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Exiled

Imagine being exiled from all that you hold dear.

You’re alone.  No, there are others, but they’re idiots. You start conversations that go nowhere.  They have no idea what you’re talking about.  You speak one language, and they another, English, but not.

All that you own is gone, no toys, nothing to keep your mind occupied.  Books and e-reader to take you to far-off imaginary worlds, gone.  Computers and techie devices to keep you amused, gone.  Soccer balls and basketball and hockey stick and glove and bike and scooters, gone.  Couch and chair and bed and tables and lamps and desk, gone.  Pants and shorts and shirts and belts and shoes and socks, gone.

You can no longer visit Joshua Tree and climb the rock piles.  You can no longer bike the trails in LaVerne or Cucamonga or Yucaipa or Loma Linda.  You can no longer swim at the pool or the ocean.  You can no longer go to the theater or put in a video.  You can no longer drive to a restaurant or cook your own food.

All that once was is now gone.  You’re exiled, locked behind cinderblock walls, with no key to the door, and wondering how you got there.

Then, you awake to the beep-beep-beep of your alarm and crawl out of bed to find alligators swimming in the waters at your feet…

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begging for money

Two guys begging for money from strangers who walk up to the door.  Gas station.  I see it and stay away, inside my car, watching. I drive away.

I need gas. He wants my change. I want a soda. He wants a dollar. I shake my head and walk inside. I say apologetic words and walk inside. I look the other way and walk inside. I talk to the friend I arrived with, making every effort to carry on a conversation that has one purpose, just one…to give the appearance of doing something else and walk inside. I walk inside. Avoidance. How is what I’m doing any different from them?

I stop at a light, having just exited the freeway. A man stands there, sign in hand, downcast eyes, dirty, hair a mess, and I roll down my window to give him a bit of help. A dollar. The guy in the car behind me does the same. We both leave feeling good.

A man asks me for fifty cents. I’m standing at the urinal, backpack on my shoulder, vulnerable. I have no money in my pockets or in my backpack. I tell him so. He asks again, in slight mockery, as if I were lying to get him to go away. Fear for my safety and extreme annoyance cloud my vision, so I repeat myself in loud words. He leaves while I am left to wonder about what just happened. Who asks for money in a restroom? This is a first. It just does not happen, but today, it did, and it scared me. I leave the library feeling bad.

While picking up a video at Blockbuster, the clerk chats with a tow-truck driver, telling her that it’s okay for telemarketers to call your home and bother you, to ask for money, to beg, cuz’ that’s their job. What?  He’s young and has much to experience yet, so I silence my thoughts and disregard his ignorance. He’ll learn as time adds something to his plate. I leave the store happy with my selection.

A wise man told me that helping another person benefits three people: the giver, the receiver, and the one who witnesses the giving. But, when do we give? Always, to everyone who asks, or just when it’s convenient? I like living in an area, shopping, doing business, and NOT being accosted by beggars, but I know that many need help. When do I?

Begging for money.  Hmph!  I’ve done that too…

Reflections

The mirror tells the truth.

I stand on the wooden floor, a guest in a home for the weekend, art spread around me on its walls. I pass a mirror and catch the reflection, seeing the years in the glass. Green eyes still seeking, curious and full of wonder.

I remember being in college, the summer after my sophomore year, staying with friends in town instead of returning to the home of my parents. I remember swimming in the James River, playing catch in its waters with friends, roommates from college. I remember lying on the sandy shore, feeling the warmth of the sun on my face, my chest, my stomach. I remember riding my Kawasaki, wind thrown against my face, along winding roads, up and down the hills in this summer of yesterday.

Yesterday, so long ago, and so much in between then and now has passed as I’ve ridden the trails and roads and streets of this life.

The man I see now in the mirror is the same, yet different. Creases are permanently etched into my face, extending from my eyes. My chin, my cheeks, the accumulated gray stubble, telling the tale of time. Smoothness is gone, and in its place is a weathered skin that tells of age.

Time passes, day after day, and they pile up into a mountain of memories that I pull out of dusty cabinets and creaking drawers of my life. I can’t return to those days of yesterday, to feel the sun’s warmth on my face, a face so different from the one that greets me in the mirror today. I remember, but can’t return.

Poker

Poker.  That’s what everyone was playing, except me.  I was just the silent guy in the back of the room, listening, wondering.

There were no cards, or chips, or cigarettes, or beer.  Just a guy and a girl saying words to each other.  He spoke, and she replied, a smile on each of their faces, saying the words that would evoke a response, but not reveal everything.  Five cards, and only one shown, or two, just enough to make the other person worry, change their tactic.  He was skilled at this, and she wasn’t, the difference being one of experience, age.  So many years of doing this, day in and day out, had led him to knowing when it was time to show a card.  Now was the time, not a few weeks ago and not next week.  She knew what was coming, but pretended like it wasn’t happening, the elephant in the room stepping on her toe.  She took a deep breath, admitting to the elephant’s existence, but calling it a lil’ piggy in order to save face.  He acquiesced, giving her a way out, no sense in embarrassing her.  The elephant grunted, as her tap-tap-tapping foot betrayed her, and a smile formed on his lips.  He knew he’d won that round, though the game was far from over.

I laughed to myself as I sat nearby, shaking my head.  Poker, and they both acted as if they were just being friendly.  We are a funny species.

Doubt

Imagine never doubting again, being so certain of a thing that you are one hundred percent sure of it.

What fits into this category?  I think and wonder, for me.  Hmmm.  Let’s see.  I know that I’m alive, not dead, not a ghost, not in someone’s imagination or some thing’s.  I exist, both here and now.  Why do I know it, am so darn sure of this and that?  I can feel pain, and pleasure.  My body hurts from too much exercise, or injuries that bug me in my mid forties.  I feel this keyboard under my fingertips.  And the sound coming from the tv, a movie I picked up, is real.  I miss my mother, no longer alive, and I remember what it was like for her to be here, moving, alive, and she is no longer that.  I didn’t look, but my siblings and father did, and she was indeed dead, in a coffin, and I’m not like she is.  I move, walk about, jump, swim, bike, climb, and all those other actions that someone dead can’t do.  I know that I live.

But, what if I was wrong, am wrong?  What if I’m not really here, but a memory or thought within the mind of another being, given life because of its own thinking, not my own?  What if I’m not really here, but given substance only because another creature has imagined me?  Can I be certain of this, that this life is indeed real?  Can I be certain that this idea is false, impossible?

Doubt?  Certainty?  What do I really know for certain?

Two socks

Two white socks.  They’re finally off and I feel so much better.  I wiggle my toes in delight.  You know how that feels?  Ahhh!

I planned to use them, both socks, inside of shoes, but that didn’t happen.  A friend got busy.  He planned on hanging out with me, seeing a movie, laughing at the brother and all of that.  Didn’t happen though, so my white socks are now in the dirty clothes hamper for no reason.  They don’t stink, but I wore them.  They need washed.

Two white socks.

Two movies.  Laughter and humor and enjoyment for the price of ten burritos at Taco Bell.  A waste of money?  Sure, but I was willing to do it.

Instead, alternate plans, to pick up movies and watch them at home.  A dollar spent.  Cheap.

Was that time travel?  Or not?  Into the past, try to change things, learn from previous trips, do something different, save the world.  Impossible.

I love movies that carry me along, filling in the information as I go, and then surprising me in the end with something I didn’t expect.  I knew that there was no way for the movie to end happily.  I just knew, because he died.  His trips weren’t real.  Sad ending and roll the credits.  But, nope, that didn’t happen, because everyone had it all wrong, including me.  Well, not him.  He knew.

Two movies.

Two friends.  Boy and girl.  Old and older.  Housemates from different times in the past.  If I traveled back in time and had eight minutes to change something, to learn about something, what would it be?  Which moment would I return to?

One hung out with me, cooked dinner that was ever so delightful, and laughed.  The movie? she played on her phone during the first movie, and fell asleep in the second, tired from a day, and many days, of work.   The other planned on hanging out, but didn’t.

Two friends.

 

6 p.m.

The clock has ticked all day, and here I’ve sat, waiting for something to come along and pique my interest.  Upstairs, downstairs, tv on, flies landing and annoying me, the heat outside smothered by clouds.

The door slams, and I try to ignore it.  Imagine walking through it, and just letting it go.  Slam!  That’s exactly what happens when I’m up here.  It’s quiet, or it was.  Others don’t know just what they produce, the noise, the shaking of the house.  And this happens at all hours.  Unware of what they do.

The dogs bark because they do.  Dogs, not mine.  Fighting, snarling, sleeping, pooping, anywhere they want or are trapped.  Imagine being one who lives here.  Trapped.

A fan blows onto my face, to keep me cool.  Sure, I could’ve tuned on the AC, but I didn’t.  The noise helps, masking other noises.  I use it all of the time.

I sit in shorts, no shoes, waiting for someone to show up.  Soon, though I don’t know exactly when.  I was told to wait, and I’d be picked up.

So, I wait.