Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Many Faces of Mark

I look back on my life -- all fifty-three some-odd years of it -- and I see the different selves, who lived those vague memories. There is the painfully shy high-schooler, who should have been out "banging beaver" and testing his mortality. There is the teenage serviceman, who joined the air force on a whim. A whim that lasted four entire years in the desolate landscape of North Dakota. Then this entity known as Mark left the service with a bitter taste for the U.S.A, came home immediately started a relationship with the woman, who was to become his first wife. She was escaping an alcoholic mother and sexually creepy father, and I was trying to escape childhood. At some point, in our mutual efforts to run away from things, my wife and I set our sights on the Pacific Northwest. We soon ended up in Seattle, where we ended our marriage. Then I began another set of events, soon to become memories.

Life goes on, and memories get formed, or they do not. Events are terrible enough to be unforgotten or wonderful enough to be brought out often and burnished to a golden glow. Memories are entirely false. They are recreated from fragments, every time we search through our dusty brain cells in search of special moments. Yet, we are our past. We are the culmination of those past experiences -- or selves -- and it's those previous events and our connections to them, that make us who we are. The light that shines in our eyes is there due the electro-chemical events in our mushy brain matter, that composes our lives.

I have a wonderful son in my life, who would not be there had I not posted a personal ad in The Stranger, that the woman, who would become my second wife would answer. I posted some honest words about myself and threw out there, like a message in a bottle. We quickly became friends, moved back to the east coast to be closer to our families and got married to seal the deal. Years later, here we are, back in Seattle, sharing custody of the most wonderful, brilliant boy on earth. Yes, I'm biased. What of it?

Differences being what they are, and time being at a minimum, just after my son turned three years old, I found myself living in a basement apartment, a few blocks from Aurora Avenue. You know, old route 99. The strip, where the junky prostitutes ply their trade. That's not to say that my apartment wasn't nice, because it was. Underground parking. Private entrance. It was while I was dwelling in this semi-subterranean abode, that I met the woman, who was to become my third and present wife. They say the third time is the charm, and my wife certainly is a charmer. She's smart, which is always what attracts me first, and then I notice the eyes, and curves ad infinitum.

Time flies and I've never met anyone, who has been able to find out where it has gone. Hell, most of the time we cannot even find downed jumbo jets. How do we expect to find all those years of our lives that have just seemed to disappear like smoke on the wind? That's a rhetorical question, but if you do happen to know where all the time has gone, by all means please send me a note as quickly as possible. I'm willing drive out of my way to find some extra time. How many lives can I have left? I know for sure that I do not have enough time to read all of the books in my library. I also don't have enough time to measure the love I feel for my son. I just hope I have enough time to establish some form of equanimity and contentment my own life.

For instance, I have about 25 minutes, until I must zip up my jacket, and head down the hill to put in my shift at the bookstore. I realize full-well that life could be much different. At one point in history, I could have been working the death shift at a tannery in the back country of Maine. Or I might have stayed in the air force (god forbid) and become a lifer. I would have been out by now, with a full pension, a belly hanging over my belt and tired alcoholic eyes. Instead, I'm a ofttimes frustrated bookseller, who most of the time would rather be rambling through the wilderness, not being bothered by all this man-made distraction we call society. I'd rather go in search of that precious time, so I can finish some of these books, make love and stargaze until my eyelid met permanently. And certainly not necessarily in that order.

So, while I'm writing about time -- which I often am -- I should give a brief shout-out to the new year, or New Year. Many folks still like to guzzle champagne, make rude noises, and generally do their best to forget 2014, as they stumble into 2015. No more Dick Clark, but plenty of dicks to go around. Many people will have their eyes to their phones at midnight tomorrow night, as they text their friends and relatives a "Happy New Year." May all the movies you see be blockbusters and all your upcoming doctor reports be positive, er, negative! Whichever makes you healthy. May your car run without troubles, and the same goes for your relationships. Let's make 2015 a banner year, by forgetting about the whole New Year's thing, and just do our best to be our best every waking moment. Believe me, that takes more effort than just trying to make it to the gym every Monday in 2015, or promising to cut back on salt, fat, gluten and electro-magnetic activity in the New Year. Let's just be our best to the best or our ability every day. I've been trying to tell my son that the idea of perfection is a human construct. One can only reach toward perfection, and we must always strive, but also realize that we are not perfect, and neither is our neighbor.


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