Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Whose Face?

He sits across from me, a real-life mid-life crisis sitting in the bar where I once sat and wrote a story about a mid-life crisis, strangely enough. Back before I knew the city well enough to be prescient. Back when I was too young to know what I was talking about. The fingernail-red walls haven't changed. The unforgiving afternoon sunlight reflecting off the shop windows across the street. He stares at me and I squint back at him, we talk and we laugh and he shakes a little from the spine to the shoulders to the belly, and he tells me we're walking in the same shoes, that I just don't know it yet. He tells me I'll get there. I flinch and we laugh and I hope he's wrong. This man is not afraid of anything, won't let anything stop him on his path towards burning it all down.

So. You go to sleep one man and wake up another, you've said that already. So you become the man you never thought you'd be, and used to hold in contempt. You've said that, too. So you write in charming and opaque ways about driving West in Chevy Novas, about begging on the outside of motel room doors, about gunshots and whispers and pleas, but mostly you just patrol the limits of the farm from well inside the fence. And who would blame you? So you wake up holding shame and desire in equal balance, I suppose that's how it works. Holding shame and desire in equal balance but mostly just frozen and ridiculous at six o'clock in the morning. Suddenly. This face, whose face is this?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Car I Could Drive

Here's what I want. 

I want a car that I could drive West to the ocean, a blue Nova would be ideal. I want a Rand McNally Road Atlas and a shoe-box full of tapes. I want to drive from Chicago to Seattle, 80 to 25 to 90, I want five days where nobody knows where I am and nobody cares where I am. I want back that wind-storm in Wyoming one more time, which scared and thrilled me so much in the summer of 1977. I was 10 and I was terrified.

I want my dad to be OK, I want my sister to be OK, I want my Mom not to be scared. I want to do well by my students, I want to do a good job (and not just a good enough job) with this work that I never should have started but that I can no longer walk away from. I want my kids not to worry what's going to happen to them, I want my wife not to worry what's going to happen to them either.

I want you to be OK, most of all. It's's not going to get easier, and eventually you get tired.