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Gettin' Ready for the Day Tomorrow
We are taking the kids on a little trip tomorrow which could go any way. The weather is looking fine; sunshine, hot temps/ classic summer days with no threat of rain and subsequently, no threat of my worst nightmare: board games under a bright overhead light with “snacks”.
Fuck your ‘“snacks”. Screw your cheese doodles and puffy corn nipples and whatever. Your ‘specialty salsas’ from Walmart. Roasted tomatillo with bodega spiced red pepper. I don’t like that stuff anymore. I refuse it. I’m against the rain when I need the sun.
But no one gives a damn about that, about me and my weather vane bullshit and so this forecast for the next few days/ it soothes me a little. We will be able to do what we set out to do. We will be outside. Outdoors. With the ticks and the snakes and the mosquitos where we belong. We are not board game people, for the love of God. We are messy/ knocking stuff over/ fighters and passion players. We are the Three Stooges but we are Seven.
If it rains: I will grab a kid by the nose and slap their forehead for the fuck of it. Because I’m pissed off. Because I feel things I can’t understand and I need an alley to run down.
If it rains: I will knee a kid in the crotch and make a loud popping sound by raking my finger across the inside of my cheek and then POPPING it out as I do it.
If it rains: I will climb a tree with a kite and a key.
If it rains: I would crush a whole bag of Bugles and snort them, menacingly, the tiny ridge lines of powder: Like Lemmy/ Like young Jack Nicholson: as the kids watched in horror at the kitchen table under the ridiculous amount of mad light hammering down on all of us from this hideous overhead chandelier spraying light around like a runaway hose on this dank dreary fuck morning in this Air B&B in the middle of goddamn nowhere when we were supposed to be out hiking and seeing the waterfalls and then ice cream cones and that kind of shit.
I’m really excited that the weather is looking good. I am. We want to go outside. We don’t want your board games, man. We don’t want your artificial light or your cheese dust fingertips or your Calm down! This isn’t our house! Stop touching that!
We want the cool spring mountain water to wash over our pale white feet as we stand in the midst of the laurel cathedral dedicated to the glory of right here/ right now and nothing much else.
I have been so sad over the past year. Over the past 49 years even. I have been depressed to the point of wanting to die so many times by now that I have grown weary of even considering mentioning it to you/ or to anyone, really. Because that’s what happens with this, with depression. You end up chiseling away at yourself until your reality shifts and you begin to believe in your worthlessness.
It has been hard/ I ain’t gonna lie. But I am not special. I’m just a dumb ass with a decent heart who has uncovered his own grave while he is still walking around/ staring at skies above him/ staring at books on shelves/ staring at a wife and all these kids out in the yard/ staring at them playing and getting their hands in the overpriced potting soil/ staring at the dogs humping each other’s faces in a show of hardcore brotherly love/ staring at the farm off to the right at the red light in Old Fort/ staring at the past/ while I’m staring at the future/ and staring at myself in the early morning mirror/ bags under my eyes/ hair needs cut/ please release me/ and feeling/ fleeting moments at a time/ so fucking happy to be around/ to still be here/ instead of Bear Hollow parking lot/ in my front seat/ exploded and gone for good.
By the time you read this, I won’t be dead, hopefully. But I will have peeled myself out of the driver’s seat of Arle’s mini van as the kids wait for the automatic side door to slide open:
Then they’ll all flood out into the State Park trailhead lot and Arle will get out of her side and we will all be standing there whiffing the wet wood musty musk of state park parking lot like it was a candle at Walmart (Pennsylvania State Forest Parking Lot scent/ $5.99) and it will, on this hot morning (but cooler here), shift our lives/ all of our lives/ each of our lives/ in a new fresh direction that reeks of the kind of possibility that gets me off. Not the possibility of you making a lot of money or achieving some kind of bumblefuck nightmare American dream scenario with all that that entails/ your own private mountain side/ your tons of POSTED NO TRESPASSING signs/ your private trout stream and your fleet of ATVs and souped-up John Deere 4-wheel-drive golf carts/ ugh/ whatever. That is not what I am talking about when I talk about potentials and the potential of a moment, which, if you haven’t noticed by now: I kind of talk a lot about.
But what I AM saying, what I AM talking about when I go there/ even without saying the word/ is that this whole thing could fall flat and hard and fail us right before our very own eyes. The excitement and the radical possibilities that you can practically smell- and maybe even feel with your fingers if you’re lucky or good- in a trailhead parking lot on a morning when there is nothing else for you and your crew but to go out and conquer some memories and bring back the freshly killed depression upon your shoulders/ like some old school painting/ some old school stag slung across the hunter’s back/ that is the most tender graceful opportunity for you should you not proceed to blow it.
And by ‘you’, I mean me, of course. I mean me: Serge. The Lonesome Outlaw. The Big Cheese Puff. The Gettysburg Kid. I have so many nicknames/ I’ll tell you later, I guess. But maybe I mean you as well as me if you feel like you can indeed ride this lightning alongside me… Because you know. Maybe. Maybe you know what I am telling you if you don’t.
That even the sunshine filtering down through the canopy of old trees in shafts of light both regal and calm, even that can go dark for someone like me. Dark quick. Dams burst and people drown in the raging waters of certain sad minds. I have one of those. I hate it so much. And yet I have made it this far. Alive. Still alive. Still surrounded by people who I believe really do love me because why else would they keep walking back up into the shadows of the same patchwork dam over and over again.
They drowned in me before.
Why drown in me again?
Unless they love me. Need me.
Hold me. Hold me. Hold me. You rea-lly gotta hold on me.
What a shame it would be for sudden storms to roll on through. And so, you know, that’s my bag, dog. I can bring the pain if I want it. Or especially if I don’t want it. Unless, maybe, I keep doing what I have been trying to do lately.
Live my life in little ten minute blocks. I made it up myself. Ten to ten. Stone to stone/ across the creek. Stop and look around. Look at the sky. What do you feel? How is this?
Do you see the last ten minutes here all gathered around you?
Deer and rabbits and raccoon babies and owls in the treetops. Look at this shit, will you? There’s your kids, your wife. There’s a black bear mama smiling at you, pulling her rowdy cubs into her arms, patting their wild faces towards you as if to say, Look there, young guns. Look at The Ten Minute Man, look at him living like that! Look at him really LIVIN’, I tell ya!
Songbirds swooping us all, singing loud and free.
Wild turkeys surround us and parade us in their ancient rolling circle. I don’t know what it means, but I can feel the love. Or something like it.
I ain’t no tie-dye micro-doser either, yo.
I ain’t here to spread some kind of gospel to you unless you look at me and root for me and root for my next ten minutes and feel me feeling you with my eyes and that’s enough because: this is me and I am not some sad-sack little bastard with a some hungry need for your sympathy. Or for your thoughts and prayers/ oh hell no.
This is me: in a state forest parking lot: taking deep gulps of decaying tree air that tastes like pure life: recognizing the possibilities before me: in the name of love and not much else at all.
Dead would not be the end of the world. People live with the dead behind them and I will be there someday too. But this… this being alive… I like this better for now. Look at this, man. Look at the red foxes looking at me. My kids petting the porcupines. They don’t care. They don’t hurt you if you recognize the possibility in your mind.
Arle over there holding a black phase Timber rattlesnake.
Look at them.
Two beauties rubbing foreheads in a fallen girder beam of June morning sun.
Park rangers standing there looking at me talking to myself.
5 kids running around, making a racket.
A damn fine redhead digging in the minivan trunk.
Look at the dude in the George Meade t-shirt, the one ranger says. Is he on drugs?
I’m staring at stick on the ground that looks, to me at least, like an old Colt.
Who knows, the other ranger says. He’s probably gonna need drugs after he drags all those kids down the trail all day. His wife is hot though.
I look up right then and stare a burning spear through the both of them across the parking lot stones and straight into their SUV and through their pudgy white faces and they can feel The Appalachian Witch Boy’s dark magic whipping around inside their mouths and banging off of their little weak jaws as I begin to lift their vehicle off the ground and hurl it into the forest with tornados I keep tucked up under my building hiss.
They each shit their government-y pants.
But I stop there.
Because, you know what?
I am changing. I am changing and I want to live and I have to stop this judgey-judge horseshit and settle back down into my last Ten Minutes. How perfect they have been, right?
I am not crazy, dude.
I am awake.
I am awake as fuck.
And I am really really excited about this day ahead of me, of us. This day: two days from now for me today as I write this: four days ago or more for you today as your read this: but a moment of departure, nonetheless, that once dropped into my upended open palms one summer morning in a parking lot before the forest and the trail and the waterfalls and who knows what the heel else, but bring it.
Because: wild crows dancing in the hemlocks, uttering my name like I was a forest king for just a moment. Or for just ten minutes maybe. And then ten more.
It’s wet pine.
It’s all you’re ever gonna need to know from here on out, cowboy.
Moving through my memories, I could take you by the hand/ innocently/ trust me, okay?/ and we could walk down through the Gladiator fields of fluid wheat undulating in the wind/ and I would show you everything I could… but still… I don’t think we would ever stumble upon the cause of my blues.
I have tried, believe me.
I have tried in the wake of the bad days. And for the record: I’m telling you about a smaller amount of days than a majority, okay? Most of my days are okay. Many are exceptional. They are all steeped in positive potential. But some of them slip off the trail and take me with them, and those are the days of which I speak. They are not all the time. They don’t define me because I refuse to allow them to do that.
Bear Hollow parking lot/ State Troopers looking in the Honda and wincing/ big boys biting their lips and then toughing it out without a sign of emotion/ THAT would mean I had allowed the depression to define me.
That isn’t my jam though.
My jam today is this. This exploration down into the backside of my face/ my chest/ swimming in my own blood while it is still gushing hard and fast right through my original veins, not down the car stereo and the dash and all up on the windshield.
I speak graphically because I win over that possibility each and every day. A small victory on a daily basis. We all do, honestly. We all win when we hit the pillow again. Evening coming down. A few pages of a novel read. Scrolling down the feeds a couple minutes. Feet touching feet. Feet alone. Cool clean sheets. Dirty sheets that need cleaning.
A muted soft golden string of Christmas lights strung upon the headboard for you to drift away to. NOT a big bright bedroom light… c’mon! I see that shit when I drive down the road past your house sometimes? Your big bright bedroom lights. You’re killing me, Smalls. Come on.
But anyway, those last moments of our living day before we drift/ heavy eyelids/ kids in the backseat we are/ being lulled along by powers so much bigger than any of us alone. What a possibility we were today. And we made it.
Separate but equal in our own proverbial state forest trailhead parking lots.
I slay dragons when they come at me. The rest of the time I stand there and marvel at them, stare at their immense power and focus and impetuosity. I watch my depression deeply. I must do more and I suppose I will, but these days I move around in ten minute clips. Like sections of the lawn to mow.
Like let’s just make it to that tree up there on the trail. And then we’ll pick a new tree, okay? And then we’ll make it to the next one. Smiling. Laughing. Pointing sticks at the sky like pistols, like a band of outlaws running through these woods.
Park rangers staring at us from their hiding spots.
This cooled paradise we have earned with persistence.
The rewards of possibility barreling down upon us out of lush darkness.
You stop. I stop. We stare, mesmerized.
Granola bar bits crumbling from our lips, a sun shaft in your eye.
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