Tuesday, January 03, 2006

are we crazy

I remember how we sat in his basement, the way he would push up his sleeve and thrust his arm toward me like a little kid. I can still see that pale freckled arm and feel the skin as I ran the tips of my fingers up and down, from the inside of his elbow to his wrist, his eyes closed like a happy cat.

I remember he would sit me on his bed. He would slide the red milk crate full of records toward us, across the hardwood floor. He would flip through them, presenting them for me one at a time, like a museum guide. He was animated, sometimes reciting lyrics, keeping time with his head and a hand on his leg.

"Cause they're the me generation
They're the assholes of the 80s
They're the me generation
They'll be lonely old men and ladies
They're the me generation
Are we old or are we crazy
Are we crazy
Are we crazy
Are we crazy
Are we crazy
Are we cray-ay-ay-ay-ayzy"

I remember he would walk me home, the snow crunching under his combat boots. He would hug me tightly and kiss me goodbye with an innocent brush of our lips. I can still feel the flannel of his jacket pressed against my cheek.

Later, they sent him to a far away land with hopes that getting him out of there would change something - would be enough to save him. Back then I don't even think they knew what they were saving him from. Humans are efficient self-protectors. They probably fretted that he would never graduate from high school, or worried that he would end up working at a gas station for the rest of his life. If only that was as bad as it would be.

Soon after he came back I bumped into him at Tim Horton's. I will never forget. He was wearing a pair of middle eastern pants made of a thin cotton. They reminded me of something a genie would wear. It was a cold December afternoon, grey and snowing lightly. He seemed buoyant, exuberant almost. Partway through recounting his trip he stopped to do a magic trick for a child who was at a table next to us. The mother looked afraid and I was embarassed for him. He didn't seem to notice, but turned his attention back to us. He stared at me for a long moment, like he was really taking me in. He told me I looked beautiful. He turned to my friend and asked her,

"Don't you think she looks beautiful?"

He never got to go to so many places. I think about him often. Lately I keep thinking I spot him in my peripheral vision in a crowd. I used to make that mistake a lot, but it hasn't happened for a long time. Maybe I think of him now because of Ben - thinking back to how much warmth and love there can be in the smallest of actions, in the face of the most daunting walls. Maybe whenever I go to do something where I am most alive, all of the people that I carry around with me feel heavier. The fuller my life, the easier it is to see the empty spaces. I bet if you traced those spaces with a pencil on tissue paper, you would find a perfect outline of my people. I have to do it for them, and I don't think this is it.


ChapFu said...

that was amazing. everything with you always works backwards from a single point. very effective. and as for your point, i agree. if you don't think it's it, it isn't.

Rachel said...

It's wack the way my mind works, but thanks for that.

Anonymous said...

the beautiful people
have no souls

someone said that
(perhaps on a blog?)


Rob Lowe said...

Here's what I love best about your writing: As I read it, I always think of someone in my life that parallels your events. It almost feels like I am telling a forgotten story to myself. It's very personal and perplexing.


Anonymous said...

damn, i can't believe rob lowe reads your site


Rachel said...

Me either - thanks rl.