Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Aqua Mustang 8 - RUTLAND

I couldn’t write what I thought I wanted to write, this light book about my family that Macmillan wanted and so it must be what I wanted – though I could not do a word on the subject – or on these commercial plans for which I did write brilliantly skillful proposals – rivers of the world, or the remnants, sorry as they are, of colonial days in the West Indies, or everything that I knew I would find wrong with California if I went there again. Life had seemed to blossom, this new bright apartment, and these new projects that kept me at my typewriter night and day – such a joy to be caught up this way – and Cousin Margaret dying horribly after saying she wanted to die, and my wondering about what they had done to her, and then off to the islands with blonde Sally, and that worked out as badly as the brief affair that was ending at the start of the year – a connection with this French-Algerian-Jewish woman Jocelyn (which was pronounced “joss-leen”) – also looking so right she might be who I would want if I could create a woman – Jocelyn, a pied noir from Algeria now ruining an agency for famous photographers in the same big room in which we slept almost next door to the Carlyle, and now Sally, flying in from Rome for our trip to the West Indies, where she insisted we spend every morning hunting up places where she could drink at lunch – a decade now since I had had a drink but I was trying to fit in. So no working love affairs in my life , and people dying, other cousins were in line, and then I had gone up to New Hampshire for a sort of family reunion (though no one in our tight ass family would call it by such a name) – fake British accents and worse. Hard to remember how good life had seemed so recently, how it had seemed that with startling new insight everything had already changed. So puzzling that I wanted to see old friend no more than I wanted to see relatives. I had been delving in the past but on a lighter level than I realized. One recent dark episode was getting Eileen from 30 years back to fly in from California – and both of us unrecognizable to each other and to ourselves. Sex with hardly noticeable orgasm. This time that was becoming dark again. Darker and darker.

Unworkable connections. Shows of activity but desperately alone. I decided on another trip to the past. My brilliant and funny old drinking friend Peter Cooper was up in Vermont, reportedly a new man . The last time I had seen Peter, who had closed so many bars with me in the old New York days, he was already in Vermont, this 16 years ago, living in a musty old hotel that had become a hippy haven in the then nearly dying mill city of Rutland, which was not one of the Christmas card Vermont places, and working at a ski lodge called the Wobbly Barn that was mainly a drug place, located halfway up Killington, a mountain made incredibly ugly with ski trails that put me in mind of strip mining. But now Peter was married again and very sober, directing a state alcoholism clinic, and back to his first love writing, and he had just been published. A small but respected press located also in Vermont, run by Keith Jennison’s almost famous brother, and when I got to Rutland the bound books had just arrived – young adult novel category but much better than it sounded, and it turned out his big contact in Vermont was a this near legendary now retired publishing guy Keith Jennison whom I had worked with on some minor but enjoyable projects in the city (one of them my first published book). And people in Peter’s new crowd, including a lovely woman named Martha, were all in a production of Our Town. And I told Peter about my dead end depression which came, to my surprise, just as I thought everything had changed, and he suggested I go to something called Adult Children of Alcoholics. And this seemed so outrageous and irrelevant and life-giving that I had to do it, like taking up a dare to go upriver in Kalimantan headhunter territory.

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