Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Part two "My Night at the Top of the World"
The road is up and down but mostly up so it is slow going and a little stressful and as the witching hour approached I pulled in to a snow maze. The parking area had been plowed but the snow was probably drifted to 15 ft maybe. Well above the roof of the RV anyway. It was eerie dark as the working streetlights stopped at the off ramp and I was alone. The cooling rig was the only noise. That tic tic tic as the engine settled for the night faded while I waited for my eyes to adjust.
I went out to walk around and get the blood flowing before I broke out dinner. My lungs were assaulted by the cold at my first breath. Think huffing razor blades in a meat locker. I had to have a smoke to warm up my lungs but eventually I stopped gasping at the air and began gasping at the sky. When Carl Sagan was talking about Billions and Billions this was the sky he was looking at. I do not know if it was being enclosed in the open or thin air but it looked like the stars were casting tree shadows on the drifts.
The cold asphalt making crunchy sounds I stumbled around with my mouth hanging open trying to look at everything at once.
Some time later I came back to myself and now that I was awake in every cell I was starving. I reluctantly went inside and turned on the light shutting out my surroundings in the glare the windshield. I made a salad while the radio scanned up and down the dial landing on a rock station out of Telluride. Never been there but I always found the name cool going back to smugglers blues from Glen Fry. They were playing my style of tunes and so I heated up some devil chicken and chopped some veggies while listening to Floyd and the Stones waiting for a replay of a king biscuit flower hour with Neil Young that the DJ hyped between songs.
I set up a table and chair outside, opened the windows to blast the tunes and slipped into my mummy bag with a tall crown and ginger to fight the chill. I munched and sipped and watched the stars move across the sky mesmerized as people have done since the dawn of man.
Heart of Gold, Like a Hurricane, and The Needle and The Damage Done; songs from better times when death was still a stranger. I took a look at my place in the grand scheme as, “Don’t Let it Bring you Down,” screamed from the radio and the occaisional shooting star flared in the Colorado sky.
I am not going to get into the minutia that divided us. Every family has its quirks and squabbles that seem petty to the outsider but that we cling to like a warm blanket to wrap ourselves in the comfort of old hurts real or perceived. Each has its own dark secrets outsiders are never shown the wounds that cannot be healed because they can never be mentioned. It is a long time since I read Piaget and do not know if he is still in favor but as I remember it all the wiring imprints in the first few years so the things that made me are not the memories I can recall anyway.
If Libet is right I never truly had a choice to make in the first place. Maybe things were in motion and I was just making up the story in my mind to fit the patterns preventing madness from paralyzing me. I simply drifted among the stars thinking that we would all be going back to the stardust from which we began. At one time in the distant future each atom in my being would be as alone in space as I was alone on this spine of the dragon. Would any part retain memory of any of those egregious transgressions? When the last of my nerve endings decayed to carbon and nitrogen and were blown away by the solar winds to the far edges of the universe it was not going to matter so why should it matter now?
In the end I could do no less for my dad than I had done for strangers hundreds of times in the past. And when a month or so later I was sure the time had come I woke my stepmother so they could have their final moments together and I could begin to turn the page