Saturday, July 19, 2014

Story Time

In the time it took to fly from Naples, Italy to San Francisco, California, I lived some five different lives. The first was the real time 4:30 awakening, cab ride, flight to Frankfort, stop in the bookstore, talk to the Customs Officer about the World Cup, negotiate with the flight attendant when the only dinner left was beef stew, wait one hour for the bags in San Francisco, get on the BART train and the MUNI bus and 20 hours later, walk through our front door to our old familiar house awaiting us.

But in-between was the pleasure of vicariously living the life of Walter Mitty adventuring in Iceland and Afghanistan, hanging out with Scarlett Johansson and Penelope Cruz in Barcelona, visiting the Huxtable house in New York and entering the courtroom drama of a contested will in Mississippi. Immersed in two movies, one TV show and one book (plus some strange dream life while sleeping), the 20 hours passed quickly, thanks to the way stories change time. Swept up in a narrative with characters you’d either like to hang out with (Scarlett and Penelope!), or make you laugh (Bill Cosby) or intrigue you (a Southern white man who bypasses his family and leaves a 20 million dollar inheritance to his black housekeeper), time passes swiftly and the forward-ticking clock melts into an ever-unfolding present. Much the same as it does in music.

For those who haven’t figured it out, the movies were The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and Vicky Christina Barcelona, the TV show was the Bill Cosy show which we watched religiously every Thursday night with our kids (it holds up!) and the book that I bought in the Frankfort Airport was John Grisham’s Sycamore Row. Usually I’m an advocate for the elevated arts—Zora Neale Hurston over Danielle Steele, Thelonious Monk over Snoop Dog, The Seven Samarui over  The Big Bang Theory and so on. But though I love the many layers of timeless literature, its poetry, lyricism, breathtaking language, deep character development and frontier exploration of the human psyche, I’m also a sucker for plot. Especially courtroom dramas. This John Grisham is one of his best and has me more interested in his story than mine at the moment. So that when I awoke jet-lagged at 3:30 in the morning, I thought: “Oh, boy! I get to read a few more chapters!” And I did.

But now time to resume my story—unpack the bags, fill the refrigerator, pay the bills, prepare for Monday’s Jazz Course— and hopefully play some piano and ride my bike. In fog, I might add. Ah, San Francisco.


PS One of movie choices on the plane which I should have checked out but didn't— Pompeii!

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