Tuesday, December 02, 2008

45th Parallel

On the highway to the beach is a sign marking the 45th parallel, solemnly announcing that this place is halfway between the North Pole and the Equator. As a child I was thrilled by the obscure magic of this spot. As an adult I find it comic, to gravely mark a spot of land whose importance is that it corresponds to a mark on a map made to represent that land. I picture a map with the signpost marked on it, and a further sign affixed to the post to mark the mark of the signpost.

A curve of sandy-shouldered road snaking through the high salal.

You sat up on the table, holding the drapery to your chest, reminding me sharply of The Nude in Art. I rubbed the excess oil off your back with a towel. We are still friends after all these years.

A wind-torn flight of strange birds.

I got a cell phone. The last person in America to get one. A prospective client was angered, upon calling me, to find that it was my home phone and that my son answered. It was unprofessional, she said, in an email. I suppose so. I mostly felt defensive about my son. He's not always very fluent on the phone, but he does his best. But anyway, I did get the phone and now my business communication is not tainted by the existence of my family. That's professional, I guess.

The wind came across the pitching salt water. You fell on the seaweed-covered rocks, and I wasn't there to catch you.

Higher still and higher
from the earth thou springest
Like a cloud of fire
The blue deep thou wingest
And singing still dost soar, and soaring ever singest.

I'm afraid I will never hear a skylark. Never see the Southern Cross.

Even in this absurdly fortunate life, sometimes grief rises like floodwater.

I have two favorite oils, both of which I buy at a local shop, Escential Oils, on Hawthorne. One is infused with oil of lavender, and the other goes by the name of Egyptian Musk. I have never managed to find out what is in Egyptian Musk, so I can't use it on anyone who has skin sensitivities of any sort. I trust Escential Oils not to put anything noxious in it, but everything is an irritant to somebody.

Even though I ask them to go light on the lavender, they never go light enough. I end up cutting it with unscented oil, half and half.

Many, maybe most therapists have switched to lotion. And I carry some with me, because you get the occasional client who really dislikes oil. But to me there's something sweetly luxurious, a biblical sensuality and prodigality, to oils. In some kinds of Indian massage they practically bathe you in warm oil.

I couldn't tell you exactly what guides me in choosing between my favorite oils. If it seems to me that someone needs to be calmed and soothed, I use lavender. If it seems to me that they need to be woken up and stimulated, I use the musk. But gender plays in it too: other things being equal, I tend to use the musk on men, the lavender on women. But I don't know until I reach into my bag which I'm going to choose, and I often don't really know why.

Dear readers, do you all have any favorite scents I should experiment with?

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