Julie, Julia and I – and Jack


I saw Julie & Julia yesterday. Ha! Julia started her blog on blogspot. Well I’ve got mine on blogspot and wordpress. I loved where she wrote “is anybody out there?” I guess we all go through it.

 It got scary when I saw that she got responses in a couple of months. I haven’t had any yet. I don’t know if anybody’s reading. I can think of lots of reasons why they wouldn’t – too prosaic, too wordy, too long, too self-absorbed, too preachy – am I preachy?… Actually, I’m going to stop right there. I don’t feel like going down that road today. What’s the point? Don’t feel like going down it any day. There’s never any point.

 There’s never any point in following an idea that leaves me feeling worthless and destroys my belief that I have prospect. Nothing positive, nothing to be gained from that idea. It’s an absolute wet-blanket spoiler.

 Meryl Streep was fabulous as Julia Child. And I absolutely adore what’s his name. The man who played her husband. He’s one of my favourite actors and I can’t remember his name. Utterly adorable. He played the studio executive in America’s Sweethearts. Stole the show. Forget it, I can’t remember. Good sentence, there, Jack.

 Julia Child said if you screw up, cover it up because people probably won’t notice and never apologize! I like that. How about the part where she tries to flip an omelet and fails miserably, laughs, then admits she didn’t have enough courage! I also liked that the film showed both women going through the challenges of having a dream and working towards making it come true. Even wanting to give up. ­It’s okay to get disheartened, to want to give up. To give up temporarily, to fail, to cover up, to not apologize.

 Well, it took her what, 8 years, to get published and recognized? It took Dustin Hoffman 12 years to get his first part. It’s been 6 years since I wrote the book that I turned into my first film script. 6 years since I began to learn how to claim my life. It pisses me off that it took me so long to get to that point, but at least I’ve got here. At least I won’t go backwards from this point. Ever. In my whole universal existence. Hey they feels pretty good. That feels like an achievement.

 It’s only been three months since I’ve been blogging.

 I was doing an Italian lesson today with a tape and a book, and remembering how beautiful Siena is, and how stimulating Italy was to my whole being.

 I know I’ve admitted this to myself many times, but it struck me clearly again today. The sun was on my back, and it some quality to it that reminded me of Italy in early summer. Tuscany – Siena, Florence, olive trees and vineyards, ancient farmhouses, warm gentle air, washing hanging across narrow streets in towns, and the coffee and pastries. Oh man. The ripe tomatoes, olive oil and bread. Prosciutto. Mmmmmm. Beautiful beautiful beautiful buildings. People out on the streets at night. Venice at dawn.

 I haven’t seen anything in South Africa yet that makes me want to stay, to participate, that stimulates my imagination and stirs me in the way Italy – or even America – did.

 I stay because of Home. And let me say it, I know some South Africans who are wonderful. My whole family comes from here, going back three generations, my roots should be firmly embedded in this soil. But they aren’t. It’s very beautiful, it’s very moving, there are amazing people doing exceptional things with their lives. I know. I know all of that, and I respect it, admire it. But I don’t really like it here. It doesn’t make my heart sing, doesn’t do anything to my imagination.

 When I was preparing to leave Italy, a friend said “don’t go back to your family, you’ll get stuck there”. I didn’t know what she was talking about. Now I do. She was wrong, though, I didn’t get stuck, I just had a lot to learn. That’s been a painful thing and a very amazing wonderfully good thing. The best thing. I found Home.

 I’ve often longed to go back to Italy – as much as I long to go back to America – but have never had the means, and in the last 6 years I’ve wanted to stay because of Home and needing to face my own truth. It wasn’t geography that was trapping me. Or lack of money.

 This morning, reading and speaking Italian, I could see the possibility of living elsewhere, and visiting here. There was some potential reality to it, it wasn’t just a kind of frantic “I have to get out of here” dream.

 This place I’m living in, it’s the first time in my life that I’ve known from the start that I’m not here to stay. I’m camping out, really. I don’t anything about the “how and where” of my next home, but I know it will be something that is mine. I want that. I need it. My own home. I can see it. I’ve got two images: one is a wooden house with a wrap-around porch, on stilts, close to water. Screen door. Shutters, big windows, wooden floors inside. I can’t see any furniture in there yet. It’s a double-storey. Has a lot of light. I can see myself walking in the door, – my door. With a cat. My place. That place is somewhere in America. That’s awfully vague, I know.

 I sit here visualizing, and move to Italy. I realize how hard it is to see myself living in the kind of place that stimulates my imagination – a palazzo on a canal in Venice, a small house in the Tuscan countryside, an apartment in Florence or Siena or Rome looking over a cobbled street. An apartment like Julia Child had in Paris. I can see other people in them. I just can’t see myself.

 Gotta work on that one.

 But I can see the American house and myself in it. And a cat. Just can’t see the furniture, or myself choosing it. Can’t see myself having the money to buy it.

 Gotta work on that one too.  Gotta.  I like Americanisms.

 FLASH. You know what else I can see? The American who I call Jack. The one I met when I was in my twenties, brother of my then partner. The one who I couldn’t dare to tell the truth to. The one who I let get away. Yup. Leaning against a window. No, the window – it’s a sash window – is open, and he’s leaning against the sill. You know, half sitting on it.

 Hi Jack. It’s been a long time.


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