We Don't Even Try
The great challenge of adulthood is holding on to your idealism after you lose your innocence.
- Bruce Springsteen
In the darkness of Ridge Avenue, I would stand there like a rube and let it float up to me, and then through me, like a ghost or the wind or a bullet . The edge of the city early in the morning, the other people huddled there under old blankets, like homeless, sucking the last lame hits out of tiny roaches, I was buzzed on the rare danger of it all: The unusualness of such a 6am street in a neighborhood far from my own. I was a kid. 15.
The recollections have blurred now. They always do. Sometimes it was my mom dropping us off, sometimes it was my friend John’s dad. Sometimes it was my grandfather. Sometimes it became us driving ourselves when 16 came along and the world opened up with the first driver’s license in our crew. However, I believe in the power of closing my eyes even now. That hardscrabble attempt at remembering the way something smelled/ the rims of my nose jammed up with the barrel of a gun/ of the hard metal air of some winter night creeping into dawn, that is something I refuse to let go of.
I don’t care if the memories are accurate. Fuck it. You’ll never know and neither will I. The fact of the matter is that the lay of the land is what I say it was. That’s why I write. To tap into the rotten summer tang of some city trash can I simply walked past once upon a time.
It’s as simple as that.
The years have stolen from me, same as you. But they will cough up a lot of what they’ve taken if you are merciless with your attack. Jack it up against the alley wall. Push its face with your shaking fingers so that you can feel the blood vessels under its eyes pulsating/ ready to pop if you go a little deeper. Mug the mugger, you babies. Take the past and reclaim it as you own, truth be damned.
We are piecing together a lifetime in full retreat here. It’s absurd and horrifying and relentlessly cruel. But also it is gorgeous. And worth its weight in bone and blood let alone the gold most suckers chase.