Excerpt from my upcoming book “Notes About Nothing” / Chapter 1: My Old Home
our hous has a big red fens that swings open to go to the bak yard so I stood at it and pretendid I wuz FENS GARD. wen my frends startd to come over I stood at the gate and sed the toll to come in is sum candy. one peece. so they go home and I say oh boy cuz I’m gonna get lots of candy now but in a minut mom yelld at me from in the hous and sed “KEITH EDWARD GET IN HERE!!!!!” and I sed uh oh. she sed did I ask my frends to giv me sum candy to get in the yard and I sed yes but I wuz gonna giv them sum of the BAR B Q saws dad left next to the grill the other day. it had hard parts on it but it wuz stil O.K. so I got more sope and I sed why this time and mom sed its not nice to be “SELFISH”. boy I cant hav any fun ooh ooh la laaaaaaa la la la.
A desperation flows into me as I stare at the house; I couldn’t remember why I came here or what I expected to find. A vision poked it’s head into my brain, reminding me of a time when my guts felt like they were coming out of my stomach. I had fallen onto the handlebars of my bike, and one of them jabbed right into my gut and knocked the goddamn wind out of me. So there I was lying on the ground; I couldn’t scream for help, I couldn’t even cry, all I could do was just lie there dying, waiting for some angel to swoop down and drag me off to a place where everyone wore white dresses. It was the first time I remember thinking about death; I really thought I was going to die right there and then.
I wander through my days, desperately trying to reach into my stomach to pull out the butterflies that have taken up residence. I stare at faceless people in the crowds, harboring a distant sadness for their ignorance. Nothing ever feels quite right, as a slow oozing emptiness deep inside me pokes at my soul. Yet here we all are, desperately reaching out, trying to find joy, trying to do anything that will make a difference, trying to do anything that matters. Desperately clinging to nothingness, and as fear laps up the sweetness of my ignorance, I sink into a state of lethargy that clings to me like rain-drenched skin. Teetering on the edge of something I have no name for, I cling to the rubble that was once my sanctuary. I try to convince myself that it is only because I have finally gone mad, but I know this isn’t true; I only wish for it.
my brother and me made fishin poles today from string and a stik. we fish today like dad cept in the puddel at russels hous so I went and showd russel my pole and we startd fishin. brian wuz still home. wen he came over he had a HOOK on his pole and sed “dad made it for me from one of moms hare pins”. so I wuz mad and run home and I run in the hous yellin for dad and yellin and runnin but dad wasnt ther. finally he moved the front door and he wuz behind it and he wuz smiling and holding a hare pin hook he alredy made for me. I wuz happy and smiled all day. dad didnt forget me. I didnt and brian didnt and russel didnt catch any fish tho. not even an old shoe!!!!!
I reach into my pocket and pull out my tiny stone polar bear carving. I don’t know when I got it, or where; I just remember always having it. It was so smooth it almost felt slippery, probably from years of holding on to it, and from countless hours of sitting in my pocket. I am never without it. It has never broken, and seems as solid as steel, but I can’t help treating it as if it were a fragile egg. There are no parts to get old, to wear out. If I hold it up to the light, it glistens crystal white, and looks like it’s made out of petrified, tightly packed snow. I swear it spoke to me when I was a small child, and first thing it ever said to me will be forever etched in my mind:
In spirit I stand on the mountain, into life withdrawn, and look to the sky like a fountain that shoots up the spray of dawn. And the life of the mountain swims through me, and the dawn speaks to me of old, for it knew me; the soul of the hills.
That was before I could barely speak. I don’t know, especially since I had no idea of the passages’ meaning, why it stuck in my head so vividly. In my memory, I was maybe three, and from that time on, I’ve seen myself smaller, but still inside the body that is me, peering out a few inches back from my eyes, as if my entire body were hollow, and I am this teeny being operating a massive machine. And the bear has been there with me.
But it has been silent for some time now. I could never speak to the bear; it only spoke to me. I tried, though, anything I could think of…everything from chanting to it, to concentrating every ounce of my energy on it, wishing for something…anything to happen. But nothing worked.