the magic of memory lane. i faced one of my inexplicable fears today - speaking on the telephone, and as is increasingly common, looked inward to ask why am i so goddamned strange about some things. i can sleep in the mud deprived of food, abstain from my vices on a whim, tolerate the inconsiderateness of strangers, but panic when a loved one wants to wish me well through a wonder of technology the ancient diaspora would have wept over.
we were brats. not the good kind of brats, not johnsonville brats, but army brats, and even wurst of all, we were step-brats. we weren't meant for transiency, our genes were written into the limestone over generations, our ancestors trekked enough for all time, across salt-soaked isthmi at the dawn of time, over barren, frozen landscapes until they found a secure harbor, safe from all harm save a pestilence that would eventually visit. they always visit.
even with all our modern resources, there just isn't time. i cannot retrace all the outlines i skulked in person, as much as my sentimentality would demand. these places where i was briefly situated, during my own formation, are lost, like passed loved ones. but i can, as long as my memory holds, see them. as long as i remember street names, which, for some inexplicable reason, are etched in memory. 1111 jefferson, 1605 missouri, 113 s. 3rd. some random car with a camera atop its hood spends all that time i no longer have capturing snapshots of all my lives lived.
they call it street view! if only it had been so simple 40 years ago, instead of running, i could have let someone else escape for me and send me the evidence.
now, i can tap into a memory and a screen and re-live.
i was 30 years old before i had lived in the same house for more than
3 years. texas, new york, missouri, south carolina, kansas, oregon, romania
my step-dad had this peccadillo borne apparently from dust bowl depredations passed down through family lore, party line limitations. he could not bear someone in the house using the telephone for more than a few spare moments. i longed for the hollywood tropes of adolescents dragging coiled telephone wires underneath their own unshared bedroom doors, teen beat posters, awkward phone conversations while teasing parents and siblings stood mercilessly, smiling, laughing at your development. that is not how it was.
if you were lucky enough to have a girlfriend under that roof, you had to hope he was away when she called. otherwise, a mile away, there was a convenience store with a coin operated telephone, and if you had the will and the wherewithal (and the change) you could press your cheek against the cold hard plastic in the fluorescent light and let your hormones run wild with anticipation and promise.
he apologized later, a few weeks before he died, for something random and inconsequential. it was a nice moment, one for which i'm grateful, at least some measure of closure after all those thousands of miles traveled. i still cannot bear to use the telephone for talking, or for that matter, for anything other than reliving where i have lived.
If I want to see my childhood home, I just look out my upstairs window and there it sits... 4 houses away. From what I can remember, I've lived in nine homes total. But five of those were before the age of five. And the final four were all within a 15 mile radius. I guess I haven't lived much at all.
There have been some potential jobs out of town but after all the moves, I have decided no more living for me. Really hoping this is our forever home.
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