Tuesday, February 16, 2016


(pt. 165)
Well, you see what it all comes down to is
my thinking that (previous chapter reference)
if the linearity of living really did bring us to a
point-line where an 'adult' would then clue us in
on everything and we'd get started new, AND 
THEN be completely forgetful of all of the past,
what a horrible world it would be. But that's most
often how people behave anyway. I realized that
Time is a continuum, always curving the arc above 
our head, and we never forget the past. It lives with
us; that's what makes people so cool.
Every step I ever took, I took in consort with all the
other parts of my being : my makeup. I would never
have wanted to start after my coming-of-age moment;
small cultures make them important. Really though,
they should be ignored. All that Bar and Bat Mitzvah
stuff, Quinceanera, Confirmation, all that stuff. It's
a hoax to kill individuality. Everybody wants you to
be just like them and forget all that unique character
stuff, all that personal input from pasts and distant
paths of your own generations back.
I used to think there were hidden maps underneath
everything  -  not real maps, but things we've
forgotten about or covered over. Layers of things -  
the same kind of layering of character and place
that adults try to get out of us by claiming we are
now 'of age'. In those maps are our make-ups and
places of being. The 'Loci' of our sense self. I loved
it. And it's a symbol  -  like Plato's version of how
this world in but a pale reflection of the Prime
World, and how all we see are the feeble shadows
being thrown on the wall. We view, that's
all  -  and our personal steps and dances are
our reactions to the shadows we view. I may
have been young when I left, but I never even
really left Bayonne even. The dismal water's
edge, the slap-happy backgammon ridge of
Uncle Milty's. That grand water-side amusement
park right where I lived, filled with all that
bizarre post-war longing and forgetfulness
desired. People were keyed into their moment
- good God you had to be keyed in to live 
through that raging bombast. Survivors and 
the Dead, all alike. Just getting home.
When we all landed in Avenel, I didn't know
anyone except as ONE. Irvington Bob and
Jim Newark and Elizabeth Joe  -  everybody
just there, from somewhere else and with all
those interlocking stories. There was maybe
a place-name connected with everyone, but
that's all it was, a label. No eight-year-olds 
ever sat down and started comparing stories 
about their pasts - 'well, back in Weehawken 
we used to throw gasoline on the rats and then
light up a stick and throw that on the floor.
The gasoline would erupt and incinerate
the rats in an instant.' That, in turn, would be
one-upped by the Passaic cockroach story. No,
we internalized all that maybe, and that's what
discreetly made each of us what we were. The
remnant, the haul, of our trailing wagon-load
of memory. Kids didn't much care, in that they
all started from zero. From the zero, that was
the point each began to grow out. From the 
growing out, we each became different. In fact,
I lost just about everyone in about 5 years time.
The continuity of where a person is from is pretty
strong and steady. As I've said here, a big part 
of me used to wish I'n never been transplanted 
from the rigors of Bayonne's waterfront : it was
steamy and it was dark. All I ever wanted to be,
The maritime traffic was great. I still recall the
odors of oil and exhaust, the strange rippling
sound of boat passings slapping the shore, the
cackling of the shore birds, and the undertone 
of the bleak hum of tugs and motors. Cars were 
everywhere, fat and bulbous or still square. It
was real and authentic dark stuff. Alienating and
urban. Water fed, it went right to the unconscious.
Avenel, by contrast, was a bright light trying only
to shine happiness. All the rigors were supposed 
to be gone there. None of that.
To get back to the 'maps beneath everything': It was
as if everywhere I walked in Avenel I was reminded
that at some point in the past this land was useful to
others only as refuge. Earlier man, Native-Americans,
Leni-Lenapes, Delaware Indians, the Raritan tribes,
-  whoever it was who peopled these coastal marshes
and wetlands, they saw the world as completely different
than we did. Harsh Western man got here, only thought
of progress and gain, laid down lines and grids, and then
took and constructed, building over everything. These
older people of the land  -  all gone now, in 1954  -  they
lived with a different idea of place and  a sense of where.
To them, the real world was traversed by waterways,
bays and connectors  -  salt-marsh and canoe. Their 
travel and their directional sense was all different. We
simply did away with any of that  -  our nomenclature
for things was different. East and west, and all that
stuff  -  it never meant, by such words, the same things 
to the 'Indians' we supplanted (hard to use such a nice 
word for what we did, but that's that). They were 'soft';
we, the newly arrived, were 'hard'. Two clashing
worldviews. I knew it and sensed it as I walked 
Avenel. Unlike Bayonne, which whenever I 
went back there seemed long gone. Long, 
long ago taken over by the usual, overly-busy
work/industrial-rationalist crowd. Avenel still 
had vestiges of it  -  marshy paths in the 
lowlands, odd and mysterious little eddies 
of places untouched. Places you could 
look at and shrug. Interior musics and 
monologues, brought forth from the 
sight-memory that you didn't even realize 
you were seeing. But you were. It spoke, 
only a little, but it spoke, more to your 
tribal heart and mind that to anything else. 
Until it too was gone. Yes, it too was gone. 
Now it's only me, talking about it.

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