I had thoughts of writing a poem about childhood memories and the like, but found myself too restricted in that format to get my points across properly. The end result is this short, rambling, essay/stream of consciousness piece. Faded memories. Vague glimpses of a past. Scribbled asides. Forgotten snapshots.
If you have never seen the Albert Brooks comedy ” Defending Your Life “, you should pick it up at the video store or Netflix. Essentially, Albert’s character is killed in an auto accident and arrives in Judgement City, where his life is judged by viewing video clips of his time on Earth. He has an “attorney”, played by Rip Torn, who presents Albert’s case and defends his actions. It’s one of my favorite movies, and it makes you reflect on your own past and how well your actions and behavior might stand up under such scrutiny.
Now, when I think back through my time in this life, it all seems so surreal. It seems like it was happening to someone else entirely. As if everything that was happening was pre-ordained and expected almost, and I was just reading my lines. I see my memories played back in a hazy video montage. Everything was always headed to where I am now and where I am going next.
I remember watching old reel to reel home movies on a big white screen when I was a child. Captured glimpses of family reunions long past. Riding my Grey Ghost bicycle. The men, who all had buzz-cuts and played yard darts, acted goofy, giving beer to the dog. The radios were tuned to the Indy 500. Cousins splashed in the sprinkler. A baby’s first awkward steps and little fingers in the birthday cake. Pencil marks on the doorframe of new heights attained. A 9 lb. Flathead caught out of Lake Priscilla. Vacations. Tennessee. Persimmon trees. Chickens. Mules. Outhouses. Georgia rain. Florida Sun. Feeding squirrels in the mountains of Colorado. Hammerin’ Hank catches the Babe. My first kiss. It was the neighbor girl, Debra, on the forehead, while she held her eyes tightly shut. The Hardy Boys. Batman. Striking out Willie Mays in my back yard, in my vivid imagination. Having my heart broken in the second grade by Carin, when she decided she only needed six boyfriends, not seven. My first motorcycle, a Honda XL125. My first car, a 1974 Ford Comet with a scoop on the hood and a 302 engine. It had a cassette player, although I only had one tape, which was Bad Company’s first album. Saturday nights in high school with my friends. My first electric bass. My first band. Singing ” Paranoid” and ” Jumping Jack Flash ” between bits of band drama. Sneaking cigarettes from the machine at Fire Station No.4. A cool October night when I became a man. Prom night. Memories of Minnesota, L.A., Chicago, Savannah, and the bright colors of a New England autumn. My first poem published. Laughter. Tears. Herbs. Pills. Powders. Addiction. Harley-Davidsons. Depression. Hating my job with the Postal Service. Wanting much more. Marriage. Births. Divorce. Loneliness. Abigail. Loneliness. Rediscovery. Magic. Hope. Heartbreak.
All was so innocent back in the beginning. I had no idea of the joys and sorrows that awaited me. The minutes and the years passed by as if in a dream state. I’m now an actor in need of direction. Who am I now ? Where am I going ? What is my motivation in this scene ? Do I get to pick my next co-star ? The final curtain awaits me.