Coming Home Again

When I was twelve, I found a copy of Thomas Wolfe’s classic, You Can’t Go Home Again, I remember being profoundly impacted by the title. Just the words alone made me wonder about home, and in my 12 year old mind I thought of my cousin Billy, who had just passed weeks earlier in a tragic car accident. He was a close friend, a cousin, and a model of a human being whom I aspired to, but whose magic had departed at an early age.

At Billy’s passing, the tragedy effectively shut me down, I was a ghost of myself for the next few months, and really didn’t have any clue what life meant to me anymore. I only knew that my cousin was gone, and I could no longer count on him to be there next to me as a child growing up in a confusing world. What used to be important to me suddenly didn’t matter. We were embroiled in the Vietnam war, and now all I paid attention to were the names scrolled on the news of the dead U.S. servicemen. Somehow I related that to my own loss.

President Nixon would resign in six months, Spiro Agnew already convicted, the political world that my mother paid attention to with every pundit’s prognostication began to have meaning in my life. I was raised in the 60’s so I already had experienced the loss of the Kennedy’s, MLK Jr., Malcolm X and countless others through the eyes of my older siblings and parents. Yet, as things settled, I kept still trying to figure out what Wolfe meant with that engaging title. So, I read the book.

I remember being fascinated with how fiction would somehow expose reality, how the community didn’t respond well to the writer’s focus, and the meaning began to take shape. For the next few years, my life evolved as a child turned troubled teenager in the city of Wausau, WI. I attended three different high schools, had academic struggles, dabbled in alcohol and drugs and was generally a classic mixed up kid with a lot of baggage that followed me until I could finally leave town. I moved to the twin cities and slowly carved out a world for myself.

Tonight, I return to Wausau four decades after I left, though I have been here many times since, I now have a better understanding of Thomas Wolfe’s meaning when he wrote his book. He didn’t necessarily intend to suggest he was ostracized or banished from his community, really more likely he was acknowledging that change is inevitable and we all must be prepared to accept the challenges that life might have in store for us.

Tonight, I drove into my hometown in the middle of a snowstorm. I drove past city markings familiar to my childhood, and realized while the snow fell as regularly as it did when I was twelve years old. I remember burying my cousin Billy in Minneapolis while snow gathered on the treetops along the winding roads around Lake Calhoun as we caravanned to the cemetery to pay our respects. I looked down 28th avenue as we drove into town, my home 40 years earlier, my life now settling into an early autumn. I realized I could come home again.

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Diana Ross singing at Rockefeller Center

I was watching a Christmas special on NBC tonight – the lighting of the tree at Rockefeller Center – the Rock as it is referred to. I was entertained by the singers and circumstance, and then suddenly, Diana Ross took the stage. I was stunned. Her voice carries over the decades of my life. In the 60’s she became the iconic singer she is with the Supremes, a fiery voice that would carry a wonderful spirit throughout my life.

Tonight watching Diana sing standards didn’t necessarily make me feel old. It helped me realize the beauty of music and how it carries us through all the experiences in our life, the ups and downs, the learning moments, the tragedies, and finally the hope we all might have that such energy is a gift.

Diana Ross is a gift to my life, and tonight she moved me. What a beautiful person.

A Life Led

Watching movies all of our lives,

imagined scenarios,

romantic interludes

with coveted designs

all created within the scope

of such sweet select yearn

we celebrate a constant envy.

 

While the world reminds

us of simple routine,

a Thanksgiving Day parade

the Macy’s celebration,

streets lined with normalcy,

our world in a capsule

filled with smiles and reason.

 

Watching a stranger now,

who did once lead a life,

a sort of mechanical failure

brought him to his knees

standing outside

a warmth and peace inside.

 

We choose our lives.

Would we that gather an

idyllic scenario

now that terms are met

could we ever disregard

the notion of our lives

to be the

sweet remembrance of why.

 

In lasting conversations with friends

as memory suggests, pretend.

Being In My Head

A description

suggestive in its exploit

meant as prophecy

more oft bereft

Fallacy.

 

The other afternoon

when caught

in turmoil’s grasp

would one recall

Travesty.

 

We are ourselves

makers of the storm

we design our fall

how we rise we dwell, this …

Legacy.

 

This notion of an internal measure

Always reminds me of my leisure.

when the words don’t matter

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Sitting by the shoreline,

the water fairly calm,

a sharp breeze enough to

suggest only the time of year.

 

watching seagulls swift past

the eery history of the mast

wondering just when waters

would ever tell me a secret.

 

I could listen for hours

while the sun began to dance

along soft waves of yesterday

sounds around me airily fast.

 

the birds, their legacy staid

by waning summer’s crying lead

in the autumn of these days,

the ones reminding time away.

 

I listen to Bob Dylan, a surreal croon

speaking of wanting ways

wishing time would forever sway,

‘Blood on the Tracks’ seems to say …

 

Inside this visual macabre

Our surreal horizon rob.

There’s This Place I Like To Go

In the quiet reminders of how we live our lives

a silent recall will always come knocking

always come knocking

always come

to somehow tell us we are a concept

we remain here forever,

always knocking,

a steady rap of recurring thoughtful

imagined lives that stir our hearts

until all the passion we feel

suddenly spills into the next

time and place

where 

always knocking

a soft moment, 

we might certainly

become enthralled in sweet 

reckoning

because we share our lives

inside the spectrum of some

displaced anxiety,

an autumn sunset

begins a solemn wholeness,

the human condition,

always knocking

on Heaven’s doorstep.

Moving Toward Happiness

Moving Company

a review 


Recently walking past a housekeeper with my bags, we left our hotel on the 23rd floor of a room in Manhattan. I nodded good-bye and thank you, and she smiled for a moment but I wondered how long the grin remained the second we went around the corner. I didn’t stop to think about what goes through her mind on a daily basis as she cleans up after me and everyone else that nods to her along the way.

In The Moving Company’s current production of The 4 Seasons, at The Lab Theater, the lives of three human beings caught in the trappings of their own seeming mendacity of hope suggest an essential value we often like to avoid. Like the housekeeper we know exists, yet they are gone when we disappear in our own lives, the three characters in this fictional hotel experience life through the poignancy of summer, fall, winter, & spring, and inside each season, the human condition speaks to the turmoil we all experience no matter our level of responsibility or status in society.

These three clean up after us daily, they unplug our used toilets, gather our soiled linens, and bathe in our afterward when the season wanes and they are left alone with their own simple lives. Each character has a question and while driven by the music of Vivaldi, their actions speak to the pain that exists when hope is just out of reach, when the light disappears, when happiness cannot be attained within the mundane reality of trying to survive. There is a rhythm to their world, and the music allows us to imagine their truths are as complicated as anyone’s own. The everyman is brought to life.

The Moving Company speaks to the reality of a generalized world, while exposing our current political turmoil and the hypocrisy of the haves when measured against the have nots. The judicial system is brought into question, while the seeming confusion of how leadership is chosen by ignorance is explored in the eyes of three normal lives.

We walk past the housekeeper every day, and the spirit of always seeking the beautiful despite the disdainful existence of their lives is played out on stage with a quiet humor. The talents of Heidi Bakke, Joy Dolo, and Steven Epp  play out the illusion we choose or do not choose to maintain when carving out our own lives. The balance of live theatre under the direction of Dominique Serrand once again compels and demands an audience to think, rather than simply walk past the reality of our own existence. In a world where hope is easily forgotten, is it still attainable? Will we remember two or three hundred years from today about the purpose of our lives?

The Moving Company raises the question with a blend of delightful humor spread thin by the painful struggle within the human condition. We are left entertained yet in a constant with silent wonder.



 

‘The 4 Seasons’ performed by The Moving Company

The Lab Theater – November 1 – December 2, 2018.