I sometimes wonder if art has been lost to technology. Or maybe it would be safer to say that art has been stolen right before our very eyes and no one saw it coming. Or did they?
I can say that the written word is hardly written anymore. It is more often typed now, or texted maybe. The glory of the pen to paper has been hijacked by small, handheld devices. I can say that yes, this is true and that yes, I have signed on to the social media bandits and yes, regretfully, I admit my attachment to my cellular device as if the device itself is more important than my wallet or my car keys.
As a writer, or wait, as someone that writes their thoughts down or as someone that even wrote a letter or a post card, can you remember the first time you felt the ballpoint pen on a page? Can you remember when your thoughts flowed into ink? Can you remember ever writing something down that was so freeing that the ink on the page meant more than just the words that were written?
I often think about the younger years and the angst and the need to find myself. I think about the spiral bound notebooks of mine and the poems I’d write. I think about the pages of thoughts which let go on the page.
I remember a small paper bag that I found. I was in an apartment downtown. The time was somewhat of a waste but yet, there was a strange feeling of redemption. I had reached a different level of understanding. I realized that the world doesn’t have to end, simply because something doesn’t work out. People are not always who we think they are. Often, things start well but end quickly. Sometimes, things begin horribly but turn around and suddenly, all is right with the world. I remember a note I left myself, which said, “Write on, Poet.”
This was me giving myself the permission it took to write and write as often as I possibly could. This was me saying, “Screw the critics and to hell with the grammar police.” They love to point out flaws, like vultures that fly overhead and look for a ripe meal.
Unfortunately, the world is not always a harmonious place. Not everything will coincide with our wants or needs. Our plans will fall through. Things fall apart and certainly, not everything is meant to stay as it is or remain as it seems. Life changes. I know this now the same as I knew this back then. I suppose though, there are times when we get our hopes up. And there are times when this hurts because the outcomes fall apart to crush our spirits. I swear this is a tough lesson but yet, this is true.
There was a morning after a long night, which I remember quite well. There was nothing too exceptional about the night itself. More than anything, I remember sitting on the trunk of my car to watch the sun come up. I remember this feeling I had.
I remember there were some remnants of clothes in the backseat of my car. The clothes belonged to a girl that I hardly knew and would never see again. In fact, I didn’t even know her name if I’m being honest. And more to the point, I’m not even sure I told her what my name was. Come to think of it, this was all just a game between two consenting adults that ended with the customary farewell of “Call me?”
I had just returned home. I was tired and yet, I wasn’t ready to go inside. Hence, this is why I chose to watch the sunrise. I can recall the street I lived on, which was wide and suburban-like. The homes were all manicured and typical for the neighborhood. Picture a typical neighborhood, bushes in front of the homes which are modest but slightly above middle income. I remember thinking about the night before. I remember the automatic lawn sprinklers were coming alive on some of the neighboring lawns. Everything about this moment was fitting for me. I was young and wondering. I was lost, but yet, I knew exactly where I was.
There was a man jogging by my home. He was an okay man. Nothing special. I knew him from down the street. He was average and perhaps middle-aged. Or, wait no. Perhaps he was the age I am now, which back then, this was old to me. He was wearing yellow shorts, a white t-shirt and a headband around his head. He had a Walkman on and headphones on his ears.
He gave me a nod and a wave as if to say, “Hey, I was your age once too.” He could tell I was dressed from the night before and that I had just came home. He was “Relating” to me, or so I thought. Meanwhile, to me, this guy was my enemy. He was what I hoped I’d never become. He was average in an average home with an average wife that never did much with herself. He smiled at me as if he could remember what it was like to live life and be young.
But was he ever young like me? What did he know about my life? What did he know about being young anymore? For some reason, I saw this man as an insult, which I acknowledge that this was more about me.
This was about me and my angst less about him and his strange looking wife. But nonetheless, I remember this feeling inside of me. I remember the need to open up. I wanted to find something. I wanted to find myself. I wanted to understand my purpose and reach my goals, but yet, I wasn’t sure what any of this was. At least, not yet. I had no idea what my purpose was. In fact, here I am, decades older and I’m still not sure what my purpose is.
I can recall walking through the door and heading to my room, which was downstairs in the basement of my Aunt’s house. The summer was underway. Life was underway too. I remember pulling out my notebook and scribbling down my thoughts until at last, I was able to fall asleep.
I have always wanted to be a part of something. I have always wanted to belong. I want to become what I am supposed to be in whichever form this becomes. I am like you or anyone else in this world.
I want to find my identity. And I mean I want to find my true identity.
I am on a search for self, which is no longer a threat. Instead, this is a voyage This is a journey. This is me, trying to find my place in the circle. This is me, trying to find the right partnerships and break away from the wrong ones. And there we go again, trying to decipher between right and wrong.
Someone told me there is no more right or wrong. There is only good, better or best. There is only the energy and the means to improve; otherwise, there is only stagnant air that fits between now and then or us and our destiny.
I have learned that destiny is destiny. I know there is a path for me. I know there is love for me (and you) and I know that unfortunately, not all things will go my way. The glory here is that if I choose to, I can redefine myself at any given moment because no one has the right to stop me from improving life or my position.
Life is filled with disappointments. This is true. However, in fairness, life is filled with successes and victories, achievements and improvements.
I like to think about the very first poem I wrote. There were others before this but this is the first thing that I wrote that was ever worth remembering. This poem is more than what it seems.
This means more than just love or being in love. This is more about me and my place in this world. This poem is about my exploration and my discoveries. This isn’t about a girl or about finding the right girl. This was about me and my search for truth, happiness and that feeling of oneness. This was about me finding my completion and feeling totally satisfied and justified about my search and all the troubles that went into it.
If I listen, I can hear you in my thoughts.
And if I look, I can see you in my dreams
And on the movie screens behind the walls of my eyelids
But my only hope is that soon . . .
I will hold you in my arms
I still feel the swirl in my stomach when I write about this. However, my art has changed and so have I. But still, I remember when I wrote this, I can see my handwriting in my mind’s eye. I can see the blue ink on the piece of paper from a little notepad.
I can feel. (Can you?)
Us and them
Mine and yours
Ours and theirs
The ones we live
The one we left behind
It’s been so long since I’ve opened a spiral bound notebook to check my old notes. The last time, I think it was to write about an old Dominican man that stood out on Archer Avenue by the Post Office in Jamaica, Queens. He wore white linen shorts and a Hawaiian styled shirt with a wide, white brim hat. He was listening to Salsa music, dancing a little dance, and selling shaved ice from a shopping cart.
Man, that was long ago,
My favorite flavor was the pina colada mix.
I remember , , ,