All I wanted was to be understood, to once again lose myself in someone’s eyes, rather than being sucker punched in the heart. She said it’s hard to be understood when you don’t even understand yourself. I thought to myself “Yeah right, you never even took the time to try and know me, you were too busy trying to prove how you were right——-and how I was wrong.” One thing for certain, I was right about her being wrong for me. Love with all its inherent bad descions makes fools of us all. The more I tried to reach out the harder she pulled away. Maybe blindness is what love is. Maybe it’s tracing with my fingers what I can’t see with my eyes. She shoved my hand away, “Stop, you’re gonna smudge my make up”. Damn, she had all the romance of a cactus.
I’m a fool for girls with sexy eyes in lose fitting see through sundresses. I’ve bumped into a lot of people, but we collided and burst into an awkward erratic orbit—-pulling together then pulling apart. When I peered closer, I realize that I was never really in her eyes. But god, I remember how the sun shown through her cotton dress and how I mistook a body for a soul.
During the day it’s easy to believe in god, clocks and getting to work on time. When the sun is up I can find purpose in simple walks down by the river. I’m not shaken by the absurdity of remaining stopped at stale deserted red lights. But at night, the enormity and emptiness of the universe fills me with an uneasy feeling of insignificance. I toss and turn in my bed and then get up and stumble into the kitchen for my fourth glass of water. I’m stuck in a midnight cycle of drinking water to ease my dry mouth and then having to get back up and take a piss. She hollers from the bedroom. “What’s wrong with you? Why are you up.” I reply, “I can’t sleep, I’m worried about stuff.” Her voice is tired and cracks as she speaks, “Worried? Worried about what?”
“I’m worried about life and the inevitability of death and what’s it all for. I’m worried about things I should’ve said and done. I’m worried about pretending to be something or someone I’m not. I’m worried about my insecurities, my false intentions and my need to be validated——–by people I don’t give a shit about. I’m worried about our sun and how someday it’ll become a super nova and explode vaporizing our solar system and turn our planet into ash along with all it’s history, paintings, music, books and everything that makes up me and you. I’m worried about sick kids lying in hospital beds, scared and praying under their starched and stiff hospital sheets. I’m worried about lonely old people in rest-homes with nothing to do but watch gameshows and play bingo. I’m worried about never being able to write with the truthfulness and rawness as Bukowski, Steinbeck or Kerouac. I’m worried about roads not taken. I’m worried about why I no longer have friends who I can trust with my secrets. I worry about being misunderstood. I’m a hypochondriac so I worry about every phantom ache and pain. I’m worried and wonder where’s god in all this mess?” She gasps,”What the hell’s wrong with you? You make Woody Allen seem normal. Come back to bed.” I gulp down another huge swig of water and head to the bathroom to relieve myself——I swear, how is it possible to pee more liquid than I drink? I’ve grown weary of waiting on another tardy sun.
When I go back to my hometown I drive down my old street and park near my childhood house with it’s yellow nightlight burning on the porch. It’s just me and a moonless sky dipped in ink. Tonight I’m filled with melancholy as I creep along in the shadows of haunted streets. Maybe we all leave little pieces of ourselves in the places we once called home. I’ve come snooping for clues that will put “then and now” back together.
When I grew up I was in a hurry to get out of my hometown and escape this puny street that once comprised my world. But now I’m ironically drawn back to this tired old house on a dead end street. After everyone has gone to bed I buy myself a tallboy and park by the field that’s adjacent to the Catholic church and my childhood house. The cold air with its silent stars brings back the loneliness I knew as a child. Even then under that misty Milky Way galaxy I’d lose myself in the majesty and unreal-ness of it all. I think about my old friends and my family, I listen for voices and keep an eye out for falling stars or maybe a UFO. I haven’t come here to repeat the past nor exhume old ghosts, I’m in search of a lost innocence. Right now, all over town it’s autumn and the wind is creating mini tornados of yellow, red and purple leaves. The air is filled with the scent of burning wood streaming from brick chimneys. November is breathing its chill into the coming night.
This was the place where my father would come home wearing his weary work-face. I think back on all the sacrifices my folks made for me and my sisters. For my dad, everyday must’ve felt the same except for paydays. On paydays he’d come home late for dinner with beer on his breath and the smell of tobacco clinging to his work shirt. I remember how he’d wrap mom up in his arms and foxtrot her around the living room singing “I don’t get around much anymore”. Is that what life is, brief moments of joy surrounded by days of nihilistic sleepwalking? In spite of all the hardships we were a family fortified by love who found ways to share our tears and exploit life’s humor. Our house was filled with loud voices and much laughter. My folks did a good job making us a home and they were always there for me. There is still something calming about this funny little house with it’s sagging fence and unkempt gardens——it still defines home. Memories are my eternal path back home.
This is where my mother cooked our dinners and neatly ironed our clothes. Maybe I’m guided back here to try find pieces of me that I’d forgotten, or that I’d left behind. I can hear the voices and see the ghosts as I sit in my car with the heater on and the radio tuned to jazz. I sip off my beer and let the smell of fresh laundry and pot roast cooking in the oven bring me back to a simpler time.
I know now, that you can’t go back in time and fix things or make good on delinquent thank you’s. Things break, mistakes are made, we all say things we regret. And then there are those missed opportunities where kindness and patience would have played better than selfishness and unrealistic demands. I watch as we all age. There’s a feeling of solace that’s found in marching together through the passage of time. I search for myself with the eyes of days gone by. Buddha would say that attachments to the past is the cause of suffering, but for me there is such a sweet sorrow in these nocturnal sojourns. I feel a sense of belonging under these frigid autumn skies. We may all just be passing through, but my life is held together by the continuum of shared memories.