A penny for the Old Guy

April 20, 2011 § 1 Comment

After a serving of about as much library as I can handle in one day, I sensed on my walk home that the streets shifted hands. It’s been closer to 100 than to 50 degrees these days, a funny sort of in-between heat, like a teenager insisting they’re an adult but not quite willing to pay the electricity. And the bustle and near daily protests lend as much stability as working paycheck-to-paycheck. I knew there was a protest somewhere, I just couldn’t see it. I left the moody street for a moment, to recharge my telephone at the shop beside the anarchy post office. Ok so the post office workers don’t shave their heads and tag the town, but the chaos and lawlessness might collapse on itself someday (Can I just have my package, please?). Anyway, the sounds of the street had changed from wind to the ocean: from a constant mummer to an enormous void that’s calm and crazy at the same time. It was another group of squatters, like those I saw before the wedding a few weeks ago. The teachers were chanting for their rights. My favorite sign was “mat-qeesh biladi; mat-qeesh ostedi”. It refers to a popular maxim “don’t touch my country”, which involves warding off the evil eye and nationalism. The protestors also cleverly added “don’t touch my teacher”, referring of course, to the police brutality the ended up killing one peaceful demonstrator. So if the street was the ocean, then the group was the tide. The street would not have existed without them; it belonged to them. And this time, no batons flew.

Today, being stranded from conference misinformation worked in my favor. When my internship director and I both showed up for a phantom workshop, I found my self with an exclusive pocket of time. We sat down and discussed my project, the simple advising session I’ve been yearning for. Finally.

My heart chokes for my family who has just had another “gone too soon”. Whatever you want to call it, no one escapes an ultimate conclusion; and we can neither plan for nor ignore the nothingness that comes after. And what exactly is this nothingness? T.S. Eliot’s The Hollow Men attempts to explain, as do ghost stories and faith.   Well it’s not what we take with us when we go, because of course we can’t bring anything. Not our pets, 2-dollar bills, treasured heirlooms, not even our teeth. As we grow older, as badass leather boots seem less important than heartfelt bearhugs and as sneaking out of the house gets replaced by just wanting to go home, we understand what it is a little more. It’s what we leave behind.


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