Monday, September 16, 2013

River of Toys – Edward Allen


Perhaps it’s just that I've finally reached this decade in the anthology where I find that the year could be coloring my perception of this story.
 
Yes, I think that plays a large part.
 
I read this story twice.  Once several weeks ago – as I had finished BASS 1989, and decided to read the intro to BASS 1990 and doing so, not feeling like writing anything yet – I went ahead and read this story.

I read it again several days ago, and on the second pass I enjoyed it much more.  I really took the time to absorb the words.
There is a passage -below that really makes it a fine story:

"I like to close my eyes and keep walking, see how far I can walk without opening them.  You can feel the night.  The night is a thing.  It’s harmless.  It has a shape.  It hangs over everything I hope to get back to, over my going home from work, over the food I choose to eat, over the books I tell myself I should be reading.  The night is something completely without seriousness.  Stars dance in the sky, whether you can see them or not, even on nights so think with moisture that people who smoke cigarettes can’t light matches. "

Reading this passage, pulls me back to my early adulthood – a place that I feel most of these stories will take me.  As most of the stories and entries on this blog for the 80s dealt with my high schools days and my home life, the 90s will bring my entry into true independence.

The walking into night passage above is very special to me.
There were many times at Norwich where I found myself walking quietly back to my room.  I would have been in an academic building or most likely in the library – making my best efforts at studying and failing miserably at it.
 
The cool night air of a Vermont winter or the warmer spring nights held a special silence that left such an imprint on my memory that I can place myself there today.

I lived in a state of blissful confusion then – (maybe I still am today…) and the night walks back to my room acted as a sort of tunnel between dimensions/worlds/atmospheres. 
And then we flash forward to more night (actually early morning walking – done in the late 90s and thousands of miles away along a dung covered road leading out of Negresti.

I would have risen at 3 in the morning.  
Made a strong coffee.  
Stomach turning and turning – nerves.  
Checking my bag, once, twice and then again.
Slipping out of the dormitory, walking out of the school grounds, the smell of burning trash, burning corn husks, horse manure on the streets.
The crisp moist spring air.
Check my watch once – and then again.
Quicken my step.
Light a smoke.
Pull my hat tighter.
Walk a bit faster.
Look behind me.
Hear a dog bark, a gate close, a rooster crow.
Another joins me towards the train station just 50 feet behind me.
Who do I think I am?
  Where am I going?
    Where am I today?
      Tomorrow?
Next year?


That was then – and it’s still today. Never stop asking.

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