Nothing lasts forever...
Not even this walk.
I end my ruminations at Snowdown Methodist Church. I walk around back to where both of my Grandfathers,George and Carl; my Great Grandmother,Carrie; and more family and friends than I care to mention are buried. My mother and I both have a plot there. I am supposed to be buried right next to George although I have no intentions on a dirt burial. I will either crawl off into the mountains to die, renewing my covenant with the Earth and returning to my rightful place on the food chain; or I will have a flaming burial at sea. A good old Viking funeral and debauched party with friends to send my mortal remains to Davy Jones and my spirit free to go wherever spirits go when they are no longer inhibited by the desperation of flesh.
I view most of our death rituals as primitive at best. Morbid at their worst. The viewing of the body at the funeral home is a horrible ordeal involving the most sickening of floral stenches, dressing up in uncomfortable clothes, and commiserating with people you haven't seen in 20 years, for reasons you can't remember. I swear before all that is Holy and Bacon-flavored, if any of you subject my cast-off meatbag to any such indignity, I will come back from the Great Purple Wherever and plug up your toilets with feminine hygiene products and peanut butter.
Dirt burial is another such example. What a waste of quality real estate are cemetaries. Just think of all the land we could spread out on were we to just use the dead as fertilizer. Run them through a log chipper! Feed the fish! Replentish the oceans! Have greener grass! The meat is not the man, I always say. Put up a website with tombstones and dedication pages where people can go grieve for loved ones, play their favorite music, watch home movies, and even leave virtual flowers on the virtual grave. Stop using up good dirt for the dead. Let the living enjoy it! But then again, I feel the exact same way about golf courses and their patrons...including the log chipper part.
My Grandfather gave all this land to the church back in the way back and that field on the other side of this fence was where I shot my first quail. And kissed my first girl, somewhere other than the lips. I drove a car through this field one night, high on something illicit and probably not very good for me, doing doughnuts in the sagegrass and listening to AC/DC "Back in Black" cranked up to an earth-shattering 11.
I used to lie on my back and listen to God speak to me in pine needle whispers. I dug for treasure here and vented my teenaged angst throwing rocks at the moon.
A cursory glance at the old home place tells me that my walk here is over. There is nothing left to see. The property has long ago been sold to strangers and the untamed wilderness, streams, and adventure of my youth is gone. Houses dot the red clay earth where I played with cars and army men built forts and bridges to enemy territories. Muscadines vines and my Grandpa's barn have lost the battle with Roundup herbacide and neatly trimmed lawns covered in children's toys and other people's cars.
That window over there is the Sunday school classroom where I always had more questions than answers.I would sometimes just stare out the window while the well meaning teacher would drone on about Samson and the Three Wise Men bieng firemen and watch the ladies, those who could cook AND those who could not, setting up the "Dinner on the Ground". It was never actually on the ground though. It was always up on long concrete tables, which still stand today. Many a banana pudding were sacrificed to the Lord right on that concrete slab.
I call for a ride and head back to Mom's where I watch a little of her favorite Tv shows, eat what passes for Key lime pie in this part of the world and play with her ugly-as-sin chihuahua. I think about old lovers, my walk, and the Most Important Thing.
The rest of my vacation was spent in a whirlwind of early morning Tennessee River boat rides, BBQ, my kids, Jessi and Jonathan and Grandbaby, Bailey. I also played catch-up with old friends, watched soap operas, smoked "recently" illegal substances(more on that later), and ate more pie. It was a very nice trip home. One of the first in years when everyone I saw was happy to see me and I was happy to see them.
By the time I loaded my trusty backpack onto the Greyhound, smoked my last cigarette for a few hundred miles, and found a seat that did NOT smell like pee, I was ready to go HOME. When the bus pulled away from Tupelo, I found my heart beating faster. I am always happiest when moving forward.
Key West is home now. But that is not the Most Important Thing. I contemplate this all the way back to the islands. What is the Most Important Thing missing from my life? I have a wonderful life. My best friend is my wife, no major drama at hand, the kids are doing fine, even the dog is healthy, if ugly as ever. I contemplate innocence and roots and family and every other thing that could possibly be wrong with a man's life and cannot come up with a damned thing missing from my existence here. Everything is good.
So why this feeling that something is still out there, something familiar, something unknown, something new, something ancient? Something that I am running toward as well as away from? A Most Important Thing, I am sure, but can't quite lay my hands upon. Are we destined to always search for the next brightening horizon, the next lonely highway, the next stretch of blue ocean? I think we are. Only some of us are more attuned to the call than others. It is as much a curse as it is a blessing.
The bus lets me out at the airport and I inhale Key West in all it's glory. The fetid mangrove and salt smell is intoxicating after the foul stench of The Great Unwashed passing themselves off as fellow travellers on the bus. Diseased plebians, the whole coughing, crying, farting, snoring lot of them. I light my first cigarette in a few hundred miles, throw my backpack where it belongs and start walking back home...
Visit http://hotpavement.blogspot.com/ for more articles on Stan Yow's blog.