In Summary

I’ve been everywhere here, across nearly all state lines, dipped my toes in both oceans, and lived sometimes with a rare beauty, but most times with dull obligation.

Someone asked me recently whether it was possible to fall out of love. I don’t really think so. Unless something unfortunate happened to your brain: blunt force, disease, rot, pretty much everything on Forensic Files. Something that wipes away the memories you’ve haphazardly cobbled together. Then, maybe.

In my head, a lot of movies play. Some of them are good, like the time I sat in a park all night. Some of them are bad, like the time I got some news over the telephone. Some of them never happened, like when a love ballooned so big inside me and I grew around it to let it breathe.

To accept someone’s love and to give it back is probably the hardest thing you can do. An athlete might describe it as sprinting your hardest until you have no idea who you are. I’m not an athlete. An accountant might call it something else, and someone else something else and so on. Where was I?

My thoughts are scattered lately, my talents, obsessions, love. I’ve spent too much time on the internet, and I don’t really know where they are, tbqh. They’re most likely down the road, waiting for me in strange darkness. Maybe I’ll find them, but maybe I’ll find something else. Something better, something worse.

The one thing that no one tells you when you’re young is that life is hard and there’s nothing and no one to tell you how to live it: everyone is always figuring it out a day at a time. Maybe they do tell you that, but listening well is not a skill most children have.

Another thing that they don’t tell you is that you can do whatever you want. Like, really whatever you want. That there are consequences to actions is something learned early in the crib, or a kitchen with a hot stove. Most times, something innate prevents you from inflicting self-harm. But that mysterious thing does not trigger for decisions that affect the far future.

Who chose this?

A few things that I have seen today, in no particular order:

  • A bird defecating from a great height
  • An old man holding the door for a young man
  • A few smoking men watching a girl in a tight skirt walk by
  • Steam coming off a cup of soup

Words, strung together, can be affecting if strung in the necessary order. Words on a page, written by a person, can be written there because there is something they are searching for. Maybe, they think, by writing, something will change. An answer to a question, the last piece of a puzzle, etc, etc. Sometimes you just write because it feels like you’re doing something, I guess.

Even from my desk I can see, pretty far away, this old guy kind of sitting/slumping in a chair somewhere. He’s real old, he’s got a lot of wrinkles and he’s wearing suspenders or something, and he’s just sitting there and thinking about his life. He’s clearly me, and he’s thinking about me, the person that he was, I am, in the way that you think about a childhood memory, like holding my friend Eric’s hand as we walked to the fair ground at St. Elizabeth Catholic Church and smiling back at my mother because I had a friend and someone liked being my friend. He’s nodding, I think, and remembering this time in his life and how much changes: that death then seems near, but now that death is near it seems far; that sometimes you really actually fall in love with someone, and how crazy you act when you do it, and how strange it is to do it, but special, and necessary, and painful but good; that everything feels like it matters but nothing really does, but it has to, and you have to make it matter because otherwise what is this; and finally, he’s closing his eyes because when you’re old you get tired, so he’s old and tired, and he thinks he’ll just close his eyes for a minute and dream about something both bitter and sweet.

Water

Before I was born I was water.
I thought of this sitting on a blue
chair surrounded by pink, red, white
hollyhocks in the yard in front
of my green studio. There are conclusions
to be drawn but I can’t do it anymore.
Born man, child man, singing man,
dancing man, loving man, old man,
dying man. This is a round river
and we are her fish who become water.

– Jim Harrison