To Reach The Green Light At The End Of The Pier
FOR AS LONG AS IT TAKES: "We are saving ourselves through the words," says Eleanor, the leading lady of a novel-in-progress. This exploration into the creative process -- which includes plenty of distractions/tangents /thoughts & rants by Eleanor, her Biographer, and selected guest artists -- will continue until Eleanor is certain her story is "right." (But we dare not jump ahead of ourselves.)
There will be the occasional typo (as Eleanor points out), and much of this is intended to be "original draft" -- what comes out of our mouths (heads) first, and then set down in that order. Not all of it will be included in the novel, but all of it is happening in real time.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
An Unexpected Find: "Fate loves the fearless"
"Fate loves the fearless." -- James Russell Lowell
Eleanor Spain: "You learn by losing. You learn by losing your parents. You learn by losing your identity. You win by forgetting everything you've lost and figuring out your own new beginning. That way you can be friends with life again. That way you can get back the parts you've lost, the parts that really matter. You learn by jumping off a cliff."
Eleanor's Biographer: I am sitting in May Baily's Place, which was once a bordello in Storyville, which is now part of the Dauphine Orleans, a hotel in the French Quarter. I have a drink. I try always to stay at the Dauphine when I'm in New Orleans.
There is a lending library of sorts at May Baily's. It's just as you walk in, or, just as you walk out. Not so much a lending library as a few bookshelves, and the books on the shelves are an odd collection of works that the barkeep tells me he mostly gets from the used bookstore across the street -- the books that are going to be thrown away.
If you want to leave a book and take one, it's okay. If you just see something you like, take it, that's okay, too. I am drawn to a red hardcover that has "Dailyaide 1991" on its spine. The front cover calls this "The Silent Secretary." The book is a daily planner, or a diary, or a bit of both. I take the book with me.
The first few pages are dated December 1990, and are written in red ink, and in French. I can make out a few words, and I keep going.
The first entry in English is dated Jan. 4, 1991. "The shortness of breath gets worse and now my kidneys are killing me at night. I must go to the VA and face the music or die here. Let's face it. I am almost 62, and that's quite a long run. G. will miss me but he'll adjust and take care of (illegible) and the kids. I did the best I could. If only he could get away from the Quarter. Those soulless dead people! I am breathing better but can't lie down. I choke. God help me and save me!"
The next entry isn't until March, and it's written in black ink, and from a different voice. On March 10, 1991, G. (I assume) writes at the top of the page, "I am writing this March 17, 1991."
G. continues: "Joe has been in the VA hospital since Feb. 2. I tried to get him in the VA weeks before Feb. 2, but Joe hates to go there. I suggested Charity or even Tulane but he is as stubborn as a mule! At 1:30 a.m. I get the dreaded call from VA. I was allowed to see him at 1:45. I was sure they made a mistake, but no. Joe, my soulmate, the person most dear to my heart, my one and only love, my tower of strength these past 21 years and two weeks and three days ...."
Next entry, Palm Sunday, black ink. "Started out at 8:30 to see Joe. Got the bus to Biloxi at 9:50 (33.95 round trip). Arrived in Biloxi 11:45. Took a cab to National Cemetery (10 dollars). Stayed with Joe for an hour. A gentleman whose wife passed away came to talk to me. I had trouble finding Joe because they did not put his middle name at the temporary marker. Home at 6 p.m. The TV died Saturday so I am listening to the radio station for the sight impaired. I love you Joe."
The final words, or at least the words at the back of the book -- most likely were written by Joe, probably at the same time be began to put down his thoughts, his fears. It's in red ink, and on the very last page, under the heading of "Memorandum." But I cannot make out the words. Again, I recognize the language -- French.
Throughout the book, Joe (red ink) has underlined some of the "quotes of the day." One of them is this. "The deeper the sorrow, the less tongue it has. -- Talmud." And that quote being underlined, there are so many empty pages. Most of the pages are empty in fact. There are no pages torn out. The book is intact.
G. must have held on to the book, for a while or maybe longer, and somehow it shows up at May Baily's, on a shelf mixed with novels and biographies. I feel it has been a lonely book for some time. Perhaps it came from the bookstore across the street. But you can't really sell something like this. Perhaps G. came into May Baily's and put the book on the shelf, hoping someone would find it.
There are plenty of mysteries that come with this book. Whatever happened to G., for example? And, why should I be the one to find the book, and take it with me, protecting it like a family heirloom -- but this is not my family.
I will translate the French someday, though I suspect it will tell me little more than I've already read. I will keep the book, because I sense more love in it than sadness. I sense heartbreak too, but only in terms of the dying part.
I wonder if some of the pages are written in invisible ink.
I wonder a lot of things.
But the book is calming to me, as though it really was meant for me, for whatever reason. There are lots of stories I could write about the book, turning life into fiction. For now, I'd like just to hold it. In my hands. To feel the warmth. For now, I want to keep it real, non-fiction. For now, I will be the guardian, the protector.
This was an unexpected find, but I suppose every "find" is somewhat unexpected.
Does fate really love the fearless? Eleanor says. Will you write the parts of me that you've lost -- that I have lost? Will you catch me as I jump off the cliff? We can learn together. I know we can. We can start today, can't we?
Of course we can. Of course, of course.
(for angiecd, "on topic")
ELEANOR says: "Please turn the page. Keep reading."
For more of Eleanor and her Biographer -- as well as the work of our many guest artists -- check out the older postings. "Everything is part of the process, and the process is the journey," Eleanor says.