Tuesday, February 16, 2016

It was a hard job.  There were a lot of pains to it, unseen.  Collateral damage.  The forced strength of the peace keeper.  Talking to people.  There were the people who'd sit for a long time, two stools, of a six stool bar, a lot of energy.    Occasionally someone abhorrent... you had to deal with, no way to get rid of them.  Leaning over with loud gaiety, "how are you, young lady... " then later, talking about her dating woes.  End of the night:  "Can I have a cigarette?  I had a cigarette last time..."  And the non-driver of the couple enjoying good pinot is getting exponentially more toasted by the last glass..  Much as you've really enjoyed them, their friendship and their humor all night, tastes good wines with you.   The last hour was the hardest, taking more energy when you were running out of it.

And then, somewhere through cleaning up, restocking, putting away, doing the night's checkout report, you'd eat dinner, and with the stress have a few tastes of wine.  The escargot you ate in about ten seconds, quickly, in the corner, still when there were customers.  Reheating a hamburger with onion on Ezekial bread in the oven...  The Bordeaux tastes good, though in the end, by itself the vanilla oak taste grating to my taste.  Tired now, everything taking energy, the heaviness at this far reach of human space, at the very fringes of society....  Alone, with nothing but music and the need to get one thing done then another, all alone.  The meditative silence...  They left at midnight, and now it's two.  Still got to bike home in the cold.

Then there's home.  Peeling off the outer gear, off with the courier bag.  A production of War & Peace well done on TV.   Pierre, the likable stand-in for the writer Tolstoy.  Where have the years gone, in doing my strange job...   And am I, by Tolstoy's old morality of Russian society, an amoral, an immoral type, a fallen person...  But as all people, fundamentally, with good heart.

It was an impossible job, one that seemed reasonable enough, but which the particular circumstances of made it something you shouldn't ask of people.

And yet, it gave you a certain freedom, such as some of us seem to need.  A part of the bio-feedback system to which our response is to serve what works for us, the individual.  Does it make you congested, constipated, gassy, fat, slow, your body is telling you to give it up.

That quiet time, to absorb the battle of the day, the good things, the things that disgust you.  And it's part of writing.  It's part of being human, of doing what human beings do.  Some of us require some time by ourselves, given our circumstances...  A period of digestion.  The same people, the very same, are those who most benefit from being amongst people, to catch and respond to the billion messages in between the glorious primate formed in God's own image.  Deprive ourselves of that is not healthy.  But, at the same time, to let the crowd free, to act as they might, well, that's a strain to deal with.  Where do you say no to them...

How far, how far have I drifted afield....  That's what you end up thinking sometimes...  I used to read a lot about political and world history...  Where did all that go?  The kid who listened to a record of JFK speeches, read biographies...  Where have I ended up, compared with my college classmates...

I tune up an old banjo my best friends found.  The trick was finding where to put the floating bridge. Measuring, to the twelfth fret, then to the bridge.  The tuners tight.  And then the sound.  Enough to make an Irishman happy, late at night.

Then, finally, an hour, a tick later, each shift, you'd finally go to bed, and then you'd sleep.  And once sleep was entered, as it does, fortunately, sleep takes over, and weaves together the tired fibers, and the rubbed bones, and all the joints that had done their thing, and everything needed water.  Sleep, and sleep, and then, finally, you'd dream, and then you'd wake up...  What am I doing with my life.  The chronicles of those who do not know what to profitably do with their lives...

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