Monday, December 16, 2013

Thanks for the acid

Young C.:
Thank you for the four tabs of acid you left in my mailbox before you returned to Oakland after Thanksgiving. I was a little concerned that it had been there all day, me at work, this being the kind of mailbox you see more in Normal Rockwell illustrations and the message you wrote on the handmade paper you'd Scotch taped the tabs recommending dosage and state of mind being easily readable to the postal carrier when he filled the box with catalogs and bills.

These tabs are surprisingly tiny.

Really, it was the most positive thing that mailbox has held in the two years I've lived in the house after my parents died.
I took it today, even though it's been weeks and the walk up the driveway is now paved with ice and treacherous for me, despite being technically a few years shy of senior citizenhood.
My manners are remiss. Before boring you with what a middle-aged man's first acid trip was like, I have to tell you how much I enjoyed seeing you when you spent some time at the house, though I know I’ll come off as condescending however much respect I have for you.
We'd barely met before then and most of your life, relative to mine, has been in childhood. Condescending already? No: Your intelligence, insight and capabilities are those of a mature adult, but in terms of raw time they don't erase what to me is the fairly recent past. At 26, you’re young.
I remember instructions on the caring of your parakeet you wrote to my parents before your parents and the three kids vacationed someplace. You roll your eyes now at the memory of your precocious prepubescent writings, but the wit was there, as was the love of words, and the boldness. My parents read it to me, impressed, and I held back on my feelings (as I did with so much else, which will burn me forever, of course, as it should). I do remember thinking that just maybe you’d be different, out of Main Line mold and that perhaps you’d lead others in some way or ignite an interesting trend.


What do I think now? I can only be honest: Too early to tell. But that’s in your favor. Yes, it’s at my age that some get crotchety about things moving too fast, and that what really endures is what’s built over time and other cliches, but after a few dozen spins around the sun you do start to take a long view. There are short cuts. Music, for example. In interviews with mature musicians most speak candidly of how much of the profundity of their lyrics was happenstance. A word that fit, another that rhymed. Too much visual art passes for something when it’s not, but you’re a better judge of that than I. The next time you’re at the museum I’d like to show you two paintings I love. Both are unromantic images of a man and a woman. Being visual images, words fail me, so I’ll leave it at that and it’s on you to remind me on your next trip east. Writing’s harder to fake and get away with, but some do, for awhile.
I don’t mean to discount music and art made by the young. The young John Lennon, Paul Simon and Laura Nyro said as much as the seasoned Randy Newman or Loudin Wainwright, and Alice Munro and John Cheever in their sixties are good to read at any age.
I like what you said about what you’re up to these days. It seems you learned volumes from the bad relationship in Texas and moved on undamaged. Keep throwing yourself into others, with as much heart as you have and without fear. Once, a few years before you were born (my condensation again!), someone I knew would be “it” gave me hope, and for an unforgettable walk down a hallway at a corporate center in mid-1980s Japan to a telephone, there was only air between my rubber soles and the charcoal industrial carpet below, I swear. Nothing has come close since. An obituary in last week’s Inquirer quoted a local husband in his late 80s saying of his late wife that his heart fluttered whenever she entered the room throughout their marriage of over half a century. May you be one of those who remains fresh.
Back, now, to the acid. It’s good. I’d feared it. You know -- jumping out of windows, going tete-a-tete with locomotives. But no. It’s fine. Not the different animal I’d thought it might be, closer to the bhang lasi I’d had in India and with even less time distortion. A gentle high. You were right, what you had is good. I listened to comedy and music and laughed and swooned.
It’s horrible, but the greatest fear of such drugs at my age is that they remind you of lost promise, of roads not taken, people not told to fuck off, interests not pursued. True, you and others will say it’s never too late, that so-and-so started doing this or that at an advanced age and became happy with the output, if not renown for it. I’m not one of those special people with that energy however. For me, nine-thirty at night means a book and a warm bed, alarm set, tomorrow’s responsibilities in mind. Hell, the reason it’s taken until now to take half a tab was scheduling.


All right, Young C., nearing a thousand words, which is about six hundred more than needed or that you may have interest in. Oh, the acid brought out the latent stand up comedian in me and I wrote them down on paper so, before it completely wears off:
I was walking to the mailbox today and I thought, “Brrr!” Then I thought, How can “Brrr!” be a thought?
How do you feel right now on a scale of one to ten with “one” being a one and “ten” being a ten?
And what good’s an acid trip without a profundity of love, like this one I wrote of my most recent instance of rejection:
The photons of this winter’s sun would seem less cruel if reflected from your face, blah, blah, blah.
I actually wrote the “blah, blah, blah.” Go figure. 
Love,
B.

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