It was another arduous work week, but the end of Friday was an enjoyable time out on the many streets within the city. I brought the bike with me and cycled for just shy of two hours. Today, it is being felt. The noticeable healing process has slowed in the current run of my decay, but yet I still find myself being in much better physical shape than twenty-plus years ago. Perhaps it was the self-induced suffering that led to the better self cares of today?
It was pitch dark on the way home last night. Physically and mentally drained, although amped from the surge of adrenaline and oxygen (as well as caffeine), I traveled along the long way. My wife had already left to go to work, so getting home was eased.
When the time is available, I often go down the streets and roads that stir up memories. Having turned onto a particular road, the gradual bend within it instantly took me back to a decade of the past. The house on the left ahead was eerily dark, and it even seemed to be a bit darker than the night itself. It once sheltered Jason and Shawn, grandmother/mother Evelyne, Cindy (Jason’s aunt and Shawn’s mom), and Uncle. They called him Uncle. The dark of the house, as I recalled the specific illuminations it had once held, brought about a wrenching silence. “Dead,” I had said. “Just dead.” That was the reality. The house is decaying, as I had seen it in the light of day, recently. All of the names mentioned are now buried beneath the dark earth.
The restaurant was just ahead. Poor Sandy had done all she could to keep the place alive, but it was also dark. The lighted sign that had once welcomed hundreds on a Friday night was dark, and there was no Catfish Fiddlers, no Filet Mignon, no Snow Crab, no laughter or compliments to the kitchen. Just a faint light on in that kitchen. I suppose Sandy was there, for the same Lexus she has been driving for twenty or more years was parked in front of the building. One of the kitchen doors was hanging wide open as I passed. I peered in and saw a window of time I had not witnessed in many years. The same green hue of an unchanged kitchen, dimly lit with a lonely light. It took me through all of those times of being there with Shawn, Cindy and Jason. It was another grim silence as I made my way to the next turn, on Marx. Just about a mile down that road, yet another house as dark as the first, except for an unknown source of light that lit the living room ever so slightly. I viewed it through the picture window. It brought about the memories of Mike and Rita. Also dead. They both had worked at the restaurant as well. Both had shared the same drugs and suffering as we all had. Both passed from dreadful causes.
Marx led to the Parkway’s stop sign. Without even realizing, I found myself staring across the four lanes at yet another home with its own darkness. Uncle Buddy and Aunt Martha’s old home. Aunt Jackie, too. She was a reclusive teenager in my memory of when the family used to gather there quite often when I was very young. They are all dead, too. I sat at the stop sign and recalled the old farm house that used to sit where I was sitting. The memory of digging through horse manure to find earthworms with my grandfather before fishing. They removed the farm to pave the Parkway. All of those things, as well as Grandpa, also gone.
Cutting my way through the darkness with those memories in a time that never will be again, I listened to the music. Humbled by the reality of still being one of the living, it occurred to me, once again, just how fallible we are; how fragile life is. The world falls away in all of its fleeting intricacies. It reminded me of how important it is to loosely hold on to things, for all turns to dust. The dark will eventually veil.