Sunday, November 15, 2009

"...I have never in my life been on my way anywhere, but simply on my way...

The quote is from Samuel Beckett and the picture is of Beckett, satchel over his shoulder, walking away, and my husband, Larry, beardless and well before I knew him, notebook under his arm, also on his way. Beckett on the street, Larry beside railroad tracks, smiling at someone.

The viewer has no idea where they are going or why, but perhaps they don't either. These images have long hung side-by-side on the large bulletin board I keep in my office at home. I'm not sure where I got the Beckett image, but I know I stole Larry's from his bulletin board in his office downstairs.

I stick more or less everything on this bulletin board, layers and layers of notes to myself, but these have stayed up for a very long time. I have a long association with both men. My cousin, Barney Rosset, of the Grove Press was Beckett's editor.

The story goes that in the early 1950s Barney read "Waiting for Godot" and thought it was going to be the most important play of the 20th century. He wrote Beckett to tell him so and asked Beckett (whom Barney always called Sam) if he'd meet with him and discuss Barney becoming Sam's US publisher. Beckett wrote back a cryptic telegram that told Barney to meet him on a certain night at the Ritz Bar in Paris and Beckett would only have an hour.

So Barney hopped a cruise ship and in a week or so was in Paris (I am taking some liberties here) for their meeting. The hour Beckett allotted Barney turned into a very long drinking night and a life long friendship. Indeed I have a cousin I am very fond of, a lovely man named Beckett Rosset.

I met Larry in Richmond, Virginia, a place I haven't traveled to before or since. Our paths crossed in a classroom. I was coming from California where I was living at the time. He drove down from the North. In this picture Larry is clearly on his way. To Tahiti perhaps, or Nicaragua, or San Miguel de Allende before he showed up in the Glaston Residence House where visiting athlete teams were housed on a college campus in Virginia.

Our paths could have crossed in any one of a number of places (We just missed one another in San Miguel. We were a few months apart in Nicaragua). But, as my mother said, when a Canadian drives to Virginia in an unairconditioned car in a heat wave, then it's meant to be. And so it was. Anyway here are two writers and wanderers, setting off on their journeys, on their way...

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