Self Conscious, the J Eric Miller blog

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Random Thoughts from Colorado

…Napoleon Dynamite is Cosmo Kramer as a teenager who has yet to outgrow his angst. This is what passes for epiphany in the tired brain I call mine.

…Speaking of fatigue, it occurs to me in the late night, when I’m not asleep, or when a voice wakes me—my own voice, I assume, talking, or sort of half yelling about godknowswhat to godknowswho in the dark, from my so called sleep—and I peer around uncertain and then settle back to take stock of myself, at this, my most desperate of moments, these late night forays into frustration and hopelessness, that no matter what woman I can imagine loving or what women I can remember having loved, not one of them placed beside me in the bed at a time like this could ease me. If anything, my body would only go more rigid. Her voice, her touch, this perfect picture of beauty and grace, this person who best witnesses me, this person I know best and who best knows me, there in that dark, this finally stirred mixture of want and need and care, she could do nothing for me.

And if not her, then who?

Such are you thoughts at night?

…And in the day, at the park, I’m most happy. It’s been that way for two years now. The moments to which I must often return, they have nothing to do with open mouths, with unwarranted bar room attention, with chess board or football field victories, with words that by accident are chosen well.


What I like best to remember, when I’m at my most happy, it’s when I’m at the park. Connect them like dots, my park visits, through this year, through the one that came before, and you would have a different picture of me than I could suggest here, or at least than has been suggest. That picture, it’s my favorite.

Even in the darkest hour, a gray spring day not long after the oh so permanent and absolutely inevitable departure of my second wife (whose idea do you think that really was? Hers? Or this empty-room-addict I call me? This holdmetightgetthefuckoffofmesonofabitch who goes by my name?) I lie there at the bottom of a slide, having gone down head first, having dripped off the end slowly, into the chipped wood, I lie there on my back, face upward, the sky low with clouds, the wind sort of blowing, but such an ease in me, and at such a dis-eased time, a soft place inside all that bruise, and I thought: this is peace; I could die right now and it would be all right.

…It occurs to me that the mirror in which I’m the ugliest is in the bathroom of my first wife, the mother of my son. I wonder if this has anything to do with the power of suggestion, if I’m giving it the power to be symbolic, or if it’s just bad lighting, or maybe just really honest lighting.
In any case, I can hardly bear to see myself there. Once I do, I can hardly quit staring.

…But that parks.

That’s us today, my son and I, and the park full, and it’s lunch time, and everybody there is a mother but me, and in a different life, or maybe just a different frame of mind, some of them would make me hungry, but that’s now how I feel in parks. This is not Candyland. Nothing here makes you ecstatic. That’s not the point.

The sun, it’s warm. The children swarm. The sandwiches are good and we eat before he plays. Then he is gone into them, that world.

Today, a little girl, tall, three years old, so her grandmother tells me, this little American-Asian girl, as her grandmother identifies her, this grandmother who tells me about internment caps, this little girl who never plays with anybody, she takes the hand of my son and she will not let it go.

He is hypnotized, a bit startled, more than a little in love. Up the ladders, down the chutes.

This little loner, so the grandmother tells me, this little girl and my son, they won’t leave each other. When on the big slide, he shoots down faster than she does, she grabs his jacket, pulls it off in her desperation to hold onto him.

…And in the car, he says to me, out of the blue, and I do mean blue, this day, that crystal Colorado blue, that we’re-oh-so-close-to-the-sky blue, my son, he asks me: Would Mommy find it beautiful if you brought her flowers?

This four year old still trying to negotiate the concept of divorce.

…And death.
If you died, Daddy, I would protect your bones, he tells me.

And he begins to ask my about my grandparents.
What were there names?What did they look like?

And the subtle accusation: why am I not guarding their bones?

…The best thing I ever did in terms of writing, I wrote down my history, the story of my life, and then I wrote down everything I knew of the story of his mother’s life, both of ours right up to the point of the writing, and hers, what I knew of the childhood, the stories she’d told me. I wrote about her parents and mine, everything I knew. How they married, where they grew up, in what manner, their awards, their losses. I wrote about their parents, and, in the case of my family, what little I knew about the people that came before. I wrote things that I thought were important but things I did not. I tried not to give the story too much meaning. I tried to give the details, cleanly, honestly.

He has it now, though he doesn’t know he has it. This book that is full of information I wish I had been given. The things I’ll never know. That my parents wouldn’t find it important or prudent to tell me. That they themselves will forget.

All these lost moments.

All these ways I try to hold on.

Pictures and words, you can burn them into discs. You can make them feel almost eternal.