I woke in the wee hours of the morning in the incredibly comfortable reading chair I have shared with four or five dogs over the past thirty-five years.
Old Me had left again.
We were having such a great time listening to the ancient cassette tapes he had amassed during his heyday and that of magnetic recording mediums. With each new song he’d say oh how this is a great one and then turn up the cobbled-together ’90’s gear until the bass shook the 115-year-old glass in the parlor-turned conservatory; a mesmerizing genuine vintage mix of true Victorian parlor with a Victrola and oak bannister and an oval portrait of great-great Aunt Edna (or is it Edith? I can never remember which sister it was) flocked wallpaper in gold tones, rich contrasting burgundies. Planted between the piano and the fireplace, a lacquered-wood and chrome menagerie of musical instruments from the diminutive ukulele to a full set of drums.
Under his spell he had walked me through the attic between the Christmas decorations and the stored coffee tables and bedframes, astonished at the changes made in his absence and riding the gravy train at this chance at resurrection from the place old selves go when they go. “There was a whole box of tapes… Here it is!”
I picked up the glasses and the ashtray and carried them to the kitchen and found he’d left a note.
A funny twinge struck me, as if I didn’t want to read the meager message jotted on less than a full page of my open journal.
What if it said he was going for good now?
That he could see I was done with all the things of the old skin, and the cassettes and coffee tables and carefully curated family heirlooms were merely clutter to me now, anchors, space-takers, white elephants, hangers-on, wood and plastic barnacles clinging to my bow, canting my course and slowing my speed.
That he guessed all the good that went along with the old skin is attached to old ways and old things as old skins often are, and you can’t teach an old skin new tricks.
Offloading furnishings and compulsively cleaning until all hours and filling every waking minute with more activity than the human body and mind should be able to withstand is the wave of the future and the way of this new skin.
Suddenly I feel a sense of loss.
The setting sun at the top of the cottonwoods and the poor Pewee the cat killed (talk about a zen epiphany) and smell of the wind and the internal knowledge that the last place I can view the sunset at this time of year is by the well cap which you know if you’ve watched the same sun set from the same well cap for going on thirty-six years now are all part of Old Me and I love him.
I didn’t mean to kick Old Me to the curb.
Kind of it was out of my hands in a cosmic existential sort of life thing and I didn’t have a lot of choice or control over the hurricane and could only warn the crew to don their lifejackets as the ship ran aground. I was unconscious for months afterwards, so it’s not like I planned it or anything, and when I came to there was my boat perfectly good but no crew. What else was I to do but hang around the galley and the officers’ lounge and my cabin?
But I digress which I do a lot more often lately. It’s like some magic recording engineer suddenly punches in a solo track in the midst of a peaceful passage of my life and we go with that for a while until it punches out.
And so back to the note Old Me left New Me, or New-er Me I guess I should say at this stage of the aging game, and I lost track of all the other diatribes and digressions that keep bouncing like ping pong balls all around in my head like when Mr. Moose dropped them on Captain Kangaroo.
(I won’t go into the names dissertation: Mr. Moose was a moose and Bunny Rabbit was a bunny rabbit but Captain Kangaroo was certainly not offspring of his namesake any more than Tarzan’s chimpanzee was a cheetah.)
Then after a few more circles like putting wet clothes in the dryer but not starting it or putting laundry and soap in the washer but not starting it or plugging in the vacuum cleaner but not starting it I finally returned my attention (or closer to the truth to say my meandering attention again inadvertently fell)(on/to) the note.
This time I willed myself to pick it up and read it without hesitation.
As soon as I’m done wiping down this kitchen counter and well there are only a few dishes in the sink so I may as well do them and oh would you look at this toilet then oh my goodness I didn’t realize it was two o’clock again and where is that note?
Now I miss his single-mindedness. His dogged and dutiful drag through the drudgery a la Walter Middy and all the while wishing for a New Me never realizing it would be his own death knell.
Where’s that note? It was on the table. Did I move it? Did I throw it away?
Did it ever actually exist in reality?
Oh! Duh! The note is written in this very journal.
I’ll flip back a few pages and be right back.
*************************************** three hours later*****************************************
Time is a ponderous dichotomy of simultaneous wins and losses.
Even as the winning ensues; the love and laughter, joy and wonder; the world turns ceaselessly.
And the potent potential of chance encounters and visitations of beauty and awe vanish like voices on the wind, as another day is lost forever.
So, yeah. I don’t quite know what to make of it. It’s a kinda pretty sort of poetic proverb-like thing I guess.
I think I was hoping for something more direct and personal, you know like “Hey, went for a walk, back in a bit.” or I was really expecting maybe a last goodbye, something like “Gosh we had some good times, eh? Between beers and tears, let’s choose beers next time.”
Or maybe even “Well I guess I know when I’m not wanted when you fall asleep right in front of me and right in the middle of that great song.” or even a simple “Vaya con Dios, mi amigo. Happy Trails.” or I dunno “Goodbye.” or “Drop dead.” even, something I could sink my teeth into or at least understand.
But no. He was always like that. Over-thinking under-educated brainiac maniac. (Is verbose right?)
I get some philosophical tripe about time. You know what?
I have the whole rest of my life so why would I concern myself with time?
What does all that mean anyway?
Just a minute, I need to go shut off the shower…
———————————————–terminal timed out 03:05——————————