What I am trying to do here is to basically relive very specific moments of my childhood. This in an effort to recapture the magic of youth while simultaneously excising all of that growing-up insecurity crap that has finally died down to a reasonable level. The first experience that comes to mind is the Big Summer Movie. At the time, I did not realize what exactly the Big Summer Movie was, or why they chose to release it in the Summer. What I did realize was that going to a movie in the Summer possessed a whole separate feeling than did a movie in the Winter. Something about Summer.
Once the young citizen leaves college and begins to work during the Summer, the entire magic of that time period begins to diminish. The thing about the Summer movie that is so great is the air conditioning. It's dark, cold and there is a captivating visual stimulus right in front of you. At the time, I don't recall having the ability to suspend my natural disbelief. I was completely sucked in. This is happening right now, for real. The payment for entry and the presence of all the other people around me didn't seem to matter. There was something about it that made it more than it was.
Next on the magical tour of youth is the trip to Summer Camp. In my years of 12-18 I would say every Summer had some camp-time included. Few of these had a truly magical touch to them, save perhaps the first. I do remember one in particular, a backpacking trip in New Mexico. We were riding a bus from the little town where the train stopped to the base camp. This is a BSA sanctioned trip at a BSA camp solely dedicated to the purposes of serious backpacking. I remember the bus trip to the camp. The two things that stick out in my mind are the scenery and the song that was playing on the bus radio (unless it was just playing in my head, a possibility we have to consider).
The scenery was classic western landscape with the looming sky. The clouds are bigger out there, you know. They are. And there is always a mountain in the background, looming. Significant looming in the West. The song was one of the better Bon Jovi tunes of the year of our lord, nineteen hundred and eighty-seven? Yes. Arguments could be made that this band was not as good in general as they were on that particular day. These arguments will fall on deaf ears. In other words, it wasn't about the Bon Jovi music or the scenery, but more about the freedom of riding on a bus to a camp, away from home, with strangers who share a common ground. In all fairness though, if the song playing on the bus radio were something along the lines of Celine Dion, Phil Collins or any other lite-rock fare, the memories would be tainted for sure.
So then I've never been a large fan of the scenery. It is a backdrop that is at times stunning, but more often serves a purpose more like bed sheets do. They are there because they have to be, but I don't feel the need to go on and on about their existence on my bed. There was a period of several months in college whence I slept upon a mattress sans sheets. This is semi-grody, especially we recall that I was never the sole patron of this mattress. I digress.
The reason I brought this up is that I am now an anti-nature lover. And whenever I bring this up, people laugh. Maybe because I am taking a stance that is rarely heard. In my defense I say that I burned out on Nature through years and years of exposure to Her, the beast. What scares me is that someday I will reinvent the Nature-Boy of my past. Regardless, at this time I was in the prime of my youth, and one with Nature. This leads me to think that it wasn't at all so much about the location or the reason the seat on the bus was occupied by me, but more that I was anywhere at that point in time. Anywhere that was new and was someplace I had never been. It is worth motioning that yes I can tie a variety of knots, a talent not be frowned upon. I can also tie a tourniquet onto your leg after it was ripped open. The other day a repairman was on my kitchen floor looking at the stove. He had just finished telling me all about his heart attack. He may have even said "first" in reference to the heart attack. I just realized I can type the word reference really really fast, like as in two seconds. He was laying on the floor, breathing heavily and sweating, and all he had done was strip the insulation off a piece of wire. Stop smoking. Stop smoking now.
It still happens from time to time, this feeling of unlimited possibility. It happens when the light is just so, the perfect song is on the radio and the air has that tingle in it. It happens when your skin fits right, and the world becomes a movie. It is this that I am in constant search of.
Of course he wasn't like the Retired Electrician who resembles a Supermodel type, and plus he was a he. Most electricians are. What I'm getting at here is that you never get to give the Supermodel CPR. And if you did have the chance, you might very well have to fight off 6 other guys to get there. An argument for the team approach to CPR. No, it is fair to say that the chances of heart attack are greater in the retired electrician who has already had 1 heart attack than they are in the 20YO Supermodel. The world is a cruel place. Especially when we remember that CPR will usually lead to the victim vomiting sometime during the process. You never see this on the TV CPR. And I'm no fan of Victim Vomit in my mouth (which is where it has to go). I'm saying I'd rather have the Supermodel vomit than the Retired Electrician vomit; particularly when we recall the diet of the Supermodel versus the diet of Larry, the Retired Electrician. That's all I'm saying. We have digressed hugely.
I confess I really don't know what cynical optimism means. It sounds good though. I gather it means that you are optimistic on the future, but on a daily basis you see the world as a meaningless struggle whose scorn is only outdone by the vacant buzz of the next day. I only mean that partly, I pretty much just wanted to see how it sounded. I was at a art thing once in Raleigh, at the Lump Gallery. Home to the famous and dark Onion Head Monster series. I think when Matt Johnson comes home from Spain he may find his Space Duck painting missing, in its place a photo of a masked man making off with same. Yes I think he just may. At this art thing, I was admiring a photo that someone had taken of their Grandfather seated on a couch with a sock monkey on his lap as if it were his Grandson. The extra little thing that made me buy this photo was the fact that the senior citizen was saluting the camera. He was not in a military uniform, and there was no reference (super-fast I tells ya) to any military service on his part in the past.
When I expressed interest in this photo, the girl next to me stated that I was a cynic for liking this picture. I asked why, why exactly does this make me a cynic? She couldn't say. Maybe because someone gave their Grandfather a sock monkey, sat him on the couch, asked him to hold the sock monkey with one hand while saluting with the other, took a photograph of this scene, put it on a wall in an art gallery - instantly making it Art - and then taking my hard-earned money for it. Maybe it's because this is a truly funny thing, and this girl is deficient in the laughs category. This is a distinct possibility. But this doesn't mean it's not cynical. When done right, cynical can be very funny indeed.
Maybe it's because I found it funny and not some other emotion, like say for instance sad. But this is not the case. A picture of any senior citizen sitting on a couch saluting is funny. I don't care for the sock monkey enough to insist on its presence.
So what does it all mean? I do not know. What I do know is that I am going now to get a Diet Coke and some Peanut M+Ms, and the only reason I am doing this is simply because I can.