Friday, October 25, 2013

The Furnace and the Past

It is below freezing this morning and my wife turned the heat on. I try to push into November before cranking the furnace, but that's me playing a game. She works on sense and so the house is warm as I sit in the basement office sipping coffee, listening to Sting, and writing.

I've been listening to a Christian McBride album of duets. One guest is Sting and they do a great version of "Consider Me Gone" that had me thinking about Sting's The Dream of the Blue Turtles which I listened to last night. It felt good going back to a good album I once bought on vinyl, then CD, and which now streams through my phone, tablet, and computer. Analog to digital, year to year, it's still rock and roll (and jazz) to me.

This morning I have Nothing Like the Sun on. Sting's second solo album was one of the first compact discs I got. My parents bought it for me as a Christmas present following the strict directions of my wish list. We still did wish lists through college, all of us believing that I was still a child. I listened to Sting through the remaining two semesters at Clarkson before I failed and dropped out. "I wriggle like a fish caught on dry land, struggle to avoid any helping hand. Sink like a stone that's been thrown in the ocean, my logic has drown in a sea of emotion. Stop before you start, be still my beating heart."

Today, I drive back to Cortland, to the building at which I used to work. It's a place like Clarkson in that it is another site of my failures and childish impulses. The building is still there but the school was gone even before I left. It was remodeled inside and out. Walls were moved and so were the ideas and philosophies of the place. As it happened, I carried on like a child, cried out against the injustice of it, but I didn't do anything to save myself. In the end I had to go. Going there today, I wonder if my logic will drown in a sea of emotion. I'll have to listen through and see how this song goes.

The heat just kicked off and were it not for my hoodie I would head upstairs to turn it back on. Instead, I'm warm enough. I bought this hoodie after reading an article describing it as the best sweatshirt ever made. It's made in California by a guy who used to design iPods. A guy left Apple to make, of all things, sweatshirts. What a risk. What an adventure. How do people survive such things? How does one survive fear and anxiety? How can I imagine myself as grown-up?

The snow will come soon. It's cold enough. The heat will be on pretty much around the clock and we will dig out the old warm clothes, keeping those that still fit, giving away the rest. I need a hat. I had a beanie that just worked. I wore it to work, to shovel, to run, to nap, and then I lost it. I don't know how. I usually hang on to things. Pens, sunglasses, keys, but I lost the hat and one I bought to replace it. This was around the time I was leaving Cortland and thrashing like a child. Those hats are gone and gone.

I can't go backward. Imagining I could is the childish notion of the boy with a wishlist, the man without a hat. It's the game of running the furnace by the calendar instead of how the world really is.

The heat just snapped back on. I've finished my coffee. Sting is singing about women who dance alone. Memories of things lost. I need a hat. Real cold is coming. And I have five poems to finish and send out; a risk, a chance I'll take. There is life after mistakes. I don't know how long I can hold that feeling. Long enough, I hope, to order a new hat and revise a few poems. Long enough, maybe, to write on.