Thursday, August 26, 2010

on the north side of town, maybe thirteen years ago, a dad piles his two boys in the back of a thirty-year-old plymouth belvedere and tries to get them to put their seat belts on for the long ride up the hill, maybe six miles, to the school. dad is steeped in feeling sorry for himself because the marriage fell apart in violence and anger, but the boys even less understand what has happened, why they are always together but their parents aren't; why, now, the younger one has to go to the same school the older one goes to. the ten-year-old steels himself for his day; he tries to get ready for a world which doesn't know or care what has happened to his family, and he tries to figure out how to protect his little brother from it.

the belvedere has no tape player but a small kid-size tape player plays richard thompson's "beeswing" - a sad song by an old british rocker about lost love, a song like many that is played so often that now it can't be played without recalling that specific era in one's life; the hill is long, and the road winds up it so narrowly that concentration is necessary to avoid going off the road in what is best described as a barely-running boat. fall approaches and leaves change; it gets colder, there's a routine, and the ten-year-old stays true, masters the environment, keeps it together, protects his little brother; he takes responsibility quickly; he's a model kid. the car breaks down and is replaced by an old honda with already more than 200 000 miles on it; its tape player breaks one day in the middle of the song; end of an era, end of a richard thompson tape, end of a tape player. one day, at school, dropping off the boys, dad says to them, be good but not too good. it's an old expression that means, behave, don't bring the weight of the system down on you, but don't lose your spirit. don't let the system rob your very soul. the older boy looks back at him totally befuddled. it has never occurred to him, to be not too good. he can't imagine what this could mean.

years later the same hill looks a little different, but it's fall again and the song still seems to echo around the curves of the old winding road up the hill. traffic is thinner; the car runs better. the same burdens of life's cruelty, pulling at us, reminding us of the wounds of those days and the burden of keeping it together for the sake of others, not letting it get to you. you cannot let depression convince you, that it's not worth another trip up the hill, to face another day, to keep your spirit strong against all odds. you cannot imagine that, after all those years of being true, being strong, standing by those who love you, that we would not stay true to you now at a time you need it the most, know it or not. you may have forgotten richard thompson; the long days at the school and its after-school program; the gently falling leaves on the winding road; the deer, crossing the road, daring the car, or the ones coming the other direction, with its apparent defiance. you may have come to wonder if all those years, hard study, being good, doing what's right, have come to this? and if so, how does one pull oneself up?

the deer darts off to the side, through the woods, in bounds that are long and heavy, but barely seem to touch the leaves on the forest floor. drivers concentrate on the road, trying to stay between painted lines and not lose everything dear to them; to keep control, and make it to the other side of town. fall brings cooler weather, and of course ghe possibility of ice on the steep grades. steady at the wheel! you have come this far; we are with you; you may not remember the time, or the song, or the circumstance, but you stayed true, you did well, you've made me proud. what family there is, remains true to you , and will be here for you forever.


Blogger J-Funk said...


11:30 PM  

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