Memories From the Balcony – From the Heart

Alone. Misunderstood. I know you all too well. But that’s okay.
Don’t worry.
I know you well enough by now which, again, is fine. 
I see you on the road and all around. I can see how far you’ve traveled.
You’ve been around the world (almost) which means you’ve seen the sights.
You’ve done the dance and you did “the things.”
But what does this mean?

I can tell the miles you’ve pulled are as countless as the dreams I have. 
I say this because I have hopes for myself which are formations of different opportunities; of course, this is all up to me to create.

I can tell that sights you’ve seen are equivalent to an old leather satchel in my dreams, worn out to the perfect amount, which is why the symbolism of the satchel and the dream of me in a red convertible has value to me.

There’s a lot of miles behind you.
ME too.
There’s even more ahead of you – and me as well,
at least we hope so.

Times can be lonely. But no one talks about this.
For some reason, it’s unbecoming to be truthful or honest about human vulnerability.
But yet, we’re only human.

Traveling. On the road. Being here or there.
Being someone with a title or being no one at all can mean everything and nothing.
It’s all a concept of the mind.
Life can be a trip
I’m sure.
But hey, at least you have the road.
I have my journals.
The world has the news and the delivery truck that hits my building on Lexington Avenue comes around the same time, every morning.
At least you have the pretty things to see, like a new morning sky that overlooks the coast.
Or, maybe the sight for today is different.
Maybe you’re seeing something over the Iberian Peninsula.
Either way, sight is sight and sound is sound.
But life is not meant to be lonely.
By the way, please be advised that being alone is not the same as being lonely.
No, I think there are valuable moments in life when no one else is around and lo and behold, we come to a moment of truth. We come to a moment of realization and to adjust we find ourselves in the center of a personal victory because, at last, we broke away from the crowd: “Just to be me!”

Either way . . .
At least we can say that we have a satchel full of stories which means we’ve lived.
Yes, I agree that we’ve lived.
But to be clear, I’d like to qualify myself as humbly as I can because I’ve only seen so much.

I know that life is not meant for comparison; therefore, I might not understand the feelings that come when overlooking the Rivera.
But I can say that I’ve seen things that will always be memorable.
I’ve seen beautiful mornings in Harlem.
I’ve shared a few moments in the Bronx.
I’ve seen Uptown and Downtown things and, even in the worst of times or the worst of places, I have seen the upcoming sunrise as it leaked through the cracks – to lend me some hope when I needed it most.

Some people go their entire lives and never have breakfast in Downtown, Soho, or near the edge of the City.
Some people never had the chance to hit the nautical Mile in Freeport or have a Ranger burger.
But who’s to say what’s better or what’s not.
Who’s to say where beauty lives, or doesn’t.
Who’s to say which memory is to be valued or which is to be forgotten.
All is in the eye of the beholder which is why the benefit of age is an interesting phenomenon to me.
We take things for granted when we’re younger.
I suppose we just assume that tomorrow will always be there.
Until it isn’t . . .

Even for someone who’s seen it all, what have they felt?
What is a view worth anymore?
What have you seen beyond the scenery around the world?
What have you tasted aside from the richest or the best foods? 

I know the wines have been kind and the brandy is beautiful.
I’m sure this is all as wealthy as the scotch or the bourbons or the club rooms, which is a place where all that counts is the bullshit exclusivity. I’ve been to places like this.
I’ve seen spots where they look to weed out the undesirables –
to keep the highbrows pure.
It’s nice though. I’m sure. The silk robes, the sheets, the king-sized life with all the trimmings and all that money can buy.

I can see how this is larger than life yet this is all so infinitely small.
In fact, this is so small that nothing even registers on the meter anymore.
Life in excess is just about life in excess.
It’s all styles and branding.
Everything is beautiful (I’m sure,) but hey, beauty fades when you’re alone.
I can see how this is the case.
I can see how this is true, even though my passport is virtually unused, I can see how a trip around the world can become meaningless.

I mean this from the heart.
I say this is as real as it comes because with all the stamps on a passport that say, “hey, I’ve seen it all,” the question is this: what have you really seen?
What does it mean to see everything and see nothing at the same time?
What’s it worth to see something so inspiring yet how does it feel when there’s no one around to whisper to?
Better yet, where’s the enjoyment if there’s no sentiment to be traded or share the warmth of your heart?

I get it. I can say that my travels are limited.
I can say that I’ve not seen much and in light of what I’ve seen, what would it matter to see this alone?

I do not share this to suggest that I grew up so humble that I never knew the ritz or glamor of nice things. 
We had nice things. Plenty of them.
But my point is that life is relative.

I suppose this is written for a specific reason.
Maybe this is because I understand what it means to be alone, or should I say that I understand what it means to “feel’ alone, even in a crowd. I can say that I understand what it means to ‘feel” alone, even amongst beautiful people in beautiful places and doing beautiful things. I understand what it means to be missing in the mix or otherwise absent and on the outside looking in.

I suppose the reason for this is to invite you to a special occasion.
Don’t worry about how you’ll dress.
What you have on is fine.
Absolutely, it is.

But first . . .
What do you know about a true family feast?
What do you know about a roomful of plates? Everything is homemade. Each dish is a separate entity from a family recipe that can heal wounds and cure every social ill that’s known to our kind. 

Do you know what it’s like to be a child and look at the people around your family’s table?
I do. You look at them like they’re heroes and they belong to you.
We might not see these people often at our family gatherings but when we do, this heals the wounds and cures the ills for at least a while.

Let me ask you something.
What’s your favorite meal? 

By meal, I don’t mean something from a five-star restaurant. 
No, nothing like this compares to your favorite meal as a kid.

When I say your favorite meal I mean something earthy. I mean something from home.
This could be breaded, fried, or maybe something baked.
Or maybe this could be something slow-cooked and so saucy and tender that, my God, nothing ever tasted so good.
Nothing else could ever go down so perfectly or be so wholesome because no other cook or chef in the world could duplicate this.
No, they would have to know you and love you like family for anything to be this good.
Do you understand?

I wonder though. I don’t know what you’ve seen.
You might know what the snowfall looks like in Aspen or what the Alps look like in the month of December.
But do you know what it’s like to pull up to the driveway of my Aunt Sandra’s house?  
(Or something like that.)

You would love it and everyone inside would love you back.
They’d love you just as much, if not more.
They would love everything about you. 

You’d be treated like family.
You’d be full too. Trust me on that one.
But there’s always room for dessert.
I bet you’d be treated in a way that you’ve never experienced before. 

To be honest,  you’d be treated like the guest of honor.
Everyone would want to know about where you come from.
They’d ask you about your life.
They’d want to know if you ever had brisket when you were a kid.
Then they’d put food on your plate to make sure you know one of two things, which is first that you’re loved and second that you’re always welcome.

I swear, by the time the night was over, you’d be drunk from all the attention.
You’d wonder when the next get-together would be.
You’d wonder how we can do this again, sometime soon.
You’d hope this was real, which it is.
You’d hope you’d be invited next time
which you would be . . .

Do you know what?
I miss those days. 
My family was humble.
Our houses were small but we managed to make magic in these places.
We managed to make memories that will last me until the hour of my death.

I can say that whether I see the world or whether I know what the sand feels like between my toes in Baja, the one thing I know is that loneliness can be a plague. The one thing I know is everyone needs someone or something.
No one says anything about this.
No one ever talks about the things that kill us inside or weaken our spirits.
No one ever talks about social ills. No, we just talk about politics or the news.
We talk about the government or the war or the fact that the price of gas is getting out of control.

I don’t know what it means to be rich.
I don’t know what it means to be wealthy.
But I do know that I’ve met my share of miserable millionaires.
I’ve met people who have everything yet they have nothing at the same time.

I know that those family dinners, like the ones I just shared with you; well sadly, my family has moved on and the old heroes are gone now. They’ve passed away.
I am beyond the midway point in my life which, of course, is the real reason for this journal.
This is the reason for all of my journals.
I have the need to reach out. I have a need to taste and see. I want to feel and touch.
I want to experience things, like life. You know?
I want to be rid of the things that bind me or tie me down, like the anxiety I have when it comes to facing the workday which I have essentially outgrown.

Loneliness is an internal meter which, at times, has nothing to do with our social climate or the people around us.
No, this is an internal thing.
This is a dilemma of sorts and in accordance with our personal arrangement and chemistry, this can mean that something’s off.

Something’s missing.
Maybe it’s an absence of touch or the lack of a feeling.
Or, maybe this is something that can be solved with a story from my Aunt Sondra or my Aunt Lil or my Uncle Alan or Cousin Stanley. Better yet, maybe the feeling of being “absent’ or missing could be absorbed by one of my family’s old home movies.

I’ve only seen this a few times.
There was no sound.
Color was new to television. 
The speed of the film was a little quicker than real-time life.

There was something beautiful about the silence though.
There was something innocent about trying to read the lips of my family when they were young. 

I don’t have much.
Not a drum. I have nothing to sing.
I don’t have much of a voice and, to be honest, no one knows the hour or the day which means nobody knows how much time we have left.
I don’t have all the wealth in the world
But I have this. . .
So here it is, once more, the most valuable piece of me.
All yours, if you can use this in any way.
If this helps at all, I’d like to offer this to you with hopes that you know that you’re always welcome here…
With me. 
There is no end anymore.
Just a new beginning.

By the way:
You’d have loved coming to my Aunt’s house.
While the home was small, there was something huge about this place.

In fact, I used to think that if I ever “made it,” I would buy the house back, just to have it.
Just to relive and remake the holidays and the family gatherings.
If nothing else, I just want to sit in the living room (like I did the time when I found out I passed my equivalency exam) and sit in the recliner, just to say I’m home.
Just to say I love you.
Just one more time . . .

Know what I mean?

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