Cooking could be nice. I mean the real thing where you gather essential ingredients then combine them in mysterious ways to serve up something audacious and maybe delicious. Of course as I write this it’s 9 in the morning so such ambitions may soon pass like so many other good intentions. In that event snooping in the freezer at the last minute this evening will yield some dish that fulfils the notion “necessary but not sufficient”. Necessary to keep this body fed but not sufficient to cause the angels to sing.
Did I mention I am traveling? These culinary thoughts are amplified, like the conundrum of 3D chess moves, because my trailer borne kitchen is woefully understocked. Hell, I don’t even have brown sugar for my oatmeal or eggs for an omelet. Who stocked this wagon train anyway?
It’s overcast here in Austin Tex-ass. Its day four of my self-exile to the reaches of central and south west Texas. Why am I here? Only the hours and passing days may reveal insight but my suspicion is that revelations will be hard to come by if I spend too much time in the grocery isle or the camping supply store. This moment in my life demands more.
I do believe that we can witness the petty events of our lives in a manner that reveals hidden evidence or at least life clues. That’s my operating logic on this trip. Yesterday, walking past campsites, I saw a family of children, ages 3 to maybe 11 running and shouting joyously while dressed like Native Americans with long blanket-like coats and headbands into which were tucked tall feathers. Their brown skin made the scene even more remarkable. What is their family dynamic that would make this fantasy play possible?
Later that day I walked with foolish optimism down the park path. In my hand were two burned-out fuses that spelled a long, cold night ahead in the Shack without electricity. I came upon a stalwart family of Texans who sat in animated conversation at the picnic table. They had just devoured their holiday repast. Off to the side was perched a wide screen TV shouting for attention. As I approached the conversation stopped abruptly and soon everyone was scattering. Apparently my arrival was at a crucial point in an awkward discussion about junior’s dating proclivities. Junior shot me a look of relief and fleeting appreciation. Best of all? Unbelievably on Thanksgiving Day and me with no shopping options Daddy had the fuses I needed. Thankful indeed.
Since Monday night I have been battling back my feelings about the mess in Ferguson Missouri. Sad? Sure, but where does that get one? Angry? That’s not a response the works well for a 68 year old. Sympathy? Irrelevant to the reality of our constantly afflicted citizens. Opinions were so much simpler when I was 25. Clarity (but not resolution) was easier to come by then. Right and wrong seemed easy to decipher or perhaps it was merely clinging to the illusions. And the admonition to trust no one over thirty was well founded because now I know with clarity old geezers are burdened with messy complexities which always makes action more difficult. My beacon of sanity at moments like this is – of all things – a Facebook friend. This Afro-Caribbean-American woman is an artist (photography, videography and more) of the first rank, a recognized poet, a mother, teacher and a student of popular culture. She is a sophisticated citizen by any measure and her FB posts range from the simple to the complex and she is obviously especially attuned to the plight of women and African-Americans. She inspires me because – as painfully aware as she is – she continues on raising her child and making exceptional art as if a bulwark against the endless waves of ugliness the world offers up. From an anonymous fan I offer a thank you to Deborah Jack.
Writing Whiplash Warning!
One of the things I like about camping is that I am once more exposed to experiences that for my contemporaries are distant memories. Yesterday I showered in the clammy common campground shower while others performed other less lovely daily rituals. Never saw that coming just a few years ago. Another excrement infused verbal picture: dump station! The phrase says it all. Who knew society endorsed adults playing with poo in public? Or consider the physicality of camping. For me its cooking, sleeping, working and relaxing in 220 square feet for extended times. It reminds me of some of my first adult haunts like the turret room on Goodman Street. Living in a run-down house with next-to-no belongings in a circular room and a shared bath. A different kind of “camping” but, like my present circumstance, the stuff of memories or even inspiration.