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05/08/2003 Entry: ""The Journey to Hometown""
I made the trip in nine and a quarter hours, almost record time. Time didn't seem to matter, it wasn't a noticeable thing. Sure the shadows on the road eventually extended so far it became night, but it hardly seemed like I'd been in a tiny red car careening over Earth's surface for the better part of a day when I arrived here. I was helped along by Annie Dillard's "Pilgrim at Tinker Creek" on the stereo, and by a total lack of anxiety ( "mindful thoughtlessness?" ) even as tractor trailers would come close to wiping me off the planet in a greasy smear.
My hometown was being polished by a warm inviting rain and by sensational angles cast by streetlights. After unloading my travel paraphrenalia up the stairs and past my sleeping father and his loud dog, I slipped out for a walk in a town I've really only seldom explored. I can't get over the beauty of the lights... artificial of course, but for some reason if there was ever a night where such conveniences were good to have aesthetically, this was the night. For the pier, with the rain diving into the Delaware river for hydrogen dioxide communion, the lights made a smoky dance of the surface. Each orange glow could have easily been one of Salome's seven veils, or the river paying homage to nebulae. Would it know a nebulae if it saw it? Does it know anything less?
The first church I'd ever attended, as a short blondheaded snotty bouncing bubble, stole the show. The church is over 300 years old, and it shows. The tombstones in it's yard are thin and pale, themselves ghosts, fixed there in a semipermament reverie of the spirit. As a child I remember seeing a ghost there, a figure in revolutionary garb and a tri-cornered hat, leaning over a stone with a hand held lantern. When we made eye contact it blew through me and knocked me to the ground. Last night I stood there for a minute, perhaps waiting for the return, that these older eyes might make more sense of it. White lights from electric candles, pure as Sunday, reflected over the mossy brick in the walkway, making a shimmering pathway to a protestant heaven.
Certain trees deighted in these strange illuminations, energy that is literally from the death throes of creatures now millions of years gone. Perhaps this color was their last gasp, streaming through mechaical bulbs a primieval millieu of wildness, boldness, simple natural beauty. Tree trunks twisted in shadows in time with our own twisting galaxy, rain made cobblestones the backs of turtles or waves frozen in mineral elation. Leaves caught the light and made fun of it, changing it's meaning, tunring it around and sending it on it's way befuddled, it's job interrupted by play. The sound the rain made across this little town built upon history, upon history, upon history, was dim but deep, as if Buddha was breathing in your ear, or perhaps the snores of Bacchus. The wind in Christ's hair. The sigh of the Goddess. The sound of your own dreams being made in your forge of gangliae and whistful synapses. The whipser of a star.
Somewhere down that river still is a piece of knotted driftwood I threw in as a child. Upon what shore has it alighted upon? Who else has tossed it in after me. The river is a sure thing, it's currents known by hardy and hale locals who watch the ships churn on their way, laden with commerce. Yet we only see the surface, it's eddies and wavelets. What stirs beneath we can only imagine. Who calls that mud home, and how do they survive. That mud, into which countless stones and wishes flew that lept from my smaller hands, is so essiential to everything on earth, yet it is generally regarded with disdain. Mud is so essential an element, it should be one in it's own right, the child of two prodigious parents. Everything this old town is is crystallized mud. It's churches, it's tourist trampled courthouses and 'historic' homes made out of dinosaur teeth and mud. Standing on the wharf, I cannot touch it. Separate from it. Yet walking up the stairs of my father's house, I can smell it. The essence of mud and mirth, enters my nostrils. Perhaps even the effort of driving nine hours, and lulls me to sleep.
I dreamed of trees and how they bend in the breeze. I dreamed of rain and it's frolic on shapes and things in the night. I dreamed of everything that had just happened, so how can I be sure I'm not dreaming now? I'm not, but my father in his indutriousness has left post-it notes all over the house, reminding me of this or that, and to walk his loud dog. Slipping into this place in the night, magic night full of tricks and damp coattails, assures a punchdrunk from driving mind that everything really is just a sort of lucid dream, and we can choose exhaustion or peacefulness as it's canvas. Daylight, however, conspires to make us work, and for good reason I suppose. The loud dog does deserve outside time, my father does deserve his mail dropped off, and the coffee mug should be rinsed out. But night, especially after journeying, gives a repreive. In the light, there's always something to do, and that's fine.
In that fleet spirit, I must be going. I am bidden by a schedule, and while a great part of it involves fun with other people, it is with mixed feelings that I keep looking at the clock. Timelessness into time. Selflessness into self. But one more thing before I go. Somewhere in Virginia, to my left, was a spectaular sunset so full of itself, it just wouldn't go away. On my right, however, were rain soaked clouds that has whisps of golden rays danglig from their edges. I'd never seen anything quite so stunning opposite a sunset, and for a short time a short line of rainbow joined the atmospheric circus. What an act. Breathtaken, I plunged ahead into shadows and starlight.
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