Sunday, May 04, 2008

Harmony and memory

It's a bright morning, a little too bright after a late night, or rather an early night that turned into a late night when I suddenly woke up at 1:25 a.m. I want to finish the current book so I can write my review and focus on stem cell research (another book to review) and moving some more things today. The apartment is beginning to look a little bare without all the books. I've decided to tear down the computer and move it over to the cottage and set it up since I'm on vacation this week. It will make things a lot easier when it comes to getting close to the windows to clean them and then I can get at that section of the sun room that hasn't been dusted or vacuumed in the three years since I put the desk there. It's not practical to tear apart the computer and move the desk just to dust and vacuum once a week. It's like not moving the stove or refrigerator once a week to clean the kitchen. What I find back there should be interesting.

One thing about moving this way is that it will mean I won't have so many boxes to unpack and it won't take so long to get settled. That's one part of moving I dislike. I like the moving part and the settled part, but since I'm not Jeannie or Samantha I can't just blink or do a little magic to transport everything intact. Either would come in handy when it comes time to clean, too.

I had a short conversation this morning with an old boyfriend back in Ohio. He and I have stayed friends all these years and he keeps asking when I'll come back to Ohio, or he did until he got hooked up with some African women who trawl the International Internet waters looking for suckers willing to part with their money. He likes to play with them without giving up the cash. I guess he's become a miser in his old age.

He retired about five years ago at the ripe old age of 51. He worked for the Columbus Fire Department as an EMT and lead on the bomb squad. When we dated, we spent his days off together (he worked 24 on and 48 off) and I switched my schedule around so we would have the same three days off together. We had a lot of fun together working on and flying his planes, walking his five dogs (something I did for him when he went on vacation or was at the station), working in my yard trimming bushes and mowing the lawn and planting bushes and flowers, etc. We went to movies and dinner and had sleep overs, but mostly at his house since he couldn't leave the kids very long or they'd have the place torn down, not that you could actually tell they hadn't when you walked into the house. We also cooked together. His specialty was green bean casserole. My specialty was everything else, although he did grill meat very well.

This morning he told me one of his dogs, Major, was on a 40-foot leash and he heard this ruckus outside so he rushed outside in his boxer shorts. Major had jumped the fence and was hanging by his left hind foot. He couldn't free Major's leg so he ran back into the house, got the pliers and cut Major free only to find out that Major's right ear was shredded and bleeding like it had been chewed. It had. Skipper, finding Major in a helpless situation, shredded Major's ear. I guess they haven't figured out which one of them is the alpha dog or else Skipper doesn't like Major being the alpha dog and took advantage of the situation to savage his rival. I haven't met these dogs, but I'd say they are very different from the five Rick had when we dated. I should also mention there are now seven dogs and not five, as well as a couple of cats, at Rick's House o' Dogs. Good thing Rick is an EMT or he'd have to pay extra to get his vet to go in on a Sunday and Rick doesn't like parting with money, although his dogs are the exception to the rule. Major is in one of the many cages in Rick's house and Skipper is on the 40-foot leash outside. Neither of them are happy but they're both quiet, by all reports.

All this makes me a little nostalgic. Rick and I were always chasing after one of his dogs, but there were a lot fewer dog fights. One of his dogs like to hump everything, including a hole in the ground when Kodiak wouldn't stand still long enough, but the dogs didn't fight with each other, just with other neighborhood dogs. We mostly chased after Peanut, the little beagle escape artist who only escaped when there were rabbits or groundhogs or moles nearby, which was most of the time. For a little dog, she was strong and nearly pulled my arm out of the socket a time or two when she scented game. I learned to keep her on a short leash and hold the leashes of the other four dogs in my left hand since they weren't nearly as rambunctious.

I guess it's normal to feel nostalgic about the past even when I know it will never be the same. I know what's back there and I miss some of it, but I'd never leave Colorado for Ohio, not even for a house with a $38/month mortgage. My parents' mortgage on their $12,900 house with a double lot was more than that. I think they paid $142 a month. Don't ask me how I know; I just do. My grandparents had a four-bedroom, two-bath house and they paid $74 a month. That was a lot of money back in the 1970s when minimum wage was $1.65.

It's amazing how much I remember, like making more than minimum wage and buying my mother a pair of half-carat diamond earrings for her birthday with my wealth. Diamonds were cheaper then, too. The car payment on my 1973 Silver Vega Hatchback was $65 a month and the rent on my first apartment was $50 a month. I remember an electric bill that was about $8 for the month and it seemed like a lot, but then I could buy two weeks' worth of groceries for $30 and it didn't take much to fill the gas tank on my car since gas was 30 cents a gallon. It's more than 10x that now.

Everything changes, and not always for the better, but any change sometimes is a good thing since it shakes up the ant farm and keeps us from getting stale and entrenched in those deep ruts we make by following a routine that is only distinguished by the day of the week. For me, it's time to find a new routine and a different rhythm, one that will hopefully bring me back closer to a natural rhythm uncomplicated and unfettered by anyone else's rhythms.

I'm reminded of the sign above the door at Plato's school: music of the spheres. It's all about balance and harmony and it's not just for music. Like the rhythm of unlabored breathing, a pure and uncluttered energy. The harmonies and music of rising and setting sun and its trek across the sky, the rise and fall of light and shadow, heat and cold. The body needs those rhythms to stay in balance so the mind, like the body, can remain in balance and be productive and open to all the possibilities of living. When everything is in harmony the petty daily problems melt into nothing, receding into the background into white noise and dissonance that can be dealt with at leisure when mind and body are armored against their assault. But it's not a battle. Rather, it's a dance, sometimes a passionate tango, sometimes a sedately romantic waltz and sometimes it's a frenetic frug that vents the pent up heat and mental and emotion debris.

Even battles are dances as enemies move close, engage and whirl away to engage again or drop away, lobbing explosive invitations from a distance in time and space until ultimately battlers pair off or dive into a mosh pit of myrmidons to be trampled or emerge victorious. It's all connected, a dissonance like Beethoven's crashing chords giving way to softer lilting passages of peace after the breathless surge of clashing cymbals and throbbing drums that mark the cacophony of battle enjoined.

It's all part of the music of the spheres: asteroids careening drunkenly or deliberately drawn to the magnetic grave of the sun or one of the planets, clasped to a bosom until both are changed. Planets dancing around stars in a Highland or Virginia reel of seemingly complicated steps that are really quite simple. Birth and death and the journey in between where all is an essential part of all at the beginning, middle and always at the end, drawn like moths to a flame. Fireflies dancing on a warm summer night winking in the dusk and lighting the late night darkness until they fade with the morning light, connected by time and experience in an unending spiral dance to be forgotten in the rush of the larger pattern and sneaking out when all is silence and the mind is open to the haunting refrains of the past.

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