Archive for November, 2019

Cardboard.

November 10, 2019

There are routines and holes to fill, one by one, or in some cases trying to flood all the holes with certain behaviors only to find that underneath the holes is a subterranean canyon that is waiting to swallow you whole. I have been in my apartment nearly a year, but for the first three months I was a ghost trying to unpack boxes that should have been tossed away fifteen years ago or even longer. Some had grown damp over the years of sitting, it was if all the memories that were stuffed inside the cardboard boxes had slowly started to weep over the years, encased in dust the must and yellowing of the pages of the magazines, the fading photographs were dying from neglect. Hidden in the garage and basement after being hauled a thousand miles from Florida, and prior to that a thousand miles from Ohio to Florida, all the while never being looked at. Given the attention they were once thought to have deserved. This time, years later as the boxes sat in an old-new living room I sorted them out, a keep, a giveaway and a throwaway pile. Knowing that all three piles would most likely be forgotten about and as such there was a need to be planful, I kept repeating “somebody must want some of these.” But who really wants to hold onto someone else’s memories?

Over the past eleven months parts of me have died while other parts have pushed themselves up from the parched soil of myself, small growths that without care could be crushed to death with neglect. Recently, I pulled the rest of the boxes from the garage, a garage that rarely ever held cars but was only used as storage for an old unvarnished life. Some never made it to the apartment, I dragged them out to the dumpster, pitching them in and not really knowing what old memories, what old successes or failures were being tossed into the garbage. Many of these boxes contain old fanzines, magazine, flyers and photographs. Some are of bands and musicians I knew and worked with over the years, I would get these things in the mail, and toss them in a box. They were rarely read, and the plan would be to give them to the bands and artists who were in them, but going through them I realize that many of them have died and others have moved on with their lives, the days of huddling together once a week with friends to pluck songs out of their lives and minds while smoking weed and drinking beer had long been replaced by taxiing children to soccer, to school and minding the responsibilities  of work. The inspiration of newfound love had grown into something, hopefully, deeper and more meaningful than scribble words on a folded bar napkin but in many cases these electrical relationships had turned brittle over the years. Neglected like the boxes of memories. Jenny died and all the magazines and photographs I have of her don’t really have a home to go to, nor do the ones of Jerry, or Jim Shepard or Jack Taylor, so what to do with them?

Some things are best not kept, and a loyalty to the past can be toxic although it seems that the past we carry existed before us, that this loyalty ends up being a lodestone just because parents or family or whomever says we must carry it on for the next generation. For myself this went unquestioned, the stories I was told as a child and even later held no ground for who I should be, they were stories and as such held a fascination for who I should or shouldn’t be. As I gaze backward, over the mountaintop of fifty the realization that some of these ideas of tradition of holding on did nothing except offer cement to a life that strove in many ways to move forward. Glued to a time already lived, sometimes by somebody else, a father, a grandmother, is not always the most productive way to live a life in the present, in the future. It’s ok to toss them out but still honor whatever is needed to be honored but there is a truth in looking backwards with clear eyes, that the craziness and sadness and the pain of trauma can be used as fertilizer to move forward but not to clutch at my ankles preventing me from dancing forward.

For many years I drank to find that oh-so-perfect buzz that I had encountered so much in my late teens and early twenties but eventually, that buzz had grown so elusive it was just a myth, growing so faded in my cells and brain that it was just a foggy mist of a fable. It was as if they never happened, but they did because I could almost feel that excitement of the buzz-y feeling of swaying in front of a speaker, hands clutching a bottle of Black Label, coyly eyeing someway also swaying to the waves of feedback just a few feet away. The cool shock of autumn air at 3 am while clutching hands and sideways smiles shook the very leaves at our feet. But to pretend that can be replaced is a fool’s exercise.

The other day I asked my daughter, aged 14 how her coffee date went, and she laughed as an old soul would, “Jesus dad, we are fourteen what do you expect? We just laughed and had fun.” She talks to me in teenager code, and giggles at my perplexed responses, at twenty-first linguistic teenager play on words, the equivalent of ‘hey hey, Daddy-O” from the nineteen fifties, I don’t even try to pretend I know—this is her space, her memories, her future cardboard boxes so to speak. She doesn’t need mine to poke holes in hers, I grab another box, sort the piles and think if it would just be best to carry them out into the cold.  More than anything though, it’s not that I want to burden her future with the memories of my past, I don’t want her to encounter the canyon underneath it all, to protect her from that is of upmost importance.