Wednesday, February 29, 2012

am i changing into my opposite?

             in my time the presidio little theater where i started my illustrious                             career. upstairs typing up a script when kennedy shot.

two days ago i had the unimaginable urge to run off and join the air force. no wonder tolstoy died in a train-station, escaping his family at eighty. i realized, of course, i yearned to have an unquestionable security. the military is the severest form of socialism. i know that for a fact, having grown up on army bases. with the post exchange, gas fifteen cents a gallon, cigarettes five cents a pack. housing, moving, everything paid for, including all medical expenses. as a young woman recruit said years ago, all you have to do is give up your freedom and you get all this stuff. 

what's crazy in my case: i loved being a dependent, roaming the wide free spaces of old ww2 training grounds, listening to machine-gun fire coming the practice fields, a general pattern of change within sameness. okay, that makes sense. yet forced to make a choice in 1963 by the draft, i joined the coast guard reserve. i have to tell you, boot-camp like the marines and i hated the itchy uniforms, non-coms yelling in my face, rising at five in the morning to do calisthenics. usually i rate this time as the worst in my life, and at the same time i landed a soft office job on board ship and enjoyed the trip up the inland passage to alaska. 

as always, everything's a mixed-bag for me. i've experienced paris as a charming, colorful, romantic place, and also as a grey terrain of doom, very like baudelaire. imagine my surprise when i even had pleasurable thoughts of my green bunk in the barracks, the quiet delight of reading thomas mann's joseph trilogy in the base library. in fact, those book shelves had been my refuge since the third grade. i'm like a nation after a civil war, all i want is calm and quiet, a cup of tea and my computer. this is really disgusting.

yes, for a little while the world seemed crazy and disordered, people wandering around without a purpose, the way it felt during my first day off after five weeks in camp. i'd become completely acclimatized to the routine. at a party i had to go into the bedroom and lie down, freedom too much for me. ultimately, i did escape the ships and chevrons, returning to the lookout a free man and not a slave. 

all i can say in my defense is the moment of desiring prison passed. this morning i'm happy to put up with the turbulent winds and passing clouds. winston churchill said, a young person who's not a liberal has no heart, and older folks not conservatives have no brains. well, i'm definitely on the left side of the line, all the while knowing the ironies of the position, that i would deny others what i already have, using a certain sophistry to justify it. 

                                                              my father's chapel

i've taken a few more pictures of the presidio off the web: