It is odd to discover that time obeys the economic laws of supply and demand but as I have aged, that has become ever more clear as my supply has dwindled, my demand remains constant and the value increases accordingly.
That may explain why, now, I am content to check the scores and read the stats of my favorite football or baseball team, getting every bit as frustrated with their performance without investing three plus hours for an hour of action.
This has worked out quite well, but I am concerned that they may start winning, and that I will become another recidivist looking everywhere for a Sports Fan Anonymous meeting.
We live in the cell phone age and there are hidden advantages that the young, exchanging last year’s model for this, will never fully understand until they, too, are much older.
With the push of a button, held in for five seconds, the phone will go off at night, and since no one any longer has a landline, you are assured that no one will drag you from sleep to announce they are able to extend the warranty on a car you sold two years ago, or to say that a friend or relative has died, and denying death night hours is the closest thing you can do to feel that you are in control of anything.
They say you cannot go home again, although I have never had occasion to meet them.
I’ve never been one to follow the dictates of them, unless they were my parents or spouse, and in the case of my parents, often not even when they demanded it, so I went back to the home of my childhood, a shockingly new place as I remembered it, setting the neighbors astir as they saw it go up and out.
It, like I, am older now, but seemed to have borne time far more harshly than I.
I do sometimes have a gait to accommodates arthritic knees, move a bit slower than I imagine, but the house seemed to be looking for its cane knowing it would soon enough require a walker, and I knew that while I could go home I’d be happier if I didn’t.
Two men, having reached
an indeterminate age, sit on old chairs
outside the small town grocery, it’s
neon beer sign half, flickering, around
the corner from the bank on main street.
One, plaid shirt tucked in coveralls,
one bib strap unbuckled, leans back,
takes a turn on his long neck, his cane
propped against his leg, thankful for the rest.
The other, denim shirt bleached in spots,
threadbare in others, pours the remains
of a bag of potato chips into the plastic bowl
resting atop the empty 50 gallon drum that is
at this moment a table, later a platform
for the checkerboard both are not
drunk or bored enough to bring out.
He opens a beer on the edge of the drum
and both look up smiling at the clearing sky
and a Saturday afternoon in the
only America they have ever known.
The problem with youth isn’t that you misspend it, or even don’t appreciate it as it is happening, or even expect it to go on forever, for those would be the simplest hurdles to leap even at your now advanced age. The true problem with youth isn’t even those around you, grandchildren, high schoolers that overrun the Starbucks near campus are caught in the midst of it while all you can do is jealously watch. The ultimate problem with youth is that you recall it so well, the sights, sounds, the textures but what you did last Thursday you can’t recall for the life of you.
My mother wanted to tell me of my great-grandmother, a woman she barely knew, but who she imagined more fully that life itself would ever have allowed. History, in her hands was malleable, you could shape it in ways never happened. She wanted to tell me but she knew that her grandmother wouldn’t approve of adopting when your womb was perfectly serviceable, certainly not for a man more than a decade older who could not uphold his most sacred obligation. She wanted to tell me, but I am adopted and this woman can be no more than a story of passing relevance to me.
Mrs. Weiskopf lived in a small cottage Mrs. Weiskopf taught piano in her living room. Mrs. Weiskopf had no first name, even checks were to be made payable to Mrs. Weiskopf. Mrs. Weiskopf grew suddenly old, some said, to full fit into her name, no one could remember her ever being young. Mrs. Weiskopf said I must always find Middle C, that everything starts there. Mrs. Wieskopf was not pleased when I said that Middle C was key number 40 on my piano and there was no middle key, only a gap between E4 and F4. Mrs. Weiskopf looked at me sternly and ended my lesson early that day. Mrs. Weiskopf was a great teacher. I think of her each time I sit down and place the doumbek on my lap.