Thursday, October 22, 2015

7332. BELOW THE WATER LINE, pt. 53

(pt. 53)
I like to think that my hammock is memories, the
stuff I can reassemble and lounge around on. When 
my friends were young, so was I, now those friends -
those still alive  - are as old as me but what I find
so troubling is how little they are 'like' me. That's the
difference that astounds me. The composite make-up
of each one of us as individuals, I guess that doesn't
come together and gel until much later. When one is
ten years old, around either side of that, most things
come out about the same  -  the lessons come at you,
the short-cuts you can take start becoming apparent.
But it's all still in flux and in flow. Here, I am trying 
put the egg back into the shell, long after it's been
broken, and fried too. Any scientist would be proud.
Every so often something pops up, from those days, 
that surprises the hell out of me. Now that we're old,
or older by far, people bond differently, they begin 
saying things they'd never have said before. It gets
real interesting real quickly. No names to be 
mentioned here  -  because they're not necessary  -  
but a Summer or two ago I was at a gathering of 
about 30 people from my old area  -  all ages, not 
really more than a few my age exact. But, one of the
girls there, woman now, obviously  -  kids, grand-kids,
and the rest  -  she and I had a good talk together. I'd
always thought fondly of her, but frankly was always
scared off by her, and then I was gone anyway. She was
a year younger, and the most tumultuous years of her life
there, those first, early years of the 1970's, I was gone 
already. Anyway, we were talking about days I'd missed,
the boys I'd known, the little music groups they'd had,
who played what, who did what. Then she began telling
me of the troubles she'd had at home, problems with
parents and all the rest  -  leading to her stormy leaving
from home. Her comment  -  which stunned me, but which
I shied away from   -  was something to the effect that, in
response to her parents' complaints and problems with her,
'what did I know? I was too busy, all I cared about, was
having sex with every boy on the block.' Speechless
me, fool that I ever was.
Does any of this make sense? Have a continuity? Do you
see how the split-hairs difference between things became so
stunning? All this time we were being brought along and 
instructed in those perfect 1950's precepts of home and hearth,
the picture-perfect models of happy-family stuff, those arranged
Christmas Card family portraits around the TV, or next to some
ridiculous silver-foil Christmas tree set up in July for the stupid
picture to be taken and the lead-time needed to produce the
100 family-portrait Christmas Cards for $12.99, from the
ad in the back of some silly church bulletin or magazine
flyer. Creeps get the suckers, and the suckers get creepy.
All that time, we were something else entire  :  having absorbed
and taken in well all the 'lessons' supposedly purveyed to us, we
still drew our own conclusions and went our own way. If Avenel
had been the Wild West, how surprised would I have been to
see one of my friend's on the Wanted poster hanging outside the
Sheriff's Office?  For robbing a stage or a bank? Not very, to
tell you the truth. I'd have figured they were playing it all
their own way now, having learned what the could and should
from all those happy, windswept ways on the Avenel prairie.
That phrase comes to mind, 'shit happens'. As dumb as all the
rest. I remember, must have been 1971, when the first NJ Lottery
pick-six weekly Thursday drawings began  -  only on Thursdays
for the first many years, the twice-a-week Monday additional
drawing only came much later  -  anyway, from a distance I
remember that the very first million-dollar lottery pull went to
some girl working in General Dynamics, Avenel, NJ. Way out
in Columbia Crossroads, PA, I was floored by the news.

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