Thursday, August 24, 2006

This is not the tone that I want.
This is not what I want to say.

I want to say that we all want to leave something behind. Material things that will lend to the memory of us and shape our perception long after we are gone. We sent spacecrafts up decades ago to explore, and included something of ourselves in case we should be gone as a race and unable to tell our story. We had, or our representatives had, a sense of time, of thinking back and forward, a sense of how we wanted to be remembered, and we did not sample from the culture of the time and risk offending a far-off race with disco but sent Wolfgang and Johann Sebastian instead. We wanted them to know that we were capable of beauty and love. We did not send the four horsemen and the seven deadly sins. We sent the seven wonders and the sound of wind, rain, and surf. Those spacecrafts bearing our essence, or our best selves, are still out there, beyond Pluto (who is no longer a planet, but that is another story), still traveling toward the dog star. Our best selves. Open to interpretation.

I am not getting there.
I am not putting my best foot forward.

But it’s just today; this morning. I want to make my mark, send out my best self, but it was an ungodly hour, for staying up or getting up. The years have added punishment to the rollicking that would have led to being up until 4:58 a.m., and I want no part of 4:58 a.m. Finding myself driving the streets, I wondered what those other people were up to. Knowing my purpose meant that only I could possibly have one; those others in their cars or unlocking their bikes or standing at the counter in a convenience store could only be up to no good. That I belonged was clear—-their purposes were nefarious and the individuals not to be trusted.

Having deposited my mother at the airport, we returned home and to the strains of heavy metal music coming from the house of the Neighbor We Don’t Know. “I keep thinking he’s making porn movies and using the music to cover up the noise” said Pete. “Have you SEEN him?” I said. No, again, whenever someone is behaving in such a manner, my mind, saturated with literature, pictures violence and dark strangeness coming from behind the lit but always drawn blinds on the tiny white house next door, and the thought of leaving even a small yellow post-it stating “The music is too loud. Could you keep it down please? Love, your neighbors, Pete and Karen” would be too much exposure for me, a mark I do not want to leave, and would open up an avenue of communication that I don’t desire. He has done nothing but move into his grandmother’s house after they shipped her off to a nursing home. Perhaps I hold the grudge of Violet’s dignity, who did not want to leave her home and who was lied to, as old people often are. There is probably nothing going on, nothing interesting, as this is not a movie, just my life, and it is probably as simple as he works odd hours, has questionable taste in music, and enough self involvement to not understand that his noise travels. Or perhaps, like the young men in their slick cars and their thumping bass notes, he just wants to be noticed. To leave his mark.

Returning to sleep at 5:00 in the morning is not as easy as it should be. Sleep is something that I am not good at, and as with all things that I am not good at, I don’t particularly like to do it, not wanting to make attempts in areas in which I do not excel. Not that sleep is something that will expose me to public ridicule; after all, no one will be watching me, except for possibly Pete, and he has a legal right to do so if he pleases. And, as Pete is not crazy, watching me while I sleep is sexy and not creepy.

I slept into a dream with a new house, overflowing with cats and neighbors and family. My aunt Ann was there, back from the dead, and we all knew it, including her. I wanted to ask her what it felt like, to wake up not dead and know that she had a finite time, and had to go back to being dead. I wanted to ask her how it had happened. Did she wake up in bed with her husband in the morning, like nothing had happened, but knowing that two years had passed? Was his new girlfriend there? Was he expecting it? But I did not want to be indelicate. Her husband, however, easy going and filled with humor, responded to her concern over having to be dead again soon with a blithe “Oh, Ann; it’s not like you haven’t died before.”

As I made coffee this morning, up for the second time in one day, I thought that perhaps this was Ann’s mark, for me. Not her mark for the rest of the world, like the terror alert colors that she inadvertently started, not like the mark for her children, their memories, but these little visitations that she grants me periodically. I want to think that they are her, not saying that she is OK, or that everything is fine, but checking in to see that I am.

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