We were so hurried then, now there is so much time. I walk the streets in the sunshine, through neighborhoods of low houses, to the beach. The bits of litter at my feet hold meaning for me. I find buttons, rings, broken necklaces. I read messages in the posters pinned to telephone poles, a torn matchbook with the words “Don’t give up hope. Millions now living will never die.” scribbled on the back. I feel like a scrap of paper blown in the wind.
Of that trip, and the two weeks that followed – the last two weeks we would spend together – I remember only a scattered sequence of images and events, all of which could be said to co-occur, to exist simultaneously in my mind, as if time were, say, the frosting on a wedding cake, and the events that make up our lives were the silver sugar stars embedded in that cake’s sides.
I remember fat seals that crawled up under the pier in the Santa Cruz harbor. They amused her endlessly; she bent and pressed her face to the planks of the pier to look down on them. She loved the fast rides on the boardwalk and wanted to go again and again, until finally I stood to the side and just watched. As I watched her rehearse with her company, as I watched her undress, in the bay windows of her apartment, overlooking the huge trees of the Panhandle of the park. I felt myself watching her, more and more, from a distance. Our conversations were uncomfortable, like cousins talking on the telephone at Christmas, never sure what to say. And we argued, violent cursing matches, often over nothing, increasing in volume until the neighbors pounded on the ceiling and Salome threw herself on the bed to cry.
Our lives hadn’t slowed down in the least; if anything the speed of the whirlwind increased. Every evening after work we’d meet, to drink and eat, and proceed from there to clubs or bars, performances or gallery openings. Noel’s third kinetic sculpture was unveiled, in a pompous ceremony, below Coit Tower in North Beach. At the reception the famous sculptor himself approached with a foaming bottle of champagne. “Juan, Juan, I’m glad to see you, help me drink this. I’m over my block, I’ve solved the problem. You see, I’ll put each of the sculptures in line of sight position with at least two of the others. A microwave relay will control the movements, a computer will coordinate. Keep up with the times, you know, keep moving. And by locating my sculptures on the tops of hills, I’ll actually be using the landscape of the city as a part of the composite piece. Ingenious, eh? Drink up, you don’t look too well. You could probably use some.”
Ken Zimmerman (c) 1985