Monday, June 23, 2014

GODS LIKE US


I was 5, maybe 6, and it was Saturday night. Gunsmoke was on in the living room. I was in the tub. The wash cloth was blue. The bar of soap was almost new; the edges were smoothed but I could still see the word "Dove" stamped on it.

When it's the year 2001 I'll be 40, I thought. That's old. In 2011 I'll be 50, and in 2021 I'll be 60, and in 2031 I'll be 70. And then ...

Inside my head, a movie: Earth spinning as it moved around the Sun. Space unspooling to endless black, pocked with hard glitters from stars. And me, smaller than the tiniest fleck of dust.

When I'm dead everything will just keep moving and it will be like I never was here. The End.

My first indelible memory was about death and being forgotten. It explains much about the way I romp through life — taking big bites out of the terrain, leaving my mark so people will know where I've been.

I don't know how much longer I will get to romp and stomp and frolic. Tomorrow morning I could wake up dead, as an old (and now dead) friend used to say. I think of him often and wish he could be around to still share in the madness of what's become my world. I think he'd approve, though he might take exception with some of my recent life's choices, and the decision to pile a couple dozen feet of rock over an old habit. He was a fan of better living through chemistry, which helps explain why he's no longer here.

He would find it honorable to continue writing this long letter to a silent soul. He would have thought it daft and romantic. "You're nothing if not persistent, RED," he would tell me when I got the bit between my teeth. What he would make of this particular bit, I cannot be certain. But he swore to me, as he started to wither and become transparent, that there is always new hope for an old dog. "Not even gods like us know the future," he told me. "We just make it up as we go along, and everyone else gets to follow in our wakes.

'Just do me a fucking favor," he added. "Keep stirring. Keep living. Don't fade. Don't be a pussy. Don't get ready for things to be over before they're done. Fight. Fight."

For him, for you, for me: I will.

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