Monday, August 10, 2015

Ambitions of oblivion

Often enough, in my life, I have started with a joke, and then seen what happens. A surprising number of jokes turn out to be serious, and a good deal of seriousness is just a joke. Or so you better notice before this life eats you whole.

When we go up to the lake house I like to bring a joke dream, a dream that is joking on the square. In years past I have spoken much on the subject of these dreams before I go. They are dreams like meeting a moose, or buying all the maple syrup of the north woods, picking wild blueberries, or taking my fragile boat of air onto the greatest lake of them all, Lake Baikal. 

Wait, I don't mean Lake Baikal! Why would I say Lake Baikal? I meant Lake Superior. It's greatness is in its very name! Lake Superior.

These are little dreams, impossible dreams, easy dreams, joke dreams. And I go with my wife to the magical house on the mysterious lake and see what the house and the lake decide to do with the dreams.

My dream this year is to be a drunken writer. My dream is to drink and write.

I realized this is my dream only as I have been packing for our trip. Or, more accurately, not packing. Nothing is packed but for a bottle of Hendricks Gin and a bottle of Elderflower Cordial. The lime spearmint honey syrup and the black and sour cherry syrup would be packed too if their refrigeration weren't an issue. I haven't been able to bother with anything else yet, no 40 gallon maple syrup tanks, no moose lures, no paper boat or dark blue blueberry nets. Just a pen and a notebook and an array of cocktail ingredients and plans.

Everything has ancient origins, and mine here is connected to the origins of our going to the lake house itself, an early, shared dream of my wife and I. It comes a little from the movie Julia. I say this now from a memory, of a movie no less, not scholarship, and we'll leave it that way because the memory is the important thing here, the dream.

Dashiell Hammett and Lillian Hellman live in a beach house on Cape Cod. There are no neighbors to speak of. They wear sweaters and make fires on the beach. The movie is about Lillian Hellman and her friend mostly, but it's that beach house. That life. Dashiell Hammett drinks. There's water. He pokes at a fire. There are typewriters. Writing. Drinking. And a slow burn of nothing.

The first thing one finds on vacation is that nothing is where everything is.

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