whether it's New York or New Year. - Nick Lowe
The road stretched, cracks and crumbles.
It all falls apart and underneath,
exposes fresh earth made
for fresh feet to traverse
and for new eyes to spy
golden valleys and endless skyways. - Cincinnati Day Book
I turn 40 tomorrow. And while it's considered insignificant by some to even pay attention to birthdays after 21 -- 25 if you're one of the lucky ones whose car insurance payment goes down -- I have to admit I'm pretty excited at the prospect.
I realize that this, too, sounds odd. I am, at this moment, supposed to be chasing age inappropriate girls, starting regular regiments of Rogaine and Viagra, buying a gym membership and a tiny red sports car that will reflect the youth in my heart that is not reflected in either my hairline or my waistline.
Men, it has been told to me... generally by women who obsess over their looks or who feel pressured to do so... age gracefully.
I am not particularly sure that is what I am doing, especially since the adjective "graceful" has NEVER been applied to me or anything I do. If anything I have learned and adapted to well to my lack of grace (physical and otherwise) that I am hopefully transcending the mere uncoordinated and entering a realm of something like Art.
Or not. Probably not. But it is good to have a goal.
But probably because of the nature of birthdays... like all arbitrarily important annual markings of the passage of time... I find myself thinking about this time last year, and of the days in between.
I certainly feel like I'm in a better place -- mentally and spiritually, anyway. I chose to stay put here in Porkopolis for the winter in order to spend time with my girlfriend and to save money back for a road stake. On a daily basis I mentally unpack and repack my blue rucksack; my last jaunt taught me that I needed some things I didn't have and that I carried a few things I didn't need. I'm working on lightening the load to make it easier to live on the road... the leaner, meaner rucksack... which I tell myself isn't the same as a little red sports car. Occasionally someone will still ask WHY I feel the pull to go, and I usually shrug and smile and say something cryptic or nonsensical. I'm grateful that Amanda isn't among them. Not that she doesn't have concerns about my need to go Out and About -- but she tries to embrace me as I am.
Or, she is simply lulling me into a state of dizzying bliss before she puts some domestication plan into action.
You will excuse me if I accept the former and reject the latter.
Sometimes in the process of growing into a new relationship, I come across echoes of the old. Sometimes when I am restless ... which happens often... I think about the ways I have tried to soothe my restlessness... AKA, my itchy foot. I have tried drowning it in booze. I have tried burying it in bitterness and in uncommunicative silence. All I can do is stay mindful of these things in the same way I am mindful of my anger and my ability to commit violence.
And sometimes, other nerves are exposed, other pains laid open. Familial drama, pecking order and placement, and the shadows of the fathers that all sons live under. All families have drama, and all families have drama queens. Mine is no different. I have extended relatives who fight over bloodlines, over ashes, and over ownership of the dead. I have had to remind myself over the past few days that the only things I have control over are those things I do or don't do. One of the casualties of all this ego driven bullshit-- which is exactly what it is -- is that while I have a deep desire to understand my father's family, to find some echo and connection with it, I will probably never find it. When parts of The Long Memory are lost, everyone suffers, whether they know it or not.
But all I can control is what I do, or what I don't do.
This, more than anything, probably explains why I will end up going back Out on the road. The Long Memory demands it, and the hole to fill is deeper than I can fill in a lifetime. And while it may sound strange, I find a certain comfort in knowing that.