Friday, February 19, 2016

7827. BELOW THE WATER LINE (pt. 168)

(pt. 168)
So much of life is timing. The smallest little
matter; like just figuring a what or a how for
the means my father, and then later my mother,
first heard about this chance for a new home in
a place called Avenel. Why not the 125 houses
being built in Sayreville, ot the 40 new homes
in Monroe or Englishtown or East Brunswick?
That stuff is all about the timing of things.
Maybe a day later he'd have noticed the plans
for some other place, and not Avenel. It depends
on the when and the moment. I guess. Would I
have been the same person anywhere else? Who
knows, but I bet not. In my own life, the kind of
person I've grown to be is the sort of fool always
licking his own wounds, mostly self-inflicted.
It's a short-circuit of some sort in my character.
I just blurt out, forge ahead, do too much, and
don't much think. Wearing my stupid emotions
on my sleeves. I can't much think, certainly
not ahead anyway. I've mentioned before how
much of the A-follows-B stuff is beyond me.
It's not that I'm hurtful, just more that I'm
foolish. It's a serious flaw, so let me beat
myself up over it a little. There, I'm done.
Nowhere in the Good Book was it ever
written that the chosen one would be
coming from Avenel. It's not the sort
of place for that  -  usually you need
really high standards, a deep and structured
education, and a real bunch of achievements.
So, the last place on the low end of the
drain sluice was never really part of that
planning. A sister-town to Avenel, sort
of, would be Carteret, I guess -  right next
door, in its way, down on the low end,
the Turnpike end  -  all that fulsome traffic
and the lines of trucks and cars draining
out. When you drive through Carteret (and
this same thing is beginning to happen now,
a lot, in Avenel), you see a lot of houses
with NYCity taxicabs, sometimes two of
them, in the driveways or at the front. Like
here, as I said  -  the taxi drivers just jump
on the Turnpike and shoot their way up or
back from their shifts. It's convenient, it's
only like 20 minutes on off-hours, and a
certainly cheap 'bedroom' community
location for that sort of job. Carteret's
loaded with it. Carteret too is a much
larger version of the Avenel part of
Woodbridge. Same sort of housing, just
past a renaissance, of the same sort that's
about to hit here  -  lower-budget condos
and town-homes. Everything's a little
cheaper than anywhere else. Small-scale;
same sort of people. All very alike, and
-  as well  - focused just off from the
prison. Once called Rahway Prison,
though in Avenel, now called East Jersey
State Prison, in officialese language. It
doesn't matter  -  prison guards, orderlies.
cooks, janitors, all that stuff; those are
Avenel and Carteret people jobs. Whenever
I go into the post office here  -  in Avenel  -
it's always filled with the very oddest 
assortment of people you'll see. There's 
usually always a wait of some sort, often 
not because of a 'line' per se, more because 
of a certain repetitive density in the customer 
up at the counter; not quite ever understanding 
anything the first time, getting something 
wrong, or going on about things, endless 
questions, in a strange sequence, on and on
about what they're doing or what's about to 
happen to their package or letter  -  signing 
this or that. And then the inevitable turn to 
small-talk happiness which usually takes 
another 2 minutes to land and is used as
the closer for the transaction. There's never
really anything efficient or business-like about
the transaction; more as if it was just two people
at a picnic or something, wasting time and just
placating each other with the idle banter of a
bus-stop. And then, to top it all off, there's always
one or two others in line who somehow take it
upon themselves to engage in that conversation
up front! Adding to it, as if they knew the people
or were concerned with the issue. Strange stuff.
It's a quality-of-the people thing; besides which
the post office is way off-center, down at the
swamp-end of town, far-off really from any 
ease of location for convenience. not the kind 
of place you'd just think of going to.
It seems like, when I was little, that sort of 
thing would have never happened  -  people 
were different and they'd built up a different 
sort of Avenel to go with themselves. Quiet. 
Dark. Serene. Maybe just serious  -  you wouldn't 
get noisy in line or budge your way into other 
people's conversations. The lights always seemed 
dim. People always seemed as if they'd just left 
from somewhere else. Now they all seem totally 
at home, and always so. I remember waiting for
my friend Ray Szemborski on school mornings. 
His house, inside the kitchen, were I'd wait
on the cold days, was like a citadel  -  quiet
and dark, with his mother usually always at the
back corner table in the kitchen, with coffee, 
just looking out the window. It was all very 
funny, that whole matter, but I never realized 
it at the time. First off, the school was in the 
other direction, which meant I'd walk 7 or 8 
houses up in the wrong direction to get to his 
house. By rights, he should have just caught me 
on his way down past my house, or I should 
have just waited for him to pass. Funny; and 
then I realize, because he was never really 'ready' 
when I got there, probably the reason his mother 
was sitting there staring out the back window  - 
which view was really nothing but a garage and 
the rear of houses on Monica Court, was because 
I annoyed the hell out of her each school morning 
by showing up like that. See what I mean  -  
once a fool, always a fool. And back then I 
didn't even know it.
It's really the resiliency of childhood that keeps kids
going straight. Like all those houses being built,
the ones I mentioned in the previous chapter around 
my aunt's house  -  I saw them, was aware of it all, 
but I just rolled with it  - walked right through the
growing streets, and all those skeletal homes being
built. t never stopped me or bungled me up or
got me annoyed. I bounced right off it, took my 
means and recalibrated my jest, and just ambled 
along. I guess when you're a kid you adjust. By the
same token I never did hear any of the adults going
on about it either. No one said 'oh my God, what are
they doing!' Their conversation, if it ever did arise, 
was more like to see what 'nice' houses they were
going to be, how nicely done, how large, etc. I
don't know if that's 'resiliency' by those terms, 
but it never seemed to stop anyone, and it 
all just kept going on.

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