Thursday, June 12, 2014


Uncle Ritchi, New Years, 1950

Thursday, June 12, 2014

I’m on vacation, but I’m not.
In this profession, it is impossible to completely get away from it all, despite leaving the state.
The world changes, but fundamentally remains the same.
I’ve always considered it a rat race I wanted no part of. I always took jobs that got me out of rush hour traffic or allowed me to go against it.
I even took a day job once baking in Bud Lake, partly because I got to drive in the opposite direction and mock the flock of geese-like people rushing to get to work in the other direction.
This mockery stopped when my 1969 Fairlane blew a transmission, and I could hardly walk the fifty miles each way from Passaic.
This made me vow to take a job I could walk to, and for several years, I managed this, walking to the local Fotomat, and the local Dunkin.
Even when I drove, I knew I didn’t have to.
This didn’t work when I finally became a reporter and had to travel to Paterson, West Paterson and Totowa.
By this time, I had gotten my crazy uncle placed in a home in West Milford, and in order to see him, I had to drive.
The concept of faxing was relatively new and for a while I used this to send my stories to the newspaper officers in Butler.
But then, I got the idea that I could deliver my stories to the office, and then make my way up to see my uncle to share lunch.
This became a weekly ritual we both enjoyed, although the place he stayed at was horrible, and eventually, a social worker helped me relocate him closer to home in Haledon – where he lived out the remaining decade of his life, and I got to see him more frequently because it was near enough to make the trip there and back in a quarter of the time it took when I traveled to West Milford.
Vacation is a mental concept, a breaking of routine so that I can regroup. I tend to work as hard on vacation as I do during my average work week, but at different things.
Like all vacations I can recall in my life, the world changes dramatically during that time off. So that the world I return to is not the same one I left. This isn’t always perception, but a real thing.
Perhaps we just notice changes less when we live through them, and so by breaking away, we miss the intermittent steps that make them imperceptible.
I’m not sure which is worse, noticing the changes, or not noticing them, to live through a changing world unconsciously or to suffer the abruptness change imposes on us.

I suppose I prefer the latter, needing consciousness over unconsciousness, painful sight over stumbling blindly through darkness – though in both cases, I never really know what to expect. But to react to change, to learn from it, I need to see it happening.

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