The Elusive Beauty of the Thing

major-matt-masonI have one of those memories of being a kid, one of those curated memories, that you still have because you’ve been taking it out and looking at it, every now and then, your whole life.

I’m five or six or seven years old, living in the Ur-House, the first house, the small four bedroom white clapboard house with the bad wiring, the brass fuses that you screw in like lightbulbs, with the tiny window on the top, so you can see when they burn through.

So I’m living in the Ur-house and I’m playing in the yard, like we used to. Mom is nowhere about, Dad is at his job at the University, and I’m making a thing. I’m using white string and sticks and tiny rocks, and I’m playing on the wall that supports our neighbors driveway, that keeps his yard from spilling into ours.

We lived on a giant hill, a drumlin, like a hobbit hill, cobbled in red brick, to give it traction, and each yard is like a terrace. Which, I suddenly realize, for the first time in fifty years, is why the street is named Scotholm Terrace.

The thing I’m building into a gap in the rubble stone wall is a web. A three dimensional web of string, tied to the stones in the wall, tied to pebbles that I reposition to make the thing look cooler. I’m making it for a long time. Back when time was long. Back when an hour could be an endless abyss, a half-hour an aching hole, if spent at the doctors office, or, a heartbeat, when spent with a friend.

I finish it. Or is it finished? I can’t tell. I can’t remember making anyone else look at it. I don’t know if I needed to have anyone else look at it, then. I’m called away. I forget about the web, the thing.

The next day, there’s a sodden mass of pebbles and dirty string in it’s place. The web has collapsed. I try to remember what was so cool about it. I think about rebuilding. It’s not worth it. I do something else.

My writing is like that web. Caught up in it, the logic of it, I’m at peace. In the clear light of the following day, I’m confused. Why is this worth doing, again? Why am I playing with trash?

There are so many things to do, you see.

6a00d83451ccbc69e20134876d1ed4970cI have an SST, a drag race car, which I rev up to impossible speeds by pulling a t-shaped strip of plastic through a flywheel gear. I have a model of Godzilla with glow in the dark claws and tiny green plastic army men, and by getting down very low, and shooting up at it with my instamatic, I can make it look huge, forcing the perspective. There are playboy magazines in the house, which I can sneak off with for moments of stark religious wonder. The sixties!

aurglowkitMy mom smokes low tar cigarettes and wears cat glasses and my parents throw loud parties, which get louder as the night wears on, preventing me and my brother from sleeping, and so we sit on the stairs and listen to them, the grown-ups, to the rise of fall of laughter and conversation, smelling cigarettes and booze and the infinite possibilities of the country roiling around us. Viet Nam on the TV, LSD and My Lai massacre and Nixon and Sgt Pepper and the things I make.

The drawings. The secondary worlds. The cutaway underground fortresses, the starships and the giant impossible city sized vehicles.

The paperback cover worlds all around me. Spacescapes and abstracts and lush Frazetta women. Vampirella, Puff n’ stuff and Timothy Leary

Oh! The things that I have seen. The trash that has collected in my mind.

And now, to sit alone in a room and remember life.

Posted in Self Indulgent Mémoire

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