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The River Diaries

Wednesday, July 12, 2000

This morning a far shorter walk. Still through the underpass and then the river always there, like a moving snapshot, expanding from a square of blue until it fills the vista. This morning I am acutely aware of the river’s constant motion, the movement of bands of blue, movement in ripples, waves, currents. Relentless movement down the Hudson trench. In contrast, I feel rooted on concrete land, frozen in stillness, immobile in solid heft. Not safe, but limited, too steadfast, too known.

Things need to be done, Australian friends coming to visit, one roll for Perry and we head back, our backs turned to the restless energy of the river.

Friday, July 14, 2000

Beth walks with me. She raises early from her day bed in the living room to be part of this ritual. A long-time feminist pal of Di, she and her partner Patty had shared their Great Ocean Road beach house with us when last we were in Melbourne together. Now it is my turn to share my home, for my friends from a different continent to use it as a base as they plunge into my city. The river looks tired to me this morning, but Beth sees wonders—the small sea bird that dives like a loon but isn’t—a cormorant she says. The entire vista is new to her. The New Jersey Palisades, the bridge, the pleasure boats ships still moored in the river, the quiet in this larger-than-life city. Each visitor takes a turn walking with Perry and me in the morning light.

Tuesday, July 18, 2000

Today I walk in rage and I see almost nothing. A fight with an old lover before going to bed. All the pain of a bad ending boils up inside of me as I resolutely march down the track. Perry, oblivious to my storm, goes on small adventures, disappearing into bushes and up stone steps to places I cannot see but from which he plunges back down, his tongue lolling out, his tail wagging with pleasure. I rage at the rage—it is blinding me, robbing me of the comfort of this walk, turning my senses inward to endless inventories of small cruelties. No birds, no lovers, all I notice is more trash on the waters. Whitman now I need you again, your buoyant belief that just beyond the next bend a comrade, sweet and smiling, was waiting for you, was waiting for the glorious day with all its possibilities to begin again.


© 2000 Joan Nestle

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