Uncommonly I wasted in bed buried below the feather duvet until almost eleven o’clock this morning. It had rained during most of the night, hard at times, and I could see through the diaphanous draperies that the skies were still murky and grey. The grippe had thoroughly undermined my vitality. I willing succumbed to prolonged rest. I needed it. Besides it is a luxury to stay in bed as long as one wishes and to get up when one has the urge. It’s an advantage afforded a singular set of people, people without children, people of means, the elderly, idle people generally, people without an agenda, people not agitated by conscience, people who have a broad enough view of the world not to feel constantly imperative.
Thirty-five years ago while sipping cocktails in Mara Palmer’s Park Avenue drawing room, and when Tom had momentarily left us alone, she said, “You know he’s a gold-digger?” I did.
“She’s every right to expect a handsome present from me, of course,” she thought, looking vaguely at the leopard on its hind legs, “and I’ve no doubt she does! Money goes a long way with every one. The young are very selfish. If I were to die, nobody would miss me but Dakyns, and she’ll be consoled by the will! However, I’ve got no reason to complain. . . . I can still enjoy myself. I’m not a burden to any-one. . . . I like a great many things a good deal, in spite of my legs.”
Virginia Woolf – The Voyage Out
It was after one o’clock before I stowed my plate and cutlery in the dishwasher and downed the dregs of my “morning” coffee. Yes, we would go for a bicycle ride, a breath of fresh air in spite of the freezing temperature. It was as though it were Sunday and we wished to expiate the evening martini. We don’t drink anymore, that’s just a mockery, the privilege of austerity. Though I own the fugitive memories constantly insinuate our chatter. And cigars. Sometimes when bicycling on the beach I catch the whiff of cigar smoke when overtaking a bon viveur. I can still recall the drawn faces of the skinny, old black women in Key West sitting at a thick, long wooden table in a tropical hut painted pastel, their polished mahogany fingers rolling the tobacco leaves. And around the corner the ghosts of impiety of Earnest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams! I am told someone saw Tennessee Williams in a bar there years ago, off Duval Street, surrounded by a gaggle of adoring, obsequious young men, all of them drunk as loons. That was long, long after the exhaustion of the spirit of the “Letters to Donald Windham“, someone who really stirred his imagination.
I’ve convinced myself to hang onto people no matter their inconstancy – or perhaps I should say, in spite of it. It’s just too wearying to dissect motives and ambitions, emotion or thought, worth or otherwise – all for the sake of casting off and setting oneself adrift. Really! What does it achieve! In the end it is but a monotonous circle. Anatole France, “Moi, je suis le centre du monde!” Har, har, har! I’ll take what I am given!