The Mirror on the Wall

On another cold Sunday morning and up alone while everyone else sleeps, I made my way through some photos from only a few lives ago.

Damn it. How can it be that so much has changed?

No longer little girls, smiles have been replaced by the brooding of young adulthood (oh could I have stopped time and taken a number amongst the long line of dreamers who’ve gone before– like I’m covering some new ground here).

Where are they now? Locked away in their thoughts; comprehending the slights and arguments that the passing of time slowly uncovered.

I was a hero then; maybe. In my own mind. The delusion made it easier to go on.

Now what? More tears. The passing of time is a mirror which haunts me.

And today it’s speaking back a little louder than usual.

Advertisements

A Farewell to the Ghost of Oxford

My last day in Oxford was spent again walking around campus, alone. I had lunch in the student union and then walked on to field at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. I even strolled the perimeter of the campus as a sort of way of “peering into” another world. My last stop was here:

The Lyceum.

The main administration building on the Ole Miss campus. It’s the signature building on this out of the world place in the world. And I took a picture.

Afterward, I met up again with Van for a last goodbye. I snapped a picture of him standing outside of Alumni House and standing next to his Volkswagen Beetle. Thinking that what we had established over the past few days would be the start of a long term friendship, I hardly wondered if and when I’d see him again…

Back north, I sat at my desk and wrote a letter of thanks to Van for his kindness and generosity during my visit to Oxford. Once mailed, I began to anticipate his response.

That anticipation continues to this day because I never heard again from the Ghost of Oxford.

Dust Motes Near Lockers

Just floating through the air.

Sitting here now, I can almost remember thinking that I’d remember the dust motes. Emerging from the bathroom, I’d walked down the hall on the way back to class.

And just across from the entrance to the school library, there were windows which looked out into the courtyard. The Florida sun would burn through the saline air of a beach life, highlighting the particulars of that first few periods of the day moment.

And just like then, I’m alone.

Like gasoline fumes, there was something mirage-like about the dust motes floating within the rays of light.

In school.

On a day which left no other impressions (where did they go? where do they go?), I still have that vision today. How can that be?

With my own children now at the age of me that day, I wonder what seemingly insignificant events interrupt their days. And I wonder too how much they’ll take with them.

So I sit here tonight thinking and writing because I don’t know what else to do.

Dust motes.

A desiccated rose

Turning my head slightly to the side, I couldn’t help but smile to myself. In the car next to me, would she have smiled too?

Funny. The metaphor wasn’t lost.

The autobiography? Hasn’t been finished. You have no idea.

An outstretched hand leads the way. Following the flashlight’s beam and heading down the stairs, it’s time to go back.

Seascape ’82. That’s what the cover says; was what I saw. What a strange secret I’ve kept. All these years, I thought someone was watching. Instead, I’m the lead.

Far away, I kid myself that she’s peeked too. And me? Left rummaging in the basement, looking in a book. It’s usually kept just safely out of reach. Except for tonight.

In between the pages, the wax paper cocoon is a silent tomb. It’s a thirty-something haunting.

I put it there; then.

Now I look in the mirror. Same person, different shell. No longer of the sea, the change in seasons has parched the skin. In my hands tonight though, the rose I hold has dried out too.

The First Amendment

It’s a right, they say. One of the freedoms, so I’m told.

Fortunately she smiled at me once. And she spoke to me too. Freely.

My brush up against beauty and fame was an extinguished candle on an obscure New York City street.

Trying my hand at stand-up comedy in the late 1980’s, I responded to a newspaper advertisement looking for those too willing to trade in time for chance. All I had to do was work the lights or pass out some programs or sweep up afterwards. In return, I’d receive some training in the art of improvisational comedy. Training that didn’t stick, but at least was planted.

The place was called The First Amendment.

Wedged into and hidden among the alleyways within the Greenwich Village and Little Italy regions of New York City, it was a past-its-prime noir-like comedy lab. Here was a greenhorn with a chance to assimilate into the comedy subculture. A chance to be someone. A chance indeed. That assimilation, was a reserved table on its periphery. Direction, or lack of; and self-confidence, or lack of, would be my governor. But that’s a ticket to another show.

On this or that day, I stood outside the club acting as a sort of sentinel. Poetic license and justice mixed with a chaser of selective embellishment allows me to paint the day as a grey one. And that’s when she sauntered by; a real life star walking past a hope to be one day.

Lauren Hutton smiled at me. It was a long time ago, but it helped get me here.

Our frozen moment gave me some freedom.

Behind Green Lights: Looking for Carol Landis

She appeared in more than fifty films, was married four times, and toured extensively during World War Two bringing to the troops who pinned her up along the way a bit of American pulchritude rarely matched before or after. And Carol Landis did all of this before she turned 30.

Image result for carole landis

She’d have to because she would be dead at the age of 29, taking her own life, heartbroken over her unrequited love for Rex Harrison.

If I could drive alone along a winding road somewhere near Topanga, could I find her? And if I did, what would I say? Could I help her find it if I didn’t even know what I was in search of? What was struck within me when I bumbled upon her in “Behind Green Lights.” I don’t remember much about the film. But I do remember her. Strangely (or not), I was unaware of her story. Yet she was the one I had discovered. And then it dawned on me; perhaps she had found me.

That’s one of the things that happens whenever I go back and watch a film from that era. These lives are introduced to me and I look into them. Who were they? Who was she? What did they do off screen? With the lights off and no cameras around. I have trouble shaking these thoughts off. Maybe that’s what was intended.

There’s always been an attraction for me to the underbelly of celebrity, i.e., the noir of Hollywood. And as I’m writing this, I’m thinking about it. Again. Does all of this get a little too close to my own underbelly? What dark side of my own private Hollywood do stories and thoughts such as these touch?

I once saw the cover of Circus by Alistar MacLean. It stayed with me. Of all the seconds of moments I’ve had over fifty plus years, what is it about something so seemingly indistinct about one cover of one book? Like “Behind Green Lights,” I don’t remember MacLean’s story, but I do remember the cover. And like Carol Landis, those memories troubled me. There seemed to be something sinister going on.

My guess is that we aren’t supposed to see those things too clearly nor too often because they are not the stuff of dreams. They are instead, shadows.

A final random thought goes something like this: David Lynch‘s film Mulholland Drive had a devastatingly powerful impact on me. In a film about the dark side of Hollywood, I’m left to wonder how much of an inspiration for his film was a real life Carol Landis.

I’ve got to look behind more green lights.

A Dessicated Rose

Turning my head slightly to the side, I couldn’t help but smile to myself. In the car next to me, would she have smiled too?

Funny. The metaphor wasn’t lost.

So how much of this is autobiographical? You have no idea.

An outstretched hand leads the way. Following the flashlight’s beam and heading down the stairs, it’s time to go back.

Seashells ’82. That’s what the cover says. Was what I saw. What a strange secret I’ve kept. All these years, I thought someone was watching. Instead, I’m the lead.

Far away, I kid myself that she’s peeked too. And me? Left rummaging in the basement, looking in a book. It’s usually kept just safely out of reach. Except for tonight.

In between the pages, the wax paper cocoon is a silent tomb. It’s a thirty-something haunting.

I put it there; then.

Now I look in the mirror. Same person, different shell. No longer of the sea, the change in seasons has parched the skin. In my hands tonight though, the rose I hold has dried out too.