Thursday, January 10, 2008

Drinking and Sinking

I have been stirring for a while now this fermenting mixture of words like a homemade brandy hidden in the dark of my basement. I won't know how they taste yet, and the same mystery surrounds me as I breathe in the physical smell of money while my heels echo in the hollowed halls of the place where I work. Where is that smell coming from? What mildews and bacteria combine to create it? And why has it landed here?

I first noticed it on Monday as I sat in my chair and logged in. I searched by pockets and desk for cash I had left laying out. I had none on me. None to be found. I can no longer pretend that this titanic terrarium hasn't gotten to me.

Nearly a year ago on a bleak January morning over 3,000 people lost their jobs here. I had done this before. I had transitioned from out of a ship destined for the scrapyard for reinvention or the hidden deep below-- where ever the Dow Jones decided it must go. I could not feel bad for myself when I was surrounded by people who had devoted their vocations in one form or another to making people better. Major discoveries happened the rooms by which I was surrounded. I can make something temporal from anywhere with a pen or software, these people had altered the health of the world permanently.

Yet I cannot pretend this hasn't effected me. Seventeen buildings were closing and the people within were leaving. I attended eight of numerous holiday/farewell parties in December. How many times can you say goodbye? Before the parties I would go days and days without interacting with people face to face. Closed in a room to work left me enjoying absence and strangely feeling absent. I was asked, "How can you do this? It must be hard to go to work with all of that desolation going on, huh?" I thought mournfully about the science, verbalized homage to the scientists and the people that make them go, and soothed with the words, "Plus, I have done this before."

Her greatgrandfather saw the future
didn't know nothing bout panic,
he certainly probably thought
that it was unthinkable.*

I sit locked in a storage area right now, glad to to be soaking in the semi-permanence of the art stored withing it. It will go on to fill other conference rooms, nooks, cafeterias and hallways. The building is vacant aside from these elements. I hear the heating vents hiss and the pipes banging themselves from the sleeping walls knowing that dreams have died in this scrapped ship. I, too, have had dreams die, not unlike the ghosts trapped in the walls.

Growin up in a biosphere
with no respect for bad weather
there's still roaches and ants in here
so resourceful and clever.

I grew up in Flint, a town where the people were tough but life so delicate that one accident, misspent dollar or business closure could manifest a spiralling destiny. Everyone there has issues and everyone's spiral was intertwined with another.

an accident's sometimes the only way
to worm our way back to bad decisions...

My family had a thriving home improvement business. My mom ended up a cook at the rescue mission and my dad took a job in Syracuse, NY selling water softeners and later driving a Flint MTA bus. My brothers were cute, pudgy, hyperactive kids who dreamed of buying their mom a yellow caddy and rode their dirt bikes in our three acre wilderness. They were ridiculed by other kids for being fat and different, got into drugs and alcohol, didn't graduate and spent time in jail. I myself dreamed too big for that small city. Although I managed to get through college, all of those great things college moved me to do and be were crushed by oppressive, bullying bosses and work conditions which left me broken and escaping for survival in Detroit where things were only slightly better.

If I could press the ears of people I have worked with in this place of science to my chest, what would they hear my heart say? I can only hope the faintest voice of Christ would be heard whispering, "I know, I know." I feel the brokenness of it all. Loss, mistrust, unrootedness, disbelief, bewilderment, unwillingness, that sinking feeling that nothing is real and nothing tangible will last. An atmosphere so thick in this terrarium it takes nearly a year to verbalize. And I can hope my actions say, I know, I know, while in my nose stings the dirty smell of money.

So, I have brought the brandy out from obscurity and drank the ever changing concoction of dying fruit begging for harmonies. I feel an intoxicating relief that the words are out of the recesses and perhaps a numbness, as well.

We stay inside and try to conjure the fathers of
injured and faking
if there's glory in miracles
it's that they're reversible

- END -

*Titanic Terrarium from Day by Night by The Tragically Hip

1 comment:

David said...

Jes, YES--thanks for verbalizing the often-unverbalizable confusion of feelings and thoughts we all have. At least I THINK we all have them.

I am STILL in Flint, and wonder how some people will ever recover from the devastation. Some won't. Then again, is it devastation? I pause to compare Flint and AnnArbor situations to war-torn zones. And I remember my family is healthy and pretty much whole.

Many would trade places with us? I think.

So why aren't I more grateful?

Love your writing, and you,
Your bro DGF