Last Thursday, Larry dropped me off at Penn Station and I took a train from there to the Newark airport. Time is different while traveling; each day feels like a week and that now seems like ages ago. I'd bought a ticket back home to San Francisco, for my good friend Madeline's wedding.
Since I was going home, I scheduled a video shoot with foolish tree films and the amazing Ian Carruthers, who'd responded enthusiastically to an ad I placed for a video editor some time back. I liked his work, his energy, his background in performance, and his interest in Sweetie Pie--he'd offered lots of help and feedback on our test videos we'd done back in San Francisco and on the road. Super encouraging, he had a keen eye for detail. I also knew he had the ability to direct me and help me bring out the performance I was looking for, something I sorely need to take Sweetie Pie to the next level. A friend's young daughter would be my co-star/co-scientist/student for the shoot, and with a script I'd written way too close to shoot date, revisions continually being made by both Ian and me, I was on the plane memorizing lines.
My mom and her husband were out of town, so I had a whole San Francisco house to myself for the first three nights, which was good because I needed a lot of space to mentally and practically prepare for the shoot. Arriving late Thursday night, I spent all day Friday getting the kitchen at my mom's house ready for the shoot and running errands for props and things. My co-star and I rehearsed Friday night and then because of the way I booked my rental car, I had to go back to the airport at 11 PM and close out one contract and get a new car. This all resulted in me not having as much sleep as I would've liked before what was to be a long work day. I got up, had a last meeting with Ian and my co-star's mother, then I took care of getting my head on straight by a good hour of prayer and meditation. A quick lunch and when I got home, Ian arrived to set up. We started at 2 and worked straight through until almost 8 PM.
At the start, I had this overwhelming sense that this was the stupidest thing to put myself through. I was nervous and thought this isn't worth how I feel. But after about 15 minutes, I felt the way I've always felt on stage or behind a camera, like it's the place I feel most at home. And though I was tired, by the time we finished, I was already wishing we were getting up tomorrow to do it all again. I could live this way. I was cooking up plans for the next video, my next trip home. Ian went above and beyond my expectations of him. I'd hired him to videotape and edit and he took on full producer and director duties as well; he really took a vested interest in the project. And my young co-star was brilliant!
The next day, I had a chance to see some of the friends I often had coffee with early mornings, and I felt so welcomed home. Of course, time for them wasn't moving the same way it was for me, so they said, "It seems like only yesterday we said goodbye," though I'd felt a lifetime had passed since I'd seen them.
The weather was beautiful in San Francisco and Larry's daughter, Allison, came down to the beach where my mother lives. She brought our dog who she's taking care of and our mail and we went for a lovely walk on the beach. We couldn't do this trip without Allison's help and she'd seemed only too happy to add our dog Rosie to her doggie day care and her weekend walks. It was wonderful to see her and I look forward to more time with her when we return to San Francisco.
A couple of errands, a fifteen minute nap, and I was getting dressed for Madeline and Dubi's wedding in Sausalito. They couldn't have ordered better weather. Their wedding and reception took place at Ondine event center right on the water in Sausalito, with a beautiful view of the City. I knew no one at the wedding except the couple and Madeline's parents, but the other guests were incredibly friendly and I left with more friends than I'd arrived with.
The ceremony was beautiful, a Jewish ceremony where every guest got to say a blessing and then seven of us read traditional blessings. I felt honored to be there and even more honored to be able to read one of the blessings. The blessing I read was: "May the journey you travel together be filled with honesty, respect, understanding and trust of each other's individual personality and philosophy, as you work together to build a relationship of substance and quality." She gave me the journey blessing because I'm on this journey. I love these words and take them to heart.
I'd met Madeline in poetry class at UC Santa Cruz in 1988. We soon became housemates and shared a lot of our young creative efforts, tears over romances, and plenty of our growing pains through our early twenties. I'd moved to Berkeley when I was 25 and she was a grad student at Mills College. She'd invited me to stay in her studio apartment with her as long as I needed. We were as close as two friends could be. After she moved away, to Minnesota and then to New York City, we slowly lost touch, and I always felt sad about that. Finally, I was able to find her some years ago through Facebook, and we met up. She was living in Los Angeles and I visiting. It felt like no time had passed. Madeline has this amazing graciousness that has always given me the feeling that I am part of her inner circle, and I was so glad at the wedding to feel that way again and to meet the others she'd graced her life with. I am so happy for her. She'd waited until this day to be married and she was glowing with joy.
Since she and Dubi love creative efforts--Madeline is a poet and screenwriter--they decided to hire a poet to write poems to order at the reception. I connected her with my UC Merced colleague Anne Walker, who I'd been in a generative writing workshop with and who I knew could write amazing poems quickly. The funny thing was, Anne and Madeline had been in grad school for poetry at Mills together, back when I lived with Madeline, but hadn't stayed in touch, so it was a nice coming together of lives. It was great to have Anne there. After Anne left, Dubi asked me if I'd be willing to help out by writing a few poems for guests who didn't get to have poems written. What a joy and a pleasure. I got to write poems about couple's courtships, including Madeline's aunt and uncle, who had married 56 years prior. I wrote a poem about the Dodgers and a poem for Madeline's dad about his daughter getting married--which he deemed the biggest of all her many successes. I love writing poems to order, have done it before. I loved writing on an old typewriter, and letting go of ownership of the poems. Larry and I had an idea that on this trip, I could get a manual typewriter and set it up on street corners and write poems as gifts to passersby. We didn't pursue that effort. But I could also be happy writing poems to order all day every day, as much as I could be happy behind the camera or on stage. Behind my work, I am home. I was so happy to be able to celebrate my friends' union.
My mom and her husband came home that night, Sunday, and I got to visit with them in the morning. Then I had lunch with Shella, our former housemate, meet her newest foster kitties, and have lunch. I got to do all these things with friends, thinking, why didn't I do this more often when I was in San Francisco. Mostly, I got to really feel that San Francisco was home, welcoming me back with open arms. This feeling helps root me as I'm on this trip, far from home.
I had dinner with my mom in West Portal and then perused a bookstore with her. Then it was early to bed with me, as I had to be up at 4 AM to get to the airport for a long day of travel. . . .I would land in Baltimore the next night and Larry and I would be housesitting at our friend Charlie's house for a week near Annapolis. We would feel no pressure to sightsee, as the government was still shut down when I returned, so we got to have a few days of normal routine--much needed, before we got back into our sightseeing mode.