January 4, 2024
The sight of a dolphin is always / a little bit magical… ~ Richie Hofmann, Dolphin
I think there might be something to this notion that we’re un-becoming the old, as Kerry K put it in her recent video. Driving down State Street and over to Garden, taking surface streets to the beach area, I passed landmark after landmark of the places I used to frequent and the person I used to be.
Normally, this would be cause for a good wallow in melancholy memories. I miss living downtown! There’s my first Santa Barbara apartment; the ocean-view office where I worked for that intolerable attorney; the converted mini-mansion that once housed the Santa Barbara Ballet Theater, where I played at being a dancer and enjoyed having my heart broken by the charming but fickle teacher…
These thoughts flitted by unaccompanied by yearning, regret, or the sadness of time flying by as I clutch the tail of that kite, wanting to pull the past back into my present, to be the dancer and the young woman in love.
Gosh, all that drama was fun! Not so much the nasty attorney, but the vibrant Santa Barbara nightlife, getting killer cocktails at Joe’s with work buddies, or walking to Frimples after ballet to split a giant cinnamon roll…
For the first time, that all feels firmly in the past. Not something I want to reexperience or even particularly to remember. Traversing streets whose names I memorized long ago, noting that many things haven’t changed in the last fifty years, it occurs to me that after the Reval, Santa Barbara might no longer feel like home.
Rather than depressing, that feels exciting and enticing.
What new favorite cities might I find? Or planets, galaxies, universes made of stardust and rainbow crystals? Perhaps there is an emptiness so vast and fathomless, I might sit in my bodiless self for an age and an age, saturated with depthless wonder.
Or I might enter that fathomless wondering from a bougainvilla-bedecked terrace at a coffee shop on lower State, benignly observing tourists in their flip-flops sauntering toward the beach. Then visit Bud Bottoms’ dolphin fountain and meld with the energy of that exquisite artwork, entering the dolphin dream, glancing past the breakwater where silver-gray shapes arch through the water, the sunlight weaving rainbows through their magical wake.
We’re all exploring outer and inner space, not separate but mixed together, inner realm and that which is apparently outside of us all one riot of color, joyful experience, learning, and wonder.
I let go of the kite of my memories and watch as it metamorphoses into a dragon, rockets toward the horizon, and turns into a distant speck, bright as the face of God smiling, brilliant as a newborn sun.