Back to Life, Back to Reality

Puerto Rico was wonderful, as always. We stayed at a place called Bello Horizonte, a comfortable home away from home, hidden atop a palm-covered hill in the sandy town of Rincon, where every road leads to the ocean. (I highly recommend it. The house sleeps six in three bedrooms, has two bathrooms, a wide-open patio with two hammocks, a very fine grill, washer and dryer, and a pool that looks down the hill and onto the nearby beaches. Full disclosure: My aunt rents the house; so, yeah, I want you to go there and give my aunt your money.) Our days were spent by the pool or on the beach (or at the bar on the beach), relaxing and laughing. My favorite moment was walking into the glittering, blue-green sea, with a six-pack of Coronas in one hand and a coconut in the other.

It’s difficult to spend time in Puerto Rico and not imagine a much simpler life, a life spent working the land, rather than working for money.

But what do I know about working the land? My grandparents worked in the sugarcane fields and my great-grandparents were farmers, but all I know is this city life. I listen to music and write about it. I’m obsessed with music and writing. So, it was with some shock that I realized, while sitting there on the beach, reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s hot and dirty little novel, Memories of My Melancholy Whores, that I had gone for entire days without thinking of music at all.

Who needs music when you’ve got the sound of the ocean? I wondered. The sound of the coquis? The sound of the roosters crowing and coughing and screaming into the blazing white sun?

In Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Memories of My Melancholy Whores, the protagonist is an old columnist and music writer who, on his 90th birthday, decides to give himself the gift of a night with a virgin. This should be required reading for every audiophile. For as awful as it might sound, it’s really the story of love’s crippling and inspiring power, a power that persists even as we approach our final days. In it, our bachelor, our sad scholar, relaxes by listening to records. One scene has him “taking refuge in an exquisite program of music: Wagner’s Rhapsody for Clarinet and Orchestra, Debussy’s Rhapsody for Saxophone, and Bruckner’s String Quintet…”

Back in the States now, I know I need to find these records.

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COMMENTS
Jerry G's picture

Stephen, what you are describing is food for the soul. My wife and I are currently in the process of dealing with two of her siblings (one sister and one brother) in the terminal stages of two entirely different and unrelated medical conditions. Children unable to deal with the conditions of their parents, have left a large gap in the moral and financial support needs of the brother and sister. We and another Sister feel privileged to be able to assist.My wife's best friend (and I concur with her idea) believes that when this all plays out my wife and I need to escape, just the two of us on a trip. Our goal is Hawaii. Finding a similar setting in which to recharge our souls in a room over looking the beach and the sea with no technology is the idea.You just described what all of society needs from time to time.Music makes all that is currently transpiring bearable, but the the dream of peace and tranquility that will come with our planned vacation is what is keeping us going at present. Thanks

DLKG's picture

Stephen,You may not be so glad to be back but I am. I kept going to your blog to see if you landed yet. Your blog is always so fun to read. One of these days I hope to run into you at The Princeton Record Exchange,

DLKG's picture

Stephen,You may not be so glad to be back but I'm glad you're back. I kept going to your blog to see if you landed yet. Your blog is always so fun to read. One of these days I hope to run into you at The Princeton Record Exchange and say hi!

Jim Teacher's picture

Welcome back, brother. These things are seasons, like everything here.

Al Marcy's picture

Much of this planet is very pretty, if for some reason I think I have time to look at it and notice. I have been in bed over a decade, so, I think I have time to look. Even listening to my idle audio system has its moments, as does the music, sometimes ;)

ratso's picture

stephen, if you go to P.R. again i will clue you in on the most not to miss place to stay on the island (and no, it's not a million dollars a night). it's the personal home of one of the most famous artists from Puerto Rico. google "the gallery inn san juan". just amazing.

Jerry G's picture

Al Marcy, confined to a bed for over a decade should be a reminder to all of us that there are more important things in life than a mega bucks audio system. May music be an aid in giving you peace and solace. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

Xavier's picture

"An old columnist and music writer who, on his 90th birthday, decides to give himself the gift of a night with a virgin". Stephen, it sound really awful, disgusting.

Michael Mercer's picture

Welcome back! My family used to goto PR for the summers when I was a kid (my stepfather had a place in Old San Juan) and I haven't been back in YRS! I'm jealous! Hearin you were going there - I busted out my old copy of Hunter S. Thompson's The Rum Diary - ever read it? Practically the birth of gonzo - and a BIG inspiration for me to write. KEEP IT UP Stephen - good to meet U at RMAF, email comin...

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