Mendocino. Mendocino is the dream. A house among the larger than life trees of a larger than life country. The ocean, a short walk away. Endless days of summer, sitting out on the porch, playing guitar or writing poetry, back to back or side by side with the love of his life. Royalty checks coming in, from some happenstance success. Friends and wine and flowers rambling through lacy ironwork.

He thought about how Gene Clark retreated from the temptations of LA to the hills with his wife and tried to live a simple life there, of music and love and nature and children. He remembered that it had been Carol Shields’ The Stone diaries which had introduced to him the notion of a life lived in phases, in periods. The idea being that life wasn’t one constant; that things necessarily changed and died and developed and new and usually unforeseen opportunities arose and ought to be at least taken up if not carpe diemed. For lives did tend to have chapters, though perhaps it was only in retrospect that you could see them as clearly as Carol Shields did Daisy Goodwill Flett’s. He thought about his father’s life, which was a match for Daisy’s in terms of being episodic and ever-changing. The youthful ambition, the business success, the bankruptcy, the marriages and divorces, the alcoholism and hitting rock bottom, the surprising or not so surprising return to his mother when no-one else would have him.

His own life would never be as picaresque, and he didn’t want it to be. But he did long for his life to change now, for a new phase to begin. Even without the woman he had believed would be central to the next and he had hoped the longest chapter of his book, he thought that he needed that new phase now, though the contrary fought it out on the battlefields in his mind, over and over. Perhaps – the contrary argued – perhaps he should just concentrate on the memories and the moments, and forcibly bring into being the viable novel he knew he was capable of writing, that he believed she believed he was capable of too. Necessarily it would be a version of their story, probably disguised to look like it might be his father’s. An unholy mix of two generations-worth of deceit. Yet in his eyes, his experience, driven by love.

But he doubted that he could lose himself so completely in writing and books and music again. Not when he had lived such a story as theirs, not when he had loved such a woman. Everything which had once been touched with her golden light, every silver-edged sorrow would now seem ordinary in comparison to how he had felt them when she was there with him. Life would never be the same again and once more he was mourning what he had lost. What he thought had been regained, though he knew his hold on her would always be a fragile one, no matter what.

He sighed. With unerring and uncanny timing, she had once again gone from him when he was due to be alone for a while. Not that it made much difference. In a sense he had always been alone, except when he had been with her. And it was for that reason that he would never stop hoping that there might be another chapter for them in the books of both their lives, there in the unknowable future, the unpredictable years ahead. A time when Mendocino would come to pass.


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