Me, When I Was Young

Before we could retreat to the coveted safety of easy-chair routines, we found ourselves tending to needs that took us by the throat. Windows were left open during a storm that formed with no warning. The candles have all melted down to one side. Our shielded corners have been torn to shreds. Cleverly phrased t-shirts turned inside out. Mattresses left out on the sidewalk, stained and soaking, exposing dirty secrets to pedestrian observations.

The score took matters into its own hands. Settling itself on terms that darken the eyes of seasick representatives. Losing battles bleeding into frightened agreements. Negligent understandings drawn to mistaken identities. Formal arrangements thrown overboard in an attempt to cleanse the decks of tainted cargo. Casual mishaps of monumental proportions going down on every level.

They raided the commissary and came up with a lethal inventory of poorly sealed canned confections. They scoured the logs for hints of clandestine stops in unfriendly ports. They raised the sails to test the truth of their fiber. They paid off their informants in bankrupt futures. Wasted time and wasted souls...all for a worthless stash of borderline contraband that, if one were to measure carefully, might approach amounting to a hill of beans.

Sign up for another hitch. Either that or deal with the exhausting effort of unpacking your gear and landing a decent job inland. Stories drift along the weathered docks of unkind conditions waiting on the other side. Stilling the hearts in many a muscled chest. Things are not as you left them. Your best gal ran off with a traveling salesman. And the cemetery was dug up to make room for climate-controlled office a ghost town with tilting 'For Rent' signs and rusting machinery. The factory has long gone silent. Needless to say, the demand for your particular set of attributes is not exactly booming.

Morning spills into day. Day spills into night. Life spills into nothing.

The lamp that lit so many a happy homecoming has gone dark... creaking in the damp evening air, along with your aging bones. You've arrived in a place you once commanded with your presence to discover empty relics and forgotten allegiances. You've found that time does not remember. It doesn't even make a minor allowance for great deeds done in its honor. It just crosses the street when it sees you coming, to avoid the unpleasant task of passing you by.

Muttering to yourself. Pouring your sanity into the harbor. Grabbing the first person who gets close enough. Recognize me? Look into my eyes. How about this profile? Remember the time we threw our wishes into the sky?

Everything was possible so many years ago. We held the Universe between our fingers. We danced with abandon. We whistled tunes that were never written. We set out to find the edge of the world. We returned to someone else's parade.

They invented loneliness to ease the pain of being alone. They invented sorrow to light the hollowed-out path of rotten love and terrible fortune. Good ideas gone astray. Big plans fallen to pieces. Finding yourself at the center of a tattered landscape, holding the crumpled brochure that filled your eyes with possibility and then sent you packing with bad directions. Transmitting distress signals to broken receivers. Resolving yourself to holiday dinners on a wobbly end stool before the wiped-down counter of a 24-hour diner.

The warmth of a neon sign beside an empty highway. The friendly sound of an old song. The smile that forms with the taste of tears. A faded photograph taped to the rearview mirror. The strength that keeps you moving forward...into the unforgiving depths of the road ahead.

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Unless otherwise noted, all Folded Thoughts were written by me,
aka The Daily Editor, aka The Man Below the Fold.

Copyright 2001-2009