“Death is always on the way, but the fact that you don't know when it will arrive seems to take away from the finiteness of life. It's that terrible precision that we hate so much. But because we don't know when we will die, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that's so deeply a part of your being that you can't even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. Perhaps not even. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.”
― Paul Bowles, The Sheltering Sky
When one is on the road, all the rules, change.
Not like the what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas sense of truth isn't falsehood if you omit some facts like a mise-en-scene in an old film noir, but in the resonance that how one sees the people of the world, changes.
Out from behind the armchair monitors (and this dates back pre-internet when large bay windows looked out upon main street in wait of the monsters who were inevitably due and we of course found out the only true monsters were those of us looking out and back at the very same windows) the realization sets in that people are people and the desires and dreams of most coincide with that for which we ourselves do long. Why then are there so many waking nightmares?
Stick me on a train when you can, although not a back and forth back and forth trod the same old ground here and there five days a week ad infinitum but out into the verse where there are one gazillion people awaiting that ever so important sliver of hope...that there is connection to be made with more causation and less cess-satiation than the Tyler Durden single-serving friendship.
But that digresses into something serious, something more thought-worthy than that which this heart wants to type right now. A heart typing one finger one letter at a time as the train leaves the station and under twinkling lights we leave out from Houston as she shines down upon me a city of splendor and her infinite storehouse even though the feet now tread elsewhere...for there is already and always a part of the left ventricle buried here so that the blood may pump and sprout...something...now that we are gone and moved along. This trip like a coda, although maybe better put an epilogue - although there are still days ahead to determine such a fate.
For that is the purpose of it all this week, these words, maybe just a paean to a city whose sheltering sky (albeit one where the August sun is affectionately known as "God's Spotlight") allowed for a certain self-imposed exile to take place so as to understand a part of the world (and thus a culture and a way and a manner) so different from that which had previously been set in tin-type upon the soul.
It is easy to generalize. It is a simple task to lump together personality based on where the pin falls on a map. It is a simpleton though who believes that by going door to door one can sell the same fears and phobias and defense mechanisms just because two by two we travel up the even side of the street like missionaries on a mission with nothing tangible to sell and an opinion that is always the same official missionary position.
For years, before making the leap of faith to moving to Houston and leaving New England behind, how often did some other say, "Texas? Why would you move there?" and follow with some quip of guns or cowboys or political abstracts.
What was most telling was how few of those inquisitors had even made an inquisition much less an exposition (as in exposing one's self through exploration) or expedition to the very same. Judge a people by the news and movies? Judge a people at all?
Here, where the Red River flows to the east and the Guadalupe to the west, we found those who ride horseback to bear little relation to the filmic innuendo and living far more grounded with a rule book of "Sir" and "Ma'am" and a politeness any parent would envy in their child.
There are one thousand stories and one thousand lessons and none of them would be as expected - but to tell them would be to counteract the point - in an age of free-wheeling playing with that which is truth, there is a reason to advocate that all one ought believe is that which one experiences (which may be just a good way of constructing an endless excuse to travel).
But here, at least for tonight, the travel goes on as its own free (well, less expensive than an airplane and far more exciting and open to all of the grandeur of the locales in between) will, and in a modern age the words can flow fresh and smooth and be hot off the four inch screen and imprinted upon any surface imaginable but most hopefully and best possibly all our hearts.
From this elevated transportation pedestal, the eyes are permitted seeing into back lots, seeing into back yards, seeing into places normally reserved for those whose eyes are held low in the daylight and come out come out forever at far at night.
Yet as the land grows low and the houses grow sparse and the last glimmer of sunset disappears over the dusty horizon, all that is left to view out the large sides of glass that give us panorama upon the world, is the backlit reflection of a face that may or may not be the most familiar to each and every one of us individual for maybe or maybe not the best reasons.
It was in the days of youth, when the train rides into Manhattan to see Smashing Pumpkins, Tool, The Ramones, Tori Amos...one thirty a.m. locals getting us back at three in the morning so that the diner could carry us nearer to the dawn and a beach sunrise over the water to complete the invocation before slumber took us all to the bottom of the sea...it was in these nights that the essences of the pattern of travel were transferred through the clack clack clackity clack down the track don't look back and the words began their lifetime and then some search for a cadence that found meaning in the sound and patina as much as the definition and phrase. Oh trains, you have stitched up this heart with rail ties and Americana spikes.
The invocation of rhyme and the extrapolation of language - where a simple phrase can be transformed into a work of art that attempts to peel back the analytical layers of dissertation so that one can approach a read with the same enthusiasm that exudes from a five year old riding a train for the first time and lets the world know by leaving an indelible mark behind - that of a window that just came face to face with a fifty nose two hundred finger creature.
Where does one go when there is no possibility of tracking a map across the lands? We delve into that reflection - and thus travel is no longer geographic but internal. The new people we meet are a newly transformed self and all of the facets formed as our edges rub against the stories and situations we run into all our days.
The writing here is not so much dictionary as it is hymnal - a resonance more than a cognizance. As much for the self as for the world. Does that make sense through the innocence and happenstance of a writer who now provides the metronome and turpentine with which one can build a primer of understanding and a translation key that will turn out to be far more simplistic than one expects even at second and third glance?
The first poems of the Rooster's high school youth found their Flair felt tip identity scratched into a pocket-fitting notebook on those early-morning nap-filled trains. "Lit up crosses over places named Mary" the first piece began and still holds import perched upon the mantle over the verbal fireplace in the mind. The words that flow now have not changed very much at all. Though one difference stands out - the fact that the cadence has begun to shed the skin of causality so as to truly find the humanity underneath. It had always been the goal to do so - it just took a long circuitous route to begin to understand why. More to share as more is known. As is said in these parts, more to follow.
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