It seemed to him sitting alone in his chair as the minimal light of the slowly rising gray dawn began to rise. It seemed that a ll the pay dirt had done played out. Days long passed unable to be recollected any further. Just one big blur. A buffer to all those things that meant something but that dared not be remembered lest they remind one that there was really no hopes left for the future after all. Another holiday season. Ten days left ti the twenty-fifth of the month and Christmas. The long pause of the sight of the museum of his family’s ancient artifacts all arranged exhibit style in a clutter about him. The gifts of long ago, some of them. Grown worn int the imagination having faded from the immediacy of want and desire. Who could imagine them now at center stage in a store window or holiday catalogue as being the most special? Too many others had come in the intervening years to take their place. All that was left was the material husk of what had long ago left. That fantasy of the promise of eternal perfection. The cotton grayness had risen now to appreciable luminescence. A milk shake state giving nothing away beyond several shades of an indeterminate lackluster blue. No definition beyond a few casual streaks to distinguish it from an intervening cotton blanket blotting out the universe of stars. The solitary sights allowed being the many dwellings of others locked in the rising metronome of early morning traffic. “Played out.“, his mind recited.
Some trivial diversions tried to cut in. The fact of his being days late on some bill. The requisite changes needing to be made for a job. All incidental crisis of no real consequence to replace that tempo of what had once been the drama of living. Involvement with the difficulties that other lives presented. Unfairly or not. Involvement with the hope of finding that perfect something that an inner lodger far within demanded. But would never spell out. Only hint at. Old roads and highways on the way to nowhere chasing the Sun both early morning and at the frost sign of the Sun’s daily fail. All those first spur of the instant ‘first’s‘ shared with someone else that one barely knew but hope to know more. But through the circumstances of choice and choosing the safe same old on had scrupulously avoided. That magic instate then quickly removed out of reach to form an imaginary mental point of worship to be added to the eternal untarnishable shrine of what ‘could have been’. But wasn’t!
Now of course, equally bereft of what was. And seemed never to change. But one day on the flip of a coin had changed. And now never could be indulged in again. Empty. Nothing left either way. Nothing to look forward to and nothing the way it once was. The forever in-between being his current place of residence. The chair he was sitting at had holes now. Evidence of the last acts of recent years. Of its membership as the prime actor in a final curtain call sealing off that span of time one could delineate as the past. The singling out of that period by the marker of the two deaths that stood out above all the rising number of others that once could mentally celebrate but had grown tired of doing so. Would the ceremonial tree with all the old artifacts of times past be recovered from the darkness of the locker down at the other end of the hall? All those handmade ornaments that presented the same of holiday guessing game. Trying to relate when other hands fashioned them in more hopeful times when hope was something that still sprung eternal. The spot on the small Florentine credenza was still taken up by the same old big gold leaf painted plaster lamp. It’s lampshade oversized yellow and dusty. No place to put it when the switch would have to be made. Taking one old item out of its accustomed place to temporarily replace it with another making this cluttered overburdened space even more so.
Not much to look forward to in the stillness of this ongoing pall that the paucity of the present tense with all its shortfalls and list of limited expectations growing shorter would present. The light above from the day restrained by the pillow gray formed a concentric wave. Like on that a large pebble might make in the idle of a pond but overhead. The universe above had sent its message and it had drifted by unheeded. The snow from the night before had gotten tired of the many roofs and had climbed down to rest upon the myriad of lawns below. Waiting for a hint of midday Sun. Hopefully to appear. Listless and impatient. Hopefully to evaporate away.
The ending is always underwhelming. Something that just comes up incidentally in the most unexpected of expected ways. You would think that a crescendo would blare forth or something and would announce it. But it is more times than not just an, “oh well“, then a roll over and suddenly stop moving affair. Stop moving for good. The body in question having been mostly dead for many a year. Dead perhaps without its owner even knowing the difference. Oatmeal and cellulite, patches of psoriasis bound parchment skin like a human quilt. Maybe a ‘looker’ at one point in faraway time? The bag of bones now supervening anything before. One without a hint of movement signaling the conclusion of another spent individual. Tits! If there had been any now like elastic half-filled water balloons. More sag than action to the eye. “Another cigarette please!” Something to relieve that slight hint of stench in the room so there might not be anymore distractions. “No more thoughts please!” Speculations to be avoided. Like that half-acted prospect of post-menupausal sex just one more time. An empty Coke bottle. “Spin the bottle!” Just for the Hell of it. Septic. Tight dry and fatally awkward. Not much left to look forward to. No sign of long held hopes left in those empty dead eyes. “Hell of a way to go!” Doesn’t matter now. Just another case for the shroud tailor to test his weights and measures.
The mental snapshot having been committed to digital memory the sight of the thing sprawled up lazily lost in a sitting position was filed away. Something to be accessed off the case files or maybe in some sector of a disk in a manila folder. The remains off to some stainless steel tray at county. No longer in mental custody. Something on a long list of things to do. More paperwork to keep one satisfied and working until retirement. That time when one could scratch one’s self again under their left armpit and be confident of not running across cold blued steel. The harness that went along for the ride never quite far enough away from the notion of what one’s true status was here. Another dray horse hitched up to a wagon full of corpses. The smell of cordite summoning only a dim memory of a two year stint as an eager young lad along with the U.S. Marine’s finest. Somehow that same comparison no longer fits. Just a witness to life’s mishaps. And of course, someone committed to keep the paperwork straight. The randomness of the types of clients that he encountered both on their feet and permanently off had been whittled down to a paucity of grim assumptions. Money, rage, envy! And of course the insanity of that lurking animal insect brain within that was goaded by the combination of all three. “$15,000 overnight!” the message declared in the spam folder of his tablet. At least the email software was working. He had a trash folder worth of their larger partners in crime. The big fish swam where they wanted in this world and it was his job to handle the minnows.
The ‘old piece of meat‘ from this afternoon stared grimly at the shadow falling at her toes from another simultaneous competing I-phone’s flash. It painted a less than pretty memorial to what appeared pretty obviously as another surrender to the weight of society upon old tired shoulders. Maybe she had plumbed the depths of her own spam folder drawn like a hungry animal towards the scent of an easy meal. “$15,000 overnight!” or some such claptrap. Maybe she had been foolish enough to follow through on the con? You might have thought that she would have left a last angry tearful note to declare her disgust with humanity about being screwed out of the last of her savings. If she had any? The ‘man department’ had closed up shop and split long ago. Just another unhappy swimmer finally pulled out into limbo by the tide of life’s consecutive failures. The major cause of death in those realizing their age being simply succumbing to the final realization of simply being old. He had seen it so often now that one could almost envy those with a knife stuck in them at an early age. They didn’t have to eat their own spleen over the subsequent wait for the final knock of father time. It didn’t matter he supposed. A brief mention of their existence would be handwritten in-between the press of six or seven tightly spaced lines in ballpoint ink. A normalized version typed into a computer terminal and set adrift in a sea of similar data. Perhaps data mined to join in the company of a similar group of statistics that could be offered to afford respectability to an otherwise shaky assumption. Something to garner more tax money from the state capital or maybe the Feds?
The picture of his ex’s face when they had broken up two plus decades back poured freely into the gap between his thoughts. That expression of profound anguish and shock deferred so instantaneously to grief at the few simple words that he felt free enough to offer her. Their wedding rings. The ones that they spend so much time picking out. His now in the ‘drink‘ off the point several fanthoms down in the deep. Stuck in the muck just like their respective illusions about a future together had become. And ending! The male thing! Decisiveness! But no cement on God’s green earth to fill that empty hole that would be left within. An ending. Sweet and simple. Just an ending.
My mother loved to watch, Gone With The Wind. It was her favorite movie. I can’t say that I ever understood what it meant to her. That was my failing as the perennial ‘late bloomer’. When I have seen it as of late it seems so blatantly obvious now. The frivolous nature of a young desirable girl. A seen of love based upon a foolish seen of infatuation. The fear of being left vulnerable and alone. The building of an inner resolve as a maturing woman to steel herself against any challenge. The opportunity that life provides her to prove her abilities and worth again all odds. Making her own way int he world despite the criticism of society. Discovering the true nature of love and friendship even if it seems too late in the game. And the value of home and the legacy of family that one has come from. All these qualities having their effect upon a young girl looking forward to the transition into womanhood.
She was nineteen when it appeared in theaters in 1940. I have to wonder if she viewed it first in the last preeminent movie palace still extent in the midst of the loop in Chicago? What disappointments and discoveries that lay ahead of her one might wonder if she expected? A world where war stole the possibility of finding a lasting love. The rise of career seeming to interject itself betwixt the chance for finding a home and raising a family. A brief and incidental marriage to a selfish boy that pretended to be a man leading to the disappointment and despair of never achieving the goal of harmony in motherhood. The tragic death of her mother and the subsequent loss of her father due to his grief and despair. And of course my father who in so many ways was a fit stand in for the real man in O’Selznick’s passion play. That special someone who had all the faults but at the core of it loved her and held her as the center of his universe. The most significant big budget extravaganza of her coming of age predicting in so many ways what became the challenges that she faced in the subsequent progress of her later life. How she must have viewed herself against the foil of the drama’s lead character at those many decisive junctures of her existence?
To view the film now is to catch sight of her at that tender age in the flickering darkness of the audience. A sight one rarely finds as a child of a woman that to them seemed the eternal archaic goddess known as ‘mother’. “January 17th, 1940.” To think of the date that she may have stepped into the lobby of some baroque movie palace fresh with anticipation to encounter the fresh celluloid telling her the tale of her future and destiny. How clever in hindsight for the doyens of Hollywood to fashion their plans to come within such clever intrigue. To show how a well-planned world conflict would affect the aspirations of the then contemporary iteration society coming of age and hint at how it would soon be transfigured. And in considering the subsequent ‘strum und drang‘ of this current time deposed. The players in the drama provided with both highs and lows and revealed as heroes or villains by their building legacy of reactions. The controversial aspect of the social incarceration of one and the effect of their inescapable lot in life ever-present as both tool and warning.
I have to wonder at the double edge sword the genius and the diabolical nature of those that power society so frivolously without the art form of painting the prospective progression of human life upon a screen? And then hangs it over the heads of the viewer by a thread for the rest of their existence. The audience aligning their lives to a mass hysterical narrative as opposed to finding their own way unassisted through the tangle wood of everyday chaos? Sitting here alone within the fading limelight of my own passing existence being the sole keeper of the long but now extinct narrative of my own kin I can only wonder further what the true natures of my own local players were? Their true identities reflected by the unspoken hopes and dreams that never were revealed . And somehow remained elusive never to come to pass! And how I might somehow in some small way further get to know them as they really once were.
A ‘menschen‘ of excess and obsession. Pathologically so! All to show for their failings being the oversupply of material objects each of an outmoded sense of value to the atrophy of society that forever surrounds them. The chase for golden apples seemingly eternal for the brass of the moment when a synthesis with that diaphanous proposition success translates into a temporal reality of being found ahead of all the others. The most dangerous of notions!
It may have been that along the way on the path one forged that sight of what was so long familiar and easily to mind in the past was lost. One’s own name forgotten? That tall grass that ever lay unkempt. Tamed only after the largess of the passing seasons converted into dead stalks blown over by old winds to fall desiccated and seemingly spent before another season’s reciprocation. The dipole of mixed emotions equally susceptible to being drawn to and forth and then repelled What after all did one have to lose but one’s self? The infrequency of familiar relations a rarity with others casting one immediately as the stranger. Novel for a time, but never at home. Only those far distant times that were spent under the rule of those barely recalled others who brought one into the world. Judged a fit bow to have claimed have loosed so errant an arrow. Enforced anonymity equally a matter of patent non-specificity being as much a matter of reckless adherence to the daily rule of iron routines. Like a liquid, bleaching a visible spot as stain goes on expanding beyond its boundaries attempting to seek the most expeditiously covert means of escape. High pressure to low pressure. So much that quantity of landscape to have been dragged across so roughly.So many rocks that have bruised the thighs! And all of the damage too problematic to attempt to reasonably recall! Can one have the presence of mind to be able to precisely recall the disapproval upon their own mother’s or father’s face? The keepers of the circus cannon that one once used to recklessly shoot one’s self from. To bump and land roughly into more distant climes to be locked and imprisoned in solitude. Now the facsimile of the idea that propelled one forth lost somewhere nondescript within abandoned fairgrounds. A concept suddenly found to have been long ago disproved but never heeded. Those fatal and inescapable words, “I am alone.”
The sonorous quality of all things familiar drives one to summon the creation that approximates what once . To find that same nest of broken eggshells that was once known as home? How close to that vine that one seems to cling to when the fear of an inevitable end is approaching? Trying to summon some form of reliable surety, as if one surely knows something unique and eternal as opposed to simply repeating the same answers as one is always told. The path leads only in one direction. There is no possibility of return. The great tragedy of finding a fool’s cap resting upon one’s own head as they are informed it has always so securely rested. “What could you have ever expected to carry with you to the grave?” So many would have wanted one to tell a a safe and comforting familiar story! To recount a place of wonder safe from want or annoying irritations.To take them somewhere that may be familiar enough to never challenge but delightfully explore two steps only past the periphery. Not lost in the bush. “Is that right?” How do robins manage to mind their young yet expect them to fly off one day on their own? All we have in this larger fishbowl is ourselves and the long accumulation of what becomes our own follies to confront. Every automobile eventually runs out of gas or breaks down. Unless some measure of replenishment is found. But what if it can no longer be found? A long line of camels waiting for safe passage through a needle’s eye. Too far somewhere undefined in the desert of one’s self? Past times seems to quickly fade into rust. Banished by one’s children who will start their lives independently of any judgment of my own when fully grown. Individuals and adults when you are long dead. A passing generation another fragile flotilla of little candles in paper boats sailing off into the waiting darkness together and yet alone. But to what end? Eventually. Inevitably withdrawn from society and humanity demoted to a passing intermediate phase of inconvenient and annoying presence to those young and vial? A dry no longer nutritious granule in an aging box of cream of wheat. A box of crumbling crayons no longer usable. That long nightly climb to the solitude of the bed chamber. The great novels locked in one’s head otherwise empty and sunk into the harbor of regret. Lamenting all the impossibilities that one could never have possibly shared in? The life of the reasonable and possible having never been fully formed. But gone to rot. A meal for the ship’s worms. Age laughably still not destructive of that perpetual habit of everlasting hope for the future. If not here, then in some other realm never yet suggested or imagined.
Men want an object of focus
an island to find refuge
women want a bulwark to encapsulate them
but not to hold them back
Is life so goddamn simple?
Those long forgotten sights and smells
transcendent in time bringing one back for a moment
places once viewed for only an errant moment
caught inside within that eternally passing instant
Can there not be hope if such things exist?
Those old thoughts shared once thought mundane
Now rich roses to the slowly blinding eye
That old tune that one once swayed to
now oblivious so obvious but still so free
Still something to remind one that you once were alive.
To some there is one day when bygone spirits return to their own haunts. For many others the spectral remains ever present. The real world as I once knew it stopped long ago. Now I sit within the quiet and darkness as my only true refuge. So many times I have looked about this same room at the very same visages peering forth from picture frames. The artifacts that defined them in close proximity. A storehouse of mixed memories that slowly grows stale. When this house was full it was small and I confined myself to a tiny bedroom alone. Spending time by myself. withholding myself from those other two that more rightfully belonged here. So much wasted time between now and then that I heartily regret. Could I now begin to bear the fact of their longing they had for my company? How much can a guilty heart take? So much back and forth of the what and the why and the reasons as empty as they finally became. An unwanted rivalry I suppose for the hand of one over the hands of the other. Cold hands they would be. Not without feeling but with anticipation for the warmth that I could bring to them. That I seemed to always try to withhold. How I miss them now. Two big mitts placed upon my face with a laugh. The key in the door. Recollections traveling in reverse. Another pair of smaller hands that had care for me all my life. Their combination being so often all that I had to shelter my world. How much I turned away from that would have made all the difference for all of our worlds together as one. Yet when I think back further farther back in my life it seems defined by constant loss? So many different disappointments. Unable to be happy with that which had been set out for me in the here and the now. Spoiled! Too used to getting my way on all those little material things that seemed to ever matter. But meant nothing! Now all these things are simply stacked up blocking the entry to a road back to in gracious incident of meaningless attainment. A substitute for anything that really mattered. I am a keeper in a museum of items I dare not touch.
Penitent sack cloth of my own device. Clothes over worn to shreds as if I thought they might never age. We all have our times of glory and then decline. How foolish and unkind to deny my own? To confound the best ally I could have ever had. The ruthlessness of youth! The arrogance! An ingrate to a simple man that could not understand why his accomplishments counted for naught within my narrowed eyes. Someone who tried everything to ensnare me with the beauty his vision for the sake of giving me the gift of his insights. If I wish to recall his voice I need now only hear my own. His lessons have come back to haunt. While my own vain glories have long since crashed and burned. I see the reflection of my face with his own that is inscribed deep within it. I can no longer imagine better ventures. I look at my own physical form and note that it has begun a slow decline to fatal atrophy. Yet, I can no longer feel fear about what is in store. I have seen the worse. Felt it. This earthly world is locked away from me now. And I am nothing to it. An Autumn leaf that has gone brown and crispy curled. I have nothing anymore to give to it . Just this same old chorus September song. My ghosts as audience.
There is a silent dialogue of lives and incidents both minor and otherwise that makes up the sum total of every life. Artifacts that are kept having special meaning. Random items that often times outlast their owners. The combination of same speaking to those who listen what they were all about. Impossible to decipher in the silence of emptiness that their absence leaves. Muted speech that could tell so much about things for too long neglected to ask. The solution to all the family mysteries of love and life and so many disappointments endured and surpassed. These flickering moments on screen do not do the long lost reality justice. But they do capture a glimpse. And perhaps we should be grateful for that? You can read from that old unexpected volume of schoolgirl fiction and wonder how it inspired? That old lacquer box with the Chinese characters that seem so exotic. But merely state that it is merely an old lacquered box. What wonders and memories were sequestered within that past along with its owner? Such joys and bliss that could fill an ocean. How amazing to look at that small space and wonder how it had held so much for so long? A time capsule of lost youth. The moment by moment journal of daily life. A compendium of those subsequent experiences one has congealed into age. Like dried up perfume casting a subtle hint of what was once contained within. The instant of recognition of something that one would have ever expected from within that person that one always though they had known. A freshness lurking within something too long passed up as just having always been. Like the sudden passing scent in the air of roses. But then, one finds, that they had never sought to know. Gone. But yet so wonderfully eternal. The essence of those one had the pleasure to have known.