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Friday, March 7, 2014
Bless his heart, he’s still—unseasoned.
What the hell is “a change in energy,” anyway?
Maybe I’m making too much of the disparity between his youth and my dotage. I tend to become cranky and critical when the young grapple with Ideas of Importance, ignoring my own recollections of having done exactly the same in my own distant past.
I do prefer to think of eternal loss in a grander way. As a cold, cold emptiness. A loss of the soul’s bone density that leaves its skeletal structure brittle.
Still, the callous will say that life goes on, and so it does, and death is with us every moment. For what is each passing moment but a hint of death, a practice for the final showdown between me—and you—and the reaper?
Leaving home is a death. Changing jobs, apologizing for having done something hurtful, losing touch with an old friend, falling out of love. They’re all deaths in their way.
And we go on, haunted by memories and regrets, while the past recedes, indifferent as stone to our acts of contrition.
When I was a small boy in a small Louisiana town, every October we had a harvest fair. For three whole days, main street would dress itself up in garish colors, loud jangly music would blast from makeshift megaphones on poles, and barkers who lived on highways would erect makeshift tents where for a quarter you could win a prize.
The one I always went to, because you couldn’t lose, was the one with the man who had the long tin tub filled with water and with so many little yellow rubber duckies that you couldn’t count them, bobbing along the surface.
You gave him a quarter or a dime (I can’t remember which), and you picked a duck up out of the water. On it’s bottom was written a number, and that number coincided with a prize. See, you never left empty-handed. The prize you won certainly cost him less than a quarter or a dime, but you got a return on your investment and a small-boy thrill.
That’s what I remember, the big picture, and it’s a good memory and a right one to have. But looking back from here, I can see something I never noticed when I was that young and green little boy.
It’s that when you picked your duck up out of the water, the water immediately filled the empty space where the duck had been as though it had never existed in that place before.
A change in energy?
Life goes on.
Friday, February 28, 2014
I didn’t know the song he was singing. I probably wouldn’t have recognized it if he’d been singing it properly.
When I opened the gate, I saw him coming toward me, walking in the downtown direction. His hair was matted. His face dirty. His clothes were tattered like some medieval natural tumbling down a wooded path.
It’s carnival time in New Orleans, and the rail-riding gutter kids are down in force.
They band together to block sidewalks, forcing us servants of conformity to pass their group by stepping out into the street. They ask for anything we might have on our persons, cigarettes, loose-change, that paperback book in your back pocket. They exhibit a sense of nihilism in their dress and behavior.
When did our young lose hope and stop believing in a better world only they could create? Now it seems they band together just for warmth and a semblance of family and to hell with rest of us with our laundered clothes and properties, downcast eyes and resistance to being touched by dirty strangers.
As I returned home with my coffee in a plastic bag, the singer had reversed course and was heading back uptown, following me until I’d reached my gate, then moving on, roaring that unknown song.
Saturday, February 15, 2014
“All right,” I said. “I’ll do it.”
Surely, he’d forget about all about this by the time my next appointment rolled around.
However, he surprised me and said he had a pill he wanted me to take.
I don’t like the idea of pills. I’m old-fashioned. Pills addict you. Especially, diet pills.
“This one won’t. I’ll monitor you.”
“What about my pressure?”
“It’s compatible with the medication you’re already on.”
“There’s no getting out of this, is there?”
So I took his scrip and filled it, and I took the first pill the next morning.
After a few short minutes, my vision began to vibrate, my arms became weak, my mouth went dry as desert sand, and I felt a great desire to scrub down the walls and ceilings in my apartment.
I managed to resist that last temptation, thanks to a rigorous Catholic upbringing, inuring me to sin or, at the least, arming me with the discernment to recognize it when I saw it.
I managed not to eat too much that day or the next. Within a few more days, I had a greater control over my appetite until, by now, it seems to have evaporated altogether.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not starving myself. I know better than that. I’m eating, just not so much.
And the weight is coming off.
Why the hell wouldn’t it?
At this rate, I figure I shall be a thin man, unrecognizable as myself, within a relatively short time.
I also expect to be wrinkled all over my body, looking, at last, my real age.
But I will go on living.
If you call that living.