Conversations

This was a comment, now it’s this.

The following began as a response to Brad attached to the previous post, then I decided it was getting too long and too focused on the subject matter of this blog for a comment, thus … .

The Conversation

I wonder why you get paisley here, Brad, since you have a picture most places? I have a 1st cousin living somewhere around your area and I knew about the snow from her Facebook mentions, and photos, of it. Your description of your snow day made me wish I had been snowed in with you … I am quite a good grandfather guy when playing with children. Do you have bourbon?

Conversational? I think so. That’s exactly and all I want to do here. Okay, sometimes I might pontificate. I want this blog to be a conversation among friends and willing spirits. Rose implied this in another comment, and I agree, that our conversations endure in meaning while the rest flitters away. Which is probably not what most people think.

My closest friend — in spirit, not proximity — lives in Costa Rica; he is a musician, and during more than two decades of their performing, he was the “Check” half of the group “Checkfield.” The debilitations of more than half a life spent performing, recording, and writing music (Grammy nominated), the usual slap of aging (although in his later 50s is still a baby to me), and the last straw level of disgust with the music “business,” well, and being a Bush refugee, took him, his wife and son, to Costa Rica a few years ago, where they live in some style (thanks to selling out in southern California and the on-going pleasure of royalties) on a mountainside amid jungle and coffee fields above San Jose.

That’s what John and I do regularly, have conversations. We use Skype video. Sometimes we go for a couple of hours, or until one of our 3rd world Internet providers gives out. We commiserate, bitch and moan, laugh often, and sometimes act like school boys in a locker room the way we talk about girls and tell gutter jokes. We also talk about our work; he still performs occasionally, still composes, and now has for wacky reasons taken on a few guitar students. He reads my books, I listen to his music. When either of us feels down and out, it is the other’s duty to make laughs. Since we seem often down and out, we laugh a lot.

We met in San Diego about 25 years ago after I met his wife, then a folk singer / guitar picker, when she performed in my favorite regular pub. She is no longer his wife; he wisely found a much better one — she, Carla, cooks like Mario Batali, and can hold her on with me at a wine bottle. This is the four of us, the 1st wife, not the 2nd, the first time John and I met — I took them sailing on my boat off the San Diego coastline.

Sailing off San Diego, 1983

I think if you click on the photo, it blows up, hopefully not in your face. The boat is a 32′ Westsail staysail sloop. I was living aboard her when I met my wife. That is my wife in the blue vest sitting atop the main hatch cover, me at the helm, John’s head sticking up from the hatch, and his then wife. So we have known one another since the early spring of 1983. Checkfield was just getting big then in the “New Age” musical world. My second novel had just come out, to resounding nothingness. We were young;  probably too wild still, abusing things we should not have abused, living always in extremes. We survived; most don’t. Now here we are old and living well — as Gerald and Sara Murphy titled their Lost Generation memoir: Living well is the best revenge. And we ended up best friends.

We are both circumscribed and defined by our conversations. Conversations are the links in the chain that stretches from one end to the other end of our lives. That is what this blog will be, or what I will try to make of it. A conversation. Like the best conversation, it doesn’t have to be about anything; it should not even propose to be about something. Once meaning becomes overt, it becomes meaningless.

So next time you feel like having a conversation with me, let me know and I’ll open a bottle, you open yours, we’ll settle at our keyboards and talk about stuff.

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2 replies »

  1. Don, you’ll excuse my asking, but how did you come by the knowledge required to pilot such a vessel? I ask because in the summer of 2000 I spent a month aboard a similar yacht sailing down the coast of France. The skipper was a bitten old British fellow who had devoted his whole life to the sea. (He read Conrad and Jack London and then at age 16 ran away to go to sea. It is only right that the world should actually contain such people.) He was the kind of guy who had GPS onboard, but navigated with a sextant because it was fun for him. I distinctly remember thinking, “This is a body of knowledge that I am never going to acquire.” After that, I just was along for the ride, lending what help my clumsy landlubbing ways would allow. I think by the end I could successfully tie a bowline. Ever since I have remained very much in respectful awe of those who successfully navigate the seas. I believe in the posts on your earlier blog you said you were raised Arkansas … how did you acquire your seafaring ways?

    I hope this is part and parcel of what will become an ongoing, overtly subjectless conversation here.

    The wife and I keep saying we are going to do the Skype thing. You’d think we would, as it would come in damn handy for her to keep in touch with the folks back in the village in Thailand, but the folks there also suffer from the vagaries of Third World internet connections and just a general computer illiteratness. In fact a number of them continue to show an outright aversion to joining the computer age. It’s sort of cute, or even refreshing – but they are surrounded by younger folks who sport smartphones and brand new pickups so their era, as everywhere else, is coming to an end.

    Upshot, if I get on Skype here in the near future, Don, I’ll look you up. I think we have to be contacts first, or something …? Now that I’m writing on an essentially unnetworked computer again, I find I have less aversion to the nifty things that this networked computer I’m typing this comment on can do.

  2. I am a strong believer in asking; the other person has the option of answering or not, but always ask.

    Rose and I just found each other on Skype, but we live somewhat different lifestyles and so far have not found one another awake at the same time in order to use it. If you get Skype, let me know and I’ll send you my Skype contact name in an email.

    The main part of your comment I will answer in a new post because it will be kind of long and I can stick on a picture or two.

    Thanks for asking Court. Here comes my answer … in a little while.