I had not heard from R. in I don’t know, a couple of years or more. He moved to the Bay Area a year or two ago, I think. He was worried about M. “Hey man, have you heard from M.? I heard that she died. No one can get ahold of her. Have you had any news from her recently? I’m really concerned. J., from the L.A. Times, told me she heard something to that effect, too. So I’m really worried.” So I called M. As usual, she let the call go to message, but as I was leaving the message, “Hey, how are you? This is S., just checking in. R. called me, he heard—I mean… he’s worried about you…” —she picked up, immediately I could tell she was fine. I could hear laughter in her voice, happy to hear me, speaking out of the blue, after intervening years. “You sound good,” I said. “I am, you know, I”m happy,” she said. We talked for awhile, catching up. M. got around to asking me about W., how I dealt with hearing that W. had died. “That hit me hard,” she said. “I couldn’t even… I couldn’t even believe it, I couldn’t process it. You know? She was, I don’t know, something like the mother of us all. Her effect on my work was just incalculable. You know, when I was coming up, she was my role model, my mentor, everything. She had such an effect on me. She had this sort of mean persona, but really, underneath it, she was always supportive of everybody.” She asked me how W.’s death had affected me, how I’d felt when I’d heard that. She told me that she had stopped writing, “I just had to let that go. I had to. I had to make peace with that. And I did. I am, I’m happy.” She mentioned that M.S. also had died, and A. died. Did I have contact information for A.’s people? I said the last time I saw A. was one of the last times I saw W. We were checking into the motel next to Naropa, where Naropa puts up its summer instructors. W. and her husband were walking across the parking lot to their room and I called out, but W. said she couldn’t talk right at that moment. The strange thing was that she called me in my room shortly thereafter, and we talked over the phone, four doors down from each other. By that time she’d moved out to the desert, I told M. “You were gone, W. was out in the desert, A. was living out here in Boulder, teaching at Naropa,” I said. “The whole scene we knew was over and gone.” “How did you feel about that?” M. asked. “I don’t know. That it was a loss. It was more than just a social scene was gone, because you know, when R. used to invite me to writing circles, to hang out with writers or whatever, I never went, I was never into socializing… It was more than that, for me. It was the rise of a whole L.A. aesthetic, an articulation, a dialogue,” I said, “And poof, it was gone. Whatever had happened, it was gone. What was there to do about it? What could I do about it? Everybody left. I just kept going. Yeah, that was the last time I talked to A., out in Naropa while she chain-smoked, sitting on a bike rack under a cottonwood tree.” M. said, “she wasn’t even fifty.” “I got messages and emails about the memorials they held for her in Brooklyn and L.A. Some have contact information, probably; I’ll forward them to you.” So I texted R., “M. is fine.” “That’s a relief, thanks,” he replied. Those people came and went; mention them to some kid now, if they even recognize the names at all, they’d think, all those people were from a previous century. We got the 21st century now.

soviet dirigible stamps

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