Monday, June 14, 2010

The Weary Kind

The chair was old as was the rug his feet rested on. They were nestled in warm frayed socks and separated from the floor by slippers. He was surrounded by old things, books and wood. A study was a fixture in his life as it was in his father's before him. He grew up knowing that men had studies. Places to go and think and read and retreat. All his life he had fussed over it, cleaned it, and arranged the mementos of his life. The things he was most proud of were placed in areas of prestige to catch the eyes of those that entered. But no one really ever picked up on the smoke signals he sent. The things that were to hard to say. The hidden codes in all he did, hoping someone would decipher and understand the struggles, hopes and sins.

He regarded his own hand resting motionless on the chair arm. It sat as if waiting for a command that would never come. If the eyes are the window to the soul, his hands were the journal of his life. A map of everything he had done, all his sweetest and bitter moments were carved into those hands. They began aching in his twenties he was fond of saying he was a living barometer. No cold front or rain storm could catch him unaware, for the ache in his hands announced their intent long before they arrived. He thought it was peculiar how the fingers curled upward and as if they had been molded around an invisible tool. Was it a stick, a handlebar, the rail of a surfboard, or the body of a pen? They were bent by a life of effort, futile and productive. He sent all those notes out into the world. He hit the drums a million times on stage and in the dark quiet of practice. Did any of the arrows hit a target? Had anyone heard? He had written secretly his entire life. Journals of all the places he had played. There were boxes of lyrics, stories, and love letters. Desperate poetry and pleading testimonials to the ones who turned away or were pushed out of sight by fate. He wished he had sent them. Those fears seemed so silly now. If nothing was meant to come from the failures of love, he would have been comforted by the knowledge they knew how he felt, in their time. He closed his fingers and opened them again just to make sure he could. He thought of all that delicate skin, covered in chill bumps that rose to meet his fingers. He closed his eyes. The whispers and moans, and the kaleidoscope of faces, each one marking a period of growth and a loss that would never be understood. Each was frozen in his mind. Some were girls, some were young ladies, and then there was the woman. She had watched over his hands for years rubbing the pains out. She had bandaged them, and lifted them in and out of slings. She put a ring on one and placed two boys in them. She stood by as they hit walls, the faces of real and imagined foes and as they were wrung together in the dark hours.

There were photos on the shelves, ancient outdated things printed on paper. The boys were in his hands and then their shoulders were under them and their hands became the hands of men. They were shaken as partners, friends and equals. Then they waved goodbye, opened doors for short visits and patted the heads of their little ones. Now his hands waited for something, whatever was next. He panned the room he once longed to spend relaxing time in alone. All those years he spent busy and rushing from one thing to the next, trying to make a mark, betrayed him now. He had always just wanted to have a few quiet moments, and now they were closing in to swallow him. All that time gone forever like water through his beaten hands.

He dreamed of propelling his young body through the water of his youth. That turbulent hissing brew that scared and compelled him. The foaming soup that he was as comfortable in as his own bed. His mind failed in menial details of his life, bills to pay, pills to take, but he remembered with gleaming clarity, certain days with his brothers and friends. The green rolling countryside of the Laniakea, and the vibrating translucent water. The rolling foil that passed over head as he ducked to escape the power. A turtle swimming beside him. The comfort of the jetty and his home break. He reached out as if he could touch them, those precious lucid scenes that rolled out before him. He enacted a primal motor response to the visions of the past. He opened his eyes to the room and the amber light that awaited his return to the present, with the patience of a jailer.

There was a picture of his friends and him, standing on an old trail, long gone and forgotten. It was just a day and a ride like countless others they had. They ripped through them like scrap paper and tap water never knowing that with each passing day they were running out. What was a mundane event, was now a rare jewel, priceless and sold cheap, before the real value was known. He held the wood frame. The crew was there. His boy was there, as was his friend. He wished he could go back and tell them how fleeting the special rides were. His mouth lifted at the corners and he tapped the frame. He lifted it back to the shelf.

The things he remembered most were the little things. The light hitting his wife's face, the boys attacking him in the hall. That great Thanksgiving swell. His sons getting their first waves. His friends yelling in the woods. Night rides and dancing beams of light in front and behind. The things that had no photos to mark their occurrence, were all the most vivid and played out in the wooden room like a movie on the walls of his eyes.

Those hands had served him well. The aches and scars were monuments to all the adventures brilliant and ill conceived, both looked back on now with equal reverence. He wouldn't change a line or a wound. He twisted the blanket around his arms and hands to fight the cold ache. He nodded off to visit those magic flecks of light. Those liquid drops of days, that trickled between his fingers and flowed away, down to the streams and rivers into the ocean, never to be seen again. He twitched in his sleep as he rose to catch waves again, tried to take a dirt corner too fast, or to reach for the woman and the children in that mirage. In these rare dreams he was the man he once was. The cold couldn't touch him and the darkness lost it's grip. He was playing. He was a singing. He was a riding. He was with his friends and family. It was all as it should be, and he slept forever in the warmth of his loves and life.