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.