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Shake it up

I'm seeing a pattern here in my blog (and I wrote this even before re-reading the last sentence from my last one on the same subject): repeated instances where I'm forced to acknowledge how I'm constantly taking things for granted. And for this, I have a film analogy: "Labyrinth" with David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly.

"You can't take anything for granted 'round 'ere," says the cute little Cockney-accented worm in a knit cap, to Ms. Connelly. And she constantly complains to Jareth [Mr. Bowie], as he randomly changes the rules of the game: "But that's not fair!!"

"You keep saying that," he smirks. "I wonder what your basis for comparison is?"

No wonder I'm always so hungry for new experiences; I'm so quick to categorize and file away things that I grow complacent and bored, constantly needing change to shake up my little filing system. How I wish I could burn all the files and start fresh! Ah, but I know it wouldn't last.

In my returning to California this visit, I've suddenly opened my eyes (a long time away will do that) to the massive array of cultural events and happenings in San Francisco, the very city where, for nearly four years, I've stayed home at least five nights a week, eschewing the plethora of activities to attend that day/evening in favor of "time to myself." And now, after six weeks in Cambridge feeling like a blind person whose groping hands have fumbled around a small room and discovered each object there, I feel I've reached the edges of that city. I feel I know where everything is, I can navigate it now with my eyes closed... and surprise, surprise... I do.

My senses felt dulled the last few weeks in Cambridge, muted and dim like the grey weather. I blame only myself. I am determined to return there with my senses reopened and find the nuances there, the less obvious things it has to offer. If I don't, I'm bound to find myself very unhappy there.

And suddenly, San Francisco is the most incredible mecca of culture! My second night back I found myself at one of the pre-Burning Man "beach burns." A chilly night on the beach under the stars was warmed by what became a large bonfire, then two, as a man set ablaze a tall wooden structure he had built out of a number of large plywood discs. Fire jugglers, a San Francisco specialty, swung their chains and sticks around with fuel-soaked wads burning at the ends, creating fiery arcs and circles around the dancers' torsos and heads, their faces glowing orange in the light. A bunch of people with drums and other percussive objects brought their movements together to create a pulsing rhythm, to which everyone lurched or bobbed somewhat... and some people removed their shirts and leapt around the fire like shamen.

I stood quietly by the burning artpiece, the builder of which, whom I've never seen before, gave me his beer to hold while he filmed the flames from all angles. A studious-looking young man in glasses, with a slight Mona Lisa smile, approached the burning tower slowly, then knelt down and surveyed it for a moment from that angle. Finally, he reached into the flames and deposited a rolled-up stack of papers, large photographs maybe, between the flaming layers, then withdrew his hand and watched the slow dissolving of the thing to ashes of the same exact rolled-up shape... then those too were gone.

I couldn't help watching him, wondering what the relevance was of the papers... watching his bittersweet smile which continued until well after the papers were unrecognizable from the rest of the objects which burned there. For relief from the hot orange, I looked up into the night sky just then, and saw a low-flying jet plane coming to land at SFO. It was beautiful, all lit-up and bright, zooming overhead.

But over the flames and the drums and the voices, I couldn't hear the jet at all. It seemed to float over us in utter silence. And suddenly I felt (in the words of Trent Reznor) so "down in it"... so immersed in the world of San Francisco, full of technogeeks and hippies and modern primitives and artists. The plane, pretty much like the one I'd just arrived in from England, seemed to symbolize at that moment my other life in Cambridge.

Floating silently above the mix, detached, observing. Being taken away.

I dreamt two nights ago that Ashley was holding me hostage at gunpoint. It's going to be a really good trick to make this time of my life my own, and not just a year of putting my own life aside in order to keep my life coinciding with Ashley's.

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