Posted by ilbebe on June 10, 2013
Have y’ been paying attention to the numbers? Have y’ been or are y’ becoming aware of the deep meaning that may or may not be residing within them, waiting simply for that moment to be recognized as the important signifiers they are to reveal to Y’; only but JUST what you have been waiting for!
And thus wish to see in them!
This is to say the numbers are there doing only as much as they’ve ever done- numberin’. They’ve gotten pretty good at it.
I didn’t want to talk to my Dad about moving away from Oakland, so I asked my Mom if I could borrow her van to haul what I hadn’t given away back to her house in the dreaded burbs. The moving-out process was a perfectly banal one-man non-waltz; that is, though I expected some great feeling to burst out at some point, the whole sequence of events played out as a singularly good job of putting one foot in front of the other for the first time in months.
I borrowed the van, left it in Oakland for a day while I went to a best friends’ wedding, woke up the morning after and packed it up. The old van has a tape player and a radio, and I laughed as I started it up and “I Can’t Drive 55″ was the first song I heard. I’d expected some astonishingly poignant song to sum up the collapse of emotion I had expected to feel on giving up and moving back home to sort it out. This was but a small example of how much of my fate I’d invested in half-serious expectation of some weird miracle to lay out any sort of path for me to follow once I unpacked the van.
My memory collection had been sufficiently worked over in the moving process. I sold and gave away books, CDs, records, movies, pictures. I threw out old clothes; printouts of old emails; and napkins with children’s drawings on them. I couldn’t bring myself to sort through all the photos, so I packed those up without bothering to try and edit out all the parts of my past I felt would hinder moving past the present impasse I felt towards my future. This was the main goal of throwing out these things that I did throw out- breaking away from what I perceived was the ruinous conduct of my life to date that had led me to throw out a picture of two people given to an ex-girlfriend by her 4 year-old niece, which used to hang next to a picture that same ex-girlfriend had drawn in crayon on the back of a paper placemat from a “Greek” family restaurant in Milwaukee that was the only restaurant I’ve ever smoked a cigarette in. The drawing was of a friendly ghost.
For all the times in my life when I’d heard a good song and it made life recognizably better, and especially the times when I heard the right song at the right time, “I Can’t Drive 55?” Dissapointing; though, whether or not I wanted to admit it, apropo.
Halfway home, y’ go over a set of hills and y’ have to change classic rock stations to keep the sweet classic rock pouring into yr tired mission. The song that slowly crackled in once the switch was made was “Comfortably Numb”. Not amused.
I spent the whole first week in the burbs sleeping a lot, watching baseball, and taking walks after sunset, just as I’d intended to. I had some great dreams, the A’s won 6 of 9 over the stretch, and the walks around town after dark were lonesome but nice. It was a surprise to see how many cockroaches ran over the pavement, and more or less however much the town had changed it was the sleepy, hot burg I had expected. Next to a downtown plaza with a few up-and-coming businesses was an old, dilapidated house that was a meeting point for a good handful of young feral cats. I wanted to think that there might yet be enough mystery in the town to spark the mad desire for mystery in myself that I had been waiting to re-emerge for almost a year.
My ninth day in town, the wind was roaring. Around midnight the clouds rolled in, and a little before one in the morning, the lightning started. I’ve seen lightning in Brentwood maybe five times in twenty years. I started counting Mississippi’s between the lightning and the thunder, the way I used to in New Hampshire. The formula is that for every second between lightning and thunder is how many miles away the lightning is, and when I was young in NH, it was thrilling to realize the lightning was getting closer. If you’ve never had the pleasure, I hope the sensation is not hard to imagine. Repeat: The lightning is getting closer.
My first count was 24 Mississippi’s. 24 miles away- ha. Out Here In The Great Central Valley, There’s Just So Much Goddamn Distance!! But it kept moving closer. The last fifteen minutes the storm was circling around me as I stood in my backyard. Dogs howled and car alarms went off. I smoked a cigarette and felt the first few drops of rain. When the lightning ceased and the rain started in unusual earnest for early June, I walked around in it and felt the germ of this writing grow.
I went back inside, tossed Rain Dogs on the turntable, and started writing.
Will I see myself again tonight?
Well, self, I guess if you really think yr still there, y’ must be.
-2:55AM, home in Brentwood. Bride of Rain Dog.