When we’re kids, we hear old people saying things like “In my day…” and we roll our eyes and think they’re just old people who aren’t adapting to inevitable changes in the world. So sad for them, but old people aren’t going to hold us back from embracing the future… and then we become old people too. I feel an overwhelming urge to tell some young snot about how life was like in the olden days, before handheld gaming devices, when Super Balls were a cool, new thing.
My childhood was an era of optimism, and contrasts. Hippies painted flowers on themselves and made love while politicians and ministers and older brother soldiers got killed in industrial numbers. Disney had a weekly tv show with talking animals, and Jim on Wild Kingdom wrestled alligators. Things were simple. I laughed at my mom’s post WWII compulsion of thrift to collect twisties… and then I realize I have somehow become an adult with a stash of twisties too. Something feels seriously wrong.
I often write about growing up in “The Glen” as idyllic. In a lot of ways it was. It was an isolated neighborhood in the woods, and my fellow “River Rats” knew everybody else’s business in an extended, dysfunctional family. One of my old ladies used to play her own version of 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon by explaining how almost everyone was in some way related to the Noonans, either by genetics or marriage. I have Noonan nephews, so I’ve even been sucked into that vortex. It’s inescapable, like collecting twisties.
I meet a group of friends once a month at a local restaurant. Sometimes new people come, and the new people get absorbed into our group in such a seamless way that I forget about how or when they showed up originally. It’s a “now” group. We talk about stuff going on in the world, and what’s going on in our lives now. Ed talked about working on his boat > canoeing the river > used to live in the Glen… say what?!! Suddenly my past and present slammed together in a way I hadn’t expected. It was like finding out I was friends with a cousin I didn’t know I had. A distant image of an older boy running across his front yard popped into my head, drinking lemonade with an old woman sitting next to a stone fireplace, a periscope in the yard…
One thought races after another, and I felt the river calling me this week. I watched minnows and found a sucker under a rock (that’s a fish), who let me examine its stripes and colors and details before I gently covered it with the slab of shale again. There’s nothing like watching the ripples of the water for making me realize that my now life is stressing me out and I need to take time to breathe and be quiet. I sat on the front porch of the old homestead with my brother and counted all of 2 cars go by in an hour. Bro is going to live at that house forever, so in some ways I’ll always be able to go home again. Someday maybe I’ll sit on that porch and tell a kid how everyone is in some way related to the Noonans.
In the meantime, I think I need a Super Ball.
I had a more brilliant idea for art this week, but it didn’t work out. Sometimes that happens, and usually, I pitch my Quasimodos without anyone knowing, but maybe the world looks a little too perfect and unattainable if we only see the best people can produce? That doesn’t mean I’m going to actually show you my hideously ugly mistake, but hey, it happens to all of us. I kind of like the simplicity of a single bouncing ball. I made the blue ball in penance :)