We were in Santa Rosa Saturday night: Becky’s orchestra was playing there at a benefit for the local AIDS charity. The Oakland Community Women’s Orchestra, in which Becky is a second violin, was backing up the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus. The program consisted of a medley of show tunes, some of them fronted by a Judy Garland impersonator, and then a version of HMS Pinafore rewritten as a slam at “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
Oddly, this jam-packed event did not create a gay and lesbian singularity whose pulse warped the political fabric of the universe, destroying the Defense of Marriage Act in all its manifestations. But the show’s going to Davies Symphony Hall on Monday April 30, with the full complement of the Orchestra and Chorus both (they were about half-represented in Santa Rosa), so we have high hopes for that night. Tickets are still available.
The venue Saturday was north of Santa Rosa, out in the farmland near the small airport, and as I didn’t know anyone in the crowd at intermission and Becky was stuck backstage I went out to see the stars. The front doors of the theater opened out to a view of the wooded western horizon, the mystical moist night air Russian River valley in the distance behind the far trees, and Orion and Canis Major hung low as they followed the sun into the Pacific.
Orion jumps between Sirius and Taurus each night, armed with his bow, and as I did the same for Zeke on any number of hikes seeing the winter sky each night brings a pang. I come to the midpoint of my night run, where I turn and head back along the levee facing into the wind, and the doubts I have spent the first half of the run cataloguing come out of solution all at once in my heart. Sometimes I cross my fingers for clouds. Most nights there are none, and I turn and run back along the levee with Orion and Canis Major there before me. In the insane days of February, my mind seared, I hated Orion for having his dog still. In March I recalled the hikes on which I’d had to fling myself between Zeke and a ton of hoof, hamburger, and horn. My dog looked too much the coyote for most cattle to tolerate his existence. Once a few of them converged on him and I was too far away, and they milled around angrily even after he had snuck out the back way. I smiled a bit to remember it, and March was a little less insane. In April I remember that Lepus sits at Orion’s feet. Then who are the Pleiades? How to explain Procyon? Where’s Becky? It’s all too complex, and I shrug. I look again at Sirius’ bright eye.
On Saturday the sky was clear as ice and old friends clinked wine glasses. Lepus was in the trees, Taurus washed out by the headlights on Route 101. I could not decide whether gazing at Orion and his dog made me miss Zeke more or less. I did not know whether I felt better or worse. A murmur from the people on the patio, a hush and I knew they watched my neck craned, wondered what I saw as I looked up in prfect silence at the stars.