Saturday, September 17, 2005

Is It Real?

September 17,2005

When my father had been dead for several years my sister said to me one day, " You know, when I think of dad now it's as if he had never existed at all but had only been a character in a movie or a dream sequence. It's as if he had never been real, as if our lives with him had not been real."

I know what she was talking about.The present drifts away from us into the past in little dribbles. Everything about my father was gone, his old chair, his radio over which he fumed and fussed about the Red Sox, his old wrought iron lamp which had been painted gold,the desk drawers full of trinkets that it was his habit to pick up in the street on his way home from work. The house in which we lived together--gone. There are fewer and fewer touchstones to his existence. The real father belongs to a long gone world, a world before cell phones and computers,a wordl before technology, a world in which you had to wait for the operater to come on the line and ask, "number please", a world that no one living can go back to.

The past becomes smaller and smaller. When I returned to my high school after many years I was amazed at how small it was. I felt like a giant inside it. Did I really walk through these hallways, open these doors? My locker number still exists except that someone else now owns the number. Note how we get pushed out of our historic places, out of our lockers, out of the cradle,out of school, out of the corner where we used to like to hang around, out of everywhere. Others are goading our steps, anxious to occupy our place; we have to keep moving on like fugitives on the run. Finally we become the historians,the know-it-alls, the ones who say," You see that school over there kid!? Well,I remember when we used to skate on a pond over there! It was a dirt road had to park your car and walk through the woods."

And the kid would say, "W-O-W!" and not be able to know how things had been in that place. He would create his own past and save it in his own way.


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