Something Or Other
When I opened my eyes, I found myself staring at a cloudless blue sky. I had decided long ago that cerulean blue was indeed my favorite color for the sky to be. In fact, if the climate were to maintain itself year-long; seventy-eight degrees with an occasional southerly gust of wind would be ideal. Some sort of natural scent had been borne on the breeze that afternoon that I found to be sweet and untainted. I’d driven out there that morning with a similar principle in mind. I needed a release from the ordinary. The jobs, the hours, mechanical actions and the people who performed them weighed particularly heavy on my slim little frame on this Sunday. Sundays were the sole opportunity I had to enjoy existence away from everything familiar; and these days, everything familiar was beginning to lose its appeal. The realization that my life had assumed a state of relative passivity left me grappling with the fact that much of my existence involved the placation of others. I thought about Tulman, one of my managers, and wondered how it was that I could have spent four years bowing to the demands of someone who derived power and personal fulfillment from being a grocery store assistant manager. From the time he was five years old, he probably knew that grocery management would be the ultimate in lifetime triumphs. I can see him now, standing in front of his parents, declaring with gusto that upon either attaining his GED or high school diploma, this was the dream. After all, no college can teach you the joy one just has to experience in commanding your army of fifteen-year-old sackers. What would it feel like to turn to one them, letting them stew in the impending wake of what your next whim would be? Let them take in the awesome power of your obsolete tie and complete lack of real personality, your plastic nametag with your name clearly printed upon it with the office label-maker right before you say in your strong, imposing, unassailable tone: “Danny…we need carts.” And just as Danny turns to heed your demands, you speak again; your voice booming through your supercilious smile, “And Danny...don’t forget to clean the trash out of those carts.” I can almost see it. Walking away, confident in my total superiority and grocery management adroitness, I hear it over the in-store Muzak system: It’s Stayin’ Alive, by the Bee Gees. That’s right, you little bastards, you can tell by the way I use my walk, that I’m a real grocery man…no time to talk.
I half rolled, and half slid off the hood of my little black car that I had picked up some months earlier from a dealership. It was my first real foray into the debt process, this car. I still owe something in the neighborhood of five-thousand on it, but the payment plan is more than manageable. I would usually have to manually insert and turn a key in any of my other previous cars, but my car came with a clicker. I find that this is a step up from your basic key because it not only makes the lights blink and all your doors unlock; it also makes this charmingly curtailed horn chirp upon locking the unit. On this particular instance, I decided that I still liked the archaic notion of manually swiveling the key, and proceeded to make a projected concept a reality. I lowered myself inside, started the engine, turned the car about and retreated from my sanctuary. There was about a mile and a half of dirt road that was dotted occasionally along its edges with some pretty ramshackle residences before one reached the main road that led to the Interstate. From time to time on my trips up here, I’d see people seated on their porches on ancient-looking furniture, either staring vacantly into space or at the spot where they buried a body years ago of another passer-by, perhaps. Fortunately, midday found their porches and overhangs deserted, which meant no shotguns and no dueling banjos. I lived almost fifty miles south of this small town I visit so infrequently. I don’t really know why I kept coming back. The better part of six years ago, I dated a girl who used to live up there. If memory serves correctly, I remember that we were a cute couple in the early going. Eventually, as most nineteen-year-olds do, I grew listless with the relationship. The more I learned about her internal battles with herself and with family issues, the more detached I became. It’s not that I was shooting for the World’s Most Notable Asshole Award; it’s that I knew I couldn’t help her. I discovered that I was missing much of my own life. Many attempts later, the end was finalized. I liked the area; a field in particular, which was probably private property. Since I’d never heard of any chainsaw massacres in the area, I made it my occasional refuge to get some mental collating done or have a dialogue with myself about prioritizing my life.
Flying along at seventy-five miles an hour, with both my passenger and driver-side windows down and the radio on, the place seemed foreign now. Its sanctuary status had exploded into thousands of tiny particles, much like the huge grasshopper that had just performed a perfect eighty-mile an hour face-plant into my windshield. I was immediately reminded that I needed wiper fluid when after touching the lever, my wipers smeared the bug into greenish-yellow poster paint. It was a little unsettling to discover that I now had no reason to return to this place. It no longer could provide me with the solace I sought to bask in, the solace that comforted me. I had no rationale for holding on to it and even the girl had moved away years ago. I hated feeling this way, because when I succumb to the sentimentality of what significance some person or place used to hold for me, I start to miss them respectively. I didn’t particularly want to miss a place that now represented a translucent smear on my windshield, and I didn’t want to miss her. We’ve assumed an amicable rapport with each other in the years since things had gone awry. We spoke every now and again on the phone to inform the other of the latest undertakings of our adult lives. I’d listen as she told of preparing to graduate college and a new boyfriend who makes a lot more than I do, who treats her in the most superlative fashion. I think the first time I heard that, it hurt. I was never able to figure out if the hurt was caused by the fact that she was living so blissfully or that he made more money than I did. I can honestly say that I am happy for her, and I don’t want to associate that place with her anymore. One thing was for sure. She had overcome obstacles of colossal proportions to acquire this new-found happiness and gratification and I hadn’t. I was driving away from somewhere unfamiliar and hostile, but I was also driving toward Tulman. It occurred to me just then that he strongly resembled an upside down light bulb balanced on a clothespin. It made me smile as I hurtled toward my exit.