I think it was the Fourth of July...
Actually it's not quite Memorial Day and I've got one good drunk down for the holiday weekend. Probably another to follow, holiday weekend tradition and all that noise. I got good and liquored up last night with a stranger who said he could make me rich and all I had to do was cut him in on the action. Lowest quotes, best prices and cash down on the bar. No questions asked. All on the up and up... I'm suspicious by nature but after half a dozen cocktails we exchanged cards. So grown up, right? I'll never be able to exchange business cards without feeling like a poseur. Like a kid playing dress up in his dad's suit, all the extra cuffs bunched up around my wrists and ankles... a hat that would slouch down over my eyes if my head wasn't so big to start with. And that's what I've got this morning... a big aching head and suspicion.
The headlines this morning were the body count in Iraq and Afghanistan. More than 4500 dead and over 30,000 wounded, more than half the wounded re-deployed, presumably so they could get themselves good and fucked up if they just tried a little harder. Sorry guys, it's not you really. I feel for you but the whole deal is just so ludicrous. What are we fighting for? Really, I need to know. I suspect it has something to do with exchanged business cards and shady side deals. Undeclared dollars for a war with a fancy name. Operation Enduring Freedom or whatever they're calling it now. Perhaps the economy would be better for all of us if all these men and women could come home and work and make declared dollars. And what do we get here? If diesel prices go any higher we'll all be paying 10 bucks for a head of lettuce. Green that will help clear the shit out at least but this has gotten downright weird. Class war... class war... class war... The Dils... semi-obscure punk band reference... Class war.
So I start the holiday weekend with the appropriate hangover and cynicism. I've spent the last month or so digging through the attic in my head, mining for memories and meaning and something coherent and cohesive for this memoir project. I sent a little bit out to some people I know and the feedback was positive and the criticism valuable. "Show, don't tell," from George. "Don't be apologetic and don't editorialize," from Madame Croissant. Both are very valid points, but I do foresee them as hurdles. What else should I be? All apologies. (apologies to Mr. Cobain, and you see there I go again) I don't want to hurt anybody with this project, but how can the truth really hurt anybody. I'm still afraid of hurting people. And in regards to editorializing, I've got a bad habit of editorializing everything I do... words, gestures, thoughts. It's got to be annoying. But the truth is, you've got to show and not tell. Give the reader the benefit of the doubt that they can figure it out on their own. Don't tell them how to feel or what to think or how things should be. This applies equally to writing and to talking. I editorialize everything... my first cup of coffee and why I enjoy it so much... everything right down to my morning dump. Er... apologies for sharing too much.
An email came this week from one of my best friends from high school and it ended with, "If you'd have asked me back in '81 or '82 I'd have said we would have been in touch all these years." I might have said the same thing too, but it would have been half honest at best. I hit the ground running in '79, fresh out of high school and put as much distance between myself and everything familiar as I could. It cost me a lot of beautiful friendships but it had to be done. I was terrified of being stuck where I was, and more afraid of ending up remaining who I was. Which of course I did anyway. We all do, despite how we might attire ourselves in the interim years. Forgive me if that sounds so absolutist but I do believe that we are who we are, with rare exceptions where people have some epiphany and decide it might not be a bad thing if they stop fucking with people. I am the same person, albeit with a bit more experience, as I was in 1979. And I'm comfortable now with who I am. Relatively so, despite the occasional moment of terror... (insert ominous Jaws music here, because every moment and thought requires a soundtrack)
But now it's time to drag my huge head out and take it on errands. Have to go watch the clothes spin. Then at some point I have to pick up my imprisoned dry cleaning. Word is the shop will open today for people to pick up their things. I don't look forward to walking into the shop where I'll have to look at Linda's family... and despite that there are no words to soothe their grief I will feel compelled to say something. I know it will sound false to me, because I really don't know this language... things people say that might be meaningful or comforting.
It's a beautiful, sunny day and there's a cool breeze coming in from the water. We're just close enough here at the top of the Slope that you can pick up the smell of salt in the air if the wind is coming in from the right direction. So perhaps the park, or the farmers' market. I need to be outside. I woke up this morning feeling like I've been in hibernation. It's time to air these things out... these memories and these thoughts.