Saturday, May 2, 2009

Detours: Part Six

I had told Ron I'd try to drop in and listen to his music, but I lied.

I would never go out on a school night. Well, even if the next day would not be a school night. I didn’t do much besides chores and child rearing when my work was done. There was always too much to do, everyday. Ron was a single man and his energy level was different. Men’s energy level doesn’t change after children arrive.

By the time I corrected the rest of the essays, and got the children in bed, all I wanted was a good night’s sleep. I decided to call my husband. He usually called about 8:00, but he hadn’t, or I must have missed his call when I was on the phone with Ron. We didn’t have call waiting, and our answering machine was not working.

He wasn’t there.

Since I was not going to work, I decided the kids could stay home too the next day. We could get up late, go out for breakfast, drive to Griffith Park, ride the horses for a few hours. Or go to the Arboretum and the races.

We could go to the beach.

And with that thought, I curled up on the couch with my favorite blanket, and fell asleep in front of the television. The beach was all I needed to concentrate on, the smell Ron left in my car last Friday afternoon. That, and the smell of roses and lavender. Gardens and beaches. Wide, unspoiled beaches......

I was making my way home on city streets because there was a chemical spill on one of the three freeways I took home, I found myself on Mullholand Drive snaking toward Topanga Canyon where we lived, when a fire in the Encino hills sent me through a neighborhood and a detour I didn’t anticipate.

Smoke, soot and heat disoriented me. By the time I found a shopping center, I had driven twenty miles further west and south, at the end of Mullholand on the Pacific Coast Highway. When I stopped, a sea breeze reoriented me. The Ocean was shimmering across the parking lot.
I sat in the car and let the mist and the breeze wash over me.

I got out and walked for miles on white sands in the moonlight, nobody to bother me, no noise, only waves keeping a beat, washing ashore, cooling my feet, cooling my feet....

An insisting ring woke me. I resisted.

It returned, insistently.

I picked up the phone still groggy, still wanting to return to the cool waters of the Ocean.

“Hon, sorry it’s so late. I had a late meeting.”
“Steve, I had a terrible day. When are you coming home?”

Part six/six

All rights reserved


Elizabeth Bradley said...

...waiting for more as the story unfolds.

Sniffles and Smiles said...

The dream sequence is so lovely...and brought back memories of all those lovely places...Topanga Canyon, Pacific Coast Highway, Encino Hills...I haven't thought about those places in a very long description captures the coast exquisitely! I sense tragedy around the bend, however...something dark lurks...Can't wait for the next installment...

Tessa said...

Oh, I do love the dreamscape
...but..but..but.. Was it all a dream, not just the long moonlit walk to the rhythm of the waves? Was Ron part of the dream? Can one actually smell lavender and roses in a dream? Or did you dream that you could smell their delicate perfume...?

That was Part Six of six parts. The end. Or is it....?

Paul Costopoulos said...

Now Rosaria, I feel let down. That is not an ending. If it's 6 of 6 then it clearly calls for a sequel. You just can not leave us all hanging like this.
Dallas got away by resurrecting Bobby pretending 2 years of the show had been nothing but a long dream...but, please, not you.

Man of Roma said...

Rosaria, I am late at the party. I have printed all your story (all six parts) and will read it tonight. I'll comment after I've read it. But I can see already that you have met the favour of your readers. Ciao

Gran said...

That sea breeze sounds lovely.

Natalie said...

Oh,no! Don't leave it there!

Debbie said...

Surely we will get more, won't we?

lakeviewer said...

Dear readers:

Some of you want more; but the story is finished.

It didn't end the way I had first established. You see, I have trouble with really neat endings, where everyone walks away with what they want. The characters looked at life from different points of view; each experiences a detour of sorts.

I captured school experiences that are typical in that part of the world. All street names and directions are accurate.

Both Jen and Ron are typical teachers in our urban areas. Most people like Ron do not last. Their idealism clashes with school policies. Jen's cynicism and lack of joy and comfort will not drive her out of teaching. There are many like her working till retirement.

Do we change as an act of will, or circumstances change us, was the philosophical question I posed.

I think we sense what brings us pleasure or pain, but we may need somebody else to point out the obvious. Ron had to coherce Jen to leave campus to experience a meal that could nourish her both physically and culturally.

She is counting the days, the years when things get easier for her. Ron lives every day to its fullest. Each has problems with absent mates.

I try to capture the invisible ways we touch, please or hurt each other.

To those of you who read all six parts, I am truly grateful. This was a forced choice. And nobody likes forced choices.

I appreciate Paul for stopping by and giving me such insightful comments. I wish I could find you easier than through Manof Roma

Thanks to Sniffles and Smiles for being a true fan for this exercise.

Eizabeth--Thank you for your support.

Tessa--In your hands the descriptions would be so much more sensual and colorful. I'm glad to have you around.

Natalie--You are a true friend, comforting and supportive at every level.

Gran and Debbie, it is so good to see some new faces around.

ManofRoma--This is not your kind of reading, I know. I appreciate your interest; and I look forward to your input.

Now, with the new week, I am back to my regular blog coverage.

Paul Costopoulos said...

Well Rosaria I do not have a blog of my own. However Man of Roma, somehow, got my Email so I guess you bloggers must have access through some means to your correspondants' Email addresses. I do enjoy your blog and I will keep reading you.
I understand what you wanted to do with Jen and Ron, I only wish we had more Rons in our Education and Health and Social Services networks.
By the way you can Google me maybe you will find where to reach me since I'm using my real name.

Woman in a Window said...

OK, I'm glad to see there were others who were hungry for more, as well. Yes. More. But then this is your point, isn't it Rosaria, that just because we are stimulated one way or the other, lives do not necessarily veer. Very, very interesting choice of endings. I will stew on this for a very long time, I think, and perhaps try to prove you wrong, at least in my day to day life. Much fun. I really enjoyed it. Thank you.

Lori ann said...

Rosaria, thank you for this and thank you for explaining the ending! I was also not sure if it was over or not, but now I understand. Will you do this again?
♥ lori

Rob-bear said...

Having read all six of six, it struck me as being "A Day (or so) in the Life . . ." Authentic, challenging, and sad, I feel.

I noted your comment that "it didn't end the way I had first established." Fiction writers with whom I've talked often say that, at some point, the characters themselves take over the story. As they did (it seems) in your serial.

And not so much a forced choice, but an intriguing one.

Sadly, I recognize those teachers -- Ron's idealism, Jen's cynicism (or is it really despair?).

Thank you for sharing your creativity.

Kikit said...

Most people like Ron do not last. Their idealism clashes with school policies. Jen's cynicism and lack of joy and comfort will not drive her out of teaching. There are many like her working till retirement.


That is so true. Not all my teachers are idealistic and passionate. But they never quit their job. In real life, a tap of idealism is an inspiration. But holding on to cynicism is part of survival.

Mary said...

Great cliffhanger - please hurry with the next installment. Ta

An English Shepherd said...

Nice story, I don't think life has neat endings... ;-)

Wizz :-)

Dave King said...

Your writing gets better and better. I agree with Sniffles and Smiles about the dream squence, but then I thought it was all dreamy - in the best sense.

distracted by shiny objects said...

So this is what's been going on while I was busy last week:>) Very nicely done, but I agree with your other fans--it's ended much too soon. These inquiring minds want to know more.

Valerie said...

Well done. I liked the ending. I know what it's like for characters to go the way they want, unrehearsed and totally spontaneous ... a bit like life itself really.

Amy said...

Although they don't seem to last, those idealistic and free thinking teachers are my favorite.

Good story and with an ending which leaves the reader wanting more. Way to go! It takes a lot of creativity to write these short stories. Bravo.

Anonymous said...

Rosaria - you have some fantastic descriptions in this story - I could smell the burrito as you listed the ingredients! and I love the details of the streets and language barriers. I'm glad I waited for the final section...I was finding it hard to follow in between the posts of other bloggers, and it was much better tonight when I was able to read all six parts together. I really like the juxtaposition of Ron and Jen and their differing philosophies and approaches to the kids. The dialogue flows well and I liked how you cued and exited the dream sequence. Nice work.

Man of Roma said...

Credo che in un racconto suggerire le cose sia a volte meglio che dirle: e l'effetto è artisticamente più interessante, soprattutto trattandosi del finale.

(Hard to say it in English.) What I mean is that in that dream I feel like the allusion to something which remains indistinct to the reader, and being right at the end of the story it produces a good artistic effect.

Tessa in fact writes: "but..but..but.. Was it all a dream, not just the long moonlit walk to the rhythm of the waves? Was Ron part of the dream?..." We in fact don’t know, and our imagination keeps working on that. A good ending in my view, not at all disappointing.

I like your narratione. All develops naturally with realistic details, I found interesting the relationship between the woman and Ron, and also the description of LA difficult areas.

Were you really a teacher in those dangerous districts full of racial problems and gangs? I’m asking because I was teaching in difficult areas in Rome but I think LA must be tougher.

I have recently seen a film, 'Freedom writers', where Hilary Swank plays the role of Erin Gruwell, a teacher from Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach, California. I think the movie, the book on which the film is based, and your story, describe a similar milieu. I find in Ron the same idealistic attitude, he speaks Spanish, he’s close to the students: "They're kids, they are just kids..." while the school administration thinks only of ‘moulding’ them.

There's some real life in here, which is one of the keys to good writing.

A poposito, mica leggo solo classici. Leggo tutto. E poi, sono stato un professore di letteratura, non solo di storia :-)

A Woman Of No Importance said...

Rosaria, this is like reading Anita Shreve! Fabulous writing.dispad

Helen said...

.... I have printed out all six chapters (sorry, I think I was cheating) and can't wait to dive under my down comforter this evening for some good reading. I purposely have not read any of the comments ~ I don't want anything to spoil my reading pleasure.

Ribbon said...

As you know I have very much enjoyed the story and recommended it to others.
Thanks for your explanation of the ending. It certainly was an ending filled with possibilities.

Best wishes always

Valerie said...

Hi, Rosaria, I came back for another read. Contrary to what you thought about the ending ... it was good, punchy, it jolted the reader back to reality.... Valerie

Mervat said...

You know, initially I wanted more. But after reading your explanation, I understand that there can be no real ending. This is how life is in that place which you so deftly transport us to, that part of the world which for me is a long way away.

I felt and heard you in every sentence.

Kristin said...

Of course, I was left wanting more, but that's just the way with good writing, an interesting story, and life.

Anonymous said...