"I dream of a hard and brutal mysticism in which the naked self merges with the nonhuman world and somehow survives...Paradox and bedrock."-Edward Abbey

22 February 2011

The Equilibrium of Geography

Sabina and I were still dancing with the dead for money when we first moved to the mountains. In order to have our dream of Kashmir, we decided it was worth it to commute back down below to the greater metroplex. One way, this was a drive of fifty-seven miles. There was a drop-off for public transportation in a township thirty miles east, in those borderlands of the front range foothills, but it ran banker's hours and not on the socially constructed weekends, which would not work for when we danced with the dead for money, because neither of us were allied with the powers that be.

So, the commute was part of the price to be paid for living where we wanted to live, and all things for a price. That's the deal. I firmly believe it is only cheap things that can be purchased with folding paper and jingling coins. The currency of the cosmos has very little to do with the economics of humanity.

Sabina got out of that gig before me, leaving me to make the trek alone. During the year from when she stopped traveling down below with me to dance with the dead for money and my own release, my resentment for the greater metroplex grew. I had already fallen out of love with the place back when Sabina and I had discover and decided a funky little mountain township ten miles away from the Roof of the World was our Kashmir. The fact I was having to still deal with the place out of obligation was metaphoric salt in a proverbial wound. And as my resentment of the place grew and festered like maggots in an infected wound, it's pretty well a given there was resentment toward me.

If you hate the city, but love your fucking mountains so much, why don't you just stay there and never, ever come back? That was the implication. Even from some of my oldest and dearest friends. Looking back, I cannot say I blame them.

Of course, some of it may have been a sense of betrayal. The fact I had come to the metroplex from the badlands of eastern Colorado a full ten years before to find my fortunes and became so immersed in the ways of the urban, only to quite suddenly decide I was over it and was fucking off back for the in-between places, only this time where the terrain pointed up instead of being flat, was probably more than a little jarring. There was a time I would try to find an explanation. A rationalization as much for myself as anyone who might have asked. Here and now, I find that to be a waste of time. It happened, and cannot be made to unhappen.

I can remember when I was eighteen, and decided that one day I wanted to live amongst the monoliths of downtown and be published. It started then; my resentment of the badlands, of wild places. The slightest thing about the geography would irk me, giving me further reason to hear the siren's song of the city. When Sabina and I found our Kashmir, the same thing began to happen with the greater metroplex; every little thing that ever bugged me, but I dismissed because I was living my city dream, became unbearable.

My father did the same thing when he decided he could no longer stay in the Rub 'al Khali of the badlands, with my mother's phantasm hanging like cobwebs and badlands dust in every shadow and corner, but with no tangible presence. Everything he despised about that far-flung place grated on him, where as the part of the metroplex he ended up moving to bordered upon paradise. Cats I've spoken to who have decided to leave the Sahel speak in similar tones of an area I believe houses my place in the world. This just tells me my reactions of geography are far from unique, but instead, validation for those grand leaps we all make from time to time.

When I go released from dancing with the dead for money it was a mixed blessing. Sure, I no longer had to commute. But I had to find a new way of acquiring money. Still, I was no longer so obligated to the greater meteroplex. My only reasons for going down there would be for family or friends. One of my friends even speculated that, given time, my ire toward the metroplex might fade.

It has been close to a year and half since I danced with the dead for money and I do find I can think of the greater metroplex now without a growl and an almost Tourette's-like compulsion for some potent intoxicant. In recent hops, I've even found a certain sense of nostalgia. It seems time, distance, and lack of obligation have allowed for a peace to be cultivated.

The last time I was down was for the memorial. There I saw cats of whom I'd neither seen or spoken to in years. Some, since when I stopped visiting vampire dens to monkey watch, and others from when I moved. We embraced and talked, as is the custom at such events, but there was something unspoken, which passed between all of us that was in context of my being there; it's been years and we've all moved on...we can only progress from the here and now.

"It's weird seeing all of these people," Lee commented at one point. Like me, some he'd not seen in a few years.

"You're telling me," I said.

He shot me a look as if to say with me it was a given, seeing as I'd fucked off for the pointy lands and the Sahel. The look I gave him conveyed the fact we were, effectively, at a funeral, and it's to be expected to see ghosts at a funeral. Although, not all specters are cloaked in grave dust and rattling chains, and those are the ghosts I tend see with more frequency and endeavor to make peace with.
Perhaps it was being in the presence of all those phantasms that gets me to realize that one friend's speculation just might be spot on. My thoughts of the greater metroplex are no longer the stuff of murder thoughts and tirades proudly sponsored by the letter fuck. I get nostalgic for the greater metroplex in the same way I do for my university days or living out in the badlands or, even sometimes, my time down south; the type of nostalgia I must temper with reptilian objectivity, being mindful to scrape away all the rose-tint, both good and bad.

And I can admit, in a recent moment of nostalgia for the greater metroplex, there were certain aspects I missed. But it's not my Kashmir. It never was. Just a stop along the way. For all the aspects I miss, I cannot go back there, although that's a given. Along the flow of the dynamic, one can only go forward.      


  1. I learnt the hard way that you can never go back to a place that you didn't think much of to begin with. I was drawn back here by a family need and my weeks are spent with a yearning for hills, trees and streams that this landscape cannot provide. The people that chose to live here look at me with disdain for voicing my wants, but I can't remove them from my being. You and Sabina are lucky to have found somewhere that seems so fundamentaly right for you - and your continuing contact with your past probably highlighted that more strongly.

    A great post.

  2. One cannot run from their past. The memory monsters are the most persistent of predators and often come in the darkest of night, like demons. Fixated dwelling upon the past can be a slow death, like those who drink their skin to hue of dirty gold and urine. The only sane thing, it seems, is to accept the past, making peace with it, but still keeping the forward momentum.

    Yes, it was very much a stroke of luck we came upon this and decided it was for us. I am still gobsmacked that we pulled it off.

    Thank you as always for your comments.

  3. dance with the dead for money? I instantly thought of Dirty Dancing.

  4. Well, the dirtiness of the dancing is a point of view. For almost five years I triaged potential organ and tissue donors...the dead and dying. Whilst I saw it as doing a good and honorable thing, I know, and encountered, those who saw me as little more than a scavenger.