It started raining after midnight. A late season storm. It was dark and the sidewalk was flooded, the puddles went up to my ankles. The water washed over the street like a stream, collecting into various pools the tires of my car splashed through as I made my way carefully over Laurel Canyon and into the Valley. I listened to my Ipod on shuffle, but skipped songs until I found one I liked, a sort of predetermined chaos I tend to enjoy.
Is the Spanish word for eyes ojos? I’m not sure…
Between your voice and my ear is a gulf each word narrows. The interstices of understanding. Some words I just can’t say, but have to whisper.
As I approached Ventura Blvd. there was a shopping cart in the road and I almost ran straight into it, coming to a hydroplaning stop just in time. I drove around it and proceeded cautiously, feeling guilty for not getting out of my car and moving it out of the road as I watched cars behind me come to sudden stops as well. How many drivers will just avoid it, like me, without doing the decent thing and removing it from the road? It’s dark, and wet, and this obstacle could easily cause an accident. I thought of someone panicking, swerving and either skidding out of control or crashing into another car, as I continued on towards the freeway, making no move to backtrack to the shopping cart. The dissolution of responsibility.
A song comes up in the shuffle that reminds me of living in Boston, makes me think of fallen leaves on old cobblestone streets. This memory, the storm, the shopping cart, life’s relentless push towards adulthood and on towards death put me in a gloomy mood as my headlights peeled back the darkness and cut through the falling sheets of rain. I have a rapacious morbidity that translates to angst-riddled poetry and silvery solitary reflection.
If the moon were really my friend it wouldn’t disappear in the day, when bills arrive in my mailbox and traffic backs up on Wilshire Boulevard. The moon should remain strident, even when the sun is in its throne, if it truly were my friend.
Some folks are artists, some people just live a life of artistry. Then there’s me, dreaming of a white cottage by the sea. Do you know how fast your heart beats when bats light down through the trees, skimming the creek for minnows? Do you jolt awake when deer come up to your fence and peer into your bedroom window?
Turtles and frogs and slippery things…
When I was young I used to dream of how I’d be at 34: an author, a lover, a man of the world… I have a ways to go still, miles and miles. My passport is barren and my novel is half-written. I keep getting sidetracked by marathons and taking photographs of bats. My hero has a tendency to meander in and out of meaning. He stumbles into a scene, belligerent, yelling about Dostoevsky and the devil, about evaporating lakes and the girl he met on the subway. He picks flowers and cries at decapitated stems. My hero needs a mentor, needs an author to make him real.
When you grow up in California what is there left to dream of?
On the way back over Laurel Canyon I scanned the other side of the road for the shopping cart. I couldn’t find it. My eyes either couldn’t spot it in the dark, or someone had moved it, or someone smacked it with the front of their car. Maybe it was just an apparition to begin with. Who knows? Maybe I’ll write a short story tittled ‘The Ghostly Shopping Cart”. I’ve been meaning to write a modern fairy tale but I’m no Hans Christian Anderson. I’m just a guy who looks at the world with wanderlusty aplomb. It translates into simple, declarative sentiments fitting on coins thrown into wishing wells. ‘I want to love like my heart’s a NASCAR engine.’ That’s actually more like a modern country song.
No matter if I’ve been drinking or not 2am always brings out the dirges. Tom Waits on the jukebox. Melancholy strikes the heart and church steeples cast cold shadows upon the street. I could flip the hands back on my Mickey Mouse watch and do the night all over again, but you can’t stop time. You can stick a fence post in the ground but the Earth will spin it around. I go to sleep alone, my mind a Faberge egg ready to break.
Your body and my body are synchronized like Iphone applications. You are my greatest Facebook Status Update. I want your DNA for my own.
Remember when people used to take baths? Remember when people wrote long letters to loved ones overseas? Remember when you used to travel to the arcade to play video games? Time is a carousel and I’m the porcelain horse on a pole going up and down.
I have boxes of pictures from when I was young. My sisters and I at Halloween. Me with a plastic baseball bat and tiny green shorts. My grandmother, now deceased, watching me blow out six candles on a chocolate birthday cake. The world moves in spastic spurts. Love is a languid soak in hot springs. I close my eyes and helium fills my heart. Red wine is on your lips. I drink from it and disappear into the ether. I float away and turn towards the Earth. We’re all itty-bitty ants. That’s why my voice is so soft.
Tonight the world is wet and dark. Tonight I want to light a torch and set the swamp on fire. The frogs will survive, the turtles will dive underwater. You’ll see the flames from miles away and come on home.
See the rain. See my voice. They fall down together.