Monday, November 1, 2021

Under Cover of Darkness

A day alone, an evening passing out candy to trick or treaters with my mother.  You want me to make a story out of that?  I can tell you about how charming the children and their parents were in the main, but that is about it.  And they were.  Both the children and their parents.  This is the third time I've passed out candy at my mother's house.  Her street's name should be changed to Holiday Lane because her neighbors go all out for the holidays.  There were elaborate spook houses and sidewalks draped with gossamer webbing hung high from the limbs of old oaks.  There were orange lights and recorded loupes of haunted noises and smoke machines fogging the evening air.  The surrounding streets seem dead by comparison, so kids come from hither and high to trick or treat on this enchanted street.  My mother and I passed out pound after pound of candy as kids traversed the long driveway yelling "Trick or Treat, Trick or Treat" and as if confronted I would reply, "Well. . . I guess it seems we'll be giving you a treat," and then my mother or I would stuff handfuls of candy into Halloween bags and ask the children about their costumes. They would politely explain who they were and what they did, and we would say that the costumes were wonderful (which they were) and then the parents would ask the children, "What do you say?" and the kids would chirp "Thank you," and the parents would chat for a moment before the next group would arrive.  

It seemed to go on forever.  I was exhausted when I got home to a first whiskey on the big leather couch.  The night was cool and the sky high and far away.  It was a perfect Halloween night.  

I didn't turn on the television for a very long time.  I just sat on the couch and thought, not thinking, really, but reflecting, random thoughts rolling above and around you like trailers before the movie, random images on a screen that flicker and disappear, on and on in the yellow half light.  It took a while before I was centered or as centered as I was going to get that evening, the whiskey having the desired effect on my jangled nerves, the quiet of the house, the familiar ticking of the big clock on the kitchen wall, the occasional cracking and popping of the old wooden walls and floor boards as the evening settled in, the dim lights from the little lamps barely illuminating the room, the million books read and unread lining the bookshelves and piled upon the floor like the religious scrolls in some medieval monastery.  

I can't recall a single thing I thought about now.  I wouldn't wish to speculate.  But eventually I hit the last few yards on the big reel projector in my head and became aware of the present, not the eternal present of existence but the immediate present of the night, the point at which you realize you have been sitting and thinking but without knowledge of how long, and you stretch a leg or give a moanful sigh, and you know you need to move.  And of course, it is to the kitchen you go or to the library to retrieve the whiskey bottle, or one followed by the other, and then the relentless television comes on and you settle in for one of "your shows" for an hour or so before you turn down the house and get ready for bed.  

The lights of the bathroom are bright as you scrub your teeth and perform your other nightly ablutions, and then, lights out, the sheets are cool or cold and you chant your mantra or say your prayers or think whatever you think to give you some peace before the big dark transforms you.

Well. . . that is how it went for me last night anyway.  And this morning there is a chill in the air and the sky that was cloudy is now bright blue and the cool golden sunlight illuminates the eastern side of the trees and shrubs, long shadows stretching across the lawn, and I think that I must move.  I see the walkers through the big windows with their jackets and long pants, most of them with dogs, and I feel the need to start my own day.  I want to take some pictures, but I don't know.  Last night I dreamed of projects I should pursue, but in the light of day, they seem daunting.  So much of good photography is, and it takes a great energy to overcome the lethargy that tells you that it is not worth the effort, that you are stupid and talentless and would surely make a mess of things, would surely fail.  That, at least, is what I find more often than not now.  And not only about photography.  

"Cast those doubts aside, my friend.  Nothing comes of nothing.  The only road to success is the bumpy one with twists and curves that keep you on your toes.  Get out there and give it a go.  You can never know otherwise." 

Well, I know that voice speaks truth, if only metaphorically, and all I really need is the old get-up-and-go and some of that long-rehearsed self-confidence I rode for many years.  And really, who is to say whether I succeed or fail?  What the fuck does anyone know, anyway? 

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