Wednesday, March 14, 2012

nowhere fast

It feels like May outside, and I drop off my car, noticing that the gas prices keep rising and remembering what life was like before transportation. I got my license late in life, only when I really had to, since the bus line only went so far and my idealistic dreams died in the wake of student loans and other adult-world concerns that didn't preclude me from getting rides from other people with bigger carbon footprints.

I've realized recently that I've forgotten what it's like to be car-less, to set aside a block of time to do things, to slow down one's pace. There's a restless part within my soul that's been there as long as I was old enough to wander, when I'd spend my teens ambling through Parmastan on trips to the library, the goodwill, and the record store, those days and nights when I just had to get out of my dorm room or apartment and go somewhere, seeking small shards of the sublime in the most mundane of surroundings that suddenly became more beautiful or interesting and kept my sanity on the days when I felt like I was cracking up.

When one walks and actually looks, there is way more to see than what's passed at 25 miles an hour. The shadowy desolate figurines in a shop window, the way the light falls across an empty storefront, green-eyed cats staring out the windows of basement apartments, the five-minute dramas of cigarette breaks outside of corner stores. There are others out too, and I find that I avoid eye contact much more than I used to, but my eyes eternally thirsty take in every small detail of these familiar streets on the way to the library or the drugstore as if I'm seeing them for the first time.

Some who lived in supposedly better times would say my generation goes nowhere and does nothing, because we're too busy being on the Internet, and while I think I might be one of the last cohorts of kids who played outside unsupervised for hours on a regular basis, building forts in trees and riding my bike up to the pool in cutoffs and swimsuit without much fear of abduction, I think our lack of movement has something to do with technology but also more to do with the lack of economic power that previous generations took for granted. We have to find our beauty here, in case we never get to see elsewhere.

I get the feeling that if one looked into the past, for everyone who took to the open road and started fresh, there were others who had neither the means nor the lack of ties that make it easy or desirable to do so. The mythos of new beginnings is a microcosm of manifest destiny dressed in the garb of rebellion, of trust fund kids and people with nothing to lose, while others of us cling to our roots and branch out towards the sun when we can.

Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets       
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows?…
I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.


  1. You're obviously not as edgy as Those Who Used To Be The Kids Who Are Now Edgy Adults used to be.