Monday, August 14, 2006

Nostalgia, life, and time

First, a poem that I had completely fogotten, and don't recall having written, but whose handwritten form and style is unmistakably mine (undated, but likely from around 1995).
Birth and Old Age
No,
not like the old lady
at a hundred and three,
who stands on her porch,
and smiles...
through the gape in her teeth,
and cackles ...
as only old lades,
at a hundred and three,
can cackle,
at a stranger passing by,
unsuspecting,
on the walk that fronts her house for the past eighty years,
and says,
with as much a glint
as the eye of an old lady,
at a hundred and three,
can manage to glint,
"You know? Today I am a hundred and three,"
as much to herself,
as to the passerby,
as much of disbelief as belief,
as much to the wood paneling
of her walls for the past eighty years,
as to anything alive,
and falls off silent,
nothing much more to say ...
than that.

No,
not like her.

No,
when I am old,
and I shall stand on my porch,
and glint,
and smile,
and gape,
at a passerby,
unsuspecting of my life
or my intent,
I shall say,
"You know? Today I am a day old,
This is the day I am born!"
My wonderful wife reminded me over the weekend of the full form of the motto we once recited together, the latter half of which I've mentioned here before: Live each day as if it were your first, with the wide-open wondering eyes of a child.

I was cleaning up this weekend. There is a box, in a back hallway, that has been sitting since we moved in, more than a year ago, gathering dust, the top half opened, awaiting my attentions. On top, were oversized x-rays of the progress of my father's invasive bone metasteses from the prostate cancer that slowly killed him, over three excruciating years. I finally put them, gently, into the waste bin. What am I to do with them now?

Underneath, was a box full of papers, writings, essays, letters, poems. I began sorting through them, tossing only but a tiny portion of pages, random notes which have lost their meaning. I spent a good long time rereading letters sent to and received from lovers past. I smiled at it all. The love was true, even if the pain that accompanied those relationships was as well. They formed me as much as any school I attended, or job I held. They are a part of my life. It is good to remember.

And I smiled at my life today as well. I saw in my scribblings from years ago, a desire to be happily settled in a relationship, to have children. Those were goals I had held from my earliest memory. And, I am there on both counts. 38 years is not so old, and yet it is a long time to have gathered experiences and memories. There are so many lives there. Sad, reading over letters received and postcards, there are so many "close friends" whom I have entirely forgotten, unable to draw forth an image of their faces, unable to hear their voices in my head. I read their words, and wonder what ever happened. Why have I forgotten them? Why did I let our friendship fade? Except of course the lovers, whom I recall in vivid detail, despite the time that has passed. I can almost smell them, feel their skin, touch their hair, hear their laughter.

There is something cleansing about reading over an over "I love you" written by different hands. It is validating of its own truth, though past. I do not long for those days, but I am happy I had them, that I was able to share them, to experience them. There is pain in the passions of a teenager and a twenty-something. But there is also glory and wonder. At least for me there was. It is good to remember.
___________

So now we wait. My wife received a voice mail from Rocket Central on Friday, but was unable to reach them after lunch. She should speak to them today. She and I talked and talked, and walked on the beach, and had dinner, and made love, and talked more about today and tomorrow and the next few years, and life, and careers, and family.

Whatever the next few weeks bring should have a major impact on what we do over the next year or two or three. We may choose to stay here, holding out for yet one more season. We'll set our exit strategy in place. We are not stuck. The wheel is firmly in our hands, even if we let loose the sails a bit, to see which way the winds will turn our vessel. The heading is ours to decide, ours to recover if the wind's choice is not to our liking.

2 comments:

Greg said...

Definitely, with the two of you in sync, you can ride this out and find options that work for both of you.

Lilian said...

Lovely poem. It's always good - if sad - to remember the past.

I'm sure whatever comes will work out for you and your family...