January 11th, 2006

caillebotte_man at his window


I have this vague image in my mind of a moment when I was sitting in our car, which was parked on a busy commercial street. In this image, the street has diagonal parking, which was once common on suburban commercial strips around Los Angeles. I'm looking at the fronts of the shops, and the pedestrians passing by, and I'm hearing the traffic passing behind the parked car. I must have been no more than three or four years old. This is one of my earliest memories. At times, this image will spring into my consciousness, and for the briefest time be as vivid as though I were living it right now.

It's like a few frames of a movie flashed on a screen, and then the movement stops and there is only a faded and uncertain still image. I think I know exactly where this scene was, but this single image does not contain enough detail for me to be certain. Most other fragmentary memories I retain from that time I can place very specifically, in a particular room or on a particular street. The location of this image (and a few others), remains in some doubt.

I have no idea why this bothers me. I'm sure that I would not benefit in any way from recalling with certainty the details of that moment and knowing beyond any doubt where it took place-- other than laying to rest this sense of displacement I feel whenever the image comes to mind. But for some reason, that particular image has haunted me for years. If it turns out to be true that, at the moment of death, one's life flashes in review, then this scene is the first one for which I will be looking. I doubt I'll ever solve the mystery in any other way.

The rain tonight has been silken soft, and its sound as subtle as a cat's purr. Dim light filtered through a curtained window up the block has made a patch of dark pavement gleam, and I fancy the gleam to be a shimmering doorway through which I might pass in some dream. I can't even imagine what I might discover then.


Evening brought a marvelous fog. The clouds began breaking up just before sunset, providing a few minutes of brightness to end the gray day. Then this diaphanous fog appeared, and the nearly full moon was floating in its haze, and every drop of suspended mist caught the re-reflected light of the vanished sun until all the air was luminous, the wet pines shimmering and the bare oaks etched darkly against the bright sky. It was quite splendid, but it only lasted half an hour. Now, there is only the clear winter night, with the bright moon overpowering the stars and the trees casting stark shadows as sharp as the cold air.