My first memories are of reading in front of some neighbors. I was maybe two or three.
All this context was given to me later. What I see in this dim recollection is a coffee table in front of me at near-shoulder level and two older people sitting on a couch smiling at me. I am holding something or looking at something in front of me (on the table?), and reading it.
The legend goes that I started reading when I was two. This was apparently me doing the show for a couple of people, probably in Pratt, KS. And that is it as far as memories go. Beyond that are impressions perhaps–nothing substantial or verifiable.
So I have no memories of being the child of two, well, kids really (both my parents were 22 when I was born), one of whom came from a Catholic family who apparently weren’t too comfortable with their daughter getting knocked up by a Marine without being married. I have no memories of being shunned, apparently, by both sets of grandparents early on–apparently the embarrassment was complete. Who the fuck knows?
What brings this up is a random message from my Dad the other night, recollecting with some venom how alone the three of us were–me, Mom and Dad. My sister came two years later, and had the good fortune I suppose of not being the unannounced guest at her parents’ wedding. See, Mom cut a slender figure as a teenager/young woman. Her wedding pictures show her with a lovely little bump in her sheer wedding dress.
I’m that bump. Pleezter meetcher.
I have wondered vaguely over the past few days why any of this matters to me. It clearly does, cuz here I am tappity tapping. I grew up in a house of discomfort, of hidden tensions. This house was the model upon which my conception of relationships was forged and tempered, and boy is it ugly. No wonder I never spawned offspring.
Guns, blood, shattered glass and reading for the neighbors. My pre-kindergarten memories.
Why do I hang on to this old shit? That’s the real question of the hour. I am 42 years old. The King died at 42 by the way. Anyhoo, I am old enough now to take responsibility for me and my actions. And I do of course without question. I am a grown-ass man after all. But some of my actions sometimes require after-the-fact deconstruction and understanding. Why am I such a petulant twat at times? Why do I want love so badly but push it away when offered? Why do I indulge in all the proven stupidities I do, even after all the trouble and pain it’s caused?
Why can’t I just let go and live, and continue to do so without such navel-gazing? I understand how best to go through life without being brooding or depressive. Figured that one out years ago. Now it’s just reminding myself everyday that dead car batteries and lonely moments and bills and such and all are ephemeral.
What the hell will any of this matter in a hundred years? And why must I remind myself that that is a happy thought? Happiest one of all in fact. Why stress and strain through your life to “make something” when all you will ever make, my friends, is a name etched in granite above your mouldering form? Unless of course you have the good taste and sense to have your body burned and your ashes scattered back to the world.
The point, sez Zen, is that there is no point. We made all this shit up that’s important to us, and that’s all well and good. But when this made-up shit begs to be taken so seriously you give yourself a heart attack, something has gone hilariously wrong.
Maybe you got something out of this interlude, maybe not. In any case, I thank you for coming this far with me. Write it out. Better than trying to drink it away.
I love you too.