19 September 2010

Trace of Forever

If I were to tell you that I rode my bike back from Williamsburg at 12.30 am and was the only bike on the road, along Kent, beside Steiner Studios, along Flushing, beside the Navy Yard, along Vanderbilt and straight up the sidewalk into the building--would you believe me?  Did I really just take that ride?  It felt practically ephemeral. 

I had those blessed bike lanes all to myself, ears still humming from a great Superchunk show at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, where Todd Barry was hilarious as an opening act (and even sat in on drums for Superchunk's cover of the Misfits's "Horror Business.")  A great night and the perfect palliative after the Days of Awe.  I felt like everyone at CBE "left it on the mat," as it were, really gave their all throughout the Holy Days and God knows you can say the same thing about Mac McCaughan and his band. 

I met Mac and his wife Andrea Reusing at the very hairy Roberta's of Bushwick, a dislocatingly hip pizza restaurant, and enjoyed the food despite the weird service; but of course enjoyed the company even more.  Andrea has a cookbook coming out in April which should be great.  She owns a wonderful restaurant in Chapel Hill, Lantern, and if you're ever there, you should eat the food.  It's delicious.

After the show I got some gifts for my eldest's upcoming birthday, saw old friends Lyle and Lisa and Mirla, and then hit that bike, that blessed bike, beneath a shining moon, on a warm autumn eve.  I realized, pedaling into the night, that my forty-seven years have thus far seen a few things; but the past to which I returned, and moving in it and through it like memory waves through liquid mercury, was of a fourteen year old lad pedaling with friends along lakefront streets in Milwaukee, with my whole life ahead of me and no concept whatsoever about decisions, responsibility and consequences. 

In all candor, maybe it's because before tonight I've never seen old friends, eaten good food, had a few beers and heard great, loud music in such proximity to the Day of Atonement.  The bright, truthful light of that day illuminated my perception of everything I saw and heard tonight.  It was all so contextualized.  The ordering and re-ordering of time and its subject was still freshly arrayed, in the year, before us.  And while never in a million years could I then have imagined as a fourteen year old kid any of the experiences of the past 33 years, the searching for God knows what on a summer night-- tonight, that ride home, was a kind of closing parenthetical border on an earlier time which knew not it's unknowable future.  

I love when things fit together--however brief.  Like a puzzle that one labors over, piece by piece, with the heart's temporary thrill at achieving cohesion, I take equal pleasure in the disassembling of the whole, the taking apart of the grand picture and the reduction, to explicable parts, each misshapen piece, which, when considered alone, is nothing if not lonely, apart, and waiting for another pair of narrating hands to complete its picture.

I wonder about God, above it all, watching his student biking along a path, conceived by other students, and musing about the dawn of his learning, the apprenticeship at the beginning of his faith journey. 

Then:  bikes, football scores, cold beers, loud music and moonlight had no perceivable sanction. 
Now:  every breath contextualized into the greater whole of age, meaning and mortality.

Ah!  I am no longer a young man!  And a damn night out has so much meaning!

But the feeling on wheels riding home, of a cool wind at one's back and the slow weave along a smooth asphalt road, is a trace of forever.

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