Mostly Human Musician/Writer/Watcher
The colors they don’t blur anymore
I’ve forgotten the words I planned
Let’s begin again
Calculate the time it take until we’re overdrawn
Deactivate the past mistakes we’ve made
Until they’re all but gone
I’ve been asleep for too long
Can that be real which does not have a name
It all adds up but doesn’t feel the same
Where do you go because I’ve been missing you
It’s never enough
Did I fall asleep
I’m all but gone
Calculate the time it takes until we’re overdrawn
Deactivate the past
Then all the charm
Is broken — all that phantom world so fair
Vanishes, and a thousand circlets spread,
And each misshape[s] the other. Stay awhile,
Poor youth! who scarcely dar’st lift up thine eyes —
The stream will soon renew its smoothness, soon
The visions will return! And lo, he stays,
And soon the fragments dim of lovely forms
Come trembling back, unite, and now once more
The pool becomes a mirror.
-Samuel Taylor Coleridge
I live beside the water. Always have. The implications of that, I think, are greater than I yet realize. Still, I can recall its presence from time out of mind - dipping my feet to watch them disappear, standing up to my ankles and welcoming waves as they rushed and crashed before me, up to my neck with the shore behind me and submerged fully, floating weightless beneath the surface. In those moments what waits above was forgotten, I remember that feeling when I peer over the water’s edge and consider the possibilities beneath, beyond. I know that water is merely water, which is no small thing, but more than an element it is a symbol, I think as good a symbol as any I’ve encountered for the more elusive, nebulous facets of life, in the face of which words so often fall short.
Near my home there is a natural preserve in an area called Sands Point. The place is a staple of our town not only for its nature walks, all of which lead down to a thin band of shore, but for the houses that rest there. No - houses is the wrong word, castles is what they are and how I will remember them. They rest on the green with the water as their backdrop and bring to mind a lost Long Island of Fitzgerald’s imagination - Another name for my town has been East Egg. At night, with the walls lit up and towering you can almost picture Jay Gatsby pacing on the battlements, and if he spied you looking up at him he might even raise his champagne glass or grant you, the watcher, a nod. Of course, before I was able to conjure such a reference, before I searched for words to relate it, it was a playground, and stayed one throughout my youth and young manhood.
When my friends and I needed some kind of escape, a need we felt often and welcomed gladly in those days, that was the place we would make for – and one spot in particular that waited for those who knew the way through woven branches. We called it, simply, The Spot, because that was simply what it was. A certain path ended in a steep decline, a small cliff made from sand that crumbled here and there, its face ever changing. Beneath, the water made an alcove, a little mouth in the beach enclosed by low hills of earth on either side with trees above that stood like watchers against the sky. A man-made wall rests there half submerged in the water. When we first found that wall of concrete it stood strong and fast against the waves. It stands there still, but is smaller and crumbling. But back then it was a perfect shield and was ours to claim.
We went there often, in different numbers but never alone and always with great ceremony. We would sit together and talk, do things you might not do while watched by eyes of others. So many days we spent in laughter, without a care that did not bring some comfort on its heels.
I can’t for the life of me separate those visits from one another. It was as if they came already strung together. The memories of those days don’t stand apart like trees in a forest but rather hold together like a web; one I still find myself gratefully caught in while daydreaming far from those waters. One day however is at the web’s center, a gemstone in a dusty crown. It was the day before our graduation.
I don’t believe we planned to meet there but we did so all the same, without question and driven by an assurance, a sense of rightness that I’ve only felt a handful of times before or since. The details of the day itself, what words we shared and what was learned are not clear to me now. Their edges are blurred. I don’t lament their loss. It allows for me to remain blind to any flaws- in my mind the day remains one of purity, without blemish or bruise. Whether it was that way or not, whether any days ever are, I cannot say. The past is not constant. It can be molded, bent, battered and embraced anew.
The last time I went to the preserve, not long ago at all, I did so alone. I could have walked to that place we once shared but I knew I would find it changed. If I stared down long enough I might glimpse the faded ghosts of our younger selves, climbing on the rocks and dancing around a fire, sticks in hand and wailing to the night in need of nothing and in the presence of everything.
Instead, I took a path that led away from our place and came to a new place entirely: A wide clearing rolled down in a small decline from the path before me. At the hill’s crest there was a bench. It wasn’t until after I sat there that I noticed the sound.
It was musical in the way that all sounds in nature are. It was constant, yet rose and fell in waves. It was soft and somehow all around. I looked out and saw that it was dragonflies – a multitude, far too many to count and all moving about the air. What brought them here? Was it other small creatures flying above the grasses, and were they hunting? Were they chasing something or were they just flying, moving about the air without concern or cause? Was their dance and the music it grew eternal, and if I turned would it be gone?
What wonder draws us together through such a storm as this?
I found these words, or some phrasing to the same effect scribbled among the pages of my seventh grade notebook, the only one that’s stuck around somehow through years and miles between that place and this. The feeling that accompanied this notion, a reverence for the movement of things toward one another is one I can almost feel but cannot seem to fully conjure again within myself. It is the sentiment of a boy. And all boys die. Only their echoed wails of a purer pain or equal elation sound mutedly in the depths of a man’s heart. I mourn the boy who wrote those words now. He was right to question. I envy him such ability. The answers I’ve uncovered have done me no good; they merely serve to keep my eyes open in the dark of night when all voices have grown quiet. That boy’s question however, remains unanswered. Maybe I want it that way. Maybe I need it.
I wrote the words, no doubt in a moment of peace. In my youth such moments were rare, and inextricably linked to a certain window of time over which the blinds have been all but wholly drawn. When I read them now I can nearly feel Hank beside me. The great changes in a life, those which batter, break and reform you into something else entirely are often hard to find, but I think I can point to a scattering of moments from that year, moments when that willful, poetic spirit began to leave me. All of them involve my friend Hank. Hank the composer. Hank the terrible, wonderful maestro of Iron County and of my youth.
When we moved to Iron County, Utah, I never thought I could name the place a home. I was assured by my frustration that it would suffocate me. My days of attempted assimilation had been in vain and would now remain behind me. So decided on this fact was I that I refused to acknowledge the small bits of beauty that existed there even as they leapt out at me and cried for recognition. The feeling of Main Street, one tangible and insidious in its all-American fable appeal, the simplicity of a life so far from the cold concrete blocks that were my garden prior- I was willfully blind to all these charms. I might have missed Hank too, shut my eyes and let him pass me by like the rest had he not forced himself upon me. His spirit, so bright you were almost afraid to look it straight on - it shattered my walls, brought them tumbling down. I thank him for it still, and rejoice to see him in the rare hours that I find myself mercifully lost in dreams. Only then do I hear his music in air, those haunted melodies that destroy the shuddering silence of waking.