Friday, December 04, 2009

remembering the bonfire

I thought about naming this "chapter" of my late life dialogue, "now we return to our regular programming" however it ties into the adventure of my pre college year. College for me was both amazing and stupid at the same time. I was dedicated, idealistic, I knew the direction I needed to go, I had mastered some of the basic skills and read some of the basic material that would be required, in that regard I was ahead of the curve. My time after school can be summed up by the line David Caradine as Kwi Chang Caine in the series "Kung FU", delivered to his former master when Caine shows up to the city, date and time stated by this master as the where and when that this master would reach his life's goal...When they meet he asks Caine, "So what have you done with your time?" Caine states with a sigh " I have traveled, I have been thinking, I have meditated, I have learned." Come to find out the "goal" of the master was the master's own death, which starts Caine on his travels to America as an outlaw. I have spent my time since school traveling to find my home, thinking about what I do and why, reading about this and other things. I have learned how to do what I do and why. Occasionally I need to return to my youth to get a bearing on where I've been and how I got there.

I just finished such a trip. My Father invited me to spend Thanksgiving with him and his wife this year. I rented a car and drove north by northwest through Virginia and West Virginia and finally to Ohio. I didn't linger in my childhood as I sometimes do when I got to Barberton. I spent my time there dealing with family issues, time with my dad and a cousin that I didn't spend too much time with when I lived there. I saw some things I hadn't seen before and came to the realization that I would always be a tourist in was only home for my childhood memories.

However I did get to Cleveland and spent 2 days. I had dinner with a few of my usual pirate friends: My Roomate while I lived in the dorms-Probably the only person I met at the school that had more agility with Art skills then myself...He's a high scale house painter now, The only non Art member of the group who dropped out John Caroll and spent the next 20 years attempting to finish his undergraduate degree, along with battling the demons of alcohol and drugs, and lastly the epitome of the typical graduate. He got his degree in painting and metal smithing...he discovered computers and went that way. He was one of the only graduates of the Institutes aborted Graduate program. The fifth member of this group I saw separately, as couldn't join us for dinner. A printer and painter who has lived in his parents servants quarters since his was 16, maintaining the family home, picking up painting jobs around the neighborhood and working on his painting and printing.
Of all 6 of us, None married, and each has had a brush with his own fragility and mortality in the last few years. One fell on his head from 22' in the air and spent a year in the hospital system recovering learning how to walk again, speak again, and through the help of his friends learning who he was and what he did with his life. Another fell off a ladder landed on his hands and broke both his wrists and had them screwed back together. The third had his appendix burst and died on the operating table. The fourth thought he had the flu, and at his mothers insistence went into the hospital and found out he not only was diabetic but that he needed a quadruple bi pass surgery. I have a metal hip and recently had root canal on one of my teeth. We sat and compared scars, spoke of life, spoke of former girlfriends and wondered if we shouldn't have let the One that stands out get away. We reflected on our history both together and apart. We laughed some, we compared information we had collected. The one with the brain damage kept saying "I Just remembered that!" so we all added pieces to the puzzle he's trying to assemble but for the rest of it there was a sense of resignation to our lives...that we had not done what he had planned but we had used our lives to survive life, to acquire skills, to leave some small mark that we had been here. I cannot answer for the others, but this helped me. When I speak to those I know that did fofill their lives plan, they have regrets-wishing they could live a life of not doing "the Job" but to spend it as a creating individual. When speaking to those who attempted life with a mate if not once or twice but multiple times, they have regrets wishing they had either not bothered or had tried with another. We tell the old stories, we talk of the future, we sigh concerning our present, and compare scars.

My Father's cousin, almost a brother to him, and a second father to me, found out while I was there that he was sicker then he originally thought. He, his parents and his wife and children were and are "Family" to me. They were more then blood that one saw occasionally at family reunions, they were my ballast, my life line to reality during my school career. I would spend holidays with them, attend extended family functions as one of them...eating a meal, doing the family thing and then dashing back to my books and art materials. He thought he had a bad case of bronchitis, come to find out he has inoperable lung cancer caused by his contact with asbestos during his career as a welder at one of the lynch pin employers in Barberton. His family is devastated by this news as am I. However I see this is how it ends. My friends and I will gather together again, and sometime in the future it will be to bury one of our own. and we will continue to gather around the fire to pass the bottle, to tell the stories and compare our scars as we enjoy what we were, what we wanted to be, what we actually became and how we will end up. I guess this is why we are put here, to make these connections, to influence and take part in each others lives, to huddle together for warmth and triangulation on our positions in our lives and then to be missed when we are no longer on this side of the curtain.
Until next time...Good luck and maintain.