If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you might remember the posts Daydream, To go Away, The Remove, The Stuff of Life and…maybe not. I suppose it doesn’t matter, either you’ve read them or you haven’t, either you know me or you don’t, and that probably doesn’t matter either. Run, run, run away….
Life is moving hard and fast in the direction of great change. I am on the brink of leaving what I have known for ten and twenty years and starting all over again somewhere else, returning to a slightly familiar place where I will no longer be a visitor and returning to an occupation that I have once loved and hope to fully embrace again. I will not be a novice this time around, but things will be so different and in such a different place that my experience will only be a foundation for new learning.
The excitement of the past few weeks and the anticipation they held have been tucked under the emotional costs that I will soon pay for making the change. Rather, the excitement has been tucked under the “realization” or “coming to fullness” in acknowledging that cost, naming the faces that I will be leaving behind for good. Yes, I will be leaving my spouse and children for a time, but I will see them at intervals over the next few months, and the expectation is only that we’ll be separated for six months at most…but given the realities of life as I leave a part of it behind me and the circuits in which the loved ones travel, there is a strong likelihood that the six months will become only three or four and we will be joined again in our family fullness. The others, though, the friends and co-workers who have become special over the past years will likely be left behind in those worlds of our collective past where we existed together. Sure, we’ll see each other on Facebook and in occasional or seasonal emails and cards, but the truth and reality of life will probably dictate that we are going to exist more as memories than participants in our continuing lives. That is what the past tells me, anyway, those other laps around the proverbial block.
A week or so ago I went to dinner with two old and dear friends from a previous time in my life. The occasion for the dinner was to have one last get-together before I launched out into that other city and state that will likely be my home until I am no more. We had a nice couple of hours together, eating chips and enchiladas and drinking beer while we shared new stories from our lives since we parted and recounted memories from our time together. And when the evening was done and we all drove away in our different directions to our separate sides of town, it struck me that we had already parted. We had already made that divide of hearts and emotions and this new parting wasn’t sad, which at first struck me as sad in itself, but then just left me feeling a little empty somehow, like maybe anticlimactic, or post-climactic, if that’s an appropriate word. In truth, I guess that’s what it was. We had already parted; we had really already said goodbye. We had shed our tears eleven years earlier when I had first left them in our common workplace and had gone on to my new one. Even though we met probably half a dozen times or more in these past years, the hurt of the leaving had already been felt, we have already mourned; it’s done already…and it’s time for that whole experience to happen again with another group of people…another group of friends. We are cutting the cords, the ties that have bound us to each other for these past and passing years. I suppose I am cutting the cords and ties. It is my action, again, that is doing this, and then goodbye…. You have peopled my world, tugged on my heart, and will now live on in my memories and occasional contacts. I miss you already.
In that solitude there will be quiet and pain and the tinkling of only one spoon in the cup, one plate on the table, and only one head on the pillow. Shared voices will be found only on the telephone or in the crisp letters that travel through space and time and appear on a computer screen in an email at home and back and on the tiny text page of the phone. The nuances of expression will be gone and nobody else will wake with my stirring. The sounds of breathing will be my own and the thoughts abounding will all sound familiar.
And I am here and finally and up in the great northern place to which I have been yearning for all these months and weeks and days. I found myself here yesterday afternoon after only four hours’ sleep and about ten hours driving and the wind was blowing and the sky clouded with the salt plumes from the northern part of the landed city. I was hungry and tired and actually worn-out with what I had just done and I wondered what the hell I had actually done. I wondered if things were a mistake and I hadn’t even started the adventure. I’ll correct that…I have begun the adventure, as I have left family and friends and have stepped into the great and wide unknown that is up Here.
The wind has ceased in its craziness and is now just a strong breeze. The morning was quite chilly as I waited for the guy to arrive and connect the cable and internet services. I had the door open in waiting for him, along with the windows to create a cross-breeze that would do better at cooling the apartment than the central air-conditioning. And the day is now in its winding-down stages, coming to an end with only the evening remaining. My “house” is now as furnished as it needs to be to sustain me for these months, minus a chair-side table to hold my drink or remote, but otherwise, operational and looking something like a home, as it is known in the common sense.
I am feeling further out of sorts in my new surroundings. “Discombobulated” is a good word, I think. I know where I am, know why I am here, know where everyone else in my family is, and know when they will be joining me, but even with the familiar things in my little apartment home, the great outside is so different, the apartment is different, there are no pets, no kids, no wife, no backyard and no pool, and no police radio echoing in the background of my mind as I sit here in my late Sunday afternoon. I am feeling disjointed and un-centered…out of whack, out of sorts, half a bubble off plumb (in my life orientation, not my sanity), and maybe even like a ship without a rudder. I think that might speak to more serious problems than I really have going for me at the time, but it almost fits. I feel off. My bride told me that I should go for a drive or a hike to remind myself of the wonderful things that are here for me despite the aloneness I mentioned to her when we wrote each other earlier. So I did that…I went for a drive…down to Smith’s…where I had been so off kilter earlier that I left part of my groceries and other items there when I walked out of the store. I kept going, afterward, of course…drove southward down State Avenue to its end…some two or three towns south of my current home…my home away from home, my new home in transition from my old home…the home that I will call mine until my family gets up here in a few or several months…and then.
And later…I am in that strange and other place now and have left behind those I love and hold dear in different ways. It is a strange place and kind to my previous desert-dwelling soul, with morning kisses of chilly and promising breezes. My new home is only temporary, but it is and shall be my lodging and launching point as I head out into the wild beyond that shall nourish and sustain me until loved ones arrive in their time. There are familiar things here in this new and quiet place: my chair and music and pots and pans, the loving faces on the wall that have followed me and smile into my eyes as they will.
The quiet here is familiar, yet new and thick; there are no voices in the place, no cats to meow; only my thoughts populate these several walls. I should allow here that there are now voices and sounds, however, but they belong to people I haven’t met or seen; they only walk past my opened windows and talk as they get into the vehicles with the slamming doors and drive away to places I don’t know. The footsteps and sounds of a bath above me are from strangers, too. They are not of my children or kin and they exist as sounds only in this new world of my making.
Tomorrow will dawn and direct and urge me into another familiar unknown place and occupation. It will present new strangers to me and introduce new worlds that are waiting to be born. Time in its marching, plodding, and shuffling-along will open other doors, reveal new or different pathways, and bring experiences and lessons and stories of different shapes and hues.
Yes, I spoke of you when the scratching of pen and the tapping of keys were my voice. I called on our histories and the unborn worlds that became ours when we became what we did in the friendships of our time, the friendships of our time in the workaday part of our lives, the part of our singular and collective existences that formed when we joined in that common purpose of answering the call and sending help as we did and then.
I did speak of you as I recalled the image of you standing on the flight deck of your floating city and felt the peace of your First-Mover in the Pacific sunset, as I recounted the shaded and glimmering crystals sent from that wayfaring soul to your shared and beloved tree-hugging figure-skater, my noble mariner friend with a heart reaching ever outward from your chosen desert home toward that “known region where nature’s god kisses and nurtures its inhabitants with a clean respect and calmness and ease of simpler life amid the beauty that consoles an aching heart.” I spoke of you when I shared those thoughts of hope and dreams and inspiration and risk and the cost of pursuing those things that rile and soothe the heart and soul, when I weighed the future against the present and sought determination and resolve, those words echoed in my mind about seeking the success in those things, for nobody sets out on a venture to fail, you said, they strive and make things happen in as much as they are able. Thank you, my friend. I spoke of you….
I spoke of you, too, who guided me in my learning, and told me to just say “10-4” when six-thirty-four-king told me that he was “ten-seventeen to six-hundred for one-oh-five with a ten-forty-two and had ten-thirty-one to complete before going ten-seven…” or something like that. “Roll Fire,” you said, “Do this, do that, stop thinking about what they said and just repeat it before I hit you with this parrot. Check your messages, answer the phone, type and talk and don’t say that number again or I’ll smack you, you know I will, and yes, you heard him correctly, clear for his sergeant like he asked, get a dog and the air-craft and send a message to the Radio supervisor and quit thinking, you do fine when you just do….” And, god, did I ever tell you “thank you?” Did I ever thank you for your mentoring that allowed me to achieve and advance and reflect again on life and responsibility and accountability for self and others? Did I ever tell you how you were there for me in the dark night of my soul, those rough days and long weeks of wondering and how? Thank you, dear friend, from my beating heart to yours.
We were and are members of a menagerie of faces and eyes and paths walked together and then, as we sat for hours and became part of each other’s existences, our forevers. Our friendship spilled-over one day, yours and mine, in the sharing of words, the sharing of a sentiment from an unexpected source. I looked at you in your hazel eyes and wondered at the depth of your question on that August day, those months and months after the changing of courses in your life and mine and others, too, our babies in a same and similar place with one left behind…and I wondered at the depth of your question, I did, when you said, “But how are You?” I was touched then as I am now, again. That was the drop that pushed this over. That was the day that I looked at you anew. Please thank your mom, again, my friend, for those Christmas cookies…and cheesecake…and you. Yes, I spoke of you.
And you, too, with the blueberry muffins on a Saturday morning in a frightening time where peace was found in words and phrases and reflections and then, I spoke of you.
I saw the end of a particular time drawing nigh and wondered why, in this passing life, that our various paths didn’t cross and intertwine outside of our workplace, why life was so busy and busy and we remained contextual friends. We never walked the back-nine together, never had that soda together on a Thursday afternoon that was the only afternoon in our uncommon weekend days, never traded mock and practiced blows in a dojo on your side of town, or met for coffee or pasta at your favorite north-side café…we never herded our collective mass of kids to a playground or park and watched the birds dart and dive in the light of the waning sun, never sat in our favorite bookstore over a cup of Joe, and never took the city’s train together to the museum or ballpark or…we remained as we were in the confines of our own gothic and cinder-blocked fortress of a workplace and laughed as we would laugh, poked fun and commiserated, and mourned our collective and individual losses that mounted in the passing years. There were rare hugs and frequent jabs, smiling barbs hurled with gentle hands and eyes that earnestly watched to make sure they weren’t too rough.
And time has passed as it does and will and we come to these moments that are fewer in number and falling down…and what didn’t happen didn’t and won’t, and distance will grow between us and our laughter will resound in our memories only, and sometimes they will be cut short by tightened throats and misty eyes and we will wonder at ourselves and each other and the falling sand. We will wonder how we might cherish the remaining moments so they will be sweeter in their detail in the tomorrow of our tomorrows where they will linger like a sweet perfume that is heady and strong in the first reckoning and then fails with the continued ticking of the clock…like a passion, hard and urgent, that wanes with a changing thought or an unexpected breeze.
I spoke of you, my preacher friend, when I wondered at the purpose of friendship, when I marveled at your tender father-soul and felt my own heart breaking in vicarious love for your grown baby who is fleeing in time with the clock’s wind, up and away from you. I cheered and cried for you and your quivering chin when you thought nobody was watching, and I relished in the magic of words and inspiration. I spoke of you when I understood that we are friends only because we are, and our spirits are made deeper by that connection and then, by that fibrous reaching across time and space and experience and lived lives and we are not so different and we are…as your gentle heart chastens and encourages me.
And I spoke of you on that November Sunday morning when “I was just sitting there reading something on the computer or studying the board to make the proper chess move and a friend walked in and gave me a Bavarian crème donut…and the smell was rich and beyond my morning grasp of words…rich sugary and warm with chocolate icing and then…wrapped in waxed paper and held with simple paper towels from the work kitchen dispenser…and it was so simple…so real…an emotion and a donut.” Those other moments we shared in heated conversation about things being right and not, about how contradictions flow with an inordinate ease in bureaucracies of might, and how one person gets something that another person can’t get and we have to be careful in our caring and our pressing that might go too far and your gentle innocence and quaking heart compelled me in new directions, caused different words to be uttered up a chain and out into the ether where they were wasted and gone and consoled nobody…and I tried…and spoke of you on a Sunday morning.
I spoke of you when sparked and fiery brands fell from the covered sky onto your tormented soul and the barbs sunk deep and your misery was wrought in twisted words from angered minds. My heart stumbled in memories of vermillion pathways and sought solace and strength in those hedges and byways. I spoke of you when I uttered that “Visible or imagined circumstances are mated with ill-conceived thoughts and a new ‘truth’ is born. It breathes with a life of its own, spread and passed-along as righteousness…contextual and circumstantial truths that reek in filth and deception until they are discovered and ripped apart with the knife of examination, eviscerated under the light of explanation and detail…but the damage is still done, the seed was planted and doubt has grown, sprouted and is thriving in another life with its germinal droppings carried by the wind of conversation and whispered in hushed tones of ‘Have you heard?’” So, I thought of you when I found the regal words from an uncivil time about how we forget the words of our enemies and remember the silence of our friends…so I spoke for you. And I wonder what glorious shades and rainbow hues will show forth on your wings as they unfurl from your chrysalis-like hideaway? What new spirit lives with resolve and unconcern for those dropping barbs and stumbling blocks of chatter and sway?
And now I speak of you, of one and all, named here or not, and reflect upon our unchangeable past and unknown futures, the beating of our hearts that separate and move in different directions now that things are done. I embrace you in my heart of hearts and thank you for enabling all of those other worlds to be born in mine, those multiple universes of thought and emotion that only came with your bidding, that only came with your bringing them to exist within me and the lives that we have shared. These words are few, yet weighted with a love and emotion that knows no name other than “friendship,” and I thank you for who and what you’ve been to me in our times passed and passing.
Time to kill…time to spend, actually…nourishment for the soul…eye candy for nature lovers….
I was going to drive all the way to Park City after finding my apartment today, but didn’t like the idea of taking the rental car the rest of the way on the dirt road along the edge of the mountain…so I stopped and took some pictures instead.
This is where you’ll find me….
Remember the road less traveled…?
And the bridge to your future…?
I have found my bridge….
What’s in your back-yard?
“Goodbye brothers! You were a good crowd. As good a crowd as ever fisted with wild cries the beating canvas with a heavy foresail; or tossing aloft, invisible in the night, gave back yell for yell to a westerly gale.” – Joseph Conrad
“Here lies my past. Goodbye I have kissed it; Thank you kids. I wouldn’t have missed it.” – Ogden Nash
“No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each other’s worth.” – Robert Southey
“Can miles truly separate you from friends…. If you want to be with someone you love, aren’t you already there? – Richard Bach
“Not to understand a treasure’s worth till time has stole away the slightest good, is cause of half the poverty we feel, and makes the world the wilderness it is.” – William Cowper
“Only in the agony of parting do we look into the depths of love.” – George Eliot
“The reason it hurts so much to separate is because our souls are connected.” – Nicholas Sparks
“You and I will meet again – when we’re least expecting it – one day in some far off place – I will recognize your face – I can’t say goodbye my friend – for you and I will meet again.” – Tom Petty
“Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for a while, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same.” – Flavia Weedn
“As contraries are known by contraries, so is the delight of presence best known by the torments of absence.” – Alcibiades
“Absence diminishes little passions and increases great ones, as the wind extinguishes candles and fans a fire.” – Francois Duc de la Rochefoucauld
“Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.” – Kahlil Gibran
“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” – Theodor Seuss Geisel
“Sweet is the memory of distant friends! Like the mellow rays of the parting sun, it falls tenderly, yet sadly, on the heart.” – Washington Irving
“If I had a single flower for every time I think of you, I could walk forever in my garden.” – Claudia Ghandi
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard to do.” – Carol Sobieski & Thomas Meehan
That most precious friend of mine said that she felt like she was a centipede…like some little shit of a kid had captured her and was slowly pulling her legs off, one at a time.
Her life was crazy and she was being pulled a hundred different ways and her sanity and resolve were leaking out of the hundred little holes in her life. Work pulled and sucked the life from her soul on so many fronts that it was almost like fighting that mythological serpent, Hydra – she takes care of one project or chore and another five or six rear their ugly heads and demand that much more of her.
Family life is great, but also draining, consuming, and pulling her this way and that and running her hither and yon…and it is only going to get worse or more complicated in the next several weeks and months to come. This child needs this, another child needs that, and yet another child or two needs yet other things and it feels like the well is going to run dry.
Is there really a limit to how much we can care or love or do or control or provide or accomplish or resolve or fix or…? Does a heart have limits? There is probably a breaking point somewhere, but it’s probably not too defined…and if it were to be defined, the one defining it would have to allow for all the mitigating circumstances or conditions that would effect that breaking point and redefine it, or readjust it, or move it further down the timeline…or closer.
I suppose in attempting to handle the Hydra that is our lives, we can attempt to prioritize the demands and handle them in order of importance, or even in respect or regard to whether or not there is even anything that can be done about them…whatever they are. Yes, there is probably that breaking point out there somewhere, but there’s also a point or a place in which you have to let go of some of the things that are bothering or consuming you…the things that you really can’t control. Sometimes you have to prepare as best as you can and then go with the flow; ride the waves and try to steer yourself when you can…and just hang on when you can’t.
From a couple months ago….
Another marker of time has passed; another milestone achieved; this one was known and anticipated, looked-for and then, but some have come and gone without our noticing. Some have become significant only upon reflection as passed and past, things that caused us to say “Oh, yeah…that was the last time I….” They weren’t esteemed as significant in their moment, their instant of being what they were; they became so only afterward – when they were a nuance, maybe, a wrinkle in our memories, appreciated only in retrospect, not in substance, not in the rich essence of being what they were.
Today was the last day of second-grade for my last child; the last day that he could be included in that group of kids deemed as “K-2” on some papers, flyers, agendas, or other forms of organized little people collectives. Today was another irretrievably fallen grain of sand in the hour-glass of my little one’s life.
Is this significant? Is this day really that big of a deal? Is it worth the recognition that I’ve given it here? Does it really matter? I don’t know. I don’t remember the last day of second grade for my other five children who had a last day of second-grade in their particular lifetimes…and while I can’t guarantee that I will remember this day as significant several years from now, I am noting it as significant today. It is a celebration, a particular and specific something in my last little one’s life.