Monday, August 20, 2007

got lost

I wuz a-surfin this morning when I should have been a-workin and I found a story on The Civilians, a documentary theatre troupe that stitches together plays from interviews with regular folk about subjects serious and trivial. Their latest show is about lost things. Apparently they'd approached people and asked them to name one thing they'd lost. The answers ranged from the mundane (socks) to the tragic (love, loved ones, faith etc).

So what's the thing you've lost that you can't let go of? It can be anything, from an object to a memory to a vast metaphysical conceit. I lost my sense of adolescent entitlement in my early twenties. That one hurt: I remember the moment that the blind confidence that had propelled me through the decade suddenly crumbled. I was walking in a 7-Eleven parking lot. A car full of grade-A assholes pulled into the lot and started shouting insults at me. I was walking across their chosen parking spot.

They didn't even really give a shit. I happened to be in the wrong spot, so they decided to throw out a few insults and wait for me to keep moving. I was no different from anyone else who could have been standing there at that moment; my body just held a place, and it was just a body. My mind, my personality, the entire history that I carried around with me and held out in front of me, meant bupkus to the shitheads in the car. It meant bupkus to the shitheads inside the 7-Eleven. At that moment I perceived an entire planet full of shitheads who didn't give a rat's ass about me. I had to shed a huge part of myself at that moment, unbuckle it and let it drop. And I had to keep walking before the shitheads in the car shouted at me again.

Understand that I'd been shouted at before by people in cars. Cars had stopped suddenly and disgorged three or four guys looking to fight (usually my cue to wave and run). But I grew up in a small town, where the guys in cars were either people I knew or readily identifiable strangers from some town a half-hour away, bored teenagers trawling strange streets. It was a comfortable, nicely circumscribed universe, even if violence circled its curves now and again.

When I left that town at eighteen I took that universe with me. Four years later it fell off me in a parking lot and I've never gotten it back.

Nowadays, when I encounter a car full of jerks, I give them the finger and keep moving.

7 comments:

Schmutzie said...

Ouch, that kind of shit hurts.

On a much less emotional note, I lost my mother's ginormous, metal, 1960s sewing machine. Oops.

Helvetica said...

I lost the 60 pages of meandering that was my attempt to purge various bad things that had happened or could have happened to me or another person much like me in a faraway land. They vanished when my hard drive died in the spring. Unless you happen to have kept a copy Mr Palinode.

ozma said...

I can't stand to think about the things I've lost.

Abigail Road said...

Beautiful entry. Jerks from small towns suck. I always just revel in the fact that they are probably still acting like retards in their adult years though, and it makes me feel superior.

wench said...

damn man. i've tried to lose those memories for years and i just can't shake 'em. just when i haven't heard from them in a year or two something kicks 'em back into gear.

1970. small town. i understood that no one was going to protect me from anything and that for the rest of my life i was on my own. I was 9.

hmmm maybe that's why when given the choice to be any age I choose 8.

palinode said...

Schmutzie: Sewing machine gnomes. One day you're going to lift a couch cushion and there it will be.

Helvetica: Unfortunately, my copy of your writing is sitting on a dead hard drive. If I ever manage to revive it, I'll send your material to you. It would be a shame to lose it completely.

Ozma: I hear you. It's an unsettling truth that you lose and lose and lose as you go through life, until nothing is left but you, and then you lose that as well.

Abigail: Totally. That clutch of assholes I grew up with are still wearing acid-wash jackets, but they're having more heart attacks. Hah!

Wench: That's a harsh pronouncement. I'll buy you a Guiness sometime soon and we can toast to lousy old memories.

Thomas said...

It took alot more for me to loose my adolescent sense of entitlement. I had to get beaten on by working-class employers that, at eighteen, i had thought beneath me.

It was the seven years of working a full time job whilst putting myself through college that slowly wrenched apart the me that was the center of my universe.

Now, in a way, I'm actively working to get it back, that certain arrogance and confidence that only the jaded youth can have. It strikes me that I was much better at the things I valued before I had learned to doubt m'self.