Thursday, February 11, 2016

7794. BELOW THE WATER LINE (pt. 160)

(pt. 160)
My mother was always pretty good about using
oddball quotes about things. I don't know where
she ever got them, and they weren't ever much, in
fact were sometimes stupid. Jokingly, she'd say
things to my sisters' boyfriends, as they were in
the house or about to be leaving with my sister 
on movies, dates and stuff. Things like that. Stuff
which actually could have been construed as 
off-putting and weird. It all used to throw me for
a loop. 'Candy's dandy, but liquor's quicker,' and
'Be good. If you can't be good, be careful.' Not 
exactly the kind of stuff Mom is usually expected 
to be flippantly saying as you leave through the 
doorway. I always figured if I was one of those 
boyfriends I'd probably think about high-tailing 
it out of there immediately and forget the rest.
'One door closes, another opens.' That was like 
her deepest and most philosophical one. There 
were probably twenty others, but I can't right 
now recall. I remember too how she used to say, 
about farts : 'Always understand, if you can 
smell it, others can't. If you don't smell it, they 
are.' Whatever the hell was going on with 
that one, I took it to mean that if you did not 
start smelling it you'd better leave from your 
your spot right then so that others wouldn't 
pin it on you. Right? Mom?
Needless to say, I was so slowly then enamored
of quotations. I'd keep a little notebook of good ones
as I read  -  not her kind, no, I mean the literary sort
of deep quotations, stuff I really dug, things I'd use
later to implement a piece of writing or something. 
I'd stumble over them everywhere, making note
and mostly then just promptly forgetting. That all
still happens  -  a hundred ideas a month, if I don't
get to them immediately, or find some way to 
record as a note or some other way of remembering,
I just lose them two hours later, or even just ten 
minutes later. Any old task, or driving, or another 
conversation, can just rip it right out of my mind. 
Only maybe sometimes do I recover and retrieve.
This whole gambit of local writing, all these pages,
they've brought one back to me, one I always liked.
By Graham Greene, who was a sot of futzy, not too
interesting to me, really, writer (b.1904, 'The Quiet
American', 'The Power and the Glory', 'The Human
Factor'). He's considered a Catholic writer, which 
just means too me too much ideology within, not 
really writing with an open mind, not willing, 
certainly, to take chances; constricted. He was 
one of those silly writers the seminary just loved 
to have people reading. I can't remember if he 
was one of those 'Imprimateur' guys. That's a 
designation, on the title page, of 'Catholic'
books that have been 'Approved' by some silly 
and obtuse group of Bishops that Rome has 
somehow concluded are the right guys to read 
these books and then decide if other Catholics 
should also read them. On the whole it's a crock 
of shit by guys who've never lived a normal, 
human day in their lives. Well, anyway, I'm 
going overboard on that and it's all forgettable. 
Here's the quote : "There is always one 
moment in  childhood when the door opens 
and lets the future in.'
Let me repeat that, OK : 'There is always one 
moment in childhood when the door opens 
and lets the future in.' Man, that one slayed 
me. The day I read that I can still recall it was 
like someone had just read a ghost story to me 
and it was as vivid as anything else had ever 
been. It seemed to immediately settle everything 
for me and led me to describe to myself that 
'door' that I'd seen open, that room I'd begun 
to enter. Nothing ever again was marked 'Avenel' 
to me. That was relegated immediately to the 
'kid's portion' of my past. Not that I wanted 
it that way, but just because it instantly became 
that. As after reading some grand new section 
of the Bible or something, a part that really grips 
you, you look up and find yourself saying 'I can 
see with new eyes!' It all eventually settled down
for me, and things went on, but I began noticing
little differences in how I perceived things : I 
mean like 12-year old kid things. I remember my 
12th birthday, my parents got me a stamp-collecting 
album and all the stuff that goes with it  -  stamp 
hinges, to apply the stamps tweezers, so as not to 
'handle' the collectible stamps, glassine envelopes 
to keep excess stamps in (already like some weird 
criminal factor, a drug-dealing or crime-infested
endeavor with 'glassine' envelops), and a big bag 
of stamps for collecting, from one of those Littleton 
Stamp Company starter-collector sets. Cool stuff. 
It kind of flabbergasted me. Maybe that was a 
'door moment'. And then, annoyingly actually, I 
remember my Father coming at me outside at the
car while we were bringing in groceries after that 
shopping night, he looked at me grinningly and 
said 'You're a teen-ager now!' I was equally floored. 
To begin with, he was clearly off a year. I'd never 
heard of being 12-teen; had quite obviously a 
year to go. What in the heck was he driving at 
with that crack? And, really, didn't he know he
was off by twelve months? What goes on? I forget 
what I answered, but I remember mumbling 
something to him about it being a year early. 
Maybe that was a 'door opening' moment? You 
can see what I mean  -  the quote itself was far 
better that any specific item by which it could be 
designated. It wasn't about a 'particular'. No, it
was about the great big world turning within us. 
What's now called, maybe, a 'paradign shift.' 
When everything just gets notched over a 
little bit and nothing is ever the same.
My parts of Avenel and Woodbridge were 
like fingerprints. Even if they were erased or 
burned off, they'd still be there; any opening 
door that was going to whisk me away was not 
ever going to remove the real scrub of the DNA 
and RNA that would make up my changing fabric. 
Just like today, at the end of Inman Avenue, after 
you pass Hiram's Trailer place and the curved road 
runs under Rt. One with that little road that runs up 
to the Loop Inn, there's a spot there that, no matter 
how many times its filled in or paved over, and 
repaved again, three weeks later is always a
crumbly spot again, a recurring hole, and real 
pain in the ass bump for any cars that hit it 
unwittingly, without knowing about it. The 
reason for that? It's an undercurrent of water, 
always flowing there, beneath the roadway; 
probably some little spit of a stream that they've 
never sluiced or channeled and which is always 
running and only needs but a little time to 
undermine and wash away all of what's on 
the surface. That's exactly what the part of my 
consciousness was that Avenel always represented. 
That 'reprobate' in front of you who can't be 
anything but what he is. I couldn't shake it. 
Another writer, a New Jersey guy, a contemporary, 
he's written this one, about New York City, wherein 
I was soon to be absorbed for the next bout of my
'formative years.' Sante writes: 'New York, which
is founded on forward motion and is thus loathe to 
acknowledge its dead, merely causes them to walk,
endlessly unsatisfied and unburied, to invade the
precincts of supposed progress, to lay chill hands
on the heedless present, which does not know how
to identify the forces that tug at its rationality.' That
was me, all over. I just didn't know it yet.

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