Monday, September 23, 2019

An Epilogue

In those days inhabiting my father's shadow on the west side of my hometown there was a flickering, not a full blown recognition but a knowing deep down that this would be it. That this would be the goodbye to the city i was born in, that after many years of calling it home, knowing it would always be home, that it would be home no more. The fact was i hadn't lived there in many moons, the fact was that my home was somewhere else now but we humans need some form of closure and if we don't get it there festers a wound that gnaws and burns and bothers until we can somehow get the medicine we need. And so in the days that turned into weeks of me occupying my father's apartment it was there. A melancholy and a joy of knowing that this was going to be goodbye and that it was the right time and the right place for that goodbye. The person i loved most in this city, the person that tied me to the place, would soon be gone, there was nothing that was going to stop the inevitable and while i drove through streets that had formed and shaped the young kid who would become a man i no longer chased the ghosts but bid them farewell, i blew kisses and embraced them as i watched them sink into the sediment.

I grew up with a wind off the lake, sometimes icy and cold, sometimes warm and suffocating. Moving south and east i spent the next few decades between two rivers that flowed into one, the one named after my home state. The Rust Belt is stuck in the loops of some beaten and battered work pants, i spent the early years in my adopted city running the hoods between the Allegheny and the Mon, now just south of it all i pass the point where the three rivers meet, and though i've grown fond of those rivers i often still yearn for that lake. I miss the sound of those freshwater waves and a horizon that fades into blue waters.

The final gift my father gave me was four weeks. A strange gift i know but it was a gift of immense importance to his often wayward son. It was more than secrets revealed and questions answered. It was a chance to inhabit a world so familiar but grown so foreign. A chance to walk streets, a chance to sit on a beaten and broken down leather couch, to climb the creaking wooden steps and study the chipped grey paint. And it was more than that. It was things and thoughts and feelings that our simple and childlike language cannot yet define, cannot not yet explain or describe. What is blue sky to the blind man? what is water to the fish? there are things that just are to each and every one of us and to each and every one of us they belong, they are the same and they are not but they are ours and i would cite my fellow Ohioan Robert Pollard and describe them as the things that i will keep. Not things or possessions but things possessed, some might say cherished, intangible things that could never be held for to hold them would be to have them slip from our grasps, physical, metaphysical or otherwise.

Looking into a mirror i see a young man's face grown older, there are lines and less hair and glasses to help him read the fine print he could once read in the dark. Humans love patterns and in those weeks there were the seeds of a life planted to temporarily take the place of a tree that was dying, there were days and nights spent wandering and driving, composing love letters to the places grown old or wiped away, to girls who were now women who had moved away or never left, raising kids or chasing careers, we me them, the fading Polaroids left in a box in a damp and dank West Side basement, you can't put your arms around a memory is what Johnny Thunders said and it's probably best that we can't, it serves no purpose but those weeks of watching the chapters fade and blur encapsulated a beauty, like standing near that lake in the pitch dark night and hearing the water and the wind knowing it's there in the invisible darkness and understanding how fleeting it all is and how once you leave you'll never see that place again, a place filled with people and sights and sounds and smells, like the noise and air on a spring night walking Madison Ave, and as you close that book filled with those pictures found in that basement there will be a sigh and a sly smile that you'll never see it or them again and that it is okay because you have and there is nothing left to give or take except the beauty and the love of those things we will keep, those things we can't define nor should we try.

1 comment:

daisyfae said...

Closure. Such an over-rated concept, but it gets all that press for a reason. We do crave it, and i've found that if i can't come by it naturally, i will work something around in my brain and convince myself that i'm good with it...

i don't go back to the city of my birth much since mom died. it's no longer home, even though i lived there for the formative first 18. Mom was old and sick long enough that i had time (and my blog) to bash through it all. i'm good with it, and no longer consider it home. i have no compelling need to go back, other than for a festival, or a good craft beer at the latest brewery.

"The Rust Belt is stuck in the loops of some beaten and battered work pants" - that, my friend, is serious fucking poetry. Nicely done.