Friday, September 29, 2023

How're You Gonna Take the Ride?

There was no Harvest Moon here to be seen last night.  I went out to check, but I knew it was hopeless.  It had rained all afternoon and early evening.  I had hoped for a clear patch, but the sky was a muddy sheet of grey, so I pointed my camera to the ground and took this picture of the penumbra that surrounded my shadow.  My "aura" if you will.  This is the first year that I can remember not posting some version of a moon song, "Harvest Moon" by various musicians, "Shine on Harvest Moon" or at least Von Monroe's "Racing with the Moon" or "Moon over Miami," though those may not have been posted on the September's full moon.  I have a vague memory of a Blue Moon one September, but I can't remember what it was called.  But yea. . . no moon song this year.  No moon for me at all.  

I received some shockingly bad news yesterday.  My college roommate got a terrible medical report.  His wife, who worked in my department at the factory and who quit working this year, sent me a text to let me know.  His health has been failing for some time starting with an irregular rhythm in his heart quite some time ago, when they first began dating, actually.  I can't reveal it all here, but this last bit of news is. . . gruesome.  I've known him since we were kids, first playing on opposing baseball teams then playing on the same Boys Club football team coached by his father.  We were radicalized by the '60s and in high school were part of a small group of hippies protesting school policies.  We led a walkout of student government elections in our senior year, a group of us marching out of one of those stupid student assemblies in the gym.  There weren't many of us, only about twenty brave hearts, and we went outside and sat around the flagpole in protest.  I don't remember what we wanted anymore, but I think we might have gotten it. We weren't so successful at graduation, though, when a group of us wanted to sit in an arrangement that formed the ecology sign in our school colors of green and white.  

We got shot down on that one.  

The night after graduation, everyone went to the beach for the weekend to breathe the first air of our adulthood.  As I have reported in the past, I slept (no sex) with a girl for the first time.  He did his first hit of acid.  

In a few months, we were in college together, and when we left town to go to the big state university, we ended up rooming together.  Those, as has been oft reported, were some of the most glorious and important years of my life.  Changed everything.  

After college, I got a job at the factory and he stayed in the university town.  I went back to grad school after a couple years and then came back to the factory.  He and his girl broke up and I got him a factory job as well.  

We were band mates for years playing in front of audiences of sizes that far exceeded our musical talents, but we were performers and wrote political songs and attracted good crowds, sometimes at festivals where we played for upward of 5,000 people.  It was crazy stupid fun.  

Somewhere in that time, however, we fell out like Lennon and McCartney.  I left the band and they continued under a new name for awhile.  We rarely spoke except at the factory where we shared political goals, but in time, hardly there.  I felt him to have become a dour ideologue and he, I'm sure, saw me as a. . . well, we'd have to ask him that.  I had become an inveterate traveller and fell under the influence of my dead ex-friend Brando who, while having extremely liberal views, was was also a bit of a libertine as well.  

And thus, we drifted.  

I've only become conversant with him again since his health began to fail.  We mostly reminisce about things as people will, incredible things, really, that seem as though we made them up somehow.  We were not good herd animals and often stood apart from the crowd.

And so the day was tainted by her report, and I carried that with me through the day.  It was a usual day of gym and lunch and then the cafe.  I wasn't in the mood for adventure.  I needed to write out my feelings,  to make sense of them and to cope.  

When I walked into the cafe, the very tall, pretty tatted girl was working.  She smiled and said, "Green tea?"  I nodded and just then thought to ask her if many people photographed her.  I thought it, and then I began to ask it, but just as I opened my mouth, my heart stopped dead.  It just didn't beat.  I stood, eyes wide, mouth agape, like a frozen mummy.  As soon as I changed my mind, however, it started again more quickly than before.  Yea. . . maybe another time.  

There is a Photo Booth at the cafe, and it is silly if not ridiculous, but every once in awhile, I take a turn in it.  It is really quite popular.  Try explaining that in the era of cell phone selfies.  Who knows?  It is, I assume, the novelty now of having a hard copy image of yourself.  The images are small and bad, but. . . . 

The timing of my day was off.  I had gone to the cafe early, but when I left, I went straight over to see my mom.  She was in good spirits and joked and laughed for an hour or so.  

When I got home, I had some messages.  A woman from the factory group had asked me if I could come up to the factory bar for happy hour in a couple of weeks.  They wanted to see me.  It was a private message, so it made me wonder, but I said of course I could.  I'm curious about this one.  

Travis was reading a travel narrative by Larry McMurtry called "Roads," and he sent me passages from the introduction (link).  He has been a lifelong traveller, having now adventured in 97 countries.  He has seen incredible things and has been, at times, a liberal libertine, too.  Travel is romance, of course, and carries an open promise, and if you desire to live well, there are endless opportunities for life-inscribing moments.  He was urging me to get out on the road again, to take McMurtry's highways and make photographs.  

"And you have shared the three passions," he wrote.  He sent along an annotated image from the intro.

"Three passions have dominated my more than sixty years of mostly happy life: books, women, and the road. As age approaches, the appetite for long drives may leave me, which is why I want to get rolling now."

McMurtry was almost a decade younger than I am now when he wrote that, and as I say, I may be a house cat now.  Still. . . it is something to think about.  And I did for quite awhile.  

The rain had started when I left the cafe and had continued lightly since, but just then there was a break in the weather and the rain let up, so I quickly made a Campari and soda and headed to the deck with a little cheroot.  The day had been a mixed bag and I still needed to mull it all over.  I looked at the photos I had brought home.  Above and around the Photo Booth, people have left their photo strips.  There are hundreds of them, and as I waited for my instant prints to come out, I went through a bunch.  I decided to put these on a table and photograph them with my phone, random pictures of torsos, blurred obscure things that somehow appealed.  

When mine came out of the little slot, I was dismayed, of course, as I always am when I see a photo of myself, but these high contrast pictures did me truly no favors.  I have never been some true beauty, but Jesus Marimba. . . I needed to have a little work done, I thought.  Maybe just the eyes.  Then I thought about my old roommate and a shiver of shame ran through me.  He is dying and I am worrying about the baggage under my eyes.  It was horrifying, of course, but it was, I thought, so very typical, too.  One must fight the urge to crawl into the grave with loved ones.  We'll all be there soon enough.  

I didn't feel like making another complicated dinner as I had the evening before, but I needed to make a grocery run regardless.  For all you who live alone and want to eat a healthy, uncomplicated meal, here's the recipe.  Put some frozen peas in the microwave for one minute in a small bowl.  Chop some garlic and put it on top.  Place an Amy's organic frozen macaroni and cheese in the microwave and open a can of wild caught tune.  Pour that over the peas, and when the macaroni is ready, put it on top.  Kosher salt, black pepper, and maybe, if you want, a little Balsamic vinegar.  Stir it up and sit down with a glass of New Zealand Chard, perhaps Nobilo with its grapefruit overtones.  Minimal prep, minimal clean up, and really, really easy good.  

After dinner, I watched the last episode of the last season of "Sex Education."  I struggled through this season as it had gotten way goofy over the top and what Rhonda Santis refers to as "woke."  I had begun fast forwarding through certain scenes, in fact, and ended up caring only about certain characters and parts.  The last episode, though, ends with a scene that hit me hard and broke my heart.  Such a thing is not hard to do, I admit.  I've become far too tender, even fragile, in the past few years, and the most surprising of things will launch me into tsunami sized sobs.  But this. . . the love story ends with separation and sadness and longing.  Maeve moves back to the States to finish school and become a writer.  Otis is left alone on his bed hollow and empty and longing.  

Fuck.  Done that.  

And that is when I stepped outside to visit my old friend, the moon, but even it was hiding its face from me at the moment.  What a fucking name.  Otis.  

As I've oft said, the world can be a very lonely place.  Shit and death are everywhere.  

Maybe I'll take that trip.  

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