Tuesday, March 25, 2014

aly pt 2

[and time wears on and wears on us.
day is done, pt 2.]

Maybe the problem wasn't that my parents didn't choose to indoctrinate me. I don't think it would have taken either way. I rolled my eyes at kumbaya in kindergarten. 

Thinking back on it, we still sang Christian songs in a public school when I was kid. It was a strange medicine to me, a sharp and bitter fruit.

I think, maybe, the problem is that some of us are designed for force of will over faith. I know it wasn't anybody's plan for me to not believe in much, it was just in the cards.

After Aly left, I went to my first church youth group for all the wrong reasons. The second I walked into the door, I interrupted another former neighbor of mine (whom I hadn't seen in a least a handful years). She was leading some kind of worship with an acoustic guitar. She stopped to explain to the small crowd she'd amassed that see, that's the devil right there, he comes in all forms to distract you from God's love. 

She said this with a little guitar pick dagger in her hand, cutting the air between us with an arcing slice of indictment.

We don't have the time to talk about denialism in this instance, really. 

I'd gone to fill the void Aly had left. Not with God, but if that were some how possible, I think I might have embraced it. No, I'd gone to see if there were maybe some one else like her out there.

It was a frail idea, one that I really hardly discussed with myself. I was afraid it would certainly fall apart, you know, maybe actually seeing her in someone somewhere else around. And no, I didn't have much faith in the idea, go figure.

It occurred to me later that it was hopeless and superficial to think I could replace Aly like some sentimental talisman, especially with monuments to the contrary resting around me in little emotional and environmental artifacts.

The youth group wrapped on a song I could neither appreciate nor understand. I was still left feeling dejected and despondent, and the song that seemed to lift every one else seemed cheap and ephemeral to me. The quaint chords seemed to drag them all into some kind of trance, a time trap, really. And I've never felt that. I've never really felt that close to anything.

And not to steer away from parents and indoctrination or anything. It's something I guess that has to be faced. I had parents that took a lot of pride in their work, their building something from the dust and nothing that they were handed. They were both eerily innocuous types perhaps both molded by their own parents that bordered between fringers and the more traditional types of their eras.

I've known, as long I can remember being rational, that my father was unfaithful. This is another one of those grey areas where I don't necessarily have any sort of unyielding opinion or belief structure. I guess it's more about honesty than monogamy. Honesty is the cornerstone of trust, and I've always respected my father, but rarely had the notion he was to be trusted. 

He was a phantom in my younger years. He was a ghost in the house, still alive, but only present in traces at home, between two jobs and a lot of trips. But, I had Aly.

Aly and I learned together, in a way, in parental absentia, that parents, no - people - were really not always to be automatically afforded trust.

 Maybe the romantic lens of youth occluded my vision when we parted, but I don't think I knew while she was there that she was what I needed around. 

Thomas Campbell said "Tis distance that lends enchantment to the view."  It's not easy to devise whether this statement lends more to lack of humility and gratitude or the uncanny human propensity for nostalgia. 

All of days nested somewhere in a time before the proliferation of the internet, I never found Aly again. I never went to a youth group either.




Saturday, March 22, 2014

the day is done (aly pt 1)

[Yeah, the day is done and I'm endlessly underwhelmed. My time here feels flowing, but contrived, like the LA river. I wish some one would tell me how they really feel, the day and the damage are both done.]

I'm sure you're familiar with saying things you're not proud of. 
All works copyright me. Factual content questionable. (Or not.) 
      When I grew old enough to change the channels myself, I used to think Ronald Reagan was my real father. I figured the nation's father as my own. I'd watch his plastic grin on our family's Curtis-Mathes console television and understood in my own way why he was unable to divide his attention among so many children.

     Some years later, I'd lay in front of the same television with the neighbor girl Aly. Her full name is something I'm not capable of reproducing from memory. She was from Azerbaijan or Iran or something else that's incomprehensible at that age. I'd always pictured her previous years surrounded by ferned, verdant jungles, tigers, and men inexplicably festooned in yards of silk with pointy shoes and curved swords.

    We'd tweak the contrast knob and watch a dreamlike Mr. Rogers explain the garden in our mind. 

   Aly, I felt, better represented what I was seeking in a friend in the neighborhood. She hated bikes and other boys, and felt more at home in my house than anywhere else. We had it to ourselves most of the times anyways.

  In the living room, I'd sit on the floor and lean on back on my hands. I always knew where to put them because there were two round and shiny cigarette burns in the orange shag carpet. 

   Aly maybe didn't have to learn to move, but when danced, she channeled India, or Persia, or her Romany ancestors, I don't know. I guess as an unstudied pupil, I hadn't learned to appreciate anything but our contrast. I just knew we belonged.

  At night, we'd don vintage clothing and listen to vinyls we didn't like. We'd get red faces and headaches from Metallica and Pantera cassettes we hated rewinding. We'd dance in floods of color and noise.

  Aly's parents were both in the medical field, and I'd only seen them when I walked Aly home. They spoke medical English only, I think. They'd scold her when I brought her in, and make me take my shoes off. They'd talk about the late hour, their daughter's future, and whether I'd thought about mine. This, I thought, was a figure of speech to a thirteen year-old.

  Sometimes, after Nick-at-Night, or MadTV, or SNL, or ... well, one of those, Aly and I would lie in my bed, the window open. We'd decide on things like just the right-sized sailing ship, or fare by bus, plane, or train. The opposite end of the line was of the least consequence. 

  It wasn't until the first homecoming dance we attended together that we started locking the door.

 We'd wonder aloud in the darkness whether the rehearsed and contrived lines we practiced countless days would have any bearing on our adult relationship. These are things you think when you're forced to age.

We'd hold hands on the roof and watch black and white cars and sirens; we'd watch the night go by before our very eyes. Every single thing, time told, was real enough for me.

We were 16 when Aly and her family moved away.

[t b c . . . ]