I have not written in some while. It is not that I have had nothing to write, but that I have been preoccupied with the doing of things rather than the chronicling of them. I have also decided that I should not rush what I write, but finish and edit them so that they shall be a proper record of my thoughts and experiences rather than a rush that gets only the guts of my experience rather than the flavor of it.
I have decided, however, that I must before long begin to write of this place where I live, a place not an estate but closer to one than any a dirt poor kid from the woods has lived before. If I do not describe these things then when my lease is done and I move somewhere cheaper to save the paltry sum I can save by doing so, my experiences will be lost. I will have only my fading memory to look back on in my old age, and it fails me so often now that I fear it will be worse than useless when the rest of my hair has gone gray.
This place is to me aspirational; the life I live here is the one I will strive to live from now on. It’s a vision not of richness but of aging quality, of sturdiness, simplicity and beauty.
It has a hot tub. A hot tub is a thoroughly middle class luxury, but it’s one I’ve never had before, and mine is built on a platform above my house so that it looks westerly down on the north end of the valley. It is often my pleasure early on a weekend afternoon to turn on the jets so that the water warms, and late on a weekend afternoon to dress in swimming shorts and a t-shirt and Birkenstock sandals, to gather a towel and a beer or a cuba libré and a volume of short stories by Ernest Hemingway or Ian Fleming and walk up the steps to the hot tub.
I can then spend the rest of the daylight warm under the shade of the canopy, reading the adventures of James Bond or Nick Adams while I drink my drink and watch the sun slowly fall down through the sky past the hill to my north, painting in rainbow the waters of the San Francisco bay and burning the clouds off the Santa Cruz mountains. I watch the city and the cities come alive with light, the crickets begin their nightly song.
When I am done I stand in the tub and pull up and over the heavy cover and when it finally thumps into place I feel a satisfaction of a job properly done. I gather my things and step soaking into my sandals, sloshing comfortably in the leather back down the steps, the wind chilling my body as I walk to the kitchen door.
Inside I squish across the tile floor of my kitchen (clean! or an approximation) and turn off the jets in the pantry, then squish some more dripping up the carpeted spiral to my loft, where I shower briefly in my spacious echo tile shower echo room under the hot water, then walk naked around the top floor that is mine and dry myself and look out the windows at the expanse of the valley below, a million twinkling lights with lives behind them and the still glowing pastel stained glass sky above the mountains, and I am content.
The next few years I will not live here, I will venture down into that valley for the small sum I can save by doing so and when I wake up in the morning and look out my window I will see only the house next door. When I watch the sunset from my home I will see if I am lucky some small slice of mountain below the sky. I will remember this place, though, and in time I will live in a place like it again.