Thursday, May 9, 2013

At 31

May 12, 1982

Now at the point in life, I should have made a mark on the world, some small notch that says, “Hey! I’m here.”
But if it’s there, I can’t see it, and I go on with some bit of insane despair: who am I and what am I doing here?
I mean, I dreamed about better times than these when I was a kid, and there have been better times – especially a few years ago when Pauly, Garrick, Lenny and June lived here in Passaic.
A regular artists’ community.
But the years changed everything around me, moving my friends away into new marvelous worlds, isolate us with some measure of pain -- but also in bits of personal glory.
Pauly has found his gardens and his library to putter around in, allowing him to plant, read, and do his paintings.
I guess the pain comes with thoughts of the future.
Pauly lives in a fairytale world with gnomes, dwarves and elves secretly whispering words of hope, I don’t see or hear.
Garrick lives within stone’s throw of Pauly, above a glittering lake so breathtaking, It blinds me with envy each time I go to visit him, with plenty of green to hide all of the scars civilization leaves. You can’t even see New York City from the hill top he lives on, and there is only a ribbon of a road leading up to his door – hell in winter, but who cares once he’s settled beside the fire place. He lives with Lenny and June in what to me is a castle, one with thick carpets, large rooms, and a view to kill for.
Lenny and June aren’t rich, but I think they will soon be, feet firmly planted on their road to success, while Garrick, the interloper my labor for his piece of perfection, loading and unloading trucks at his job in Montclair, The New York Times tucked under his arm for his visits to the men’s room.
Hank – whose lack of success has always disappointed me since he has the most talent of any of us – still lives with his parents, while he hates his father, Hank’s mother serves him like a slave, a luxury few could pass up I suppose.
It all seems so transitory, with me living hand to mouth here in the ghetto of Passaic, pay check keeping me from starving – but only barely – and paying most of the bills most of the time, so that I only occasionally have to decide whether or not to let them shut off the phone this month or the heat, or go a week eating pasta.
But as humble an abode as this place is, I love it, it’s mine. And the walls keep out the elements, and somehow I find inspiration here, especially from the river which is a mere block away.
Still I wonder, where should I be at age 31?
Should I have remarried and produced more kids, so that we could all live in some starter house in Totowa with a postage stamp lawn I can mow every Saturday, and a mortgage I have to work overtime to pay?
I’m here alone on my 31st birthday, wondering if the expense of it all is worth the glory I expect to get some day. We are all knights in multicolored armor, but with rust around the joints and wishes leaking out the visors. We live our lives the best we can with what time we have, and as long as there’s a Pauly, Garrick or Hank, I feel connected. We all live on the same dream cloud, making quests from our castles in search of some mysterious treasure we as yet cannot quite envision.
At 31, I think, I ought to see clearer, don’t you think?

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