I watched the neighbors on the opposite ridge bulldoze the property line, each in turn. Each had a bulldozer. They were being sold posts and barbed wire by a dealer in town. Repeatedly. Follow the money. One day the girl on one side married the boy on the other and the war transitioned to a delicate cease-fire. When they were divorced, the bulldozers started back up. It was love. Then it was lost love. Before that it was just business.
I’ll tell you how she won his love. She used to chase the boy and when she caught him she would sit on him. This was also how she lost him. It became old hat. They needed to shake it up and were thwarted by tradition. It was what they knew. Not enough.
The feud resumed easily. It was what they knew. But now it had more vigor. Teeth. They enjoyed it more. It had a history. A violation of code. Familial.
But at last one of them sold out and moved away. Was replaced with a new family. There was no fight between the houses on one side or the other. The bulldozers were never seen again. The new people didn’t even own one. Absent pride of ownership, the fence stood. The new neighbors had nothing in common with the old. They didn’t socialize in any way. They really couldn’t stand one another.
“I’ve had enough of your horseplay,” s/he said. “Off you go now.”
Everything in the world is seeking to stand on the highest point. Where one can see. There is nothing else which explains the urge to climb mountains, get there first, or pat oneself on the back. It even explains the eruption of volcanoes, the contents inside wishing to come out on top. That’s the prime real estate. No matter what one has to do to get there. That says a lot.
That’s why an eruption is such a sacred shared event. A seismic shift. People remember it. It burns itself on the social memory pad. Changes everything. I saw such an event once. It was my first. After this I saw more, but they were robbed of absolute novelty. Because If you see one you’ve seen it all, the world order set up.
At some point everything becomes common place. It starts to look alike. A revelatory illusion.
Everything is built on something else. The novelty is an illusion. The present is a time shift of the past. It seems clear because there has been a precedent. A prologue. An introduction. And when we left we said “Make it look like no one has ever been here before.” So as not to rob the future of its own initiative. Priorities. I don’t make the rules, I break them.
The present has to be built. In detail. For the purpose of references. Few check these out. Outdated.
Once it is built, it seems to have always been there. This is the natural order. It’s traditional.
My first book was a stapled together mess called A Child’s Guide to Suicide, and I handed it out at a punk rock club. Have you ever been hugged by a sweaty punk rocker? I don’t even have a copy of it. You come away looking like you were up on the stage. The copy I had drowned in a flood. It was from a hot water heater. Twenty years old, it sprung a leak into the basement apartment. The trauma of aging. I was dreaming at the time. I dreamt of water, a gentle flow. A steady dripping and splashing of the tropics. As if I were stranded on a beach. When I awoke I splashed down, as my feet hit the floor and were submerged. I salvaged what I could. And rebuilt. It’s what people do. By conditioning. Tradition.
So here we are.
She had short hair, light brown, when she approached me. She was tall and played the bass guitar. I had been admiring her from afar, but she had no way of knowing this. Like when you look to the top of Mount Everest with longing in your heart, though you understand the perils inherent in such a desire. It’s a question of preparation. How well you pack. If you are ready. If your heart is strong.
“Are you handing this out to children?” she demanded. And it was a set-up to a joke, but instead, for love, the punchline was moved to a footnote. And so the response was left wanting. And she walked away with a flourish. And perhaps that was the greatest gift I could give her. For who can understand the nature of love, for which so much is sacrificed in our perpetual present?