Walking. Old Town Barcelona.

August, 2006.

Barcelona.

Family vacation, using accumulated points for airfare and hotel.

Complimentary breakfasts included chocolate croissants. Buttery flakes melting on tongue, chased by the Sweet, ever-so-smooth, French chocolate.

Our late morning destination was Old Town Barcelona, the Gothic Quarter.

Large blocks of cobblestone line the narrow passages, buildings overhead offering shade, a cool respite from the summer heat bearing down at mid-day.

Cobblers. Cheese shops. A bookstore with Bibles in the window. Small cafes. Shops selling beads, necklaces and over-priced souvenirs, Tourists lingering.

Our pace, My pace, was quick. Rush, to see, to get to, to do. Next. Next. Next.

19 years later, I’m flipping through images on the internet, trying to retrace those steps and replay that one hour of Life in Old Town. I’m frustrated, not finding the right images. Memories fray on the edges and now at the center, old photographs left out in the mid-day sun.

And regrets, always hauling the weight of Regrets, why I had not savored those steps (and let my Family do so), rather than greedily gulping them to get to the Next.

It was yet another Meg Rosoff awakening: “I can tell you that you will awake someday to find that your life has rushed by at a speed at once impossible and cruel. The most intense moments will seem to have occurred only yesterday and nothing will have erased the pain and pleasure, the impossible intensity of love and its dog-leaping happiness…”

I often awaken to this same moment in Barcelona, on quiet Sunday mornings like this one.  I’m walking Old Town. Slowly. I can hear my footsteps. Hear my breath.  Feel the slight autumn breeze on my forearms.  And I’m swamped with a yearning to replay the moment, and regain that intensity of that feeling.

I need to go back.

And do it right this time.


Photo: epepa.eu

T.G.I.F.: I wish. I do. I hope.

He starts singing. “‘Half my life is over, oh yeah. Half my life has passed me by.’” I roll my eyes, but he keeps going. It’s a bluesy tune and I’m trying to place it. Etta James? B. B. King?“ ‘I wish I could go back, change the past. Have more years, to get it right . . .’”

~ Lori Gottlieb, from her new book titled Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, HER Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed. Chosen as one of Amazon’s top 10 Books of the Month for April 2019.

Walking Cross-Town. And Recycling.

My right eye is pulled down and right, to the gutter on 42nd street. A half-eaten sandwich, a bite out of a slice of yellow American cheddar cheese, and its wrapper moist from Italian dressing. A few feet further up, a Bic Pen with its partially chewed blue cap, a cigarette butt and a flyer for Chinese take-out.

This discarded potpourri waits for the next big rain, or the morning sweepers to push it down from one storefront to the next and to the next, when it eventually drops down a street drain, bumping along the dark tunnels, and ending in the Hudson River, where a bottom feeding catfish nibbles on it.

I’m rushing (again) to catch the 6:10 Metro-North home.  I can’t explain it: the mind, my mind, that is.  It’s locked on trash.

Last night, I tossed an empty box of Eggo Frozen Waffles into the trash can in the kitchen. My eyes scan the trash, as my tongue works its way across my lips, lips lightly coated from Log Cabin Maple Syrup.

“Why isn’t this paper in the recycling bin?”

“What paper?”

“All of the paper that should be in the recycling bin.”

“Because it’s soiled.”

Soiled? I dig down. I find unsoiled paper, an empty plastic stick deodorant push-up, zip-lock baggies and empty envelopes.  I toss them into the recycling bin.

I dig down to the bottom for one last pass and my hands land on raw, moist chicken fat. [Read more…]

Walking Cross-Town. @ 80%.

It’s cold.

I’m zigzagging cross town.

I hit red lights and turn to walk up avenues. I approach walk signs, and turn back down streets.

The skyscrapers cradle the wind currents, they gust and swirl, and find the exposed skin: the neckline, the forehead, up the pant leg — both eyes gush water.

I reflect on a conversation from the day before.

“How you feeling?”

“Much better thanks. But I’m a bit shocked at how quickly I tire. And I have these intermittent bouts of lightheadness. Destabilizing, really.”

“You had material blood loss. You know that red blood cells take 4-6 weeks for complete replacement.”

You had no idea. None. Zero. How little interest you take in something so important to your sustenance. Yet that doesn’t seem to rock you as much as knowing the older you get, the less you seem to know. This jolt makes you lightheaded. Or perhaps it’s the speed walking, and a shortage of red blood cells.

I slow down. Way down. The lightheadness grows.

This movie is running in slow motion. Other pedestrians pass you by. Others pass you by. This makes you uncomfortable. You are losing, behind, slipping, slowing. Increasingly you are feeling ok with that. Really? Are You? Not really. You try to accelerate…want to…can’t…don’t…need to.

I stop. [Read more…]

Jimmy

open-gate-bo-bartlett

Tuesday.

I’m leaning back in the chair.  The bodies on the teleconference are shifting, their paper shuffling is booming on the mic. The update continues, I’m fading, drifting. I look up at the clock and it tugs me back, way back.

It’s hidden inside, in a dark space, deep in a corner on the edges, frayed but biting.

~ 1967

I was a child. You were a child. A Boy.

The schoolhouse had two classrooms, three grades in each room, one row for each grade, four to six students in each grade.  Three rows of heavy steel, four legged desks, each having a pocket for school things.  We were in the First Grade.

He was oversize in first grade, having been held back. Tall, thin, with hunger hanging from his bones. His brother was already categorized as a Juve, his Father an alcoholic, in and out of small jobs and a Mother desperately trying to keep it all together, and losing.

Faded jeans, not from stone washing, but from hand me downs from his older brother, or from a flee market sale. Everything wrong-sized, tattered and carrying a whiff of moth balls. Laces on too-big shoes loosely tied. Hair long, unruly and badly in need of a sheer. [Read more…]

Lightly child, lightly.

rob-woodcox-surreal-angel
perhaps one day
we’ll understand:
why it hurts to be here,
and there,
and then.

— Kimberly Grey, from “Conjugating in The Opposite of Light: Poems


Notes:

  • Sources: Poem – Hidden Landscape. Photo – Rob Woodcox from Surreal
  • Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect here.
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

 

Walking Cross-Town. With Snaps.

dark-hands-paint

Snap a picture a minute, from the instant we open our eyes in the morning until we go to sleep. Calvino‘s words.  And they’ve stuck.

Snap. A pigeon, wings fluttering, in her soft landing.
Snap. Powder blue Converse sneakers.
Snap. A leafless tree on 48th rising out of concrete.
Snap. A wind gust from a passing truck lifts a green ribbon, it floats, twists and lands – softly, gently.
Snap. The morning sun, luminous, warming.

Snap. Snap. Snap. Snap. Snap. Snap.

Billions of Snaps of Light, stored, restored in a snap.

The Scoreboard? Light: Billions Served. Non-Light: ~ 30.

And, yet, here they come. [Read more…]

But a man’s life comes full circle; you can learn

english bull terrier,pup,puppy

Laddie was a useful dog on the farm for the next few years, and there were moments when he did good things and we understood each other— once we sorted two ewes that we needed for a show off a hundred others we didn’t need in a field and walked them home. But it was a rare moment, and I always knew he wasn’t as good as he should have been. Sometimes he’d run home when I lost my temper and shouted at him. He lost trust in me. I knew whose fault it was. Mine. I knew that I’d let him down. I look back and think he would have made a good dog if I had known a bit more. But a man’s life comes full circle; you can learn, and do better than your past. I am determined not to make the same mistakes again.

~ James Rebanks, The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape.


Notes:

Lightly child, lightly.

close-up-face-eye-freckles-portrait
It
Troubles me that time should make things sweeter, that
Instead of learning to perceive things as they are I’ve
Learned to lose them, or to see them as they disappear
Into the insubstantial future. Everything here is mine,
Or lies within my power to accept. I want to find a way
To live inside each moment as it comes, then let it go
Before it breaks up in regret or disillusionment.

~ John Koethe, from “Between the Lines,” North Point North: New and Selected Poems


Notes:

  • Photo: via Mennyfox55. Poem: The Distance Between Two Doors
  • Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect here.
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

They are merely carried. . . set down, picked up, and dropped again (do over)

portrait,blond

Make no mistake. Everything in the mind is in rat’s country. It doesn’t die. They are merely carried, these disparate memories, back and forth in the desert of a billion neurons, set down, picked up, and dropped again by mental pack rats. Nothing perishes, it is merely lost till a surgeon’s electrode starts the music of an old player piano whose scrolls are dust. Or you yourself do it, tossing in the restless nights, or even in the day on a strange street when a hurdy-gurdy plays. Nothing is lost, but it can never be again as it was. You will only find the bits and cry out because they were yourself. Nothing can begin again and go right, but still it is you, your mind, picking endlessly over the splintered glass of a mirror dropped and broken long ago.  That is all time is at the end when you are old – a splintered glass. I should never have gone to that place, never have accepted the engagement, never have spoken….

~ Loren Eiseley, “The Rat That Danced” from “All the Strange Hours. The Excavation of a Life.”


Image: Broadstreet.com.au via Starwill

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