Kage Baker liked to occasionally disappear.
One of her great secret joys consisted of going off somewhere and not telling anyone – at least, not telling anyone who wasn’t integral to the going away. Usually that was just me, Professional Sidekick and chauffeuse. Someone has to drive the car, you know? Kage packed and found our routes and lodgings; I loaded the car and negotiated the roads through the Great Unknown. Harry usually knew, too, but that was because he was ordinarily packed into the back seat, keeping a sharp eye out for seagulls (which he hated) and McDonald’s (which he loved).
I must admit, here, that I was a lot more than just the driver in this daft past time. I, too, loved knowing we were off on a road where no one could find us. The thrill of vanishing into the nearest horizon cannot be excelled. Kage taught me to enjoy that realization that no one could find me, that I had gnawed through the bonds of responsibility and was free … it was a hard lesson for me.
But from literally her 21st birthday, Kage would gleefully take off from time to time, exclaiming that NOW there was no one to whom she had to report! No one could find her! No one could call her! When cell phones began to proliferate, she steadfastly resisted them: actually carrying a damned phone around with you sort of negated that secrecy thing … I got one first, but even then I never turned it on except to make an outgoing call. By then I was just as happy as Kage was to be off, alone, unseen, un-waited-for; off the leash, apron strings and reservation, lighting out for the Territories as fast as we could run!
Kage herself only got a phone in the last couple of years of her life. And that was mainly because she found a neat phone case with a skull-and-crossbones on it in rhinestones. She had a strong sense of personal fashion.
So, what’s this litany of my dear dead sister’s tendency to run off into the Wilderlands got to do with the fact that I haven’t posted a blog in 5 weeks? Everything and Nothing. I am a trumpet hung on an empty branch, and the speaking wind that flows through me is not my voice, but hers …
Rehearsals for Dickens Fair began in November and promptly ate my life; that was cool, they’re supposed to do that. The Green Man Tavern at the Cow Palace unfolded like the jewel in the lotus and Extreme Christmas took off in glory and delight. My crew has been wonderful, my drives up and down I-5 have been marvellous and strange. Nephew Michael has become a superlative navigator. I’ve lost 30-odd pounds this past year and my corset fits again! All was well.
There were some small problems. My legs began to ache in a new way, which has turned out to be vascular insufficiency to my limbs: but I’m 60 now, that sort of things happens. I got me a cool cane, rosewood with an antler handle, and have found it a most useful prop (ha ha). My blood sugar settled down to something approaching normal and managing diabetes became – well, if not simple, at least easily accomplished.
Then I fell into the Slough of Despond.
For the last 5 weeks I have been slogging through the cold mud of depression. Why I would be depressed is no mystery, though unfortunately that particular bold of self-awareness is no help in dispelling the murk. Creativity has withered; words no longer come to nest in my brain, except at 2 in the morning when I cannot sleep. Then, they positively swarm – until I get up and sit at the keyboard, when they all slide down some central abbatoir-drain in my mind with a contemptuous gurgling noise.
It’s like watching your favourite television show and not realizing it’s the season ender and a two-parter until the credits role. Then you’re left screaming in frustration on the couch.
Nothing has dispelled this, though a lot of nice things have happened that have let me stagger on in the discharge of my duties. We have a new kitten. I got a cane. Dickens is going well. I have a necklace of Christmas lights that really lights up. Christmas is coming. So is spring. Hell, for that matter, so are my next birthday, the Winter Olympics, the Synchronicity and a cure for cancer! But none of them are here now.
Right now, Dear Readers, I am hip deep in cold mud. The sky is overcast and promising snow. I can see the edges of the stream where I am stuck, slowly extending growing claws of ice that stretch out toward me – if they get here before I get out, I consider it likely they will drag me further down.
But on the other hand, I have this stick. And a pocketful of York Mint Patties, than which no winter chocolate is better. The wind may yet swing round to the south and melt something useful out of the permafrost. A sleigh full of tipsy holiday-makers may swing by in search of a Christmas tree or their grandmother.
I’ll get out of here . And in the meantime – I’m back.