Some highlights from home

September 6, 2008 at 12:42 pm Leave a comment

After a good night’s sleep, with the usual jet-lag experience of waking up and not knowing where I am, I’ve decided not to go backwards after all with regards to my trip home. The first highlight was a trip to the Film Forum down on Houston Street off Sixth Avenue to see Dream of Life — the new Steven Sebring film about Patti Smith. I’d already seen it on an artsy TV channel over here, but wanted the experience of seeing it in Greenwich Village. As an added thrill, Patti was there with Lenny Kaye (plays guitar in her band) to greet us, and afterwards she played a couple of songs on her guitar — to honor a friend who had passed away the previous Sunday. My mother and a good friend of hers accompanied me to the movie, but afterwards I was left alone to roam the streets on my way back to the apartment. Mom went to see another movie in an adjacent screening room (on Louise Bourgois), and her friend had to leave right away because he was going away early the next morning. So I walked around and enjoyed the warm night, the lively streets, and being alive and healthy.

The next morning I flew to visit a dear friend in Nashville, Tennessee — Stacey from my book. We suffered and recovered together, and have remained close all these years. Four years ago she had breast cancer. The chemo, radiation and hormonal therapy have taken quite a toll on her, and many issues have come up. I’m hoping she will share some of her experience with you here soon as a guest writer. It was nice to catch up and laugh together. We went to the Grand Ole Opry and took the guided tour, which was a lot of fun. It’s right across from the mall, where we also spent some time. There I bought myself a new book: Anna Karenina. I haven’t had much time to read it yet, but got right into it. We went to the Hard Rock Café there. Here’s a picture:



Back in New York City, I met up with another character from my book — Emily. We decided to stay with an urban shaman friend of a friend in Exotic Brooklyn, and were not disappointed. It was a magical place. Although we only went there to sleep, it was a wonderful refuge to return to at the end of the day. We wandererd around the streets of our past and went out to the same Indian place we frequented back then. Only this time, instead of an $8 meal, we celebrated being able to afford the vegetarian meal for two. Thus we didn’t have to pick one thing, but instead were able to enjoy soup, appetizers and main course — a splendid array of colors and tastes, and absolutely delicious! Even though we didn’t finish everything, we left the restaurant quite full. Here we are with the soup:

We wandered around some more and stopped in a few Tibet shops. In one of them I bought another book: Buddhism Through American Women’s Eyes. I’ve been wanting to read something in this direction, and the book nearly jumped off the shelf into my hands.

Neither of us slept well that first night, as we were quite full. I lay there wondering if my tummy would ever go back to its regular size. But by the next day, we were back to normal and went out for a wonderful brunch with a friend at a place with a beautiful garden. We got there around 9.30 and were nearly the only guests. I guess people generally sleep longer there. I would too, but as a visitor, I had things to do! This will give you some idea of the place:

Afterwards we went to the Brooklyn Museum and saw “The Dinner Party” by Judy Chicago. That was impressive beyond words and I highly recommend it. Next door is the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, so we walked through there for a while and stopped for lunch. The guy was in such a hurry that he knocked my lemonade off the counter and it spilled all over my feet. Luckily I jumped back in reflex and didn’t get it all over my skirt! The garden is beautiful…

In the afternoon we returned to Manhattan, making our way to Damrosch Park for a music festival at 4 pm, which had various performers playing country, folk and bluegrass. The closing act was Patti Smith and her band. Emily and I met back in the 80s when we went to see the Lenny Kaye Connection. We attended nearly every gig. It was the first time in 28 years for her to see Patti. Emily said Patti hasn’t really changed, except that she’s better. Patti is still authentic and right there. That’s why we love and admire her so much. Afterwards we went to a diner for a snack and a glass of wine, then headed back to Exotic Brooklyn.

After a delicious breakfast with our host, Emily took the train back to her house with its white picket fence (what she always wanted), and I headed upstate to the house I grew up in. There I spent several days. Although I did spend some time with family, I sought quiet solitude to collect myself. In that home I feel so happy, that I truly belong somewhere. Hours were spent on the steps outside, sitting in the sun, writing, playing guitar and singing, listening to the wind in the trees, getting a good taste of the life I love and how I would like to live. Rather than retreat into the past, I enjoyed that energy and realized: I want to live here. So, lucky me. I have another long-term goal: I want to go home!

Funny how experiences enhance our perception. Suddenly I find myself paying more attention to the lyrics of various songs on the radio and in my memory: I wanna go home, the green green grass of home, homeward bound, leavin on a jet plane… The list goes on.

The last few days I also spent in New York City, visiting with my Aunt and my mother. Even then I managed to have time to wander around alone. That is the purest food for my soul: wandering. On the last day, I stopped at a little shop in the Village and dropped off a handful of my CDs to give away. Then I went to St. Mark’s book store. I’d never been there before. It is a wonderful store, packed with world literature. I saw some of the authors I’ve read in German and found it tempting to “cheat” and read them in English. Well, when I live in the States again I can go there frequently and buy lots of books. It was there that I finally found “A Night of Serious Drinking” — to my surprised delight. Lately I’d thought I ought to read some Walt Whitman, since so many people mention him. I happened to find “The Essential Walt Whitman” but put it back on the shelf, because I was running out of money. At the cash register, I realized I didn’t even have enough for the first book, so I went to the ATM outside — and decided to pick Walt Whitman back up from the shelf again. While paying, I asked if they sell books on consignment. They do! Two hours later my mother lugged down 3 copies of my book and we went to the store together and dropped them off. So if any of you happen to be in the area, there is the opportunity to look through the book without having to order it. I felt kind of funny asking, but decided if I want to live there I have to do something to promote my future! That’s also why I dropped off the CDs. I’m leaving little marks behind me, to help pave the way for my return.

Why am I sharing all of this? For the usual reason: Because I want to share with you what it’s like to be recovered. My idea of fun and adventure may be quite different from yours, but what I’m trying to show is that we can have fun and adventure when we recover. There is so much out there for us, just waiting to be explored and experienced. Today is as good a day as any to begin!

P.S. I hope I didn’t overdo it with the pictures. It’s meant as a special treat for SanityFound, since she’s always asking me if I took pictures, and I generally forget my camera. I did this time, too. Luckily not everyone is as absentminded as I am! Anyway, what’s a vacation report without pictures?!


Entry filed under: Visiting home/travelling. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , .

Just go ahead and do it! Another book from my journey

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