Saturday, October 3, 2015

7242. BELOW THE WATER LINE, pt. 30

 (pt. 30)
We had all sorts of things coming down our street, right
from the start  -  I guess those itinerant peddlers just added
it to their route map when it was built. The people moving
in  -  I'm not sure all of them were new homeowners, from
the other, decaying, fringe cities of north Jersey, but I'd bet  -
they probably didn't really 'need' old things sharpened or
fixed, and probably  -  if they had the money  -  they just
bought new. Their first saws and hammers, vice and clamps,
even lawnmowers and clippers. No one, at first, had a garage,
and the cellars weren't much, but they stored things. The
trucks which threaded down the road, Saturdays or whatever,
they offered various services, the sort of things you don't
often think about, and which are now no longer used or
needed, as people tend to just throw things away and get
new, and cheaply too  -  the mass hardware palaces of a
tinkerer's delight. We had  :  the sharpener guy, scissors
and saws, knives and blades; a junky metal-pickup and
hardware truck; guys selling tools and tool boxes and
things from the back of their own trucks; the daily bread
man and the milk man, of course. For myself, I remember
the Bond Bread guy  -  called everybody 'Goombah', Eddie
Aetoff, the farmer guy from East Brunswick (than all farms),
with his vegetable and fruits truck. I always laughed at his
name and the idea of him peddling food, as in 'ate off'
it just seemed fitting, like people's jobs that fit their name.
In Woodbridge, there was a dentist named Dr. Nepo,
which, incredibly, is 'open' spelled backwards. There
were more. It sometimes seemed to me as if everybody
was always sad, going about their determined tasks, still
running on some overdrive of sorrow or pity, maybe again
leftover war stuff, guys and fathers trying to live it down while
maybe 'living it up' too  -  getting over some memory or
horror. Everyone was needy, seeking to be liked. I don't know,
it was just a feeling in the air. Sadness. Something colored
brown, maybe. And everything was quiet, too. The sound of
the world was, somehow, gentle, as if afraid of making noise.
When you're a kid  -  for me, anyway  -  you see things, sense
things, knowing something should be done, but realizing too
that there's nothing YOU can do; the doing is never supposed
to be yours. you're just supposed to go along, stop and listen
to what is said, and then do it. But, I always thought, that's
exactly what everyone was always saying all those Germans had
just done  -  allowing Hitler, and killing all those people, Jews
and Gypsies and the rest, plunging the stupid world again into
war  -  all because everyone had simply gone along, done what
they were told, etc. What's a kid supposed to do? Go to school
and absorb only THAT as a lesson. Like in Congress, when they
tell new representatives and senators, when first starting out,
'to get along, go along'  -  meaning 'you're new, do what we say,
keep your mouth shut, go with our flow, and maybe in a few year's
time you'll get a plum committee assignment or get to work on a
bill you value. Don't buck'. Like the rest of all that's said,
it's bullshit, but no one says so. Are you, then, supposed to
buck, fight, and resist, or not?
I always had a viewpoint on things, as I developed and worked things
out, growing, that I called Power v. Innocence. I know it was true, I
could see exactly what I meant by it  -  but it went against the grain
of what everyone else professed to believe, what the silly churches
and school taught. So, I had to be crafty not to proclaim it too loudly.
Maybe that's one of the reasons I so early took to writing, scribbling
things and ideas down. I developed Philosophy, but privately and in
writing  -  only in my own practice. I couldn't share it with others,
because to them it stunk. You see, the needy, the powerless, the
societal crud that all those do-gooders always want to help, give
money and things to, bail out, lift from bad situations, they're
actually, in  a sense, the enemy; no good. The situation is this :
'Power', meaning someone who at the least has a handle on and
knows what they're doing, that person can handle his or her own
life, find a satisfaction and an achievement, gain their own rhythm,
and 'succeed', as far as it goes, to get by, to make through this
external life while dealing with all their internals too. The
threat comes from those who cannot. Those are what I call the
'Innocent'. They're not really 'innocent', just unaware of their
own rank stupidity. They want things, they slow others down
to help them, they stop things in their tracks. Whenever 'Power'
stoops to help 'Innocence', something bad happens. You stop to
let that sucker out of the driveway from which they're nosing
into traffic, or trying to  -  you get rear-ended. You offer help
and a few bucks to someone, and they take from you and
steal, or beat you, or turn on you. Sucking you into their own
web of trouble. Society, government, or any group, tries to
help, extends something to a band of lost or troubled souls  -
the next thing you know you're involved in their warfare, their
disaster, squandering your own resource on something sucking
you in and which you no longer know anything real about. Life
sucks, and things happen for reasons unknown to us. It's your
own personal choice  -  if you MUST help, than you bear the
consequences, don't drag me into it. It's always the weakest
among us who  -  from the resultant pity, care or sympathy,
screw it up for everyone else. Think of that the next time
you're in  a military cemetery  -  like where my kin is; all
those stupid little flags, for nothing.
Well, that was a part of my developing little story  -  I knew it
went against the grain of every St. Andrew's and St. James
catechism lesson I ever had -  all that coercion and memory crap,
those clacking prayers, those silly creatures in habits and Roman
collars. So, what do I do to fend all this off? After getting hit by
the train, coma'd out for a long period of time, I re-awake,
emerge back into this life, already different and already
advancing, and  -  5 or 6 years later convince myself that I'd
like to be, not an Avenel boy any longer  -  not one of those
rough and tumble wrench and hammer smackabillies, which I
always liked, but somehow instead (and this I really meant,
walked headstrong into, as if to counter or disembody my
doubts and anger and opposite points of view) a Christian,
catholic missionary priest in darkest Africa, Tanganyika, to
be exact. I was going to go away, get lost in the tribal habits
of others, see then and their world as my own, and bring the
message of 'Christ' to them. Then, the Soviets came in, took
over Tanganyika, of sorts, and Zanzibar, they merged to
become Tanzania, and all missionaries were thrown out.
So then I decided, still fighting, I'd be a 'worker-priest', one
of those French Christian Existentialist types who live
amongst the beleaguered, maintain an abject Christian
poverty, and fight the world from that specific lens.
Blah. Blah. By this time I was nearing 17. They'd already
grown tired of me, all those priests and brothers, thinking
where I shouldn't be, not following strictures and dictates.
I think they sensed they had trouble on their hands. So they
just upped and asked me to please, leave. Go home, think this
all through, and, maybe, please, just don't come back. They
didn't 'break' me, they just heaved my back on my own resource,
which was, once again, after some years, 'Avenel.' That would be
1967 Avenel; but in these tales I'm not there yet, so we go back.
You're just gonn'a have to wait.
I did a lot of things, young, that I regret. But I wasn't the worst
of my group, by far. I was just the most sensitive, the most feeling.
Some of my friends were different, downright cruel, stuff I really
couldn't bear to watch. When we were about ten, own behind that 
fire-woods I talked about, with the Christmas trees - there was a 
rock wall of sorts out behind there, at the tracks, and  -  as a for 
instance (I can't bear to even write about this) in the Spring 
mornings, the time of  year when things  are being born, we'd 
be down there fooling around by the tracks and headed to 
the junkyards, and they'd dislodge a few of the rocks and 
wall-stones and there'd be garter snakes wriggling around. 
Harmless, thin and long; simple snakes. Happy, probably, just to 
be alive and be facing Spring; same as us. But these guys would  
grab what snake(s) they could and gleefully, like a whip-rope, kill 
them by whipping them, headfirst, onto the brick'd  wall. Just  
gross, and always very sad. Stop the shit, will you guys, 
the day's already ruined for me.
So, you see, even though it was all the same, I was always 
somehow apart too  -  a psychiatrist would most probably have 
a field day with that  -  setting me down to talk (kind of like 
I'm doing here, I guess, without being charged for it). I was 
adjusted well, don't get me wrong, but I did have a weak 
streak, probably an 'anima' streak that somehow outweighed  
my 'animus' streak  -  which as a boy was supposed to be cultivated. 
But inside me there was a creative, 'art' and knoweldge side, always 
waiting to break out, and I knew I'd sacrifice, as and when I had to, 
everything for that. And I did, eventually. It was almost like 
suicide : you have to kill the 'personality' of you, and become something
 else. That calling  gets that strong. If you ignore, it goes away, and 
you're dead, just another schlump, working and kissing asses. It can be
 ignored, I guess, but then you're nothing. You know how in the 
New Testament it says that Jesus said one has to forsake everything, 
even your mother and father and family, and drop it all to follow him. 
think that's what he meant  -  Art redeems, not religion. I side with 
William Blake, who said that Jesus was an artist, and that church 
people took his message, left him abandoned, and ran off with it 
for themselves, calling it their own, and making
mint while living off it.
So, anyway, what I decided to do was to get back to Avenel, 
go to my own place again, my little psychic home, finish 
the God-damned year at Woodbridge High School as needed
 (what a freaking hell-hole that), but just force myself to get 
out of there unscathed, without getting geeked up  and robotized. 
That wasn't so hard, really. I just stayed unsocial and kept away from 
things. I dug into the daily NYTimes stuff, closed in around myself, 
and got really uncooperative  -  to the point that no one bothered me. 
I was pure Avenel, and determined to prove its worth. Somewhere. 
The New Testament also has Jesus saying 'a prophet is not without 
honor, except in his own country'  -  what that means is that your 
neighbor and kin, those around you, they'll never recognize your 
personal greatness, what you may have of it. But others will  -  
farther out and farther afield. That's where the honor is. 
For me that was NYC. But for now, in these tales, 
I'm not yet done with Avenel.

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