Monday, November 27, 2006

the summer of love and woodstock passed me by when i was just starting high school, taking driver's ed, feeling quite repressed, not so much by the buffalo high school culture, which considered the new york state regents examinations to be the pinnacle of culture, but the stifling gray buffalo weather, and a gym teacher who ground me under his jack-boot, and, just the fact that i was too young to leave home and experience it all. i dreamed of the west, of places not visited, but at home i read old clippings from the scrapbook, one of a great-great-great grandfather who rode a horse and carriage with his family and all of his possessions from maine to illinois. when i finally left home i got to see it all, got to go out to the open skies, to the coast and back, and settled here in illinois again, where i sit by my computer late at night, family in bed, and sometimes travel a bit, on the web, to places like the garden of erudition, africa, or rileydog, wherever might strike my fancy. but lately i've been dreaming of second life, a proposition that would take up too much room in my computer, but would nevertheless be a traveller's dream. land of your imagination, build your own house, do as you please, a city bigger than st. louis with a huge economy and all the brightest of entrepreneurs. if you could do anything, build anything, own any island, what exactly would you do? i wonder as i sit on the threshold, and remember some of my own experiences- what is it that i still need, that i can't create here at home? that i would have to go looking for? i'm not the kind of guy to get kicks from killing people randomly in a virtual forest, having infinite sex with people of unknown gender or affiliation, or being rude to total strangers on virtual streetcorners, asking for a cyber-dime. but who knows, maybe there's something in it for me nevertheless, something i can't even imagine, from here.

as a youth, i arrived in san francisco a little late- the haight was washed up, taken over by junkies, gray and desolate in a way that made buffalo look like a ski resort; i was hit on my numerous men who reminded me that being hetero- was cutting off half the world's population and at least three quarters of san francisco's; the victorian houses looked strangely over-painted, and even the trolley cars were dainty tourist trains compared to the ancient but authentic ones i'd grown up on rattling through the allegheny mountains near pittsburgh. disappointed, i left, and pushed on for alaska, the 'last frontier' - where at least the skies opened out for the wild fresh air. but i had it better than my ancestors- who, loading an entire sawmill onto the back of a number of horses, headed west from illinois for the pike's peak (colorado) craze, only to find people coming back east, saying, it was all a bust, forget it, winters in the rockies are terrible, no way to make a living. and it wasn't much better on the plains, the wind howling, feet of snow gathering at their feet; their oldest daughter cora died and was buried out there on the kansas-nebraska line, and they settled in salem, nebraska for a few years until the marauders, jayhawks and their missouri equivalents & the violence of the civil war, caught up with them, and they moved back to illinois, disappointed but at least able to get on with their lives...

which is not to say, don't bother, don't travel: usually folks aren't sorry for trying; they come back with a different view, both of human potential, and of what cultural references the mind can conjure up, and make out of its surroundings. so i say, it's worth it, don't give up, at least consider any good trip as an opening of your frontiers, or at least the one that matters. but maybe i'm saying, try to figure out what it is you're really needing, before you set out. in my case, really, i've got everything i've ever wanted and more, a beautiful family, & even with winter coming i have no qualms with the weather 'til may. don't need a cyber sunset, a cyber island, a new gender, or even a six-pack virtual bod, though of course, i wouldn't even know what i'm missing. they could, for example, be taking and distorting my image, even as i write, into very interesting shapes, much as my boys did once on a video game- they made a 'virtual tom' overweight skateboard-rider and bashed him up against a cyber-curb once in front of me, accidentally, of course...but here in first life, i have my hands full, a virtual side-trip is about all i can handle. and i'm inclined to protect the littler ones, especially the baby corey, from the virtual obsession and the cruel world, not so much the debauchery, as just the stuff i don't understand. the sun sets on illinois rolling prairie, grasses and old oaks, an old civil war cemetary, a creek passing through, neighbors that i might know pass by once in a while, and i think, hang onto that sawmill, matter of fact, maybe i'll go on back & cut me some zzzzs, before it gets too late, and i forget how good a little sleep can be.


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