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.