No Eggs! No Eggs!Friday, October 31, 2014
And she bare him a son, and he called his name Gershom: for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land.
I had a mentor friend in Mexico City who died in his 80s a year ago. Raúl Guerrero Montemayor 9 years after I met him was a witness to my wedding in 1968 to my Rosemary in Coyoacán, Mexico. Raúl spoke at least 8 languages and he could do stuff like speaking Spanish with a Filipino or Yiddish. He was supposed to be of Filipino origin but he was blonde, with blue eyes and always pointed out to us that he was first cousin to actress Yvette Mimieux.
If you had asked, as I did many times, what nationality he claimed to be of he would answer in Spanish, “Soy híbrido.” Somehow that does not translate to English as, “I am a hybrid.” as I think of some exotic variant of a species plant. In many respects I understood Raúl’s definition of what he was in a Borgesian term, “I am all of them but none of them.”
Yesterday I read Borges’s short story Biografía de Tadeo Isidoro Cruz . Unless you are an Argentine who has read José Hernández’s Martín Fierro (one of the quite a few Argentine novels, actually an epic poem that defined the nation) the story would be close to meaningless. Feeling alone in my bed (even though Rosemary was next to me with her NY Times) I felt Argentine but in the isolation of knowing that unless I skyped someone in Buenos Aires, my experience in reading this story was one that I could not share. I felt a stranger in this strange land that is Canada and from the vantage point of Vancouver.
Much in our thoughts as we prepare our garden for the winter is wondering how many of these fall cleanups are meant to be. Will this be the last one? I will not deny that as our bank funds dissolve to nothing the great value of our house is a constant reminder that we could soon be living in a small shelter where all the bathrooms (two?) would work and the tub would not leak and the kitchen would not have a white Ikea floor, and the furnace would be efficient, and mice would not invade our basement in the fall to die and stink up my darkroom, and the wooden floors (the nice wooden floors would not longer worry us about their fading), and we would not fear as to what tree might fall on our house in that night windstorm, or about getting Casi-Casi inside before 9pm because of the marauding coyotes or racoons…
But we would not live in White Rock. It would be too far for us to consider going to a concert, or ballet or theatre; our grandchildren would be far away in Vancouver and that tunnel and traffic would be an obstacle. Would we end up playing bridge with people our age and discussing "doing" Machu Picchu? North Van would make us say,” I cannot do this or that until the lanes change.” Perhaps Burnaby (our return to Burnaby) would involve a Lougheed Highway or an East Hastings that would be trifle less congested than the freeway to Coquitlam and points beyond.
Mexico, the warmth of Mexico could beckon. One of the nicest spots on earth is the city of Mérida, Yucatán which has fewer Americans (that’s good!) than San Miguel Allende, Guanajuato. But Mérida would not provide us with a daily delivered NY Times, and a ready supply of constant 110 voltage. Then there are those hurricanes. And I wonder how we would manage to get our monthly supply of pills that keep both of us this side of 70 even though we are that side of it. And the political instability of Mexico would be a constant worry as being away from the presence of our daughters and granddaughter. Would Casi-Casi and Plata (our two cats) navigate in a strange land?
But most of all there is that concern that we would no longer have an efficient (in fact superb) public library that would enable us to take books and DVDs home (imagine that!).
For better or for worse (for better I am almost sure) this strange land of cyan/gray skies, a land where people seem to eschew the telephone and face to face meetings in cafés is a place in which I feel too comfortable to ever leave. I may not belong to it until I am finally resting in some small plot of land or in a little urn in a niche.
And this was not more evident than last night. Thanks to $3.00 RCA cables from my nearby Kerrisdale Dollar Store and the retrieval of my VHS machine from our basement we were able to watch Otto Preminger’s, 1957 Saint Joan with Jean Seberg, Richard Widmark, John Gielgud and the very sweet Irish actor Richard Todd (A scheduling conflict prevented him from being James Bond in Dr. No). That Saint Joan, the film, is based on the play by George Bernard Shaw and has a screenplay by Graham Greene is icing on a very rich cake. What could be a better provider of instant satisfaction after seeing Meg Roe in the Arts Club Theatre’s production of Saint Joan than this film? We were able to compare notes and know at any moment what the lines would be. And I must point out that Limelight Video's VHS copy of Saint Joan is the only game in town.
It is this instant satisfaction (well with just a bit of old fashioned ingenuity as I had to connect the VHS machine to our only TV set, a now ancient Sony Trinitron) that makes us want to stay put. And stay put we will until circumstances force a change. And for as long as things keep working efficiently in the city of cyan skies.