They don’t heat the outhouse.
They don’t heat the outhouse.
7 November 2017
I remember 01.03
I remember the old station wagon. It was blue. It was a Ford. We bought it at Drew Ford in La Mesa, at their old dealership in downtown La Mesa. I mean my father and mother bought it, but I say we bought it, and include my baby brother and myself, because we all went to the old Drew Ford dealership on the pointed corner of La Mesa Boulevard, near where you can come down a short block from Lemon Avenue up on the hill, yes, before they moved over to their new place next to the freeway that was soon named Interstate Eight, yes.
We bought it, I am fairly sure I remember, after my brother was born, probably even after we moved, but I remember driving it downtown into San Diego one morning to take the diaper bag to the diaper washing service. I was lounging in the back of the station wagon, reading a book, and I got carsick from reading and moving around and smelling the dirty diapers.
I think I remember we were driving that car a couple years later, maybe only one or two, when we took that trip north in the springtime because my Dad had been advised by his doctor to take some time off and get out and have a vacation, if I remember the story rightly, it was his bronchitis that had been so bad. He smoked, you know, up until the last months of his life.
It is hard for me to remember he was only fifty-six when he died in the summer of 1977. That would have been maybe fifteen years after we took that trip north. I remember how we drove through Los Angeles. For some reason, maybe it was our “new” old car, the station wagon, that makes me remember looking at the traffic on the Hollywood Freeway, or maybe it was the Ventura Freeway, anyway it was most likely old U.S. Highway 101. A couple years later we started taking the Golden State Freeway over the grapevine to take the shorter route north. At that time Interstate Five had not been built up the east side of the Central Valley, and so we followed the older route – already a freeway in some places – old U.S. Highway 99 through Bakersfield and Fresno and Merced.
2017 November 6, 2017
I remember 01.02
I remember when I knew how to pedal a bicycle. A bike. I remember when paper was what I threw at the neighbors’ houses, down the street and around the hillside corner, where the trees were going to die, soon, from too many septic tanks and rotten roots, underground I remember how I begged my father every Sunday morning to help me to drive me around my paper route, six days a week in the afternoon on my bicycle and then one morning, Sunday, before dawn.
We went up to the top of the mountain to see the comet, one of those mornings. I remember it was like a long searchlight against the dawn, a white pencil-beam of light pointing away from the Sun, too bright, too bright, my gravity bends away and I flee this memory even as I drink it down, sweet on my tongue, bitter in my stomach, always reading the Bible as if any book could explain what I feel or why my crotch itched for sex, hungry, desperate desire to fuck.
No. I remember.
Thank you for being alive.
Yes. I remember.
2017 November 5
I remember when I said I remember. It was an hour ago, thinking I should write this about something I remember. I remember I said I remember only a few seconds ago, in my mind, when I wrote it. I remember. Yes.
I remember looking out the window. There were trees and bushes and dirt and clouds in the sky, and then sunlight shining over the hills. We were moving. It was a moving window. It was a car. I remember.
I remember sometimes I look for water. I looked for water. My brother was in the back seat of the car with me, looking for water. He was one year old, maybe almost two, or maybe only eighteen months.
I remember when my brother was eighteen months old. I remember telling people he was eighteen months old. I was nine. We had lived in our new house for more than a year.
I remember we moved, on January 31, 1959, when he was four months and fifteen days old. I remember I was not there on the day we moved. For some reason which I do not completely understand, I went with family friends to Disneyland on that day. I remember that with a strange feeling in my gut. Almost guilt, almost pleasure, almost mixed up and half-forgotten. I remember it, but I don’t know if it is true anymore. I remember how I used to remember this fact with strange feelings. Why did they send me to Disneyland? Or did they send me? Were the Black family going there anyway?
I don’t remember if my baby brother went with us that day, but I think not.
I would ask my mother, but she does not remember things like that anymore. I don’t know if she ever did know. I don’t remember.
I suppose my parents hired movers, but I don’t remember that very clearly.
I remember my father moved his boat into the front yard. He was building a small sailboat. I remember the day we launched it. He launched it. We used to have a home movie of that, somewhere. Maybe it is in a box in the closet. Or maybe not.
2 Moon 29 Autumn 61 Space Age
20 October 2017
I take the trash out this morning. The sweet autumn air is damp in my nose. It rained, very briefly, an hour or two ago, before I got up. Now the street is almost dry again, but I can still feel the breath of water, and the corners of the overhanding eaves of our house are still dripping, faintly, one drop, two drops, three.
I suppose it wasn’t really “rain” – certainly not a hard rain. No. It barely qualified as a “shower” – if that. It was only what one would call “drizzle” – which makes me think of London and all my recent daydreams about living there for a year, or at least for six months (the longest the UK would let me stay without actually getting a visa).
Or maybe it is better just to fly around in my computer, the ultimate 21st century armchair traveler, looking at all the streets and photos and videos, but staying safe and warm at home.
Whatever the case, London is quickly banished from my mind as I push our heavy trash bin out toward the street. It trundles before me, lumbering on its two little wheels, its big body tilted back onto a point of balance, making it almost easy for me to go clunking and bumping along the flat cement walkway leading from the side door – by our kitchen – turning diagonally through the small front garden, out toward the sudden steep slope descending three feet down to street level. As I push this modestly rumbling blue bin (full of rattling glass and metal and whispering paper), I am oddly reminded of Marie Antoinette travelling through the streets of Paris, headed towards her appointment with the guillotine. Tumbril. In her tumbril. It had big wheels, I think. My trash bin has little wheels. Vive la différence.
Perhaps I think of Paris because I am slowly reading Victor Hugo’s long novel, Les Misérables. Yes, perhaps that has something to do with it, even though it takes place one and two generations after the killing of Marie and her husband Louis. Yes, but “they all look alike” – to burglarize a bigoted clause.
As I write these words, my little phone buzzes with a news alert from A.J.E. There have been more bombings in Afghanistan.
Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
There was a man came from the sea with salted
love in his blood and salty words upon his tongue.
Master of the tiller and wheel, at home a captain
in the kitchen, and over the ocean commander
of hearts and minds.
He taught us all what it means to live under wind
and rain, storm and sun. He would cruise the waters
of the boundless main, then sit and charm us with
a few kind words of wit.
We are greater for having known him; but oh how
it hurts to bid him farewell.
So, it is, with life: we come and then we go.
A precious blossom blooms upon the mighty tree.
Inevitably, inexorably, after many a brilliant sunrise
and scarlet evening, summer turns toward autumn,
breaking our hearts, stripping our leaves and flowers.
All we have left is to be grateful for such a man, to have
loved him as brother, husband, cousin, uncle, friend.
4 October 2017
We are now entering the sixty-first year of the Space Age.
The anniversary of Sputnik has come. It was sixty years ago that the first orbital satellite was launched by our species – or at least the first that is/was publicly known.
Prior to that date, rockets had been launched, but they had only gone up and come down again. This was the first time that a rocket was used to successfully put an artificial object in orbit. Not only did this object get put into orbit around the Earth, but it also carried a small radio transmitter, and very famously sent out a signal beep beep beep beep beep beep over and over again, as it flew around and around the planet where we live.
Sixty years later, an entire space station is orbiting the Earth, and is inhabited by human beings, who come and go by riding up in capsules located on rockets. Some of them live up there for months at a time.
We are now entering the sixty-first year of the Space Age.