I told my sister the other day that I was profoundly interested in exploring my solitude, now imposed on all of us. I told a friend that I was embracing solitary confinement with sadness but that I was going to try to reach a higher level of being, a higher state of consciousness, a deeper level of thinking. I said all that and more.
And what did I do? I had two large gin and tonics yesterday, using gin that N gave me a few weeks ago. Even though lately I have not felt like gin and tonics, that is more a summer drink. Have it in July on tax filing deadline day. Have it on a hot humid sweltering day when the rabbits and squirrels lie flat as pancakes on your lawn and they are spread out so long and wide they look like rubber mats. They are so comical then. Once I stared at a flat rabbit for hours for entertainment. And then became worried when it did not move. But suddenly it did and then it annoyed me again as it started eating all the flowers……
Oh the gin my dear! It was lush and aromatic…ripe with the fragrance of flowers and herbs, the sharp taste of juniper that still seems to be lingering on the roof of my mouth, tongue and lips. Made me think of monks. Drinks with herbs and flowers always make me think of monks. Somewhere in their dark and secret cellars concocting gins, and liquors… Remember Chartreuse? Uncle Walter drinking tall thin glasses of iced Chartreuse in that half finished house in Michigan? It must cost about a hundred dollars a bottle now, that Chartreuse.
I have binge watched “Midsomer Murders” for days now. Only with John Nettles of course. Yes it’s full of gory murders but it is also full of meadows and forests, old stone walls with two hundred year old hedges, climbing wisteria, roses, and jasmine, gardens full of foxgloves, larkspur and mullein, cosmos, sweet peas, delphiniums and lambs ears…. the soft silvery lambs ears that have long since departed from my garden…. And yes, it is full of mansions (real ones) and country cottages and priories and a lot of eccentric elderly people drinking tea that they pour out of quirky little teapots draped in cozies and into tiny porcelain cups. Oh how I want to be in those old gardens with the old people drinking tea!
I have tried to think. After watching four hours of news on the pandemic and the numbers mounting , and the stock market crashing and the people going out to buy a hundred rolls of toilet paper. You keep telling me they should use newspapers… What did we use in that outhouse in Ukraine do you remember? I only remember the walk along a narrow path edged in very tall horseradish plants, surrounded by Marya’s rabbit hutches….. and you would smoke inside and said it was dark and cozy and you could not smell a thing.
I remember the hills, or as mom used to call them, “mountains”, the Carpathian hills, when there was no need to eat or drink or go to the bathroom. Walking was enough. With mom we walked and danced and sighed and shouted out with delight. Our very own “Sound of Music”. We are here in Ukraine! Oh my mother’s joy was so great she leapt around like a mountain goat, climbing up and down those endless rolling hills, like she was seventeen.
I have to say that one of my favorite things was the cherry wine that the priest and his beautiful young wife poured out for us in those short crystal glasses.. and that reminds me of something I heard John Nettles aka Detective Chief Inspector Barnaby say: “Happiness is having a lot of money, a beautiful wife and an Indian restaurant within a mile from your house.” Well that day it was the cherry wine. I never had such good wine. It was almost sacred. Like drinking the garden’s secrets. Funny I don’t think we prayed at all. The whole day was one long prayer of green and sun and wildflowers on the hills, and that priest, who played that accordion. He was a bit plump that priest as I recall and handsome. He had slick black hair like father. His wife looked like a fairy tale out of Grimms, her golden braids piled into a shining crown on her head….. I know.. I drank most of the cherry wine… but, they kept refilling my glass.
And then I remember we left the priest and his wife and children and started walking home to the shabby little cottage of mom’s friend, and the children they followed us waving and waving goodbye. Their chubby little hands… they had on pretty flowered summer dresses. We were so sad to see them go and they us.. and we couldn’t think of one thing to do to stop from choking. So we all ran after them almost falling down those lush green hills, oh that soft and fragrant grass… yes we were tumbling about like big blown up balls …..and started to give them money, more and more money… all of our great American money that we had in our pockets, purses, and wallets that day. They were so happy with those American dollars and we were so sad to leave the green rolling landscape of our Chekovian Ukraine. Because we knew we would never see it again.
I suddenly remember the forest where we searched for wild mushrooms, the river by the house where mom was born, the old woman who ran out to greet us and then brought out her best embroidered sheets for us to lay down on, in the grass, while she rushed to catch a train that she would ride for two hours there and back, to get a little food to bring home. She was rushing off through the fields and kept turning around to wave to us. She kept turning around and waving to us even though she might miss that train. I think she was going to Mukachovo. She knew she would never see us again. I remember that old man who took us to his farm and fed us milk and honey and cracklings with home made bread..and oh boy we really loved all those shots of Ukrainian vodka….. and he sat at the table across from our mother and gazed into her eyes with all the love that he had kept there all those years, for Maria his childhood sweetheart. You and I went to the barn and climbed up the stairs to his hayloft and just sat there. We suddenly knew what it was like to be in someones dream.
So yes I have been thinking about how to reach higher consciousness and how to live and how to be another person or not to be another person, how to breathe and not worry. And I have decided that I don’t want to be a human being with higher consciousness. I don’t want to be a human being at all.
I would rather be a bird, or have birds for companions, and the only reason I would like to reach a state of higher consciousness is to be able to talk to these birds to ask them what they think, what are they feeling, how is the water and the air. Are they afraid of cats? And before I become a bird or reach a state of higher consciousness and am able to communicate with them….. I would like to tell all of you cat lovers out there to please leave your cats inside because they kill birds. Millions of them a year… and that is a fact. So please keep your cute little cats that you drool over inside your house and let them eat the rats and mice there. Please tell your cats to try and reach a state of higher cat consciousness and maybe then they will learn that it is not nice to kill birds……
So sorry, but I have wanted to say that to all of my cat loving friends for a long time now.
That is the only reason now that I want to reach a higher level, to escape the world of two legged beings. Yes even though they make good tea and wine and there are pretty men and women who play accordions and dance and cook and paint and write poetry and even invent things….. They need too much, they take too much, they destroy too much. They lie. I lie. I lie to myself all the time. I was lying when I told you I would take this time to reach a higher state of consciousness.
I truly was trying to reach a state of higher consciousness and tried to finish all these books lying about….. but instead of finally finishing the Spinoza, instead of playing the piano, instead of trying to finally understand the Bible, instead of reading Yeats all the way through instead of tackling “The Secret of the Golden Flower” and giving it back to you after five years, and then finishing “Infinite Jest” because your husband wanted to read it too, I watched twenty movies instead. I drank a bottle of red wine. Then I drank the white wine. The gin is almost gone. I ate two packs of almonds, the whole box of crackers, I finished the box of Cheerios dry like a snack. I ate a week’s worth of cheese in two days. I watched more murder mysteries and thrillers and then I watched NBC ABC NPR MSNBC CNN BBC and read the Wall Street Journal and the NY Times and the Atlantic and the NY Post and Huffpost and Slate and Vox and I read what all the bloggers said and all the trolls said and ….. I learned nothing much at all. I just got more confused and scared.
I was walking the other day to the post office and I think I finally reached a higher consciousness. The air was so much cleaner and though I was feeling sick and dizzy and unhappy and nauseated by this whole damn world… yes I think I reached a state of higher consciousness… there were no cars thundering by on the road, there was no smell of exhaust and fumes and gasoline, there was a tiny gentle breeze or was it a sigh.. yes I think it was that lone robin in a tree seeing me, one of the two legged creatures… sighing oh no not another one…
I tried to walk by faster and give the bird some peace. I went to the post office and dropped off my three bills: equity loan, credit card bill and dentist bill… a piece of my tooth has fallen out but I don’t think I will be going there soon to have it fixed…. but those bills it seemed they must be paid… then I saw the sign: “This Post Office Closed Until Further Notice.”
So much for the bills and the letters and the taxes and the mortgage… I felt a certain relief it was all closed and I just walked home.
Then it washed over me all the silence all the still air and no rustling even of the trees because there are still no leaves.,.. the daffodils and tulips just peeping their green stalks out of the cold dirt… thanks for the photo of the snowdrops you sent me yesterday… I in turn sent you a photo of my big fat chunky glass filled with gin… and lime… the ice cubes looked so pretty melting there like Greenland or Antarctica…Oh my neighbors did tell me that Jewel has run out of limes….. so I must make this tiny thing last for a few more days… if I sliver it I could go on for weeks.
No limes no money no food.. I don’t have much food stocked up maybe enough for five more days… I’m not interested in food anymore I am so much more interested in this air that I felt and the very very faint vast twittering of birds that I heard but could not see because the birds were no longer there… they were already far far away but they were trying to say something show me something sing something and I could almost hear it feel it sense it a new kind of non two legged human feeling I almost thought I saw my own body there on the sidewalk like a flattened rabbit like a rubber mat like a deflated balloon, I walked over my own body as though I was already in the ground like I walk over the bodies in that old cemetery when I walk to the bus stop to work, the old graves just lying there silent and cold and old and uncaring, oblivious to us and our worries and concerns and where to get the next lime or gin or roll of paper, I almost laughed I almost breathed I almost cried I almost ran home to hide in the closet or under the bed or the table and then I heard it loud and clear as though some new born creature suddenly appeared but it was the birds all along, just singing to me just singing as though they were sailors on a ship sailing to Byzantium finally free….as though they were nomads in the desert walking as though they were aviators on the first transatlantic journey as though they were solitary walkers like me as though they were a Greek chorus as though they were Roman soldiers as though they were lying in their bathtubs dying as their fortunes crumbled all around them and they had just slit their wrists as a last resort like that Roman senator long ago for some reason I see his face and it is both crying and smiling and then suddenly those birds are back and you know it is always the birds and the birds and the birds and the birds and why oh why oh why does no one really pay attention to them because they are and have been trying to tell us now for years and years and years… the ships the ships the ships for Byzantium…the ships are going to that golden domed city of your dreams and hopes and passions, the spires shining now in the dawn in the pale grey day and even by the light of the early moon the ships are sailing… they are sailing … very, very, soon.