By Julie Jordan Scott
On page fifty-five of my copy of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way there is an almost circular burn mark alongside #7 “Rules for the Road.”
It is mirrored on the other side of the page in what looks like a California-fire-season-sunset. It is scarred and hazy, beautiful and slightly sad.
My finger traces its edges, wondering how the burn happened since I have no conscious recollection of it, even though this is the sixth time I am working through this very same book. This book has been used and reused, picked up and thrown across the room, scribbled in, both cursed and giggled over.
Repeating this adventure in reading is like that as it is like life.
We don’t remember every detail, all the time. I am surprised by the nuts-and-bolts I have forgotten from this book. I wonder what I have forgotten of my life, those moments I declared “unforgettable” have long since wandered away from any conscious recollection.
The past few days were spent with my mother in
What I loved most about our shared time during this visit were all the firsts I offered my mother. It started immediately, when she picked me up near the train station in
My view out the window of this particular Starbucks was grand: I could watch the entrance to the colorful Mission San Juan Capistrano. I could sip my coffee while I checked my email or wrote essays. I was planning a stint of at least an hour or two.
I was delighted to see my mother, though, and offered her some coffee. She agreed as long as I ordered it. She had never been to Starbucks and knew even less about the Venti or Tall or Grandes and shots and frappuchinos than I know.
I got her a Pikes Place Drip, no room for anything except for coffee, please. I disconnected my computer and we sat and talked, having no idea our initial connection would set the tone for the rest of our time together.
We ate Mahi Mahi tacos – soft, on whatever tortillas to choose, said Mom. She didn’t know anything about choosing tortillas and was trusting me that Mahi Mahi was as good as good could be. Guacamole was her primary interest, anyway, and she thought sea-food was a good thing for her health so why not?
Mom drank a Pina Colada. She visited a historic neighborhood in
I had made a rather bold statement the day before when we invited my brother to have dinner with us that night, not realizing it might go against my mother’s grain. I said, “I only have one rule for you having dinner with us, Jim, and that is that you will come with us to watch the sunset at the jetty. It is something I do every time I come to
The next day, Mom said, “You better call Jim at about 4:30 to make sure he wants to do this whole ‘sunset at the jetty thing’ because he might just want to meet us at the restaurant.”
I didn’t realize at that moment it wasn’t Jim she was concerned about, it was herself. Remembering back, I still hold my favorite moment from that evening close, almost as if it was in my hand in a forever image.
It was an expression on my mothers face and the way her voice sounded. I can hear my seventy-seven-year-old mother’s voice, slightly awe-filled, saying “I have never seen it like that before.”
She has been experiencing the setting sun for 365 days a year for the past seventy-seven years, yet one night in October, 2009, she was clear and crisp and precise and her heart was engaged in the experience of the sun’s descent.
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