The cold mist swirls around me this first night in June, stirring up a chill inside me as I stroll these dark back streets of
on my way to a car that will take me home. Hoboken
I have not felt like this in year, this lingering tingle that spreads across my skin from the moist air, recalling those days when I often walked in the dark and cold, searching for something in my home town of Paterson I have yet to find there or anywhere else.
This place changes in reality if not in memory, as I stumble through newly constructed canyons passed still unoccupied store fronts and upscale urban mansions out of character with a place I first set foot on in the mid-1970s.
I keep thinking of how I talked of change and how each wave migrating to this place wants to preserve it as they find it when they first arrive, but manage only to cling to pieces of what they found. Nearly all the pieces I found when I first came are gone, but not the mood on such nights as these, this overwhelming sense of isolation I feel with each footfall, the unseasonable chill working down into my bones, stirring up old passions, and an ache as persistent as a toothache, no aspirin can cure.
I am haunted by the ghosts of change because I change so little, and stirred by other people’s passions that raise hopes I have not felt for years.
Sometimes, out of the mists, a light emerges that you don’t expect, glowing against the dim backdrop so as to appear angel-like, although not saintly.
In my head, I keep hearing the old Rolling Stones song, about sympathy for the devil, and wonder if heads is tails and whether bad is good, and on which side do I end up.
And then, I climb into my car, immune again to the midst, turn on the stereo, listening to Springsteen sing about the darkness at the edge of town and understand exactly what he means.