Monday, April 30, 2007

A haunted place.

There’s this room.
It’s fairly simple, as far as rooms tend to go. Not very big x Not very wide. As cramped as a freshman-year dorm and just as sweat-inducing as a burning summer in the big city.
Pacing back and forth, living my life inside that small space.

It can be quite lonely, sometimes.

When you’re out and about in the world, trying to hold on to the last vestiges of a place that you used to really, really know. A place that used to be yours, in the kind of way that matters, a place full of friends and memories; yes, where everyone knows your name. Yet…now, it’s not the same. No names here. No friends here.
Nothing left but new attempts at amiable conversation, trying to pick a pleasant stranger out of the crowds so that one might enjoy a nice Hello. A word, or even two.

You can always try, for things of that sort.
After all, you can go home again. But it’s never quite the same. It’s not the place you left behind. It’s not the place where you fell in love. It’s not the place where your dreams massaged your temples and whispered, “It’ll be all right.” It’s not the place you knew.

It changed. You changed.
Even though it is. It isn’t. Even though you are. You aren’t. Might be worse, might even be better. It might be a place that will take hold of you in an entirely spectacular manner, and finally help you rest once again, warm and calm and wondrous. I dunno, it could happen. But it will never be the home you knew. Y’know?
After all, how could it be?

In the room, pacing back and forth. Throwing your fists forward until beads of sweat fly off the tension of your muscles, until the air grows heavy and takes on that spicy aroma, the unmistakable hot-soup scent of human effort.

Now then: You try your best, out there in the lonesome ebb and flow of the way things are. Trying to work out the currents, trying to bring yourself ever so much closer to the sense of the home that you’ve lost; or perhaps, a new one altogether. You look out everything, every little thing, every big thing, every grand touch of something-or-whatever, always-and-forever.

How do you know what you’re worth?

It seems that there’s little appeal, out there, toward hearts beating freely on grubby sleeves; but what if that’s the only thing you know? And, more importantly: What if it’s the only thing you can trust? What do we do with our morals? With ourselves? What do we do with our knowledge, with every little meme that enriches our genes with a touch more understanding?

How do we know what we’re worth?

Taking the room for all it’s got. Spending your time in it, with it. Drinking down slugs of coffee and feeling your suddenly waxy skin burning like a candle, while you never stop pacing, back and forth again. Learning what there is to know. Feeling around the edges of the place, and taking some time to etch tiny marks into the corners. That’s what I’m doing, that’s what I’ve been doing. Hour. After hour. After hour. Trying to see the room for what it is, trying to see it for all it can be.

What do you suppose all this is about? Why the pacing, why the thinking, why the rambling, why the wallowing, why the skipping? What is this for? Well…the ways of the world. Right?

Perhaps so.
That’s the intent, in any case. An attempt at the intent, to take us past the sights of the lost. Trying to tell the truth, no matter what the cost. And it is a cost; for there is not always beauty. Not in truth. Yet it’s still the best we have.
Such a thing would, should, could never change,

Pacing back and forth, and forth and back, one room, one place. But still, still, still moving forward. I was out there today, of course. In a place that was once mine. Trying to make the most of it, of the differences within. Truth be told, I didn’t do a very good job. That happens a lot. No matter where, not matter what. Nothing devastating on my sweaty brow, building up towards something to see. And yet…
As is often the case, there could be something here.

It can be quite lovely, sometimes.

Regardless of my worth, regardless of my station, regardless of the impact I make on any little thing, on any little someone; there is loveliness for all. Even when homes wash away, in truth and in memory. Even when we find ourselves at a loss, we can be just a hopskip away from being found. Even if moving on is a fool’s errand, one can just keep pacing back and forth, somehow moving across the world like a Fool-errant, until another home is made. Some worth is claimed.

At this moment, there’s very little that I can actually say, aside from one thing, one thing solemn and pure:

Right now, I have the room. It’s mine. Part of my sweat, part of my fists, part of my thoughts -- yes, a part of me. No matter what it says on the lease. Or on the door.
That’s the truth.

And it’s a beautiful thing.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

A place to think.

Tiger got to hunt,

Why’s it so easy to get lost?
I’m not sure, myself. All I know is that they’re somewhat of a rarity -- those times when we understand the world. More often than not, we wake up in the morning, feel the air against the soles of our feet, and stretch ourselves into the shape of a beginning. “As freeform as an amoeba.”

Something, someone alive. But not something, someone that understands. What we are going to be, what places we are going to see, what lives we have to live, what mornings we have before us, stretching their legs and yawning with the scorch of the sun. We’re here, that much is known.

But the rest of it?
Yeah, not so much.

Bird got to fly;

Kurt Vonnegut Jr. is dead. You know that by now.
You’ve probably seen the declarations in the newspapel, you’ve probably read at least one of the sudden rush of interweb eulogies; you’ve probably seen a somber sort of bookstore display, one lining up the more popular of his novels, all underneath the quiet heading, “So it goes.”

So. So. A man is dead.
What does that mean to the world?

Really, I mean. Really.
Not much. Not much at all. The author of God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater had not written a truly novel novel for many a year, the voice that men/women/children alike held dear growing cold and distant, as if it pulled back into the fog. He wasn’t the same. Not really.
Another man is dead. He, just, died.

And for whatever reason, at least to this solitary fool: it’s gotten a bit harder to breathe.

Man got to sit and wonder, "Why, why, why?"

It was merely another boy who went looking through that bookcase, his head beaded with sweat from the stagnant heat of a summer evening. He didn’t know why he was looking through that dusty collection of red-spined words; it might have been boredom, it might have been simple curiosity. It might have been something else. But whatever the reason, he, just, looked. He found something.

Two somethings, actually.
A small, beaten down copy of a rather thin book. Its cover splattered with stray drops of green paint from a decade previous, its back cover lost somewhere to the river of time, its edges turned jaundiced by sheer age. Yes, the book was beaten down. But it was far from defeated.

Far, far from it.
It was Slaughterhouse-Five.

It rested there alongside a hardcover edition of Breakfast of Champions, the orange cover emblazoned with a signature, one rimmed with gold, sunken down into the cardboard like a treasure. One that he could easily trace with his fingertips.

The boy didn’t think much of this, not that day, not that week. He wanted something to read, and his thin fingers had led him to that bookcase, to those books. He was going to read them. That was all, right then. But that, that moment -- it was the sort of moment that gives one form. “Goodbye, Blue Monday!”

And it was. It really was.
It really gave me a world.
“Goodbye, Blue Monday!”

Tiger got to sleep,

Kurt Vonnegut Jr. died.
The night that the news made itself known, I was sitting at work, watching some kind of Dread Rapscallion do something pronounced in a place that I’ve spent my time, back with someone who has now gone on by. It was pleasant night, that night.
Cool air, quiet rooms.

A nice night to mull things over.
Which was what I had wanted to do; because even on the best days, even on pleasant nights, it’s easy to find oneself lost. I’m certain you know what I mean, my compatriots through the screens. Lost in the constant tumble of everything going everywhichaway, as things just seem to do. It, just, happens. Always.

So on nights like those, what do you do? You sit back, you lean back, you bend back. You crack your back. You crack your fingers. You snap. You think too much.
“Busy, busy, busy.”

And sometimes, sometimes, sometimes…you come across a bit of news that you hadn’t been expecting. Even though it had been a long time coming, even though it wasn’t really that much of a surprise. Even though the news was about a man who had long been dormant, in all the ways that really mattered. All that considered, you -- I -- hadn’t been expecting it.

You snap.

Bird got to land;

I drove home that night, my mind locked on an endless series of other things.

I sped.

I got pulled over, my eyes tearing up a bit as the spotlights in the rearview assaulted my senses, forcing themselves upon me, pushing themselves into focus. The officer in question had know idea who Kurt Vonnegut was, and clearly did not care that he had died. It hurt.

When I explained that little happening to someone far across the US of A, she was flabbergasted that I had been so affected by this. That the death of a man who I had never known, who hadn’t brought himself to the attention of the world in such great while, had had driven itself down deep enough into my neurons to actually alter the course of my life. And my wallet. She scoffed at me, that she did.

And truth be told, she was right for doing so.
“I was a victim of a series of accidents, as are we all.”

Man got to tell himself he understand.

What’s to understand?
A man, a brilliant man, has died. He, just, died. Way of the world. Right?

Right. No foma to confuse us, to make things pleasant by way of liars that have the balls to flat-out say that they’re lying. I can respect that, I really can. But in this moment, the kind of moment where it’s easy to stray from the head’s own path, I have to think clear to keep myself from getting lost. Again.

He was a kind of hero, to me. A man of words, of gentle mirth mixed with sublimely bitter cackles. The kind of man I can respect, even if I don’t always agree with whatever he was trying to say.
I wish to weep, for this passing.

I wonder if I can.
Or, more importantly: if I even should.
As always, “So it goes.”

And so on.