Eidoleons

So I wanted the kid to sleep. As any parent knows, the car is a powerful tool for soothing the beast that is your child. We were already in the car, so… it’s not bad parenting if you took a little longer than usual to drive from point A to B (never mind if you traverse the entire alphabet twice before finally arriving at B).

Tooling down the street, curling around roundabouts, I found myself settling into the routes of my childhood like a wheel locking into a well-worn rut. Not the exact routes, mind ya, because that would finish quite badly, with chain link wrapped around my fender, along with various bits of backyard paraphernalia which might or might not include bits of bloody dog hair.

My old stomping grounds were illuminated, long dormant neural pathways superimposing the subdivisions, the shards of maze-like suburbia with memory’s clarity. There the cornfield I was afraid to go too far into, content to pitter and patter at its edge; bright constellation of activity there—a nail punctured rubber sole to flesh sole causing me to limp home. Across the street there was the cauldron of Osage orange trees surrounding the recessed foundation of a silo. There was no light pollution.

Then the bicycle dashes across the cracked sidewalks, the destination often suspect. The squeak of wheel, the fading pink paint of my sister’s “borrowed” bike so my friend could take mine. Hot and cold, your hands burned, your face burned. Forcibly forgetting the brakes down the town’s steep rolling hills. Cooling down at the local Dillon’s, twenty five cent generic sodas from the machine outside and stolen candy whose wrappers were hidden between the folds of magazines. VHS tapes from the video department. The movies were so great back then. A Family Circusesque montage stipples our routes across town, which are just as circuitous.

The heat wave making waves across the concrete. My grandparents were in town and everyone was off to the City of Fountains but I elected to stay behind. I don’t know why, but there I was, with some pocket change and not enough water in my body, walking the couple miles to the local comic book store where I woke on the floor surrounded by concerned faces right after buying a candy bar at the 7-11 (which has long since been converted to a pawn shop and its barricaded windows, to add an element of seediness). When I got home I found that the candy bar had melted in my pocket, and the packaging made a teardrop shape as all the chocolate rushed to the bottom.

Turning the car down a forgotten street, the flash in the mirror showing the kid’s nodding off, but not at the finish line. The pond slides past. Me and a friend on a bench, my shoulder blades perched on the 2 by 4 backing, tripping balls off on sticks of honey sunken amanita muscaria. Benevolent columns of cloud in the blistering blue sky, twirling to pause and cast bashful smiles before twirling the opposite way. His trip something else, but the muscles in our face were drawn up. The water, like Joyce put it, millioncandled. Then we went down behind the hill to the runoff pool which used to be a fish hatchery to smoke a joint or two.

Park after park, clandestine conventions of illegality, slouched on armatures belonging the children of the day (I imagine if we could hear, the ghosts of these whoops and cries linger on the wind)—during the night, a different sort of child comes sneaking out of back doors, across low wet grass, footprinting the asphalt until they reach the pre-arranged destination, eyes glittering, hands snaking into pockets to grasp moist leafy fragrances.

Then somewhere between that and now, things happened. Some things got better, some good things got lost, and some things hit the fan. It’s hard to reconcile the kid with the large wire-frame glasses pervasive in the 90’s  to a tall father sodden with exhaustion myself. Illusions were shattered, of course, and along with the pieces fell the innocent versatility of naivete, belief. Now a cynic cashing in doubts, the trip fades (wire-frame unrendering of memory) to leave behind mellow nostalgia but not the despair of the absent. It is a gift, something we should give to ourselves once in a while, to remember our origins, to remember it wasn’t always like this. We can reacquire the pieces of self that made us in thrall of the world, if only indefinitely. A fine vintage to be enjoyed on special occasions.

I look in the mirror. Out like a light.

Bicycle Diaries

The trail is hedged by oak boughs of many varieties. I careen down this lash of asphalt through the small, false backyard wilderness of the suburb. My spine tingles as my rear wheel rattles alarmingly and a grin scimitars my face as the prospect of being a red stain on stone manifests itself exhilaratingly. A couple of bearings are missing, but what the hey! it keeps my mind off my mind. haha what a pun!

A pair of signs loom as I approach. One lies on its side. Bold black paint on bright, rusted orange proclaims a detour. I don’t listen and follow the path until it gradually curves into disrepair. It leads to a forty meter corridor which span a ribcage of municipal architecture. The bike path that traverses its cool shade is abandoned to progress; instead of the usual asphalt, it is a bone-rattling expanse of stone salved with concrete that resemble the organic, organized chaos of a wasp’s nest. Sitting on a comfortable lump of concrete I imagine to be cooling magma, I am ironically and utterly alone. Forgotten sodium lamps glitter newly where the sunlight sneaks in the gap between constructs. The ground rumbles from above: the freeway is lusty today. It’s a Saturday after all. I get up and walk to the median and urinate feely on the stones, all the while chuckling to myself, for reasons difficult to fathom.

At the base of the Locust tree is the mangled remains of a squirrel. It looks almost mummified. I wonder why it clutches a broken D.A.R.E. ruler in its jaw and paws. A Budweiser lies in pieces around its stiff person.

I sit on this flat sheet of decayed concrete studded with large lumps of gravel, the detritus of the massive construction projects that never seem to finish. The City claims it is soil erosion prevention, but the excess leads me to believe that creek beds are just convenient places to put the waste products of new roads. But nature adapts beautifully to progress and renders urban decay with a multitude of crawling, scrabbling, slithering homes. I frighten a snake and it slips with sinuous panic into the sparkling current, a ribbon of chaotic motion with a definite vector, to peer from a patch of algae. Oh, how it waits, immobile in the bright rushing!

The water’s always appealed to me. Never staying in one place is something I think about often these days. The least I can do now is run in place while the scenery moves me. A battery of birds frolic on bobbing branches.

I am happy, at least for the moment.