Self Conscious, the J Eric Miller blog

Sunday, March 13, 2005

perfect day

The park in Pueblo, it’s different that those Denver suburb parks, those soccer mom gatherings, the parking lots full of Lincoln Navigators and Saabs, the kids in clothes from grown up people stores that decided to franchise into child wear.

That’s not Pueblo. My parents, they live there, in a four story Victorian, a nice neighborhood surrounded by not so nice neighborhoods. Three blocks in any direction will bring you face to face with graffiti, and graffiti artists. You hear of robberies and drug busts and you see the kinds of cars people drive, old and big, and everything is made of crumbling brick. What Phoenix will rise here? What fire first must finish its burn?

And yet, this is the nicest of towns in which I’ve been. In every store, the people are friendly. That slow, old fashioned, real friendliness, that friendliness that only comes from a sense of confidence. Nobody here needs to prove anything to you, whatever side of the counter they’re on. Everybody seems at ease. And easy with you.

This is a predominately Latino town, and the cadence of speech, it’s like that of the rez, so it gives me a sense of nostalgia, and like all nostalgia, there is in this a sense of comfort.

So the parks, they’re different. In Denver, it’s all moms and me. In Pueblo, they’re fathers. Young men mostly, in street dress, the tattoos on their arms, on the back of their necks, wearing sunglasses as they push little kids on swings, watch little kids go down the slide, these few years that these men have to make good, when the idea of fatherhood has half pulled them out of the hood life and before they’ve re-succumb to it, if re-succumb indeed is what they’ll do. And there are grandmothers, sitting on the park benches wearing their quilt jackets in the sun, smoking and staring through glasses at little packs of children that know above all else how to look out for each other.

And we make friends here, too.
And the grandmothers tell me stories.
And the young men never seem to see me.
And the children whiz by.
We stand around with our arms folded.
We smile and we scold gently.
And the kids, they just play.

I can remember exactly what it is like to be one of them. I am glad my life behind me has clear windows into it. I’m glad I still know.

These are the days before the storm.
On Saturday, the wind is up. The sun is warm. It is lovely, lovely, lovely. God, the butterflies have appeared. It couldn’t be better than this. All Saturday this is how I think. Sitting in the park Saturday, this is how I feel.

The calm of this town. The calm of these people, at this moment. The warmth of this spring before it is temporarily reburied.

This is the most perfect day of the year.
I can feel the minutes. I can feel them go. Like the strings of balloons you don’t intend to release. These perfect days. These perfect moments.