Escape: 1988

image of Frances & Tim outside their camper, camping Griswold Canyon

Escape, in several dimensions

May 1988

FIRST NIGHT OUT, the great escape has at long last begun. Two weeks ago yesterday was our last day of 8 to 5 work, and we had planned to go up into the sticks immediately for a few weeks, then return to Santa Cruz for final preparations (mechanical, printing and binding Frances’s hospital book…) but when we got to Santa Cruz Mark and Debby were moving to their new home soon, and we consented to help them, and our preparations moved into heavy hardware (extra rear springs, new starter motor, rear door wardrobe, screen door, acquiring paint with which later to do the whole exterior and some of the interior, oh God, it goes on and on. What an exhausting string of days. Under pressure to get the Hell out of that tourist trap of a town, AWAY from traffic and relatives and dangling obligations. Yesterday (Friday) we finally finished up our work at the storage locker just as it was closing. And we drove over the hill back into the dreaded Silicon Valley, the primary focus of our escape, the source of our financial succor these past 4 years, and we spent our last night, guess where…in the parking lot of Frances’s psychiatric hospital! Let us not overlook the coincidental bumping-into the past few days which enabled us to say special goodbyes to people important to us, more for the hellos than the goodbyes in my opinion. I mean I ‘m not the sort to call people up just to say goodbye. My style is just to disappear when my business is finished. But Frances is more emotional [boy, that’s an understatement!] I think most people are, so she works her successful diplomacy as we work our way out of town. Tim Vargas, yes we even spent Thursday night in the parking lot of his tofu factory. Moon Maid and Jesse we saw the next morning when we took Tim back to town. Carol Martin, we just happened to see at what used to be Dosset’s grocery store, and we went up to her fabulous farm home where we met her new man Jim who told us about his travels in and from Alaska. Oh the list goes on, but you’ll have to ask Frances, it’s her department.

LAST NIGHT, Frances woke up from a dream in which she thought she had a fever of 108. She took her temperature and behold she did have a fever of almost 102. She figures she got it from Gabriel 5 days ago when he stayed over night with us out at Henry Cowell park; he was just getting over a bout with a short-lived fever. It was my fault, I insisted on seeing him against Frances’s judgment. Her fever has gradually subsided during the day, and strangely, no other symptoms accompanied the elevated temperature aside from general aching and tiredness. Oh yeah, we saw Paul Verden and Susan last night before hurtling the rest of the way down highway 17 to the hospital. Paul is taking his multimedia show “The American Dream” to Vancouver, B.C., next week before his largest audience yet. And Susan is almost finished with her first year of intern teaching high school, and she’s itching to party and do the things she can’t do tied down to the regular responsibilities of her job.  The best thing about our visit was Frances playing the piano and my pounding on Paul’s Conga.

HOURS LATER, I’m lying in bed not yet sleeping, the hospital is in a very quiet neighborhood at night. A tune comes into my head, rather typical of my plaintive tunes on the recorder, and I hear it developing orchestrally. It goes on around through A and B parts as a song would, and just as it’s winding down, where you’d have to finish a song, it switches into a rock beat and a slant blues chord progression, and behold, I realize that it’s the B theme in the sonata allegro form of the first movement of the symphony I’ve always wanted to write. At first I grimace in my half sleep that the change is too abrupt and gritty, Jim Cockey wouldn’t go for it.  But I give it it’s head and it takes me away, it works. It’s another side of me, and I’m full of contrasting sides. I get very excited and think about getting up and grappling for the tape recorder, I could hum the themes and rhythms and talk through the changes. But I opt for the unbungled experience in real time, no searching, testing taping, formulating … not moving a muscle, just enjoying it. And when the B theme came to the end of its development, to my astonishment, the two themes fit together Ives-like with enough consonance in rhythm and tonality to justify the obvious clashes between idioms as diverse as “Finlandia” and “Satisfaction.” I felt I was breaking new ground, at least on a personal level, that indeed I could write music extending well beyond song form, and that there was no need to struggle to create “new” material, I have plenty of themes and ideas waiting to be incorporated into larger works, and that on the concept level I need not grope in the dark, I can put the old Sonata form and others to work for me … it’s only waiting for the right time and the peace of mind. Peace, you say? Well it’s peaceful right here. Tonight we drove up the Hernandez side into the Clear Creek Management Area (we think of it as the back way to Idria.) The stream is bubbling right outside the truck, crickets are going in and out of phase with each other. (Are they deaf because they are so loud, or do they just have no rhythm?) Ah, it dawns on me that in the service of mating, an harmonious performance would defeat the individual’s purpose, he must stand out from the crowd. Only the solos count!

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