I'm not ready to deal with it

 

elakeclouds

Rather than look down the road at a horizon obscured by thick clouds, I’m focusing my attention on what’s directly under my feet. One or two footsteps ahead. That’s all I can manage.

When I look down, I see that my feet look like someone who goes barefoot too much. I see that I’m rough on my shoes. I see that people spit their gum on the sidewalks with great frequency. Why is that?

What I don’t want to see is that I don’t know where I’m going. I’m neither walking away from a problem nor walking toward a solution. I’m just walking. Maybe even a little aimlessly. Dangled just out of reach is a carrot. This carrot that I cannot grasp or fully envision is the answer to all my current problems. There are many other hands swatting at one another for that carrot.

This is all I can process now: carrots, shoes, gum on the sidewalk.

The road ahead, behind those clouds? It could lead to the gates of happiness and prosperity heretofore unknown. It could be another day just like today, which is one-half  blessing and one-half torture. It could be a cliff.

There’s no way of knowing. There’s only so much I can do to prepare.

I can’t allow myself to contemplate it for too long. When I do, I don’t sleep at night. I don’t eat during the day. I worry endlessly. Suddenly, the irrational and extreme actions of loved ones in the last few years make more sense. When you are close to the edge, you begin to feel its pull. It becomes a great struggle to avoid looking into the chasm.

For the first time in my life the expression One Day at a Time holds real meaning. It’s more than a lousy ’70s sitcom. It’s more than the popular bumper sticker in the parking lot at AA meetings. It’s a guiding principle at this point. God, let me make it to another sunset, let me find some sleep in the night ahead. Let me awaken to a better day tomorrow.

Let me find a carrot on the road ahead. Let the clouds part to expose clarity of direction.

And really, what is it with all the gum on the sidewalks?

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Y'all come back now

 

Not the Rocky Mountains

Not the Rocky Mountains

 

My brother, who has the pleasure of living in the Rocky Mountains, came home for Thanksgiving. It’s been a while since he lived here full-time. I’ve never lived anywhere but here. I’ve visited a lot  of places, most nicer. Some make me miss home.

I guess out West we here in the “flyover zone” are referred to as the flatlanders. I’ve had a few cowboys call me that. I thought it was a nod to the topography. Maybe it’s more of a veiled reference to the fact that we are apparently flatlining.

He, who hails from the land of eternal sunshine of the spotless mind, observes about life here:

It is cold.

It is dark and dreary.

No human forms can be found anywhere.

It is depressing.

To him I say: Isn’t that why you left? We all want to leave. It is dark and dreary. It’s December. Depressing? Not always. Lately, yes. Don’t even turn on the TV, radio or log on to the Internet. Just do what the rest of us do, hide behind a good micro brew, or a decent vintage, or just go to bed with a bag of chips, strew crumbs all over the sheets and pull the covers up over your head.

Oh, wait, maybe that’s the problem …

Sadly, there’s evidence to back his claims. First, there’s this bouquet of black roses delivered to our dying region.

Then,  a box of chocolates with a skull and crossbones on it, sent by Mr. Grim Reaper.

Seems like we’ve been in the spotlight a lot recently and our warts and chin hairs are not lookin’ pretty to the rest of the country. Not like the rest of the USA is shaving on a regular basis either.

I meet folks transplanted from all over the world who come here for automotive-related jobs. Many of my good friends were born not only away from this region but on a different continent. It’s all a matter of perspective. While some of them hail from beautiful places, those places lack something that we have here. Something they like about here.

Don’t ask me to produce a list of “things.” Those details vary from one person to the next. One woman likes the urban sprawl. She comes from a place where people are crushed together and space is too precious a resource. Another friend likes the grittiness, the diversity of race and culture. She comes from a very homogenous, orderly society. Homogenous can mean uneventful.

The worst offenders are those who leave and then return for a visit. I hate to say it but most who have left have no intention of returning. I have other relatives who sometimes only stay a night and then cut a hasty retreat to the airport. I know it’s nice where you live, but jeez …

All I can say is: If you hate it here, don’t come. We’ll just visit you in your nice place, sleep on your couch. If you left and are visiting, don’t rub our noses in the very obvious pile of poop on the ground. Buried somewhere in all this dirt is a diamond. 

I’ll take it with me when I go.

Final edition

Last night the husband and I joined a small group of writers, editors and photographers for a round of drinks at our local watering hole. After hoisting our mugs and toasting our friendship and better days ahead, we downed a bitter swig of reality.

On Dec. 1 our 106-year old enterprise will cease to exist. We couldn’t call it a death. More like pulling the plug on a ventilator. Still.

Moments earlier we had toured the shell of a once-bustling building. What was once filled with busy workers doing their part to get a paper on the street every day is now populated only with empty desks and packed boxes.

Husband and I have a lot of memories embedded in this place. It was our home away from home, our life.  It was that way for all who worked there. We were an extended family and this felt like a funeral for a dear friend.

As we  drank and ate and talked, we wondered what to do with the rest of our lives, since most present were headed for the unemployment line. We talked about how to update our analog careers to a digital world. Most of us are middle age and this is all we’ve done. Time to reinvent ourselves. We all knew it was coming, but it is quite another thing to stand at the edge of the grave as the casket is being lowered.

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