Another World

I'm writing this in a coffeehouse in Sausalito, right on the water, and far enough down Bridgeway to be frequented mostly by locals.  My friend Rachel Brod, who's lived over here, once showed me some of the locals' hangouts, this was years ago, but they all seem to still be here.  I ate lunch in a hole in the wall Indian cafe, which felt more like the woman behind the counter's kitchen than a restaurant.  They had several types of homemade chai—decaf, lowfat, regular, and soy with ginger.  I had some of the soy, which tasted rather burnt, but I drank it anyway.  Everybody who came in there was around my age, and seemed mildly bored, like they spent every afternoon lounging around all this quaintness and lush scenery.  They all looked like they'd go to Buddhist retreats, except the one white woman in a sari who sat by the window and would yell, "Namaste!" to people passing by.  She also said "Namaste!" to people leaving the cafe.  She hugged some of these people, for an extraordinarily long time.  Instead of a Buddhist retreat, I imagined her at a yoga retreat.

The place I'm in now used to be the Marin branch of the Cafe Trieste.  Nothing about it is changed except the name.  And like the Trieste in North Beach, there are some old guys here who seem to have been sitting in the same seats they sat in, in the 70s.  They tend to be staring intently into laptops.  Since I just watched Catfish on TV, I imagine them to be having internet affairs with made-up women.  Any one of them look like I could get into a snarling fight with, like the guy I did in the North Beach Cafe Trieste, the time I went there with Dana Ward.  I wrote about that in a previous post, which you can access here

I'm in Sausalito because I got my hair cut.  I know—with a zillion hairdressers in San Francisco, it's weird to drive to Marin for one.  My hairdresser cuts hair according to a special process based on "sacred geometry."  A number of places do that in LA, but she's the only person I could find in the Bay Area.  It sounds crazy, and I'm sure it is, but she gives a really good cut.  The first time I went to her, she said my haircut would last 4 months, and it did. As I drove across the Golden Gate Bridge, which never ceases to be stunning, I kept thinking about how it was the number one suicide destination in the world.  Someone said they were planning to put nets underneath it to catch all the people who leap off.  I have no idea if this is true.  I drove past two lovers kissing on the walkway and I wondered if they were saying one last goodbye before they went sailing through the air.  My hair is now closer to a blunt cut, but not really a blunt cut, just more subtle layers, to maintain its movement.  My hairdresser blow-dried it so now it looks sophisticated and kind of big, like I could interview people on TV like Diane Sawyer.  I can't wait to get home to put some gunk on it to weigh it down.

I've been thinking about secrecy the past couple of days, as part of this uncelebrate-able anniversary with the buddhist.  I've been thinking of his love of secrecy and my discomfort with secrecy.  I associate sex and secrecy with molestation and with forbidden gay sex, the pain of being in the closet, both of which I've had some experience with.  For many of us, being able to shout to the world "I fucked X" is a triumph over histories of oppression.  And then there's the smarminess of cheating versus the dialogue integral to an open relationship.  The buddhist wanted us to have secret names for one another that only we knew, and he told me to come up with for one with him.  I've made up names for every person I've been close to, even some close friends.  I call my cat Ted, "Tedster" and "Ted Offensive," for instance.   Quincey is "Quincerina," "Quincetta," or "Thump Thump."  Syliva is "Squawks;" Kevin calls her "Sylvester."  But I couldn't think of a pet name for the buddhist, couldn't perform endearments on demand.  I didn't sit down and design the epithet "the buddhist."  It arose organically, and it isn't even clever—in fact, its lack of cleverness is what makes it work.  When a name is right, it feels inevitable, fits the situation/person like a glove.  Kevin and I have the same nickname for one another that we toss back and forth, which fits the post-gender, post-hetero, post-everything tone of our interactions.

The dinner crowd is upon the cafe.  Time to sign off and marvel over the Golden Gate Bridge at dusk.


M said...

Dodie, I have carried this quote around with me for over 10 years, and used it in a work for one of Darin Klein's Box of Books editions. Recently I pulled it out to think on.

“Having told you this story I feel drained. This story is my secret, do you understand?
And so?
I cannot say to you “please don’t tell
anyone ...No.
But now your secret has also become
my secret. It belongs to me and I will treat it as I do all my secrets; I will make use of it when the time comes and then it will become someone else’s secret. You are right, secrets must circulate ...”

—HervĂ© Guibert

Hervé Guibert is one of my favorite writers on photography.


Dodie Bellamy said...

Thanks, Margaret. That's lovely.