Friday, September 23, 2005

postcard: lake tahoe

It’s early. It’s been called an early day. The day has been called.

It’s a tourist town, but the tourists aren’t here yet. Or, they’ve gone. There’s no heat and there’s not yet snow. It’s crisp, a little chill by the beach. It stays light early.

It’s California. I took a picture of the state line sign. It was blue with yellow flowers.

Lake Tahoe is perfect, as Utah was perfect, as Kansas was perfect. They are each their own thing. They are each the thing they are supposed to be, which is a thing I have never seen, do not know. They are each full of people living their lives, lives I can only guess at, think I could do, if only I was given entrance. I was trained as a mimic, and every town I try on like the actress I was. I think I could move to Minnesota, be a farm wife, wear flannel, learn to chop wood.

I could do it. I think I could do anything.

In Tahoe City, I check into a gorgeous little room, not much from the outside, but in, a surprise: remodeled like The Great Northern with light pine furniture, iron fixtures, coffee mugs, all the trappings of winter.

The bathroom has slate floors and a high window that overlooks the Sierras, piney-topped trees, a soccer field. Aspens are turning yellow. Children are playing on the field, watched by parents in chairs. I take a shower in the middle of the afternoon. Light spills over water. It’s bright, and the shouts of children fill the waves of my hair.

I eat in a real restaurant with real food and real art on the walls, and real red wine in the RIGHT glass. And it is good, and I am so relieved. I know how to do this. I know where I am, though I have never been where I am.

I have been traveling for so long, I have almost forgotten why I left, where I am going. Leaving seemed like enough. Paring down my things, giving away my furniture, sealing my letters into boxes, shipping my books in the mail, funneling my clothes into bags, seemed like the end, seemed like the answer. I forgot I had somewhere to be, something to do, something waiting for me at the end, not just the ocean, though that too I have forgotten, not just the distance between me and Ohio.

That is what I feel more than anything: the distance, threading thicker and thicker like a pipe.

I’m close to San Francisco, but I’m afraid to go further. That is what I feel more than anything.

I have been thinking, the last few years, what do I want from my life? What do I need to be happy? Not very much, I think.

Trees, I think. Stars. Then I add: a mountain.

I need trees. I need stars. I need friends. I need a mountain, and I need somewhere, somewhere, children, calling out to each other across a field: GOOD TRY, GOOD TRY, GOOD TRY.