Archive | August, 2013

Body Work, Body Play: Aging In Malibu As If Eternity In A Grain Of Sand, Or: We Had Joy We Had Fun, We Had Seasons In The Sun.

5 Aug

Body Work, Body Play: Aging In Malibu As If Eternity In A Grain Of Sand, Or: We Had Joy We Had Fun, We Had Seasons In The Sun..

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Body Work, Body Play: Aging In Malibu As If Eternity In A Grain Of Sand, Or: We Had Joy We Had Fun, We Had Seasons In The Sun.

5 Aug

Me on stairs, MalibuWe had joy,  we had fun, we had seasons in the sun./ But the stars we could reach/were just starfish on the beach…( Modern American version of a French ballad, an infamous (one and only) hit for Terry Jacks, 1974. [ I was 12.])

After you reach a certain age, and then another certain age, and on and on, you greet your birthday with a weak smile and dignified resignation. Or you invite friends to a hotel rooftop and wave  magic wands over appetizers and Prosecco.

Magic wand at Thompson Hotel

This year I was lucky enough to have a hotel rooftop close by, some near and dears nearby, and the magic wand cost 3.99 at Rite-Aid. (Have I mentioned, btw, that the Beverly Hills Rite- Aid sells Veuve Clicquot? In the “Feminine Products” aisle. OK, OK I made that part up, but it’s just one aisle over. )

As I’ve been actively retreating from the Life Of The Mind these last 6 months, it seems appropriate that so much that happened in the week of my #*! birthday had to do with the Life Of The Body. For instance: I visited an orthopedic surgeon who  told me that Inevitable Hip Replacement Number Two may not be required for several more years, and then he gave me a prescription for massage!

My insurance is actually paying for Ryan at the Wellness Center to rub his elbow into the muscles of my backside–hard. It’s not exactly relaxing, it’s  like he’s working on Rockets’ player James Harden–which Ryan has, in fact,  done a few times…about 70 degrees of separation between James Harden and me.  (Actually Harden came into the Juicery three weeks ago and I touched his hand–giving him change. Of course I had no idea who was until later, when my manager explained why she insisted that he get a fifty percent discount.  James Harden needs a discount?) Anyway, my hip feels better. Great gift!

My own present to my body was to get the old bones off the floor. I’ve been sleeping on a mattress without box springs or frame since February, and hauling myself out of bed in the morning to run to the Juice job is NOT a pretty picture it. (Please, don’t picture it!)

I also gave my bones the gift of Malibu.  That 27-mile stretch of beach, a stringy, speeding two-lane highway,  the mythological culture of  surfing, very rich and very beautiful and some famous people. I rented an apartment through Airbnb that was affordable and shabby chic. I know you don’t believe me about the affordable part, but it was cheaper than a New York hotel in July, and had a kitchenette and private deck–granted, the hosts were having a party, and various dogs and teenagers wandered down there to neck; I had to shoo them away.  But here’s the view.

Malibu house

Malibu is a place that as a child, I didn’t know was a place; I thought it was the substance of which Barbie was made. Malibu Barbie–to my mid-western imagination that suggested that  “Malibu” meant something like plastic, china, or play dough.

And to my eye, Malibu is  all of the above–synthetic, beautiful, delicate, mystical.  Malibu wasn’t exactly the hyper-glamorous place I’d imagined. For one thing, it’s full of dogs– who own the place. Talk about retreating from the life of the mind, and loving the body!  These cats know what to eschew and what to embrace. As it happened, we embraced. A Happy Birthday from Dogville.

Malibu dogs

Doesn’t smell fresh, exactly, but smacks of  renewal. Body and spirit uniting. Salty and hairy, frothy and tail-wagging.  I was thinking–as one does on  birthdays, of God. And Blake, his eternity in a grain of sand line, and Whitman: The word up from the waves…that strong and delicious word which creeping to my feet/the sea whispered to me.

Didn’t hear a word, but a phrase: PACIFIC COLD LOVE ME WOOF.

And meanwhile there was a celebratory dinner with Markus and Natasha; we ate vegan at Moonshadows Restaurant, watching seabirds dive, plunge, and eat sushi under the restaurant’s blaring lights. Let there be cake, too.

birthday cake with Nicolle

CAN IT BE:  that I’ve known this woman since we were thirteen? Talk about the life of the body. Long life.  We were both virgins. We shared lip gloss and sweaters.  Vans with boys. (And over a decade ago, we shared a bed in Paris with another dear friend from Urbana High School. After dining and wining and a classical concert at a chapel, the three of us lay in one Parisian bed and sang Kansas, Head East, and Cheap Trick into the night. Until the concierge knocked and told us to shut up.)

Natasha and Markus toasted me as family.  They bought me a Monteverdi pen (bright purple!)  and book of Flannery O’Connor’s cartoons. I didn’t even know that O’Connor drew cartoons. Now I know. Thank you, Markus–another great artist  of words and cartoons.

And the next day, after falling asleep to the sound of waves and waking up to them, I got to see Noah–the wave of my life.

Noah, thoughtful, at MalibuI picked him up, and then he drove down Topanga Canyon Boulevard, a magic route of twists and turns, ashy green swales, and hippie enclaves.  For some reason we couldn’t stop laughing about the fact that we are both in California.

My son bought me foot scrub; he’s worried about those heels of mine, or perhaps my soul? We had lunch at an old time surf place–around since the 70′; we ate at the window, and he wanted to know about my future. Is that right?, I wondered.  Shouldn’t I be asking him about his future? Cobb salad and a grilled halibut sandwich later, we had addressed some not-so-neat chapters of the past; Noah is ready to move on. I will follow. Child is the father of the man, and so on. He drove us back though Topanga Canyon like it was the Motherland. Bye, Kiddo. Bye Mom.

One more night for me in Malibu. And there was romance.  We had joy, we had fun.

Starfish in the sand.

Romance comes and goes, and usually it’s nobody’s fault.  The sea rises and falls, nobody’s fault. Aging–again generally a no-fault policy.  What remains: sometimes friendship.  The spirit. And desire. Seasons in the sun. Weak lyrics that speak to me.

Malibu is what I thought Barbie was made of. But Malibu is dogs in the sea, kids necking on the deck, friends swearing about the old days.   I slept in Malibu, turning yet another year older, my body less like Barbie than it ever was. (Barbie is older than I am. Happy Birthday, Girl!)

Plastic and sand, sea and land, Starfish, like the octopus in the garden, amphibious. That’s 52. This body.

(This is part 1. Next entry–about Korean Salt Scrub–wherein I am surrounded by naked women exfoliating to Kingdom Come.)