I have been reading Harriet Doerr’s Stones For Ibarra. It’s the only book I’ve ever finished and actually started reading again immediately, though I am not sure why I am doing so. The chapters, originally short stories in themselves, stop, like life does…open ended, and open to the the connections we cannot grasp. While I’m reading I’m transported to Sara Everton’s Ibarra, among the nopal and the maguey cactus, the stunted trees: the ash, the olive, the pepper, the jacaranda. One reader on Amazon complained 'All the characters in this book are very one dimensional. You "see" what they do and "see" where they live, but you don't get much below their surfaces.' As if you know your own spouse, child, parent, cousin, store clerk. As if you read the name of vegetation you’ve never seen, and know it. Still, I am there in Ibarra, waiting for that exploding moment that leaves me with nothing to cling to, that opens some essential vein in the universe.
Sometimes instead of reading, I watch television with The Boyfriend. Lately I’ve been trapped by David Duchovny’s Californication. In one episode Hank Moody takes his problematic father to the airport. “What’s this?” the father asks. “A tree?” Hank replies (the father is definitely not the only problematic character).
It’s a jacaranda, says one part of my brain. Immediately another part jeers. A jacaranda? Where did that come from? You don’t know what one looks like. You don’t even know how to pronounce it. Jacaranda? Ha!
Later in the program, after the father has died, after Hank has returned home, he asks his estranged partner the same question. “What’s this tree?” he says. The camera zooms into the ferny leaves, the clusters of lilac-colored blooms. It looks like a pine with rhododendron blossoms to us. “It’s a jacaranda,” she says, and reaches out to lightly touch a flower.