Tuesday, April 19, 2005

A HAPPY ENDING
A Brief Moment in the Life of Fitzgerald

By Risa C. Peris

Dear Zelda:

It has sometimes been said that California has one season. I suppose they are right. In a way. But nothing is ever so simple. There are nuances to everything.

There are endless days here. Times when the sun drowns everything in a wave of white, hot light. Those days are melancholy. Life seems to stretch infinitely. No hint of death. No respite from want or desire. And then the winds come, sowing harvests of fire. The air fills with smoke. I climb on the roof of my home and watch as the flames feed on the chaparral in the hills. And then there are days as clean and crisp as the cracking of ice. Those days wane short and seem fragile as chimney smoke clouds the frosted mountains. And then there are days as warm as a glass of dark rum and the ocean swells and sweeps into shore. And then there are days when the sky rips open and floods the basin with water wrenched from ocean storms. And then there are days hazy with smog and noise and desolation seems to knock at one’s consciousness. And then there are days…so many days. Each one colored by my mood. There is not one season here but a multitude. As if each voice within me has given birth to a weather pattern or a certain slant of light.

I am living in Hollywood again. Nothing seems solid here. Everything is transitory. Like those infamous ten minute careers that blaze through Hollywood and then die down to an ember.

Now is a crucial time for me. I think I can make a name for myself out here. Most are fascinated by writers from the east coast. Perhaps because famous west coast writers are limited in number. But I don’t think so. There is a sense of unlimited possibility out here. People are willing to listen here. In Hollywood. This surprised me. I had imagined five second conversations. Rapid fire story ideas blurted out while walking to the studio or lunch. Instead I have found people to be fascinated by stories. They are welcoming to writers. I feel that if you were not elsewhere that I could make a home here. Amongst palm trees, concrete and possibilities.

When I was a child I remember holding my hand high above me, stretching into the night air. I would open and close my fingers. Watching closely as the stars shifted in and out like an accordion. I used to think that those stars were meant only for me. That those stars only glowed over my patch of land. I named the stars as I would name my own children. I didn’t care what the astronomers called them. Those stars cradled me in their ancient light. It was my ownership of the universe. Those same stars are here, Zelda. The ones that shined down in New York and Connecticut and Paris. If anything they burn brighter here. They are the potential of something hanging between the desert and the shore.

I have fallen in love out here. Not with a man or a woman. But with the way the grapevine in our backyard bulges sweet. Or the way my dog, burying a bone, rustles the poison oleander bushes. Or the way the sun sets red over the long expanse of Sunset Boulevard. Or the way the mountains are the color of pale chocolate. Or the way the tadpoles that the neighbor’s son catches from the ditch quiver in the glass jars on their patio. Or the way there is an undying sense of newness out here. I once wrote: “There is this to be said for the happy ending – that the healthy man goes from love to love.” I think I meant women. But, from a young age, I fell in poetic love with the world around me. Each day was warm with intimacy. That feeling has followed me to Hollywood. No matter what happens. That is my happy ending. It is a Hollywood ending.

Born and raised in Southern California, Risa Peris is a lawyer in Orange County and an English tutor for students with disabilities. She lives in Los Angeles.

6 Comments:

At 7:14 PM, Blogger Rodger Jacobs said...

Excellent contribution, Risa. Melancholy but with a glimmer of hope. I like the commingling of destructive elements (the ever present So Cal brush fire) with positive images.

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