My Life As a Hood Ornament
An Adventure of Spirit touring in the Seventh Direction…
Is San Francisco close to California?
One thing I’ve noticed about being a hood ornament – life is always staring me in the face, know what I mean? Or is it that I’m always staring at life in the face? Not to make too much of a point about it, but…which is it, do you think? I’ve been riding around here thinking about this all day. My mind is always rolling. Even when I stop, soon as the light changes, or the people that call themselves names get out of my way, I’m rolling again, and so is my mind.
Years ago, I was sitting quietly at a curb somewhere like this one, and I heard and saw this old man point at me and say “Oh look, it’s a Rolls – Royce Silver Phantom!” So I think about that a lot you know. Like he was pointing at Me, and he even came over and stroked my face with his cold fingers, and my breasts and my wings. Oh yeah, I could almost feel the callouses on his grimy little hands. And he kept up caressing my long, outstretched wings, running his fingertips gently all over my feathers, and whispering like some kind of ecstatic lover, calling me his dream, his “ beautiful, beautiful, Rolls – Royce.” So if that’s what I am, what is that?
Anyways, whatever this is that I am or am on, it’s always pushing my face into everything, and even when it gets dark and I’m inside the garage again, I can’t rest my mind. It just can’t keep up with what it sees. And I can’t stop seeing because my eyes are always wide open. It’s just the way I’m made, I guess. So I go round and round this hill town, up and down, down and up, looking and listening. Did I say I’ve got these good ears too? Oh yeah, I hear it all, and then some. All that sighing and wheezing, all that crying they think I don’t see, I hear it. Maybe I feel it too, but at this stage I’m kinda numb. Not indifferent, you understand, but it’s just too much! Especially since I heard this guy who gives me my bath every day, this guy says to me as he’s sponging that I’ve got over two hundred thousand miles “on me”. I guess Ralph is right, whatever! That’s the guys name – Ralph! So, like, what’s a Ralph? Anyways, I sit and brood on all this all the time.
But I don’t talk about it much. Well, not at all really. My mouth won’t open. All I can do is smile like I’m happy. So I sit there with this frozen smile right? And I’m always looking, looking, looking. And after all these miles, it’s all I can do to keep smiling in front of what I’m thinking, you know?
Anyways, enough about “me” and “Rolls-Royce” and this guy “Ralph”. I want to tell you about what I’m thinking about even though it’s hopeless that things will change for me. Like I said, I’m always thinking and wondering and looking at my life, and I have to confess, I feel like there’s nothing I can do. I mean, maybe there’s nothing I can do? It’s strange…hard to find the words, you know? ‘Cause if there’s nothing I can do but think….well, I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’m looking for my life, right? And I can’t seem to find it. My friend Delores says it’s right in front of me, but that can’t be true, can it? I mean, Delores? She’s just another hood ornament that guy Ralph calls “the old girl”. Not that I see her most days. Only at night, when I swing into the garage and we park face – to – face.
We don’t actually talk …she doesn’t say, so much as indicate. I sit there all night, and sometimes for days, and I stare at her and sometimes after a while I think I hear her speaking to me. Things like “ so what did you do today, Angel?” She calls me that, and I don’t take offense. But I wonder, “what’s an Angel?” And I think about what did I do today, and, you know, it feels like… almost like I didn’t do anything all day. Like I was all over the place, and still didn’t…move or something? Not that I didn’t move. It’s more like I didn’t do the moving. Like I was driven to do the things that I did. Now I know that doesn’t make sense, of course. But I must confess that’s what it feels like most days. Take this morning.
Mornings are all the same, aren’t they?
I don’t know about you, but I wake up in the morning with the same things going on in my head as were going on when I went to bed. Well, not really to “bed”. I get to rest at night when there’s not so much stuff flying at me. I think that’s what I like most about mornings, you know. The sun comes creeping over me and Delores, and there’s a moment there of peace and reflection. Before whatever it is that drives me kicks in, and I have to face another day. I get to reflecting a little as the light comes up, and I wonder if life would be different without me? I mean without me thinking about me. Lately, “my life without me” has been the first thought I get in the morning. Comes at me like the sun slips in under the door over there. I don’t mean “my life without me” in so many words, It’s just not easy to see some things clearly, is it?
Like the other morning, I felt myself moving out the big doors early and down the street past the place where I always go to get the groceries, and I found myself sitting at the curb in front of the subway station. It was cold. Brittle, if you know what I mean. And all these figures called people were passing me by like grey ghosts disappearing down the steps into a hole or something, and all I could do was wonder about what was going on, and if that was “life” and if it had something to do with me.
Anyways, I see…I saw, or more correctly, sensed, The Lady get out behind me and softly close the door. She almost always does it that way; I know her sway, her touch. I know her better than that really, but lets leave it there for now. So I see her pass me carrying a big bag full of , it turns out, six other smaller bags. There’s a cold concrete bench over there, and behind it, a huddle of grey figures laying in bags sleeping.
The Lady’s very quiet of course, and she slips over to the bench without waking a soul, and out she pulls these six, neatly folded lunch bags with sandwiches inside. And she places them carefully, all in a precise, straight line, side – by – side, on the bare bench. They look like row houses, only for the homeless, right? So she passes back by me without a smile on this morning and I feel the familiar gentle hand , something like a door opening and closing, and off we go. And I wonder what happened, and if what I just saw was love, or something like it? I think now it was food for the foodless, but I don’t know if it was love for the loveless. Maybe. Maybe not.
Anyways, that was a different morning, for sure. This morning here in the garage is the same as usual; she won’t come for hours probably. Or Him either. Or those kids. Or they all might, you never know until something happens, right? So the reason I keep wondering about me and life and all the stuff that life throws at you, is that I keep hearing and seeing things I don’t understand. I’m not insensitive, you know, and just because I can’t turn my head, doesn’t mean I can’t use it, right? So I watch, I hear…things. Like when she talks about this thing called “love”. I just listen, and don’t comment of course, but ,in my mind I’m wondering what she’s on about. She doesn’t know me, or that I exist even. Probably The Lady thinks I’m not even sensitive like her.
All about what I don’t know
Anyways, I knew The Lady since she was no higher than me. She was a strange little girl; she’d come up to me and hang her doll in my face, and talk to me and it and herself. And dance about, and sing and whisper confidences. She knew she could trust me…I’d just look away off as if I didn’t care and keep my lips stiff, even when she said something strange or funny. Once, she kissed me right here on my nose. I didn’t budge. Just smiled and looked away. Maybe that was “love”?
The Lady does lots of things once. I could write a book about her and me growing up together, except I don’t really remember all that much. You know how it is; you wonder if what you think happened back then is what happened, or just your thinking about it. It’s like, from where I sit, it’s all just happening in front of me, and behind is…gone? I don’t know man, but I do know I can’t look back behind where I am. Not that I don’t imagine what’s behind me, but I don’t think about it much.
Now, where was I? Another mind trip this morning without even leaving the garage! Oh yeah, I was on about The Lady. Like I said she does everything once, if you know what I mean. She called me “Roy” once. She must have been maybe, eighteen. We were out going somewhere – no, we were stopped? – yes, parked, and she said to this young man behind me that I didn’t know at the time, she said: “Let’s leave Roy here and go dancing!” That’s the only time she ever called me “Roy” Or was it “Rolly”? Maybe “Roy Rolly”…or “Rolly Roy?” Yeah, that’s it! “Rolly Roy.” Can’t imagine where this name stuff comes from, can you?
She left me out in the sun once. Her and that man got married together and she and him flew off somewhere behind me and there I was, sitting pretty in the sun for days and days. It was glorious for the first time to be touched by the sun like that every day, all day! It was like going off to some fancy resort beach, which I’ve done lots of, only instead of always being in the shade, this one time getting some sun! You know it was like being with an old friend,.. which she and him are now to me after all the years we’ve gone around traveling together. Rich memories, you might say, but that’s too forget the richness of today maybe?
It goes without saying that I’m often around the rich – cap M! I don’t mind, either way, rich or poor seems all the same to me. I don’t look down on them, the rich. I just don’t get it! You know, the black velvet and toys stuff. From where I see it, they laugh different. The rich, I mean, they have this laugh that disappears instantly. It’s like they laugh intensely. Now the poor…some of them laugh just like the rich. You know, kinda tight in the throat? But now some – maybe they have money or maybe not – they laugh with…joy? I think that ‘s it, but I’m guessing because I can’t laugh with my face. Can’t get this smile off it, but inside, inside, maybe I’m laughing?
So anyway, sometimes I ‘m seized with a kind of carpe moment. I catch myself wanting to laugh or maybe cry like people, but then I see that all that comes and goes and wonder, what stays where it is? It’s like me, I’m always stopped, even when I’m moving. But these people I watch, they never get to stop. To rest.
Not that movement isn’t fun, of course. Sometimes I would like to…it’s just that these wing-arms way up in the air would sometimes like to…be free to fly! Maybe to dance a little. But no, I always hold on like this, exactly. It can be tiresome sometimes. But on the whole, I’m happy with what I get. Except the flies! But I don’t think I can talk about them right now. Not yet. Maybe never. I think it’s a self image thing. You know – who do I think I think I am?
Well, I don’t know, that’s why I’m asking see? I only know what people say about me. They say I’m “noble” Some say I’m a ghost, gliding. Others say I’m an angel, winging. Some call me a “mascot”, like I’m some kind of dog that’s supposed to be… and I get “ the Nose”. I’ve never wanted to be other than I am, I just don’t know what I am, is all. What’s the truth here, I want to know. It’s like this thing people have about being colored! Me, I’m like… chrome; I just reflect all the colors. Delores says that the chrome is just the outside; that my inside shines too. And I wonder why people don’t see they’re the same.
Anyways, all this stuff, these questions, they come out of thin air just like that and slap me on the face. I mean, what’s really happening here, you have to wonder! Is this that’s here right in my face the Twilight Zone, or reality, really?
Why do flys happen?
I’m still here in the garage waiting almost nose – to – nose with Delores to see what the day will bring. Delores is getting a little impatient today. I can tell by the way she sits there on the bonnet, kind of stiff, apprehensive like. She stares off blankly into my face, not daring to hope that today might be the day.
She’s a lot older than me. I think once she said “nineteen twenty eight”. One, nine, two and an eight, whatever! Delores looks really good for her age. A lot like my cousin near here in New York – that’s out at the airport, I think. We were out there in a dealership together once.
My NY cousins kinda she she you know…Vegas. What a body! She’s got this body and wings all encrusted with diamonds! She told me that we’re both “nickel based alloy” but that she was “silver plated” too! Imagine that! And, what’s more, she’s called the Flying Lady because she wears 150 carrots of D color VVS1 diamonds and some fancy yellow diamonds on her wings. She’s worth $200 K they say, but she’s too modest to brag, I think…haven’t seen her for years. Last time I did though she was hanging out with some Shirley Temple lady that was really into sparkle.
Now me, I’m the same size as her – nearly seven inches. If I wasn’t slightly bent at the knees, like a ski jumper…if I stretched straight, I bet I’d be eight inches! But I don’t mind being short. Don’t mind not having the diamonds either. Closest I get to them is when sometimes at the Club I see some body looking at their diamond covered watch that they think measures something they call “time” and which they keep losing or finding. Whatever it is, they don’t seem to have enough and that might be why they can’t stop, I guess. I can’t look back myself, so I wonder if they can look back behind and maybe find that time they lost? Anyways, if you asked me, I’d say that without memory and expectations, maybe there is no time, right?
Delores is looking a little depressed now in this dim light that comes up under her from the crack in the door. I can barely see her face but at her feet there’s the same inscription as mine, only different. Hers reads: “Charles Sykes. Rolls-Royce Ltd” and “Feb – 6 – 1928”. Mines the same, only “1966”. It’s about time I knew what this means, but I don’t and it’s OK here. With or without time and diamonds, we’re all cousins, aren’t we?
Well it looks like the sun’s maybe coming up. I say maybe because here in San Francisco it’s like an island here and if you like the weather you won’t in ten minutes, so I don’t pay much attention to it. I know the weather but I don’t know much about time, and maybe there’s a kind of freedom in that. What bugs me most is the flys! But I still don’t think I can talk about it. You have to have been there to understand how flys fly sometimes, and why I can’t talk about it yet. I can say a few things about lots of things otherwise, but not to many know how to listen. Except this old, ex – motorcycle maintenance guy who comes here every fortnight or so to tune me and Delores. He knows how to listen.
Listening isn’t about hearing, is it?
A yellow truck just came and stopped over there by the window. The side of it says: “ANGELS ROOFING” and below that, “and Emergency 911 Restorations”. Two guys got out and went in the house it looks like. Don’t know what they came here for, but now they’re putting on rubber gloves and carrying bags and bags inside. I heard The Lady calling Him the husband on her cell. She sounds upset…you know, those sounds that upset? Anyways, they all went into the house, and the only sound I hear now is…this.
This isn’t only the sound I’m listening to, if you know what I mean. It’s like…tuning in to it all is more like…like what children do all the time. Like what my maintenance guy does when he comes. He listens like a child to all my stuff. Has done for years, only he never speaks to me. Just listens to everything, I guess. That’s how things get seen, right?
So he spreads out a nice clean blanket on the fender here, takes out his favorite tools and sets them always in the same place beside me, and he leans over me real close. I can feel his breath when he does that. Sometimes his breakfast.
I don’t know his name, but it’s clear he likes me a lot. Me too. He’s always sighing and adjusting and readjusting and tuning in to the voices . So I tell him my story, right?.
So when he’s up close, he’s like this kid I remember who came up to me one time in the Marina and put his face in mine and listened. He was simple about it…just …receptive, you know? He even licked me! Nirvana, that was! Anyways, there’s something about him like that kid.
But back to my maintenance guy. One day comes and we’re close, like usual, and something happened, and he sat on the fender, looked at me long and long, took out a notebook and started to write all this about what makes me tick.
It’s not that I actually speak. It’s more like I make faint sounds he alone can hear. Sounds that he’s articulated into meaning. Words. And words create reality, I guess. An entire verbal universe of ideas, concepts and abstractions that support and explore reality. Or just each other? Do you suppose reality might just be this stilled silence, like now?
That yellow trucks’ still there. It’s raining. Delores is well into her first nap, and I’m sitting here reflecting. I’m not unhappy, just curious about what’s in the next chapter. But not Delores. I asked her one time about if she ever wished for anything, and what would her one wish be? She said something about it would be “nice to not be the oldest in the garage.” I couldn’t convince her contrary – wise, so I didn’t even try. I see why she’s a little stiff – she’s been resisting life for longer than I’ve lived!
And that’s all I have to say for now. My right side feels a little …flat. Guess I ‘ll just lean into that until my guy comes to pump me up.
Reflections on a Chrome Crone
One of the things I learned long ago when I was young, is just because I’m stopped, doesn’t mean I’m stalled. It’s like life is a movement and a rest, right? Me, I’m both. I rest even when I’m moving! So you’d never know it from the outside, but sometimes I do get… a little contemplative, right?
Like my old friend Delores here. I look at her and I wonder how she makes it through her day. Oh she bears it all with a certain dignity. But when we’re together in this garage that used to be a stable, we get to conversing kinda melancholic. And that’s when her whole sad story comes out. Did I say “sad”? Well, I don’t see it that way at all, but she does.
That’s the thing about history and memory – it’s kind of what you make it, don’t you think? But to hear her tell it over and over again, it gets to sound like a low whine. It’s like she forgot her pedigree when she bitches about her not being “The Spirit of Ecstasy” that Rolls-Royce says she is. I swear she is, that she can’t see herself the way I do, but that she’s from a long blood line just like me. But she won’t have none of it, doesn’t see herself that way.
Way she tells it, she’s always been under-appreciated and over – worked, and , what’s more, “battered” by everything and everyone. Like one of her complaints is that every time the maintenance guy lifts the side bonnets, he deliberately hits her! Well, that ‘s not true either. I’ve watched him and he always opens the bonnets gently and carefully, resting the heavy steel lightly on her with a soft shamy cloth in between. But nothing’s good enough – the cloths too dry or two wet! You should see her whine when he sometimes forgets it! She doesn’t exactly wince, but she shivers kinda.
Anyways, that’s not the tune she sings so much as her past is. Her past is always, never, passed, if you know what I mean? And she gets her “stories” all confused. So, as she tells it, truth is an option! Now, for openers, her real name isn’t Delores. She never calls herself by that anyway. I do. Except when I don’t, which is when I get frustrated and angry with her.
She changes names all the time, depending on her mood, which is why I get annoyed. First she’s a “Silver Wraith” then she says she’s a “Silver Dawn”, then she’s a “Flying Lady”. Sometimes she thinks she’s a brand new “Silver Spirit” or a brand new “Silver Spur”. I stopped telling her that the new ones are way, way younger than her. That there was this collision safety issue a few years back, and that if she was like them, her Spirit of Ecstasy would sink into the radiator surrounding her and vanish from harms way at the touch of a button! I don’t dare tell her this is what they do now. Mainly because her Moms’ Mom drowned.
To hear her tell it, her Grand Mom was this lady called Eleanor Velasco Thornton. She was apparently not born to a high cast, but was so beautiful that some guy called – get this – John Walter Edward Scott-Montague, made her his Secretary and promptly fell in love with her. (Sometimes she’ll say that he was, like, the Second Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, married to this high-end Lady Cecil Victoria Constance! ) So anyways, we’re talking 1911 right, and Eleanor – “Emily” as she was affectionately called, was the model for the hood mascot on these huge 40 horse-power, twenty foot long Rolls-Royces, right?
Ah, looks like the yellow truck’s leaving…no, just moving back. I see Him pointing at the garage, but I can’t hear what he’s saying…looks not happy, but then I’ve never seen Him look any other way. Delores is still nodded off, so I’ll continue.
So this Eleanor was a model for Delores and me. Anyways, Emily’s decade long discreet affair with her boss, Lord Montagu, was more than hinted at in an earlier ornament that Montague commissioned for his personal RR Silver Ghost. That one was dubbed “ the Whisper”. Montagu hired Charles Robinson Sykes, this London School of Art guy, to design it, and “suggested” that he use Emily as his model. This statue captured Monty’s dear delight, delightfully half naked, leaning into the breeze in fluttering robes with her delicate fore finger delicately poised to her lips – a symbol of their secret love!
So Delores’ mom was kinda riding high right up until she wasn’t, which was 1915. Eleanor and Lord M. took this steamer, the H.M.S. Persia, to Crete. It was wartime, the ship was torpedoed by a German sub in the eastern or western – somewheres in the Mediterranean, and Eleanor drowned. Here the story differs and spreads like a river delta, right? Depending on Delores mood, sometimes she says that Montagu went down with Eleanor, and sometimes she says he alone survived, only to come back to England and read his Obituary in the Times! I’ve heard her say they never sailed anywhere, and that he left her Mom and went and drowned by himself which would serve him right! It’s all so sad and tragic! Why not say they both sailed off early one misty morning in his Silver Ghost with The Ecstatic Whisper? What’s the truth here?
Well, for me, it doesn’t matter – they’re all just stories, even if they’re interesting ones, and I don’t believe any stories are true, do you?
So now I want to share with you Delores real name. She’s still napping, and I don’t suppose it will hurt her. Maybe she already knows or suspects anyway, because people have been talking about her for years on the street. In fact, that’s where I first heard my friend Allison tell me, right in front of where I was curbed at Spasso Cafe on College. And I have to agree that what Allison says that everyone says, is that Delores real name, that fits her better than any, is “Chrome Crone”. I know it means she’s an old hag. Me, I call her Delores, and think of her as my “ Chrome Crony.”
Who knows where today is going?
Those two angels with the yellow rubber gloves just came in the side door and took a blue tarp and a shovel and left leaving the door open. Air’s nice, cool and damp this morning. Full of flavors that kinda stick to my nose… hints and wisps of mortality, right? There’s always new stuff to sniff and snuff. Like right now I smell all kinds of newness, but I don’t label it . Don’t need to. It’s alI blended in with ham and eggs and toast and green tea and mildew and old oil rags and soap and wax and sea and dog. Dog?
Dog is dead! I can tell…it’s in the air. Hints of decay wafting, mixed with lint, old soft hair, pain and Purina, sorrow and desperate silence and deadness. Deadness is common. Like life. It’s all the same really, once you get the taste of it ,it’s all about the essence of things and how dogs, trees, rocks, hood mascots and people die, but dogness, treeness,rockness,artness, peopleness? I think they all live on like life, don’t you? Doesn’t mean I don’t miss him. Hey, I’m grateful to be alive you know!
His name was Prettyboy. I know this from hearsay, but I think that’s what they called him all the time. I got my first sniff of him when they brought this little dogness home in Rolly Roy. Not that I know Rolly either, even though we are very attached after all these years, he’s still just a concept to me, you know?
Anyways, Prettyboy had a regular dogs life for a standard poodle. That’s not to say “routine” of course; no dogness is the same in expression. He’d come running at me barking when I came up the drive, but never exactly the same way. One time he’d stop and sniff me, another time he’d stop and growl at me, and maybe pee on me. Sometimes both, or all, or neither. He was convinced I’m a dog, or like a dog, only bigger and faster. Big and fast was all the same to him – something to run at or away from. He loved life just the way it smelled. Oh those splendid dog butts! But it probably never occurred to him that someday it would all end.
Maybe because it didn’t, really, what with him not having to think about it. Like I know what you’re thinking now, that people die like dogs everyday. But do you really think that dogs die like people? All filled with regret, remorse and fear from a life lived full of ideas and feelings called desires and fears? I wonder, is all. Me, I don’t believe what my mind always tells me about life. I look and see what is, just the way it is, and let life live free of “me” and “mine”. If it sounds like a dogs life, you’re right!
Life always takes us for a ride, right?.
Ah, the birds have just stopped, flown up on the roof. That means someone’s coming. It’s The Lady. I know her footsteps, those sounds sounding like the tune in the telling of a tale, right? Todays tune is light, brisk, full of purpose. She’ll open the garage fast and deliberately, come straight along my left, right? Yep. Now she’s opening the car door. Oh yeah, she’s on a mission today! I sway like a boat rocks as she shuts her door with a firm fluidity. There’s the old cough of the motor below me; the instant purr I know so well.
I’m looking over at Chrome Crone…ah…Delores. She’s awake now, rolling her eyes but looking quite stiff still, as usual, after all those…sure she’d like to go, but she knows, she knows, she’s retired. She’s been retired lots of times before, but she knows this last was her last. I see she wants to go too, and I smile solicitously I think, but I can’t see my lips really. I’m getting a glimpse of me reflected in her eyes now. I don’t look much more beautiful than say, a well turned door knob. Anyways, I guess it’s what you’d call “me” even though it’s not the way I see myself, if you know what I mean?
She once called me “Nellie in her nightie!” and I can see that too. In her eyes, I look bigger at the top, like my wings are reaching like a spinnaker sail kinda distorted like. Or maybe that’s how I appear in her eyes, not in mine. It is confusing, this wondering who you are stuff. Which I don’t do these days like I did. Wow, now I’m moved and moving!
Back, back, back I go, falling backwards away from my friend “Lory”. That’s what I call her sometimes when I’m backing away from her and wonder if I’ll ever, ever see her again. Hey, I’m not just nickel alloy, I do have feelings, you know! Opps! I just stopped…something’s up, wonder what? The Lady’s out, walking round front of me, bending and…now she’s muttering something about a “ flat on the right”, whatever that is? Now she’s passing me going back to the behind that’s behind me, talking to her little boxy black Thingma. Thingmas you see everybody talking to all the time like they’re somebody. They pace like they’re in a cell, you know?
Now we’re moving. It’s always a thrill, not knowing where you’re headed. Not a scary thing – unless we go way inland past Martinez say, to Sacramento, and the air gets hot and windy and bumpy. It’s then I wish I had glasses. Not to see, or for the wind. For the flys! Millions of ‘em come at me in summer! Nothing I can do but stay open. They’re kinda like ideas – I don’t so much get them as receive them! That’s on good days, of course. The bad days? I don’t have them like I did, whether it’s raining flys or raining rain. Why resist the inevitable, I say, when life throws life at me? Hey, I’m saying that now, not knowing where we’re headed for. Who knows how things will happen until they do? Not me, not now, for sure.
Anyways, I seem to be headed towards Traders’ Joe. No! We turned on Mission. Airs cooler now in my face, got a whiff of donuts and fries and alcohol and depression. Now we’re on Columbus and I feel like Chris must have, sails all full and having no map! It’s always weird at first, this not knowing. It’s like, you think everything that happens has a precedent right, but it doesn’t really. It’s chaos, really. You find that out when you ride up front here. You can only make bets about what’s going to happen.
Ever realize how the mind spins assumptions about its’ world – a world which often spins contrariwise to your plans? Happens all the time. Like the bumps on the road The Lady says she’s going to stop taking but always seems to take no matter where she goes. She’s driving slower then usual, turning me a little one way then another. I wonder how she sees me; if it’s like she’s riding a horse, and looking out between the horses’ ears? That’s kinda the way it is for me when I look ahead, only there’s no ears. I’m like, riding in the nose-cone of a B29 bomber, only there’s no glass! It’s like… no, like is just another word for experience,.. like I know your feelings, right?
She’s swinging a hard right, there’s a few waterdrops in my face…we’re up this driveway and headed…stopped now at some Tire place. She’s out, talking to this Italian guy behind me and to my right. He’s saying things like “bella figura!” and petting the fender. My mind wants to comment about this guy and his being Italian, but I just watch it and go around my mind like a respectful parent.
He’s circling around too, this bella, bella, guy. It’s like he’s never seen me before, and I know I’ve been here once before, retiring after that long trip to and from Miami and back again. Sometimes it’s like me and him, we’re on the same planet, but at different times, you know? Not that I mind Bella, but he does seem a little condescending. Not to me, to The Lady OK? It’s enough sometimes to make my chrome blister! He’s the same guy who talks about stuff like he knows what it is. Like, if this bird sits on his head, does that mean it’s a pigeon? I don’t know. Maybe.
Me, I’m not sure.
She and him are old friends; they get right to talking about life and death. Bella is saying that the Dalai Lama said “When we consider what happens after death, it’s tropo complicato!” Yeah, Tropo! A lot complicated! Or not – if there’s no Dali Lama and no death. Anyways, the Dalai Lama knows that.
Looks like I’m getting jacked… whatever! Sometimes I still lose it, it’s only human!
Bella and The Lady are talking about Tibet and stuff again, so I’ll be sitting here all jacked up awhile. Might be a good time to get some shut eye, if I could. But I can’t. That’s not a problem, from this angle, just a fact. Now they’re on about some “Ham and Eggs fire” in the San Francisco earthquake in 1906! Where did that ?… who knows? Mind rambles and scrambles, doesn’t it?
A mind-made life, or what?
Dogness just cocked a leg and pissed on me. Well, not on me, but mine, right? Not really, but mind tells me he pissed on me! It’s constantly making stuff up. Like what it doesn’t want to happen, what it fears will, and what it thinks should. Endlessly demanding happy endings. I get to see that wherever I go mind makes this color commentary, right, complete with commercials and news. I watch it change channels, looking for something interesting. Or a situation that could be interesting, if it can find the right way to make it wrong, to make the situation an issue. That’s code for problem, right? Of course, Mind says it prefers not to have “problems,” but loves to chew on them for something to do. What would it do without them, it wonders to itself! Be happy? That’s not what it thinks!
So anyways, I have these little mind chats all the time, right, just like people. Only my thoughts aren’t me, you know? It’s not like I can control anything – who knows what’s going to pop into their mind next? And I’m sure not fingering some Remote control to change or otherwise control the channels of my mind. Mind changes mind when conditions change. Or to be more candid here, mind is a conditioned response to change. It filters, interprets what’s happening according to what it prefers, or doesn’t. What it wants it likes. At least until it gets what it wants, then it moves on to wanting something else it knows this time it’ll finally like and like, finally be happy!
For example, right now, my mind’s saying “ how can I communicate to you the joy and intimacy and peace and freedom and emptiness and fullness of just sitting here on this hood?” Well, I can’t – not in so many words, I can’t. But you know don’t you? It’s like life passes over you like clouds and thunder and sunshine, and the mind rolls on rolling and yet something inside doesn’t move…is still, alert, knowing. Alive. What you know is a direct perception, not a conception, right? So, bottom line here is, you can’t conceive the truth, just like you can’t believe it. It is, I am and you are.
Bella’s letting me down with the jack now. Feels like something’s adjusted, balanced more. The Lady is hugging him, getting in…no, she’s back for another hug!
Now she’s in, I’m vibrating…there’s this primal energy again. We’re off, out on the street, heading I don’t know where. Feels like West. West is a feeling when the wind is kinda crisp and full of dart sharp, piercing rain. It “cries like Mary” as Delores says. She should know, she toured the Irish coast one winter once. For me, I’m thrilled to be rolling again, so this wind cries like Mercy!
The Legend of Dickie and Me.
We’re flying along the Oakland bridge now. The wind whips between the steel interstices like the flitting light. I can’t see the water, just a few ships at anchor, waiting to offload and onload their bellies. Truck in front is belching diesel; it hits, makes me gasp, but we’re passing it now. Into some cleaner air. Just spotted a billboard that says, “God is living!” It’s signed by some guy named “Neuchi”.
Seems we’re heading to Berkeley today. I never know ‘til it happens. Yes! It’s exciting exiting to Claremont!.. and left, then right, on College, I guess. I say “ I guess” because I don’t record all the streets, and signs, and places and people. I leave them literally behind me these days. Can’t keep up and don’t want to. It’s much easier this way, not having to always remember stuff that’s passed. Especially since I never have, and never will, know where I ‘m going! So the past is passed, the future is arriving, and life is always just here tickling and slapping me in the face. Arguing with it is like picking a fight with reality, right? Not that I’m not in the ring with it, I just let the soft hands and hard fists that come my way go through me and out behind.
We’re moving and resting, turning and returning. Looks like we’re here. I’m at this green curb; she’s out, chatting and waving her hands. Maybe she’s on her cell, maybe not. She disappeared down the alley. The building it’s beside is an old, Victorian shingled shed with signs and graffiti all over the one side I can see. Someone’s leaning against the wall, sad. Now there’s two of them. Three. They’re sipping coffee, lighting up one cigarette, passing it around.
Now the little one is talking to this guy she calls “Dickie”. She’s mad at him or something. Dickie’s just rubbing his eyes like it’s still yesterday, and he wants it to be tomorrow, you know? He’s grabbing hold of his buddy, rolling his eyes south and hinting with his head tilted north, and they leave her standing there and shuffle over near me. Damm, here comes another Story! She walks over, puffing and huffing, and holding a chipped, red nailed hand to her face. Before she opens her mouth, I know her woeful story: Dickie disappointed her again and this is really the last…the last, time!
All stories are is popular dreams. Or popular nightmares! They’re constructions erected on air to support some sense of self . They build and build on themselves, these inventions. They add new rooms with harbor views and then brick-in the windows; convert potential new spaces into old spaces with familiar patterns. It’s the Human Story. And when it collapses, this flimsy, fleeting and fragmented fabrication crashes. Only to re-rise and re-collapse!
We repeatedly climb into the same bed together, dream dreams conceived in imitation and admiration. But the morning always comes when we wake up with our bloody dreams all over the sheets, and cry “ Oh my God, what happened to me?” Well, maybe there’s no me and no mine, and life happened ? Could it be that the fiction of Me is all that stands between life and freely living it? I don’t know but I see the more I go round and round, that nothing’s really as it appears. It’s like only my ideas about it, do you think?
Now take my thoughts about these people here, this place I’m parked at…where I went last, where I’ll go next…who knows, who needs to label all their experiences? Maybe we’re too afraid to live without identity, maybe? It’s like this bright red bumper sticker stuck on this car bumper on this car in front of me: “ I Love Being Me!”
Me, I love being.
And that’s all the story I’ll ever have to say. It’s not that I don’t absolutely love stories! I just don’t believe them, is all.
So wherever my mind and this road here takes me, I’ll always be simply, sitting here.