Category : Uncategorized

Harm’s Way

When I was a kid there was little crime in my small hometown. Houses and cars were left unlocked, bikes unchained. Children as young as five (even younger) roamed neighborhoods unchaperoned. Older kids built hideouts in the woods, hiked along railroad tracks, swam in the river. Beer was accessible to teenagers, but drugs were for sick people. We had a sheriff but he had no police force. If anything serious happened, the state police had to be called. They were rarely called upon as everyday misdeeds weren’t reported or even spoken of: men who assaulted wives and children, teens that raped girlfriends or sisters, petty thieves (dealt with by family or victim), and brawlers. Drunk drivers, when caught, were driven home by the sheriff.
Mining accidents and disasters occurred. Occasionally an abandoned mine collapsed and swallowed a house. These were considered acts of nature even though nefarious men and corporations created the illegal conditions for these events. Residents wouldn’t dare provoke these companies and risk job loss or, worse, the company’s departure. But they left anyway—when it was no longer profitable for them to remain operational. Workers went “on relief” and awaited the not-so-distant future when frackers would cause even more lethal damage, and meth-amphedimine would plague the hills.
Every once in a while, a hunter would find a human leg or head in the woody mountains. These were presumably strangers as any missing resident would be noted, missed, and discussed. Perpetrators were never found.
Still, we weren’t afraid. The bucolic setting, starry night skies, and day-to-day reliability of experience established the conviction of safety in those days.
I was uneasy with the ersatz tranquility of my childhood, unable to accept the pace. I was bad at interpreting societal cues, and fighting a longing I didn’t understand. Despite deep connections to small towns, country life, and especially those starry nights (which you only get in the Planetarium here), I somehow feel more secure in the city. I’m not comforted by stillness and nature. I accept city rules; relish the embrace of tumult, the swirl of ideas, the Possibility that inhabits risk.

Flying Haute

My daughter gives me a Vogue magazine to read on the plane ride home. I peruse the stories about socialites and designers, trendy restaurants and travel destinations, film stars and their charities, exorbitantly expensive creams and treatments for the skin; about giving up a Greenwich Village duplex (!!!) for a Tudor “farmhouse” in the Berkshires festooned (my word) with an “eclectic display of artwork;” about finding solace after the death of a parent in the ancient art of falconry.
. . .

On vacation…

We’re sitting on the beach watching a storm come in. Before me is a dark cloud that looks like a disheveled shark, it’s fin slowly disintegrating. P would say it’s a message. I don’t like the implication at first but I continue to think about it. Maybe I should accept the concept since I’m surely not the shark. If all the “sharks” are disintegrating, so be it. The world will be a better place, won’t it?

What’s ominous, is the storm coming in over the ocean, lightning with no thunder and thunder with no lightning, their timing totally off. The cloud dumps it’s load of rain out at sea and the ocean protests with undertow.
But I like storms, and dislike the beach in the bright sun–sweat and lotion attracting sand and the sticky roughness of it, the itchiness, the threat of sunburn.

And you can’t read.

So sitting here watching the storm come in suits me. I like the salt water, the healing sting of it.

And waves…

Tomorrow we’ll be back in the city where the grit that sticks to you carries sinister microbes. Where there are are no shark clouds or time for daydreaming. Where there are no illusions or, the illusions that prevail are so clogged with grit, that they’re no longer illusions but ways of life.

In the world beyond the beach, planes fall out of the sky, people sicken and die, fortunes are made and lost. There is war.

The black cloud is directly overhead though it hasn’t spit rain yet. The lightning is still far out to sea and there’s only an occasional rumble of thunder to remind us…

We’re helpless. We can take shelter but we can’t avoid the storm.