Sauntering

Some guys are surfers,
And some guys are sailors
Some guys are saints,
And some guys are sinners
It’s by our own vices or devices,
That we’re losers or winners

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March 18, 2015

I’m not even sure how to begin this day’s journal entry; I hope tonight’s words can do today justice. A poem might be better but I’ve been thinking in prose on this day and so in prose I write on this night. Some days I think in poetry but not today, today was a movie, today was a day that needs no reconciling. Today I was at peace with it all, my own flaws included. Reading my entries it’s easy to see that many of them were written in an attempt to accept what unwritten I could not, for there are far too few days like this in my recent memory, far too few days that feel like one long, perfect sunset.

And today wasn’t false, it wasn’t the flattery of being adored, it wasn’t the high of being loved. It was the high of life, my life: alone and happy.

Today gave me an abundance of goodness. Even the imperfect moments were bearable, their imperfections no less perceptible, but somehow made more palatable by the day’s je ne sais quoi.

Yes, I’m not reconciling life, I’m celebrating it, I’m holding onto it, as I should be.

For there was a time when I revelled in life daily, back when I used to take pictures on my beloved Blackberry but I haven’t posted a photo of my own on here since I had that phone, over four years ago. Perhaps owning an Android after far too long spent in iPhone serfdom (footnote 1) has gotten me back into the habit of taking photographs. I hope so.

image

The above was my view this evening, but the day was beautiful long before the sun began its westward journey toward the horizon. The day was beautiful sauntering down the avenue, the bliss of unknown possibility in my heart. 

For to saunter, as I, is to follow in the footsteps of Henry David Thoreau, who definitively captures the essence – and etymology – of sauntering, or being a saint of the land, within his essay On Walking:

“…sauntering; which word is beautifully derived “from idle people who roved about the country, in the middle ages, and asked charity, under pretence of going à la sainte terre” — to the holy land, till the children exclaimed, “There goes a sainte-terrer“, a saunterer — a holy-lander. They who never go to the holy land in their walks, as they pretend, are indeed mere idlers and vagabonds, but they who do go there are saunterers in the good sense, such as I mean. Some, however, would derive the word from sans terre, without land or a home, which, therefore, in the good sense, will mean, having no particular home, but equally at home everywhere. For this is the secret of successful sauntering. He who sits still in a house all the time may be the greatest vagrant of all, but the Saunterer, in the good sense, is no more vagrant than the meandering river, which is all the while sedulously seeking the shortest course to the sea.

Saunterer, in the good sense, is no more vagrant than the meandering river, which is all the while sedulously seeking the shortest course to the sea.

And so I sauntered, meandering circuitously like a river, my impromptu course leading me first for coffee (naturally), then to Pennywise Books, where I purchased a 1942 copy of Fathers and Sons, whereafter I met my mom and we ventured to the library’s book sale, where I purchased books too numerous to mention. The day was a roaring success thus far.

After dropping off three grocery bags of books – in a given week I normally borrow a handful from the library and purchase a quarter as many via the typical die hard bibliophile book troves (thrift stores, flea markets, indie book stores), sometimes trading in the unloved at 5th Avenue Books, or taking them to one of the local Little Free Libraries – I once again sought the shortest course to the sea, where I purchased a gorgeous handmade Mexican blanket for ten dollars, having given away its precursor.

Since I often saunter avec (footnote deux) blanket to the beach or park, I like to tote a reusable canvas bag, wherein I carry said blanket, a book or three, my journal (thanks Bunny), pens, a bottle of water, and sometimes medicinal herbs – for you can’t saunter drunk, that’s more of a stumble, but I have it on good word that it’s perfectly safe to saunter high as a kite, provided you have good music to listen to and, of course, headphones because no one wants to hear you sing, but you might sing along regardless; so, go ahead, saunter on, sing along.

Being that I didn’t leave home avec une couverture to read upon, I did not bring a bag to carry one. So, having purchased the new blue and khaki Mexican blanket (a softer, superior textile compared to my previous, overpriced RVCA brand blanket) I simply placed the blanket around my neck, as you would a scarf, letting its ends flank my unbuttoned shirt, under which my T-shirt bore the word Love. Yes, I was full hippie sauntering and my headphones were definitely in.

I was as far west as you can be after following the sun on the shortest course to the sea. I sauntered to the pier, the same ancient wooden pier I once ventured onto with my father during a huge storm, when the pier itself seemed to be sauntering and I hoped it wasn’t on the shortest course to the sea, but alas, the pier survived, we survived.

image

While out on the pier sauntering and singing, I paused at the pier’s northern handrail (as pictured above) to admire the gulls in the sky and the surfers in the sea. Whilst there, I struck up a conversion with a fellow saint of the pier, a saintperrier if you will (tongue fully in cheek).

John, as he was named, is one of those people who remind you of the power we have to touch the lives of others, even in passing. I know this because John touched my life today. How so? I’ll let time and my adventures tell, but he gave me the courage to do something I’ve long aspired to – since childhood. John gave me living proof I could do it and make memories that would last a lifetime. He gave me proof I could pull it off. Proof I could do it and be happy and free. This is a game changer, thank you John, dearly.

After passing along my contact info and bidding adieu to John I sauntered on, stopping in a new restaurant and bar to give my regards to a friend, and, as evidenced by my Mexican blanket scarf, I wasn’t concerned with fitting in or standing out, I was just sauntering. For as Thoreau said, feeling equally at home everywhere is the key to successful sauntering.

Leaving the dining and drinking establishment I found myself hungry, as a saunterer often does. Having had the caliber of day I did, I knew it would be a perfect night for dinner out with a loved one, and who better to accompany me than my mom. The wonderful thing about calling to invite my mom to dinner – or to invite her to do anything for that matter – is that I know she will be there if she can and I know a good time will ensue.

To my great satisfaction she was up for grabbing dinner. I’ll spare you the details of how we came to arrive at this particular restaurant (for that is a story perhaps only she and I would find amusing) but it was sublime. I cannot wait to return and I just ate it there less than twelve hours ago.

Apres dinner we ate chocolate protein bars for dessert. Coming home, the night was still young but it didn’t matter, for the day had blessed me and the night could do no wrong, for I would only saunter on, singing along (footnote 3), thinking of what dreams and days may come.

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Footnote 1: Remaining in any kind of relationship beyond its expiration is never wise.

Footnote Deux: Avec – French for with– as in, “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi, ce soir?”, is the opposite of sans– French for without – as in, sans jacket. I am slowly falling in love with French culture. An odd thing for an adult American to say, but perhaps not for a writer; however, I don’t know whether that’s been true for a handful of decades. There is, of course, a rich history of expatriated writers living in Paris, as chronicled within Hemingway’s A Movable Feast, and also in Orwell’s Down and Out in London and Paris; although, what really got me into French culture – beyond the exquisite and hardy cuisine – wasn’t romanticizing the Lost Generation’s romance with France – but, rather, reading James Baldwin’s Another Country and subsequently learning about Baldwin’s life as a French émigré in Paris long after Hemingway, Orwell, Fitzgerald, Faulkner and other denizens of The Lost Generation were gone. Serendipitously, I recently dreamt I was on a flight to France, and despite the aircraft’s precocious flight and being held up in Customs, I nonetheless found it desirous to be there; ironically – or, rather, bizarrely, I began seeing ads on my Facebook and YouTube pages for Air France practically the next day, having not searched for anything French online (other than James Baldwin’s biography, which, even so, is an indirect connection to France.) The ad itself is actually quite beautiful, delightful in fact, with American pop duo Glass Candy’s pulsing synth sounds and soothing female vocals providing the perfect backdrop. Yes, France is in the air. Love is in the air. Bonjour Mesdemoiselles françaises, mon nom est Lawrence Black , oui , l’écrivain. After having mastered así así Espanol con un a veces acento perfecto, Yours Truly is now setting about to learn French! …Ain’t life grand.

Footnote 3: The song I was listening to was a cover of Steve Winwood’s Higher Love, done by James Vincent McMorrow. The James Vincent McMorrow redux feels more like a prayer than a song and the wonderful transcendent feeling I experience listening to it is exactly what I hope to distill from my writing. It’s the same feeling I get reading a great novel. It’s a feeling I want to perfect. It’s a feeling I want to give others, for I don’t know what the world would be like without the arts, but it’s no world I could ever be a part of.

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