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The River Lethe, Peace, a Dream, and F**king Ugly Shoes

Here I am by the River Lima, and like the Roman soldiers, I had a trip with memory loss yesterday. Man, I haven´t had a high like that since the hash parties of the 70s. After the IV antihistamines, I blogged in for a few minutes, and then I went to sit by the water. It was absolutely fascinating. My brain turned off entirely, and it was just the speckles, the water, the movement, and time passing in silence. It was just like deep meditation; only of course with meditation, you can stop the experience when you want to. But hey. I´m not complaining. It was hilarious. The light, at some point, started bothering my eyes, so I reached into my new cheapshit daypack to get my sunglasses, and as soon as I got the bag open I sat there staring into it, wondering what the hell I opened that thing for. I thought about it for a long time, then looked back at the water, and Voila! sunglasses. That was it. The evening went sort of that way, till I fell asleep in my room around 7 p.m., and that was it for July 24. I missed the sunset and everything. But it was a delicious sleep, and I had a dream that was remarkable. I´ll save that till the end of today´s blog though, because I know other people´s dreams can be boring, and this one is only of interest to other writers anyway. So I´ll say more about the beauty of Ponte de Lima, the market, the shoes, and then finally the dream.

I am airborne, light, and infinitely cheerful. The lesions are no longer seeping. They still itch a little, but I´m not worried about that. Itching is nothing. Ponte de Lima is so beautiful it hurts my eyes. Baby´s breath grows wild out of the walls. At every corner there is another beautiful sight: medieval buildings, fountains, flowers, parks, squares with cafe sitters gazing out from under umbrellas. It´s just what I dreamed about. Everything and more. The Lethe, no Lima, is peaceful, undulant. There´s a small island in the middle of it where something with purple flowers blows in the breeze. There are sea gulls, ducks, little bright birds, and high floating clouds. It´s gorgeous, I´m tellin ya. This morning I went across the New Bridge built in 1453, then over the Roman bridge, to St. Anthony´s Chapel on the other side. St. Anthony was Portuguese. I had no idea. I sat there for a while, enjoying the simplicity and beauty of the altar portrait of the man with a baby, and somehow I connected with my grandparents, and with the gratitude I feel for their taking me in and giving me a home when I was a newborn and until I was five. They were 45 and 48 then, and it can´t have been their idea of a good time to have a screaming infant to take care of, but they did it, and my heart filled with gratitude to them both for what they did. I also thought about my mom, and how hard it must have been for her to have a baby she didn´t want and was shamed for having. I felt great love and compassion for her, and for how hard it was for her ever after. Basta for this introverted stuff.

Yesterday was market day. Huge throngs of people. Hundreds of sellers. It´s a big deal because it only comes once every two weeks. What a scene! Hawkers holler at every stand, and some of them have whistles or noisemakers to draw attention to their wares: mostly cheap junk from China, but interspersed with the thong panties, the bikinis, the cheap purses, the knockoff shoes, and the ugly ceramics, there are chickens, eggs, fresh bread, caged pigeons, fish stands full of fresh-caught fish, hand-embroidered linen, and the beat goes on. I was still wearing my cool shoes I got in Braga (Timberland, an American brand, made in Viet Nam, but made for the European market: I loved them because they looked like what the French people wear). They were pull-on amphibious shoes that felt like wearing nothing at all. But the doctor said I had to get rid of them, so I got these UNBELIEVABLY UGLY things called Beppi, made in the EU, for 20 Euros. They´re sort of all-terrain athletic shoes, black mesh and gray fake leather, with a thick tread, and (this is the best part) a neon-orange stripe going up the tongue, matching the neon-orange-and-black-speckled laces, and the neon-orange pullup on the back. Erin Brockovitch would have a field day with these babies! I left my cool shoes on the top of a bin of trash. They were gone in twenty minutes. I hope the person who got them enjoys them and is not allergic to bed bugs. Now, when I go to the beach the next time, I won´t have a moment of worry that anybody will steal THESE shoes.

OK, so here´s the dream. Those of you who aren´t writers can go on and do something else now. In the dream, I was having a three-way email conversation with my beloved friend Gloria Anzaldua, who died about two years ago, and Christopher. We were emailing about the purpose of writing. We came up with three:

1. To help people love each other more.
2. To record what is “true,” at least to our warped perceptions.
3. To hold places and people up to the light in such a way that others can enjoy them and have more Claritin. (My dream-maker is a joker. After the IV Antihistamines, I got prescriptions for Claritin, Prednisone, and a corticosteroid cream.) The email in the dream said Claritin, but Gloria, Christopher, and I knew it meant clarity.

We were debating, in our most recent email (in the dream), whether 2 and 3 were mutually exclusive, but we all agreed on No. 1. Gloria had written that “claro” is in the eye of the beholder, and that the best we can do is 1 and 2. But Christopher wrote that readers do not have to agree with what we (as writers) see; sometimes clarification comes in disagreement with the writer, as in the case of Saramago´s GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST. At this point Christopher´s boice became mine, and I wrote that one has to believe in the Judaic God to be as angry with Him as Saramago is; but while reading the novel brought clarity to me, it did not persuade me of the existence of a God I need to rage against. Oh, one footnote: when I say Christopher, I am speaking of my friend who is a professor of Spanish. My firstborn son is Chris, and he has not written to me while I´ve been on this trip, nor has Seth, though I expect he reads a blog from time to time. Manko (my youngest, still at home) has sent several reassuring emails–she´s doing fine!

So that´s the dream. It wasn´t ecstatic and orgasmic like Kubla Khan, and I don´t think there was another 300 lines I forgot because of the interruption of a Person from Porson, but it was for me a beautiful, clear, helpful dream, and I love it and agree with it. (Well, I guess that figures, since I made it. But I didn´t make it consciously and couldn´t have put it so succinctly if I´d been conscious.)

Today I will finish my time in Ponte de Lima, and tomorrow, it´s my birthday, and I´m going on to Guimaraes. What will that be? I love not knowing.


2 responses to “The River Lethe, Peace, a Dream, and F**king Ugly Shoes”

  1. JetGirl says:

    As a writer, I love these three bits of insight. Thank goodness for your cool drugs! Best wishes on your journey. (Though as you know nothing bad ever happens to a writer: it is all material!!!!)


  2. Constance says:

    Happy B’Day Kendall!!!

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