Booming Hallelujahs
For the Fall (and a mental dusting)

     Sometimes the summer months leave me with a head full of what feels like dust motes for what seems like an age… just grainy rays of swirling sun-colored dryness moving in and out of the shadows, becoming invisible and then visible with irrelevance to anything. Because these are times that are bright yellow and all of the oxygen is gone in the stillness, so you have to gulp and pull for it, and it becomes a thing that must be endured until the seasons break; and then it feels like I’ve shaken off a long thoughtless stare into things like dust motes, into a hope that feels close to nostalgia. Fall always brings nostalgia. I don’t know why memory slows in the summer. I remember now that I always remember various school days in late august, and those slow lavender infinite twilights I sat and watched darken when I was a lifeguard at the neighborhood pool in silence and solitude because it was the time of season that the pool had been done and done by the neighborhood kids ‘til even they tired of the games, and so I sat there thinking, “Here comes the new autumn. What will it bring?” There was always a freshness gusting around and breaking up all that stillness, and I was always thankful.

     Keeping as strictly as possible to my outings of only Twilight and Starlight this past summer, to avoid the heat, I didn’t go to a pool once, and it didn’t bother me. I did go night swimming once, in Athens, as it should be, after a dance party, downtown on an open air patio, and that was as it should be, too. And, then on the long walk home, while the sweat almost dried into my clothes, I had a long conversation with an old friend about old autumns in that fine city. And on that walk we passed by some apartment complex pool, and it wasn’t even a question whether that was the thing to do. It just was. It was one of those long talks, too, the kind I miss eversomuch, and I wonder now if they are ever even had with all of my friends I used to have them with who are now married – and I wonder what revelations are had between husband and wife, behind the closed doors of their new houses, in the great span of time in which I am not there for. We talked about God a little… God now, and God then. God and Women: They are always popular topics of conversation, a check-in of sorts, because they are the enigmas – How are we making sense of things so far? They are the possible needle points of compass.It’s good to revisit certain questions from time to time, the ones that will never stop rattling around, and if they do, it must mean that some central incessant engine room in a certain wing of our mind has run itself to death, or been shut down voluntarily to commit to some complacency, reduction ad absurdum, that leaves one the wheres of which we have all seen happen in someone we know, and we are never sure whether it is good or bad, but just that it is a setting of the sights toward a dawn opposite hope, to shiver under the stars wayward, and see whether the winds will run us ashore upon some sandy new frontier… or, There be Dragons.

Today’s half a morning in November

     Today, I set out to run a few errands, just a few payday essentials to get them out of the way so that I wouldn’t have to do them later. It’s blustery today in Georgia, not too cold, but there’s a nip, and the red leaves are swirling everywhere around through the gray. I sort of wandered into a Barnes and Noble on the way back. I thought I might buy, and read, Les Miserable. I’ve always wanted to. I love the story. Valjean, I’ve always loved how he persevered in goodness, though constantly beset and bedraggled by egalitarian powers that he could not change. (You see, I was so mad when I left. I had just found out that I have to pay something in the range of $1500 for two tickets, an expired tag (my fault), and driving on a suspended license (which I didn’t know about, and might have been the fault of the county clerks office for misspelling my name in the system, so that when I tried to pay the ticket, they told me there wasn’t one to pay, in person, at the courthouse.) So I was just a tad Eor’y when I set out this morning. Which, hilariously enough, if you total that sum with other ticket fines this year, could total up to as much as 1/6 my total annual gross income. Impressive, I know. It was, just… a tough blow, but one that must be endured, just the same).

     But, when I start looking around at the classics - I do so love the classics - it is a lot like grocery shopping while high. So, I started scrolling through the unread titles with that gentle fondness, the sweet slow memories of the other great works that, when you read them, seemed they chronicled your life; there was your life before you read them, and then there was your life after - new eyes. I saw a copy of My Antonia, by Willa Cather, sort of tucked away. So, I grabbed it, and when I did, I noticed that it was misshapen. The book had just been cut wrong through the press. The top edge had a sharp incline running away, upward, from the binding, waaay off square. In truth, I’ve never seen a book this awkward looking ever make it to the shelves. I thought, maybe all of them are this way. But I checked the other copies and they were all as square as they were supposed to be. And so, immediately, like any silly-old-boy, I wanted that book. I wanted it because it was broken. I wanted it because it was imperfect, flawed, and seemed like the way a little boy in a cartoon might find the book he was supposed to find, the one that might save him. It’s silly, and ridiculous, I know, I know. But it isn’t important that it’s silly or ridiculous. It’s important that something can cause that feeling, and that you can let that feeling happen… and not feel silly or ridiculous, just lucky, i guess.

     Things like that fill my head with all of the thoughts that I like. I went to sit down and preview the book, and my attention span did what it does after ten pages, and it took the feeling of what I was reading and connected it to my stare out the window. The leaves were tumbling, and then I thought to myself, “leaves are always tumbling. People always say they’re doing that. Think of something better.” And there were a lot of leaves tumbling, so I thought of gymnasium full of little children tumbling and doing different things at different corners of the building, just like the leaves were all doing their own different things at different corners of the parking lot. And I smiled, and thought it was silly, but I smiled anyway. The book is set in the West, and thought I’ve been there often enough, I always consider there being only The South, my home, old Dixie - and then there is this North, which is, I consider, at best a social hemisphere, and at worst bleak, and cold. My country, to me, is viewed as a few booming metropolises scattered to the four winds. There is that large chunk at the very southernmost tip, where people are weathered and proud, and that large state to the very tip of the west where the dreamers once went, and many hurried back to wherever they came from, and where they insist upon the delusion that their college football teams are as good as ours, but they never will be ( ;-) to you SoCal girls if you’re reading this).  I bought it, the book, of course, and re-bought a copy of The Beautiful and the Damned, and a copy of David Copperfield, which I have not read because I’ve always been kind of pissed that Dickens was paid by the page, and so was inclined to be garrulous and long-winded. I bought them, and then I drove back, and sat in the car when I got there to listen to the end of a song, Telepath, by The Church. There are these whirling starry guitar parts at the end of that song, like you didn’t know it, but it’s setting you back down on the ground, and retreating back from whence it came. And the red leaves were just swirling swirling everywhere. One flew in my window before I finished my cigarette, and flicked it. And I suppose I just wanted to write all that because I haven’t in a while. It isn’t much, but it’s only the tale of a half-morning anyway.