In an effort to provide the Main Squeeze with some much needed down time all to himself at the house today (he passed the big monster test, by the way, the jar-brains were very pleased), I drove to my parents’ home in the mountains and spent the whole day there.
Mom and I worked on the stained glass window I’ve designed for my dining room, and we have almost that first whole big corner done. Dad and I made a kind of empanada-slash-cornish-pasty thing that came out perfectly. Then we all sat down and watched one of my favorite movies, Hellboy (not top ten, but still an absolute fave.)
It was dark by time I hit the road and I knew immediately that it was going to be one of “those” kinds of drives. The tourists were driving insanely with the same kind of aggression and self-righteous entitlement that you’d expect around a small town like that. I got on the highway, switched form RADIO to CD and just settled in for a nerve-jangling voyage home.
The CD (which I’ve listened to approximately 873,294,972 times since I gave it to the Main Squeeze for Christmas) started on my favorite song. Sing it, Serge baby. Belt it out. He is so pissed. He is so terminally, gracelessly, twistedly pissed off at just all kinds of things like Politics, War and Bad Breakups (what self respecting singer isn’t) and his anger soothes me. It was like I could let him belt out all the indignation and wickedness and outrage and I could keep it outside myself and just worry about the speed limit. That jackass in the silver mustang nearly ran me into the ditch. Serge poured it on thick tonight, so I cranked up the volume. I crept out of the mountains on the same road I’ve crossed a thousand times; my brain fell into the reliable pattern of mixing memory with more recent frustrations. The red Jeep Liberty finally decided to cut me off after all and so after I passed the lumbering semi I acquiesced and settled into the right lane to let the crazies tear past me.
I made it to the top of the hill as the trailer-hitch fishtailed to my left and finally decided to regain control after all. Traffic continued. Serge continued. His outrage soothed me to no end and I began to reflect on my own indignant, quietly seething rage. A thought struck me concerning weakness. Is it really weakness to accept a fight? Isn’t it cowardly, instead of picking a fight outright, to choose to contain the entire conflict within yourself? What’s worse, punching a jackass in the nose or wishing you had? Both options are toxic I guess, and I’m quite sure Buddha had a great deal to say about it. I decide to look him up again soon and see how he’s doing. I decide that it’s a damned good thing he lived when he did, where he did, because if he had to deal with this freaking traffic he’d have gone postal within a week.
I begin to descend towards the city. The sprawling, twinkling city. So many people, so much energy, so much sadness. The air we breathe is poison. The light that falls on our skin is our enemy. The food we eat is at once killing us and fuelling us. What a strange, strange place it is. I let the Excel truck merge in. The mountains aren’t like this. The mountains are above it, beyond it, just out of reach. The mountains are interesting to me in that they’re where I from but they’re no longer where I belong. That thought stings a little. Serge agrees and starts into that breakup song that just spills out guilt and humiliation and rage and quiet desperation. I feel it so strongly, that quiet desperation. Looking at all of those pinky orange lights, I watch as wave after wave of humanity pour both into and out of the mountains on the very same road that I’m driving. I’m one of them, I think. I’m all of them and none of them. A cop has pulled someone over for speeding and it looks like the driver is getting rowdy.
I’m well into the electric sea now and up to my nose in construction, potholes, billboards. I see the words on the billboards but I don’t read them. I look at the light of the city at night and the trees that occupy it and I think how every last one of those trees has been planted by human hands. Surely one or two by the river there were planted by the wind but all of the ones by the houses just strike me as orange, plastic, and soulless.
And then it hit me.
“What’s the point?” a voice asked me.
And there it was. The spectre that haunts countless teenagers’ untimely demise was sitting in my passenger seat and snarling darkly into my unexpecting ears… what is the point? It asked me – grinning invisibly with no eyes and no ears.
What is the point? It asked, echoing in my brain. There it was, the hallmark opener and closer of scuicide notes across the globe and the undoing of so many wise and brave minds for eons…
And I kid you not, though I chilled at the encounter, my immediate reaction was a non-plussed grin! I blinked at that spectre and just replied in my heart that I simply don’t know yet, and I’m glad of it. One of the most soul-searing questions a person can ask herself had posed itself to me and my reaction was wholly unremarkable. The question that sends so many off of bridges, the question that forces so many into brown-glass tombs, the question that chokes so many on pills and chemicals… simply hung there in the air with awkward self-importance and remained utterly unacknowledged.
What’s the point? I don’t know. Yet. Maybe I never will, but I looked that spectre square in her invisible eyes and with my whole soul I knew I didn’t care and I wasn’t about to go jumping off any bridges over it. The answer is not mine to know and certainly not mine to give. I learned that a long time ago. And knowing that means it doesn’t bother me to go without. And it means I get to keep going.
And then the CD looped to the song I started with. My alltime uber-favorite song for at least the last two weeks began again. Serge’s outrage and anger poured over me and it soothed me. And I pulled into my driveway, and crept the car into the garage, and the song finished and I listened for a moment to just silence. The spectre was gone, is gone, off to torment less distractable prey.
Good luck to them, I say.