A song about a son visiting his mother in a rest-home.
There’s a certain kind of emptiness, comes with the loss of innocence
A certain kind of brokenness, at the heart of all this helplessness
There’s a certain kind of sadness, at the close of every summer
A certain kind of loneliness, takes me back to when I was younger
My memories like a Monet impression
My poetry like a Kerouac confession
Behind every sin, there’s a hard earned blessin
We all remember things, the way we choose
Do you remember it, the way I do
You hid behind your curtains
But for a moment, I saw through
There’s a certain kind of emptiness, comes with the loss of innocence
They say I’m old. But they don’t know what old is. They break it down into a simple math equation. They take my birthdate as the starting point, then they take the current date and add up the years between the two dates They’ll say that number is my age, they’ll say that’s how old I am. But they don’t understand that I’m not the sum of the years I’ve lived, but rather, I’m all my ages——-all the time.
Who I am, is all the things I’ve ever been. I’m the little girl playing with dolls and having a tea party. I’m the young girl learning how to dance. I’m the teen in the party dress nervously hoping some boy will ask me to dance. I’m the one discovering that indescribable passion of a first love. In me, is the youthful college graduate filled with tenacity and anxious to chase down her dreams. I’m the beautiful woman in that old photo dressed in a white wedding dress. I’m the first time mother gently cradling her baby. I’m the strong willed and determined career woman earning her respect in a man’s world. I’m the proud grandparent braiding her granddaughters hair. I’m the retired woman meeting her long time friends for lunch. I’m the matriarch giving my time and counsel to the young ones who are on their journey. Can’t you see, I’m all these things at once. So for god sake, please don’t call me old——call me experienced. I’m like a pair of broken in hiking boots, a little worn but comfortable and a good fit for all seasons.
Sure, I have those aches and pains that come with age. I move a little slower. I might forget a thing or two. My hair is graying and my hearing isn’t what it use to be. But inside, I swear, I feel much younger than I appear (Well, at least that’s true most days). Sometimes I sit in my chair and run all my favorite memories back like old movies being screened in a darkened theater. Yes, those were the days of my life and no one can take them from me. Life is bitter sweet, but mostly sweet. I enjoy the small things now. I enjoy sitting outside and listening to the birds, visiting with my family, slipping into a warm bed——-and of course——-having a good ole bowel movement.
If I could be young for one day I’d do some wild crazy things. I’d ride my bicycle down to the beach, peal off my clothes and go skinny dipping in that Pacific ocean. I’d have myself a slice of triple layer chocolate cake and wash it down with champagne. I’d challenge all those loudmouthed bullies to an arm wrestle. I’d beat their asses then tell them to fuck off. I’d go through the karma-sutra and try all the positions once, and the ones I liked, I’d do twice. I’d turn my speakers up to ten, then sing and dance to all my favorite songs. I’d make a point of calling everyone I love and tell them how they made my life joyful, memorable and worth living.
I’d hold your hand and look you in the eye as if I’d never have to let go or say goodbye. But life is like juggling, catching and then letting go—-catching then letting go. But there are parts of me you’re stuck with—— you’ve involuntarily inherited my funny quirks and crazy idiosyncrasy, my good parts and my not so good parts, my headstrong ways, my strong will, my soft heart, my love of a good laugh, my desire for deep late night conversations and my lust for travel and adventure. Ah, this life is such a beautiful gift——thanks for being such an important part of it.
And you see my love, through all these things I shall live on.
The August sun traces the southern horizon as the silent tree’s cast long shadows over the lazy afternoon. There’s no hurry to go anywhere or do anything. It’s too goddamn hot to be ambitious. I pull my ball-cap off and let the cool breeze tousle though my sweaty hair.
I’m hiking through the Washoe Meadow. I imagine that the path I’m on is the same one that the Washoe Tribe followed on hunting expeditions. Their ways and traditions are no longer known. I’d give anything to know the things they knew, to see the things they saw. We’ve traded our place in nature for our love of power and progress——–Progress? Huh?
The trial turns and twists through Jeffery Pines. The sweet scent of Sage permeates my body. I take the fragrant air into my lungs and it becomes a part of me——maybe this is what they mean when they say “all things are connected”. I exhale my breath. It dissipates into the pine needles and becomes absorbed into the blueness of the out stretched skies. I feel bigger than my body.
A stellar jay sits atop a Spruce Tree and loudly scolds me, a chicory scampers across my path and from a distance a coyote keeps a weary eye on me. The coyote is my spirit animal. He’s a trickster, a loner and a little bit scruffy—-but most of all he’s a willful survivor. Yeah, we are a part of one another. The trail opens up to a huge meadow displaying purple lupin and yellow scrub grasses. It’s a pretty place, a calming place. It would be nice to share this with someone, but I’ve always been my own best friend, so I’m in good company. I take my boots off and rub my toes in a patch of cool green grass. I feel the sun on my face causing me to involuntarily smile to myself. A breeze blows across the meadow, it blows across the sweat on my body, it cools me down.
Get Vaccinated so that we can get on with our lives.
Get On With Our Life
We’re all in this together
If we’re all, gonna get better
We’re depending on one another
Talking to you, sisters and brothers
It’s a matter of life and death
Don’t let Corona, steal your breath
It’s not only you, put in jeopardy—-
Might spread it to grandma, or the children ya-see
I’ll say it once, I’ll say it twice
Do the right thing, so we can all get on with our life
Roll up your sleeve, and do your part
It’ll never stop, unless we all start
Ready to, get on with it
Close your eyes, won’t hurt a bit
Future, it depends on us
We’re gonna beat, this nasty virus
It ain’t conspiracies, or politics
It’ a simple thing to do, if ya don’t wanna get sick
I’ll say it once, I’ll say it twice
Do the right thing, so we can all get on with our life
(Repeated at the end of song)
Get your shot
Ya gotta give it a shot
Between routine and randomness there is tradition. Tradition is what pulls the scattered pieces of our lives together and provides us with a sense of belonging and togetherness. We find ourselves in the simple moments that we share with those we love. It’s in the aroma of mom’s pot roast dinners on a cold wintery night, it’s in grandpa’s instructions on the right way of tying a fly, it’s watching the kids on summer days playing at the same beach I once played at as a kid. It’s in the stories the old ones tell about what it was like in the olden days. It’s baked into grandma’s secret peach pie recipe. It’s in keeping memories alive while pairing yesterday with today for the young ones——these are the things that we hand down—-it’s in the reverence of those who’ve passed on and the gift of those tomorrows yet to come.
We’re lured back to the sea, to the beginnings, where it all started. Standing at the edge of this vast American continent, thousands of lonely miles traveled beyond the stifling east coast, across Great Plains, over the mighty Rockies, beyond the Great Divide, down the Mississippi River, across the Grand Canyon, riding the Colombia River, leading us here——It’s here, the end of everything and the beginning of all new things——what a beautiful journey this life has been.
Salty air on the tip of my tongue, the smell of Eucalyptus trees, the fog rolls in, recedes, then once again comes and goes. Time is a circle, love a straight line fading into infinity. The Pacific Ocean crashes foamy waves in front of me, leaving seaweed, driftwood and seashells scattered at the high tide mark. Like people and the remnants they leave behind. This sea is the womb of mother nature, the place where life was unexpectantly given birth. If eternity had a scent it would be found in the pungent smell of the ocean . We carry the rhythm of her waves in our pulse.
My family has been coming to this seaside village for generations. I would love to stay here forever, but traditions aren’t meant to be kept, they are intended to be passed on to those still unfolding and finding their own way. It’s at these yearly seaside get-togethers that the young ones learn from where they’re come and what they’re a part of. I’ve been looking for god, but I’ve discovered she has always been here in my friends and family.
We take our early morning walks out on the old wooden wharf. Somewhere on the planks below, Harbor Seals bark as seagulls circle and fight over scraps . The fog brings us in closer to one another. We have our favorite restaurant with its buttered sourdough bread that’s dipped in a bowl of steaming clam chowder. We scour the nick-knack shops for the perfect keep-sakes. At night we go to the boardwalk with its Big Dipper roller coaster. The young ones raise their arms high in the air as their car careens down the steep winding track. Everything is a blur of bright lights, screams, clammer and electrifying commotion. The old ones go into the confection shop where taffy can be seen stretching like a long string of rubber. Behind the glass a woman is creating gooey homemade chocolate clusters. If one is lucky or skilled enough to knock down lead milk bottles with a baseball, for a moment you can be someones hero—-for five dollars that’s a bargain. We are all kids here once again. Even the oldest and the youngest can ride the Carousel. The Calliope blares out old time songs as we stretch out from our pumping horses to grab the brass rings that we toss at the Clown’s mouth. It’s all bright lights, dizzying motion, loud laughter and the smell of caramel corn—— all incased in the dampness of the ocean’s night air.
We’re always coming back to where we’ve always been, simply sharing time together——-and such is tradition.
A summer breeze rustles tree leaves, scattering shadows across the hardwood floor——invisibly billowing the curtains, bringing with it a breath of summer that’s scented with lilacs. It feels good to be here alone in the quiet of my garden. My cat meow’s at me and rubs up against my legs. Dogs are loyal, but they require praise, attention and reassurance ———-Cat’s don’t give a shit about all that, they don’t need a fucking thing from anybody. They’re contented living in a world of their own making. Their ferrel nature will never allow them to be domesticated, as proof of that, I have scratch marks up and down my forearms. That little vixen means business; she’s her own cat. There are indulgent dog owners and then there’s placating lovers of cats. You can own a dog, but a cat owns you.
I don’t feel close to anyone except for my lazy ass cat. Something in her eyes lets me know, that she knows, that I know, what she knows. We agree that dogs foolishly allow themselves to be leashed, cats say “fuck that”.
Nature really doesn’t give a shit about what happens to us. A meteorite could vaporize earth and the sun would still display beautiful sunsets and brilliant sunrises, for no one. But in spite of such pending calamities, we’re expected to carry on.
None of that bullshit upsets my cats afternoon naps——-she’ll dream up her own worlds.
There’s a change of season in the air. The scent of rain spattered pavement rides a breeze into my garden. The pitter patter of the raindrops begins their crescendo as thunder crackles in the distant gray skies. A storm is moving towards me, inside me. I should follow my cat into the protection of the house, but I just sit here. I mumble to myself, “Bring it on——— mother nature”.
People come into your life with good intentions, then they leave without warning——offering up phony whispered apologies——saying their goodbyes as if all the good-times were always intended to be temporary. I’ve learned that love is transcendental, truth malleable, life existential, but none the less, we’re all fucked in the end, because nothing makes any sense what so ever, everything is out of our control and no one knows how much time they have left. Getting old is cruel, but it’s second to its alternative.
When the world becomes too terrible, dreadful and unbearable the crazed ones create their own worlds. Some may say, they do this to hide away in their make believe world —— Creativity is born from the horrors of a cruel world. And my God, this world can be oh so cruel.
My wife and I just recently drove out to Virginia City and it reminded me of one of my youthful visits to this isolated little town. I have a fond childhood memory of heading out to this old west silver mining town known as the Comstock.
We headed east on highway 50 towards one of the last vestiges of the old west, “Virginia City”. The further we strayed from Carson City the more the landscape began to resemble the set of the Clint Eastwood western movie “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly”. It’s a land of high chaparral sagebrush, brown hills and pretty much a whole lot of nothingness. In the distance you can spy wild horses that still run free. There’s nothing more beautiful than something that’s free. You have to follow highway 50 out past the whore houses and the wrecking yards. I’d been tempted a time or two to check out the Bunny Ranch, but I knew such places thrive more on desperation than passion. I’m not that desperate——-at least not yet.
The Virginia City exit is a snake path of a road, windy and rutted. This is the sole passage to the Comstock where men traded the comforts of home for the prospect of riches. Greed can cause some men to make foolish choices. Gold and silver fever have caused many a man to betray friendships, love and life itself for the prospects of making a strike . It’s an arduous trip in an air-conditioned car and I find it hard to imagine what it must have been like in a buckboard wagon. There was no electricity, no hot and cold running water, no refrigerators with ice cold beer, no showers or indoor plumbing, no 7-11 or Walmart (Maybe no Walmart ain’t such is a bad thing?)
This is where you’d stake your claim and work from dawn to dusk with hands blistered from gripping a shovel and swinging a pickaxe. I imagine myself bursting open the doors of a saloon and saddling up to the bar next to Mark Twain and sharing clever quips while slurping our flat beers. He actually once lived in Virginia City and worked for the local paper. There is still an old roll-top desk there that is advertised as once being occupied by Twain himself. For five dollars you can walk through a museum and even sit behind that legendary desk. And that I did. As P.T. Barnum once said, “There’s a sucker is born every minute.”
As an impressionable kid I remember walking those boardwalk lined streets and thinking, damn——I feel like a real life cowboy, an outlaw or maybe a rodeo star. I sat at the bar of the Bucket Of Blood saloon and drank a sarsaparilla. On the wall hung the huge framed “Silver Dollar Lady” constructed of silver dollars. In the corner sat an old woman playing honky tonk stride piano. She looked rather proper with her hair done up in a bun and wearing a granny dress, but in-between songs she’d guzzle down beer like a fevered hooligan. The place was full of desperado looking men with handlebar mustaches, wearing cowboy hats, bandanas around their necks and jangling spurs on their cow-patty stinking boots. Man, I didn’t want to ever leave. This was a young boys true adventure. After all these years, I still have that young boys hankering to be a real life cowboy. And for one unforgettable afternoon, I felt what it must have been like to be a cowboy——free.
Letter writing is a lost art. In the olden days receiving a letter was a momentous occasion. It may be the only link to a loved one who’s now many miles away. It might be a soldier who’s off to war, or a prospector who’s gone out west to a gold rush in search of his fortune, or maybe someone who’d left everything behind to seek freedom and opportunity in the new world, or maybe a letter from mom and dad after they’ve shipped you off to summer camp. To the homesick, a letter is like a life preserver tossed from home.
Somehow, written words are more intimate and heartfelt than texts, zooms, emails or face-timeing. There’s a formality of ink meeting paper, there’s something unique about thoughts laid out in black and white—–it’s like letting someone peer into the corners of your mind, to hear your voice, the timber, the rhythm and the flow of words being enunciated—-It’s like being given wings when standing on a collapsing bridge.
Written letters are saved in old shoeboxes or under well worn mattresses. It would be a foolish thing to throw away someones words and thoughts. Letters are snapshots of moments in time. They can be pulled out and reread and given life again. It’s like placing the needle of a phonograph on a favorite song. You can pick the letter up and smell its scent, imagining the hand that sealed the envelope. I once had a girlfriend who’d put on lipstick and then leave an imprint of her kiss on the letters she’d send me. She’d spray perfume on the stationary and leave “X’s” and “O’s” next to her name. It was a virtual hug and kiss.
I’d always carefully put my letters back in their envelopes and then place them in a box I dedicated to these precious communications. Most folks won’t let you into their world the way a letter can. A well written letter requires time and attention to create a composition that expresses what is laying dormant beneath ones tongue.
We’re all adrift on a vast ocean of loneliness and a letter is like a bright red flair against an ebony sky. It begs the questions—- Can you see me? Do you hear me?—Please don’t forget me?
Victor S. Uriz II
So here we sit my old friend, and I don’t mean “old” in the pejorative sense but rather in the pure number of years we’ve endured. I’m sure there are geriatric wrinkle removing and liver spot removing and hair growing, libido building info commercials that will try to convince you that sixty is the new forty——-but anyone of common sense and a bad back will differ on these comical claims.
I suppose “endure” is too harsh of a word to describe our dance with time. We haven’t “endured”, no, we’ve “thrived” over the past six decades. As in so many things in life, it’s not so much what is said, but rather, how it’s said. But I can’t help but look back at the passage of time and wonder “Did I do and achieve the things I set out to do? Was I a success? Did I compromise my character in exchange for transient rewards? Did I try hard enough? Maybe all that stuff really doesn’t matter. For me, it boils down too, “Was I a good friend, father, lover”? Did I “get it”?
I’m not perfect, but I have tried my best to mitigate any regrets by thanking god or a higher power for looking out for me. Because, in spite of me, and all my frailties, I’ve done my best to learn and evolve. Such is the mortgage we pay for being given a body to house our ethereal souls. Maybe I’m not less of a wretch, but at least better at knowing when I am behaving as such? Thankfully, my “asshole alarm” goes off sooner and louder warning me to shut up and be kinder.
Now that I’m older, I find myself considering the idea of “time”. Maybe time isn’t a drain, but rather a vessel that we fill with love and good memories. I suppose you can fill it with whatever you choose.