Missing the Early Bird

For no particular reason, I’ve tried to take the Sunday to read a New York Times article about a retirement home near that famous cemetery in Queens I keep forgetting the name, on the way to Long Island but don’t ask me the precise address. Couldn’t finish it, one because it breaks my heart. And then I think about growing up, realizing that my Dad, for example, was getting to that point when the world is no longer made for you.
Our generations were really the first ones to see the ’empire of youth’ and gosh, how glad I was, at least about that, to be alive then.
It took me 30 years to get to see the same thing from the opposite angle. Even understanding how parents begin to see the world through their kids. It’s almost a selfless thing to do, a kind of surrender. It means that you no longer fancy buying that special gadget per se, when you know you kid doesn’t have one yet.
But it’s also about almost giving it all up; the world no longer is my place to play, most of what happens there I’m not invited to. I hear the distant noise but I no longer recognize the commotion or even feel it. The world is another home I’ve left and wouldn’t know how to return to.
When you start to wonder, what the hell do they talk about when you’re not around, which is most of the time these days. A general idea, or rather, a general feeling is all you muster about how they get to learn what they learn. But the prevalent feeling is that, yes, they’ll make that mistake, and will break their knee cap, as it happened to my son last week, and there’s not a godamn thing you can do about it.
And that his healing process will take at least twice as long because he won’t listen to you when you say, it’s your knee, that’s what bad men used to do to other, smaller bad men, and make them limp for the rest of their days. No, he won’t give a rat’s ass, to use another a common tirade of one of the genius of the race, Judge Jude. He’ll doubt you and challenge to death or retirement, whichever comes first, and will make fun of your ‘immature’ concerns and lack of confidence on their supreme skills to know everything exactly as it is.
As I say, it breaks my heart to see those ahead of me now being deposited, if they can afford it, that is, in some kind of oversized cupboard, with their pictures, their little shiny things in little ancient boxes, and their memories, all perfectly ignored for the rest of times by everybody else.
Until it’ll come my own time to start forgetting too. First that they even exist, since I don’t see them, and frankly, if I had some of them stored in those wardrobes in the city’s outskirts, I’ll be too self-centered to put up with the ride and go see them on a regular basis.
Then I’ll start forgetting about me too and slowly will slide into some kind of unmarked grave where everyone is no one and anyone is a nobody. Seeing it all that way, it really doesn’t matter whether the orderly dances with them in the weekly celebrations, right before dinner at 5. Or if they have a special taste to perform the massacre of their charges overnight, when no one is looking and they’ll fall sleep and forget anyone.
Shallow enough to say I’d rather be smothered by a pillow, the sharp pain I feel when I see them sitting and looking into their dwindling past refers to my own self-pity, of course. And they say that these are the lucky ones, because they can afford these urine-suffused one-before-the-last stops.
I can’t bear imagine them going through their little, precious things, worthless jewelry, to be sure, but so much invested in them, and they wonder whatever happened to that ring, that chocker, that pair of earrings and I, of course, am chocking on my own grief.
Because when I was pushed to become their parent, I could swear I was still a kid, and only a nightly scrutiny of my face, the inventory of my wrinkles and how far apart I came from that kid, would punch me that, yes, there’s no one else here, and I can’t run to them or imagine how much love I still have left from them.
Reading and wishing I’d put down that stupid, sentimentalist piece that tells me what I already know, what I wish I didn’t know, until finally I managed to do it, feeling worse than I did just a moment ago.
They always calling me, late at night, on weekends, and I always in need of a new excuse. It feels as if they were the ones who wanted to run to me for shelter, and that I always made a point of saying no, get away, let me be. Until they were no longer there.
Until I was another nobody being forgotten by everyone else. I feel that I completely screwed a nice little message I was going to send you, and turned it into this incoherent digression that has been, I’m sure, written a thousand times more eloquently by at least a few dozen people.
Just please, don’t let them ship me to those containers in the burbs, even if they can afford it, or show a minimal interest in getting rid of me without having to necessarily smolder me to death with a scented candle.

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