The Other End of Sunset

Saturday, January 05, 2008

The Jungle, The Fountainhead, The Lord of the Flies

Every new beginning
Comes from some other beginning's

Well, I just left SL at the airport. She's headed off on a plane to Europe for 3 months. Yuck.

It's been raining (hard) for the past couple of days. Dark, grey, windy, and generally miserable. Great leaving weather.

As I drove across the San Mateo bridge, the planes were taking off from SFO towards the west, into -- surprisingly -- blue sky. The sky was clear and crisp and you could see forever.

In *that* direction. I was driving east into the storm. Heavy, wind-whipped clouds, rain being driven sideways, and no visibility.

I was driving into night. One step beyond.

So, leaving SFO takes one into light and sunshine, but heading for the current house leads into a chill rain and wind.

Yo, Weather Man, you're laying on the symbolism a bit thickly, don't you think? I mean, really, what's next, harps on the one hand and brimstone on the other?

I mean, I appreciate a nice metaphor as much as the next guy, but I also value subtlety.

I hope that SL is moving on into a sunny, bright new opportunity, and leaving the politics and garbage behind. But I don't think I'm part of that garbage, and so the rain and wind feels a bit over the top.

But then, what do I know, I *still* don't really know how to make scrambled eggs.

And, seriously, did I just quote Semisonic? Wow, when did I become lame?

Skating away.
Skating away.
Skating away,
on the thin ice of a new day...
--Jethro Tull

It is hard to figure out what will "matter" in the future. Perhaps, in some distant future, some Bill and Ted future, Semisonic will be viewed as the harbinger of the future, and the most important social and political statement of our era.

But I doubt it.

Nonetheless, the point is still well taken -- if the Bible were being written today, would we know? A prophet in one's own land, and all that. Robert Heinlein penned a little tale about what would happen if Christ came back to modern day Earth. In "Stranger in a Strange Land", Heinlein asks us to look at ourselves and our prejudices.

And we come up short, turning the Son of Man into soup.

I don't know if we'd recognize a Deity if she deigned to join us, and I'm sure we'd find some way to muzzle her, citing national security or terrorism.

What? No, I didn't vote for this guy.

But I don't like looking at ourselves these days. We are terribly rude. This morning, I was at the drug store.

My drug store has a "HIPAA Compliant" sign for where to queue up to pick up prescriptions. I kid you not -- the sign is labelled "HIPAA compliant". It is about 2 yards from the windows, to provide privacy. I guess the distance from the window ensures patients who haven't gotten their medicines yet can't hear what is being handed to the person in front of them.

Well, compliance is mostly a matter of degrees of silliness.

I'm deaf. And I can always hear what's being dispensed in front of me. But whatever, that's not what I was going to talk about.

I walked up to the HIPAA sign, and there was a woman standing about 5 feet behind it, looking at a home drug test that you'd give to a kid to see if he's doing dope, when he's in his room listening to Rush.

The existence of home drug tests is, in and of itself, a bit creepy. But whatever. Again, not the point of my tale.

This woman wasn't clearly in the line, but wasn't clearly out of line either. So I said "Excuse me, ma'am, are you in line for the prescription counter?" She didn't even look up, just grunted, "yeah" and pushed her way by me back to the sign. No smile, not even a "yes".

Rude, and unnecessary.

For SL's last meal here in the Bay Area, she wanted to have In-n-Out burgers. So we went there -- in the rain, at high noon. Although there aren't shootings in the parking lot at High Noon, there are lots of people stalking about looking for parking, and for who knows what else. As I was parking today, because of the weird angle I started with, it took me two cuts.

While I was making the second cut -- which took all of 30 seconds or so -- a teenage girl cut around me, almost driving onto the sidewalk, and waving her hands at me like a madman.

Good lord, I guess you shouldn't get between this woman and her burger!

More rudeness. Also not necessary.

But, seemingly more and more common.

Jeanne hated rudeness, even more than I do. She was unfailingly polite, even when people were horrible to her. It doesn't seem to bother SL as much.

They are different. Jeanne didn't want to be replaced. But she wasn't. I don't think I shall ever replace her. I can't imagine what replacement means, actually, now that I think about it.

But the real question is not "has JR been replaced," it is "am I being disloyal to JR?"

Is it acceptable to have fun, to have new experiences, without Jeanne? She and I talked about many things that we wanted to do together. Some I haven't done, some I had already done, and some I have done with SL.

I believe that Jeanne approves. I hope I'm right.

I think you can't replace someone. The conditions have to be perfect for a relationship as magic as that of JR and I. Conditions have to be perfect to make oil -- we needed dinosaurs and plants, more or less. Today's deaths are not turning into future greenhouse gases -- Jeanne's ashes are not becoming oil, even though they are cast about the earth -- the conditions are different now.

To replace, to me, would seem to require facing the same circumstances and making a different choice.

Jeanne changed me forever. I am better than I was. Still far from perfect, but better. More polite, more ready to look at myself and others. And no more accepting of heavy handed analogies.

Like this one.

Happy New Year, all. Here's to a more peaceful 2008.