search of a quaint little pub. What we found was an adorable little biker bar whose clientele proved to be a welcoming blend of friendly locals and even friendlier tourists. She ordered a cocktail. I sprang for a beer. We were served by a barmaid called Charlie, who wore her cherry-red hair, hot pants topped by a belt of shining silver and 60 some-odd years like a sparkling tiara. I became very cheerful indeed.

At some point the next morning, we went kayaking.

I floated dreamily on a bed of lily pads as electric blue dragonflies hovered and silver-lit fish of indeterminate species leapt above the water. A tour boat modeled to look like a pirate ship listed by, a papier-mache deckhand swinging in the rigging. I dipped my hands in the water and rolled gently in the pirate ship's wake.

This is my life now. Absurd but unpredictable. If I have lost everything, I may yet find small treasured things. Or small things to treasure. Somehow, it will have to be enough.