Soundtrack “Son Of A Highway Daughter” by Ruston Kelly.
I messed up again, got drunk and pissed everyone off, let myself down with a thousand discarded and broken pledges, I’m wanting morning light at this 3:03 am, its the darkest of corners to turn in the middle of the night, the sheets have become untucked and tangled, the room is stuffy and hot, I’m mad at the likes of me for being a poor version of what I might have been, I’m pleading with the dark shadows and demons to stop coming round and convicting me with a movie reel on repeat, revealing me and all the stupid shit I’ve ever done, my sanity meter is starved for another quarter, for a shard of clarity——the walls are closing in=====Oh my god, where are you now, my holy ghost has gone MIA
I’m nervous all the time, my breath stale beer and bitter nicotine, people can see through me, I never learned how to be coy or clever, my bravado has caved in, I’m teetering on being too far gone to come back again, I no longer belong anywhere or to anyone, everywhere I go I feel out of place, people stare at me like I’m a two headed monster in a nickel and dime freak show——can’t you see, that under all this ugliness it’s still me
I’d call you, but at this hour it would be a selfish thing for me to do——-I wish I’d never worn you out with my rants and ramblings, I’m afraid I’m gonna drag you down with me—— a drowning man with arms flailing, we played hide and seek one too many times with our emotions, and what was once found is now lost. it’s Amazing Grace in reverse——-I’m sorry I painted you into my landscape, you’re far too pretty to be sketched within the same canvas with the likes of someone like me
People want to choose relationships the same way that they pick out corn on the cob. They secretly peel back a small portion of the husk and take a quick peek to see what’s on the inside. They take a hurried look around to see if anyone is watching and then hastily decide if it’s a keeper or a throw back.
I wonder what becomes of the cobs that have been discarded and left behind, their husk pulled down exposing all their flaws, for all the world to see. Maybe some are fed to the pigs while others are sent to the popcorn factory.
There’s a fleeting secret hidden between night fading and morning coming on, it’s an experience not constructed of time———or belonging to anything. It’s hard to describe the color of that sky——it’s not a color, so much as an attitude, it’s a hello and a goodbye wrapped around one another, it’s traces of an emerging promise, it’s disguised in the sketches of grace, with its few stubborn stars not letting go of their reign in the sky. And in this eternal briefness the air is fresh and new, it taste of second chances and everything is right and as it should be. There’s no holding on too——-or———letting go of——it is——as it is—-it is—-as it is—-it is——as it is——it is——-All that unravels comes back together again—-is this universe falling apart or coming together? Who’s to say if your universe is the same as mine—–but for now we share this empty space in time.
In the city, there’s that transcendental moment just before all the lights go out in the tall buildings, it’s in the dying breath of street lamps losing their power to separate shadow from substance. It’s when being alone feels right. A city silenced is a beautiful thing to be a part of——-
Once, while camping, I awoke and built a new fire from the remnants of last nights dying embers. The air carries within it the sweet sappy scent of smoke, as the kindling pops and snaps, the dew drops glisten on the tips of lush ferns——-I’m not in need of anything. I’m aware, of being aware. I’m a part of everything and everything is a part of me. The chill in the air stirs an awakening in me stronger than a double espresso. The moon hangs his sleepy head over the horizon and says goodnight to the breaking morning.
Almost imperceptibly the sound of singing birds begins to fill the silence. The rising sun filters through the Jeffrey pines casting shafts of light between the tree branches. All the little floating specks of dust stand out in this light, each a universe within itself. I don’t wish on falling stars, I make wishes on our rising sun, that faithful star that returns to us each morning——In this immaculate light, anything and all things are possible. There are no wars, no hate, no religions, no heroes, no villains, no tomorrows, no yesterdays——there is only me compressed within the walls of this orgasmic moment.
I’m learning to love myself, like it or not, I’m eternally trapped within me———thank God I enjoy my own company.
I have few regrets, but I sometimes feel a sadness when I think how you and I were never able to connect or understand one-another. Perhaps Freud was right, that we become who we are at a very early age and we find ourselves locked into a fixed script. And sometimes this makes it difficult to express the things that go unsaid. So, I want to say this, having you as my son has been and always will be the finest of gifts. My favorite memories is the time spent doing little everyday things with you and your sister. It’s funny, how it’s all the small things that comprise a full life. I try my best to remember this in each draining moment.
I see pieces of me in you and I wonder if you see parts of you in me. These days, I just carry little pieces of you from a distant past. There are memories of that little baby I once held. Then there’s the little boy whose hand I’d hold on walks in the woods. I carry the memory of teaching you how to tie your shoes and how to ride a bicycle. Summer drives in grandpa’s truck down country roads lined with peach tree’s and blossoming almond orchards. Sharing holiday dinners at Nana’s old wooden dinner table. Goofy face photographs. Days at the beach and neon lite nights at the boardwalk, the smell of fried corndogs and sticky cotton candy. Waking up to a snow day with no school and skiing on fresh powder. Hikes in the Sierras and the scent of campfire smoke, musty tents, penny ante poker, Monopoly and watching the family dog sleep next to you. And, then there was a teen boy in a hurry to go out and challenge the boundaries of his world. When I turn down all the outside noise, I find myself asking, where has all the time gone?
As hard as one may try, you can never bring your children home again. They have their own dreams and troubles that they must navigate. So, I fight the current of time and want to try to make right the things that I may have missed or failed to do. The middle years of a man’s life can often times be wasted worrying about careers, bills and trying to make something of himself through hollow achievements. Such deceptive mirages we foolishly chase.
It’s a strange thing, me and my dad never really saw eye to eye. We were just different in ways neither could explain. But, I knew he loved me and would do anything for me. He made sacrifices for me and my sisters that I never understood until I was much older. In spite of it all, and buried beneath it all, we had a love that only a family can share. I feel this love towards you and wanted you to know that. And that’s the simple truth.
I remember when my mom passed away, and how at some weird level I was relieved. This thought left me feeling guilty. I vacillated between anger and a morose acquiescence as she became weak and frail. She never complained even though she was in a huge amount of pain and relying on morphine to stave off the misery. I should have been braver and held her hand. I should have told her how much I loved her and that she was the best mother I could ever of had. I should have told her that if she needed to go, I understood and that she would always be missed. I should have told her not to worry about me and that her family would be fine. But I hid behind my fear, believing she must already know these things, pretending I’d still have time to say the things that needed to be said——-how fucking stupid was that.
I apologize if this letter comes off awkward and overly forthright. I suppose I wrote it as much for you, as for myself———You see, this letter is an exercise in trying to find ways to be more courageous with my love.
“All go to the same place. All came from the dust and all return to the dust.” Ecclesiastes 3:20
What kind of holy book explains life and death in such a flippant manner? I don’t understand.
I climb into my faithful old Tacoma pickup and head west. You can tell a lot about a man by the truck he drives. The cab smells of rag weed, muddy boots and fresh orange peels. I drive past the fields, the farms and the redundant strip malls. I eye pretty small town girls with odd names like Galenda or Karla. Their perfume scented skin I won’t stick around to touch. These places and girls belonged to other boys with their Friday night hot spots and their Sunday morning houses of worship,——— a community of suburban anchored hearts. I’ve tried to fit into such places, but never could.
I drive til I come to the ocean. I check into a cheap motel that wears the odors of mold and a thousand forgotten summer vacations. I wonder how many have made love on this tolerant mattress, or how many have cried themselves to sleep within the walls of this soul suffocating room. The walls are knotty pine with a bathroom sink that drip, drip, drips. Outside my gray skied window the pavement smells of early morning rain, the sun rises with a memory of how small her hands looked when she touched me. Once again I find myself at the edge of this sad stained continent. There’s a damp coldness blowing off the water that chills me to the bone. January is my favorite month to revisit this rundown seaside town. The boardwalk is empty and quiet except for the rusty Farris Wheel squeaking and moaning under the strain of a gusting wind. I pull my knit cap tightly over my numb ears.
All my once hip friends are now vengeful Republicans, need I say more? Out of nowhere I find myself singing “Into the Mystic”——I take a shot of Jameson with a beer back. “And when that fog horn blows you know I’ll be coming home——-I wanna hear it, I don’t have to fear it”.
The bed-stand clock glows with its red digital numbers, the sound from the dripping faucet warns me of time passing by. How do I carry on? Where do I go from here? Am I too old to start over again? Have I squandered too many chances. I’ve moved to new cites, I’ve found new jobs and I’ve broken promises to the few who might of cared for me. I’ve never been one to reinvent myself or attempt to tame my faults or bad habits——I’m all that’s left of my best mistakes.
I sit on a carved up and pigeon stained bench at the end of the pier. A wrinkled asian man is standing as still as a statue as he waits for a fish to bite his line——I suppose we’re all waiting at the other end of one kind of fishing line or another. A young kid with chin stubble and unkempt hair takes a seat next to me. He asks if I have a light. He helps me cup a flickering flame from my Bic lighter. He squints as he stares intensely out at the foggy horizon. I know that look, I know this kid. He speaks “You got a wife?” “Yeah, I’ve had a couple of them.” He continues his interrogation “You got a job?” “Yeah, I’ve had a few those too.” “Did you get everything you wanted?” “Like most, I suppose I got what I deserved and a few things I didn’t expect. Sometimes it isn’t what you get, but more importantly, it’s being happy with what you’ve been given——-gratitude is the scale on which to weigh a balanced life.”
An older me talking to a younger me, what a gift. “Take good care of yourself dude.” I grab his cigarette, then take a hit off it before stomping it out. “Look after your health kid, you’ll wish you did when you get older——-and yes, we all do get older, that is, if you’re lucky.” He pushes his shaggy hair back “Do you ever think about your parents?” “Everyday I do. You won’t understand the sacrifices your parents made for you until you become one yourself. You’ll look at your children and be amazed at how parts of you became their flesh and blood. The best of times will be the time spent with your kids. Remember to give your weary parents the love and respect they deserve. The kids grow up too fast and our parents grow old and frail too soon. Once they’ve passed on, they’re gone for good. Time moves in one direction, forward. Regret is the child of missed opportunities.”
“Many acquaintances will come and go, but few will be elevated to the position of trusted friend. Choose your friends carefully, because they’re the only ones who’ll enjoy your ridiculous humor, tolerate your irritating idiosyncrasies and stand up for you when this world leaves you feeling insignificant, irrelevant and unworthy of love. They’ll embark on crazy adventures with you and provide you with the sweetest of memories. Your friends and family are your tribe and their unconditional love is the only thing that will sustain you through the good times as well as the bad.”
“I know that at your age you won’t believe me, but this life is tragically short. Don’t squander the time you’ve been given being bored or angry. Monies a fleeting vapor, a job that doesn’t suite you is a snare, pleasure without sacrifice is quickly forgotten. Look for true love and nothing less. You’ll know it’s true love because she’ll bring out the best in you. She’ll make you feel things you never felt and it will cause you to do things like hold her hand when she’s frightened. She’ll bear your children and cook you your favorite meals. For her, you’ll fix the things that break, mow the lawn on hot July afternoons and snowplow the driveway on cold January mornings. All these seemingly insignificant small things will comprise a full life. Keep your priorities straight and you’ll enjoy each day as it unfolds.”
The kid offers up a grin. “When I grow up, I wanna be like you.” “Take your time kid, being an adult isn’t all it’s cracked up to being.” I climb in my truck and head back home as I give a glance in my rear view mirror.