I’ve been stuck on words lately, partly, because of the mercury needle approaching the top floor of numbers, add in a pinch of mad I know I house and because I know I’ll spend some time back home this summer. Bound by streets I can retrace with a whim of memory, cloaked in green, hugging all their secrets closely and the beauty of everything on the inside. 7522 187, might as well be a tumbler code unlocking me to a world that will forever amaze and behold, teach and appreciate, I became a graduate student over time from learnings long ago, alone in the hills, rivers and trees.
Maybe too, because I’ve been reading Maclean at bedtime in what has now become one of my favorite pastimes. Although I’ve never liked my voice, especially stumbling over words I can feel but cannot speak with the cadence it needs. I read aloud with the dog vertical between us and the girl asks me what a certain section is about and then tells me to carry on, in a broken rhythm, wishing I had been better at English and Lit in school, as now it is all I think about other than bikes, a girl and adventures. Without fail, within minutes, she’s snoring and the dog has also long found my voice not worth keeping her up. Then I delve back into a slow, quite space full of music, as I mouth the words and create all I want to see and the author too, methodical twisting of words full of images, stories, painted beautifully by a master in art.
Often he speaks of a knowing when he realized his life became a story, and that at some point he must write his passage of time. I was young, and at times it was tragic, I held a confusion that I harbored and didn’t realize for a long time. Characters took shape, plots thickened, expanded, things became remarkably bright and full of color, there was evil and beauty, and always a boy and a river. We reflect a certain degree of our youths, rarely though, do we mirror it, swim in it, bleed with it and have its currents replace our blood and transcend decades and centuries to fully revel in our paths.
Water has long soothed me, the sound, feel, current and coverage. Power and grace, aged and telling. Chilled and created in the mountains with giant stones and watersheds, it spends it youth forcefully, rushing past its surroundings, falling hundreds of feet rolling softly over buried treasures, gracing banks and shade. Swaying widely and softly towards the sea, giving life by the mile, the young current becomes aged and knowing, carrying tales, boats, dreams, and lines but mostly, always, stories.
We reflect much of a river, young, ambitious, eager to leave a mark, then to roll back and fondly remember all we did, the stories we created, retold to countless others and slowly sway out to the ocean, whichever one you believe in, always though, we wished we could spend more time in the peaceful beauty of where and how we started.
Hydraulic, as stated in a dictionary is
“Denoting, relating to, or operated by a liquid moving in a confined space under pressure. “Hydraulic Fluid.”
I ask then, aren’t we all bound by hydraulics? Liquid moving in a confined space under pressure is our blood circulating in our bodies, the pressure created by lifestyles and efforts. I was young when I first remember hydraulics, it was the first encapsulating thing I felt take over my entire body, a cocoon of safety, powerful and always willing to tell me a story and of course, take mine with it. There was a fear of its strength, of what lurks beneath the pools, what came to feed off its offerings, but there was always beauty, both loud and quite. I’ve never felt more understood than knee deep in a powerful river, feeling the lower chill, the upper warmth, my feet making awkward and balancing movement over ancient stones, sheer faces and shadows of mountains in all directions, granite, pines, greens, blues, moss and sand.
There are a few lines in the Matthew Arnolds “the buried life”
“And then he thinks he knows the hills where his life rose, and the sea where it goes.” This is where I’m from, hopefully someday, these educations will lead to a fuller, brighter and better told story.
I grew up alongside the shoulders of alligators. Men, who worked with their whole bodies, using them like fulcrums and pivots, work days where not defined by hours but by hours of daylight. Packing panels, soil, 2×4’s to 2×12’s, sheets of plywood and drywall, hauling gear across the ocean, labor isn’t an action but a doing.
Calloused hands, calloused shoulders, calloused knees and calloused hearts. Men made of iron and thick skin abrasive but giving. Their hands like sandpaper, cracked and splitting, stern enough to right your wrongs but soft enough to cure any ailment. Lines on their face, scars on their bodies, knowing eyes and impossible ethics. There is nothing in common between people who say the words doing, to those who say done.
I’ve always wanted to tell stories. Stories that are true, but to gain the ability to write them, and write them well you have to see and experience everything. Every cell is tuned to the present, every fiber and optic nerve is awake and heightened. Your ears are packed with noise you can not only hear but see and let it soak in through your skin, you have to be porous and transpire the moments. There is a pain involved with this that not many can bare or at least grasp. There is no false fantasy in the truth, its authenticity is brash, colorful, electric, but mourned with agony of effort, extolled by will, miss understood and romanticized by those who don’t fully get the effort involved nor the depth of character and the audacity that transpires.
It’s not always beautiful but when I get twisted around I remember a passage from Emerson. “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” I feel as though that’s what I’ve been doing and working towards, better than I ever have with this support structure behind me.
Of mice and men, all the places we’ve been. From the palace flop house to the great divide, to oceans swells and a loss and gain, of pride. Lend me your ear and whisper me a kiss, I guarantee you’ve never known a love like this. I grew old along the continental divide, months on a fishing boat, pouring concrete, but I grew wise in love, developed a language for the passion and untied the knots from years ago.
Speckled with grey, lines of maps from heart and effort, times and hardships drawn across my face and body. Pain moves in slabs across me like glaciers receding leaving a scar to always remember them. Hung in gravity, afloat with dreams and ambitions, the yearning and lust send us transmitions of what we want and what we don’t have. Wicked smiles and wicked ways, hands reach out to touch and feel the anatomy of love lingers on a thought, its precipice teeters towards the softness where the heart can go and find the comfort of someone, be engulfed by their arms and bodies, lay with soft touches and tender kisses and rewrite all the wrongs. Lay down your shield and come crash into another soul.
Hands tell us a story about the person their attached to, define a life lived and give truth and credence to the body which they belong and if we’re lucky, they can also write us a story. It should all be mad, madly passionate, loving, knowing and peaceful.
I used to sit and watch and listen to great story tellers, with the laughable grin that they can recall and relive the idiocy of their youth, the moments they got out alive and all their hellish pride. I was curious if they’ve lived all the stories they told, spread across a life and always came back to themselves, and those who loved them. I was envious and wanted to be on my way of having stories, a past, develop my own laughable grin about the fucked up places I’d been. Thinking back on what I’ve done so far, I sat with sheets of empty paper and looked at my hands and thought about where they’ve been and what they’ve done. I’ve always wanted hands that told a story, hands that grab my love, hands that can build anything, hands that can fix anything. Looking at the work they’ve done so far I saw layers of scars, some new some old, fingers and knuckles that are miss shaped bent and broken, their tanned color and sun spots, blood blisters and callouses, grease from bikes and the worn edges from working with wood. Thickened skin on the tips from playing guitars, and that loneliness from not holding someone at night. The pen began to drip ink like blood from a vein, the days slowly twist on to weeks and months, years and decades. I began to write down the ideas, thoughts and paragraphs that get contained in my head.
I was transported back to being a small child on wooden benches, the words filled with a voice that I recognized as my own; it felt like hearing those men talk amongst themselves all those years ago. Laughter and a painful knowing filled the air, remembering desperate situations, understanding love, and love lost. Realizing these friends have become family and my family has become deeper and fuller. My heart aches but it pumps a steady rhythm with new blood in new days and chapters left to write. But damn I’m happy and alive.
My father nearly died in December, I have a hard time seeing my aunt after my cousin had passed, my neighbors son was beat to death for no reason, a relationship ended that I thought never would, a friend took his own life and I have come to understand mine. The ability to chronologically give these days the space and voice they need and to exercise my own, I’m not sure if it’s a gift or a curse of if there even any good. Every day the sun comes up, gives everything light and new beginning to an end. Past lives are like fire flies flying around my head, we all sit around in real time telling each other the places we’ve been. Directions, maps, fairytales, love, faith, dedication and communication everything tells us where we should go, to have the fortitude to follow our passions and live the days that we want.
I hear the echoes of a woman’s voice calling me through the darkness, I can’t see her but I know she’s there waiting. At night I walk out to the cooler air after a couple hours of sleep, feel the breeze pull across my body and try to find a scent of where she’s been, or where is it I’m supposed to go. Dates and times shadows and the gallows our past hangs from the noose. Freed of our mistakes and righted by understanding, we march on. I am not haunted by anything I don’t want to be, there is more to this life and I’ll find it.
Give me a trail with trees on either side, a slip of earth that follows mountains and peaks, and I’ll find my own peace. Exhaling the effort into the quite unknown, surrounded by understanding beauty, comforted by the endeavor, secure in who I am and those I’ve gotten to know. Hear the leaves of an Aspen tree serenade the air, tinted with pine, wild flowers and sunscreen. Look down through the moraines at an alpine lake, and watch the curvature of a river cut through the swath of earth as it rolls to its destination, swaying beyond sight, carrying the stories of everywhere it’s been.
And maybe that’s all I want to be, a wide river carrying the voices that have come along with me, always moving forward, meandering from left to right, from bank to bank. Gaining speed and depth at times, then slowing down to a mellow swagger, covering everyone’s aches, cooling their souls and bringing a smile. I hope everyone finds a voice that calls to them, be comforted my arms that await, and knowing where you’re going and know where you’ve been. I hope you all enjoy the ride, I know I’ve never appreciated anything more.