So I drive off and out to country roads listening to Judy Collins singing about how this girl named Suzanne feeds me tea and oranges that come all the way from China, and she's wearing rags and feathers from Salvation Army counters. And the sun pours down like honey...
I drive off in Vermont, the anti-New Hampshire, suddenly elated with the thought, as Judy Collins begins to sing, that I have broken a barrier by recognizing at last how important music is to me, who has lived in foreign, as well as domestic, war zones, but has never sung. As important as the paintings I have just this year rediscovered, as the Keats and Wordsworth I am reading again for the first time in decades. And now, though what I seek in what some would call mid-life – these family horrors I am tracking down – though what I seek is filled with peril, it is not like that time alone in Darfur or that time alone in a small Cessna straying into the dread line with Syria, or that time in Kalimantan when ritual cannibalism had returned – it is only now looking into my family past that I am clear about being in an area of peril. And even so I am not jarred by Judy Collins’ nearly too nice sweetness. She takes you by the hand and leads you to the river, and you know that she will trust you for you've touched her perfect body with your mind. This sentimental part will not go away.
I do get distracted, though I know this search I am on is not for simulated puppy love or relationship or fucking. It is a matter of life and death to me to return to past places to find out why those people of the past have had lives that led to razor edge horror. This is my mission this summer. I have to know. But I cannot put out of my mind thoughts of ease and orgasm with teasing women. Perhaps because I feel so good without cigarettes, just Vermont air. Sex in this air. Thoughts and images of the real Julia, the real Bonnie, the real Anne Marie. And also Suzanne of the song that is playing in my car, Suzanne, who I note is dressed in feathers.
Remembering or fantasizing with surges of sexuality in Vermont where the fields are smooth and lush green and the cows are well fed, never the skinny New Hampshire mongrel cows who stand on rocks and yellowing dead grass. I drive past Vermont village greens – New Hampshire does not go in much for village greens. And on the Vermont greens there are guitar playing kids of the sort not smiled upon in new Hampshire.
And though I drift and glide and fantasize, Vermont does not fool me either. The ski slope gashes on Killington are as violent as the avalanche gashes in the Franconia Range. And I know what lurks behind clever landscaping – things never hidden in New Hampshire with its lack of zoning and it big advertising signs on even small roads. But here, state ordered landscaping to hide the shoddy condos and the trailer parks. And I stop in nice-nice Middlebury and it feels as suffocating to me as anything I can remember. Also, I see and hear summer colony ladies coming out of Middlebury antique stores talking through their noses in carefully modulated and very fake British tones. Those accents that were so common in the restricted summer communities across the border in New Hampshire – the starting point for all those people, young and old, who are dying now without their own voices. The place where I started too.