Graveyard, boneyard, and cemetery are just a few words used to identify a final resting place. This collection of synonyms (some a little more euphemistic than others) is just one aspect of the graveyard that fascinates me. A graveyard can be a bit of a contradiction. It is both a source of history and an end of it. It is a solemn place that is often ornately decorated. It is a place where people are both remembered and forgotten. The graveyard is both literal and symbolic. These contradictions are worthy of a close study and a bit of conversation.
We walk, pedal, and drive by graveyards on a regular basis. Some of you, like me, may live near or grew up next to a graveyard. They play important roles in our lives and in our art. Graveyards in one form or another exist in almost all cultures and throughout time. October is the ideal month to take a closer look at graveyards as place and idea.
Anybody who is familiar with my journos will know that I tend to sentimental sketches and ramblings at times. If you are new here consider yourself warned. I once read that if you sit in one place long enough you will eventually run into everybody you know (I’ve spent enough time in bars and coffee shops to think there may be some truth to this). I’ve also read that if you live in one place long enough you will see pieces of your own past vanish (I’ve lived long enough in one place to think there may be some truth to this).
There used to be this just low class enough, just dive enough bar that I frequented in my early twenties. It was one of those kinds of places you would go with friends to drink heavily and try to meet someone (or a least be a wing man for one your friends who was trying to meet someone). It was the kind of place where you would spend a good chunk of your week’s pay on not too cold beer and watered down whiskey drinks. It was the kind of place that had a second rate DJ on Friday nights and third rate bands on Saturday nights. It was the kind of place with long lines at the bathroom and a haze of cigarette smoke (showing my age here) over the dance floor. In short, it was the kind of place that was the source of many good times with friends, many of whom have faded away over time. It’s amazing how we move from being friends who drink together until 3:00 a.m. to friends who occasionally “like” each other’s social media posts. If friendships of youth vanish it stands to reason that the places, those dive bars, would vanish too. There were many nights spent at Dreams with Brad, Chris, Dano, Drew, Ken, and others. Dreams is gone, a fire burnt it to a shell, and I’ve lost touch with most of those friends, two decades can cause people to fade away.
An absence of place (an old dive bar) and friends (moved on or faded away) can make you feel as if a part of life has vanished. But life isn’t a collection of places and proximity. Life is experiences and how we react to them. I went to the upscale bar and grill that has replaced Dreams a few weeks ago. I bought their cheapest beer, took a sip, closed my eyes and realized that the important things will never vanish if you care enough.
Ever wonder where things go? Where do plans, places, old friends, and missed opportunities end up? Sometimes we can pinpoint the exact locations of these things, but other things simply vanish. There is the slow fade that we don’t notice until that thing we admire, desire, or hold close to us is gone. Then there is the quick vanishing act, as if some unseen magician has played some sort of cruel trick on us.
As I grow older it feels as if more and more things are vanishing (maybe I was too busy to notice them when I was younger). We live in a world of vanishing things such as objects, animals, places, and languages just to name a few. There are those things that have a personal impact on us when they vanish for one reason or another, and entire cultures are impacted when other things vanish. As I write this the word “thing” feels vague but when dealing with such a wide array of concepts what other word works (there are probably many better words that could be used but the 90 degree weather and the sixer of Miller High Life may be impairing my vocabulary)? Maybe the best we can do is to remember those things that vanish the best we can.
Whether it is a slow fade out or quick disappearance things vanish all around us. Some of these vanishing things impact us on a personal level and the vanishing of others may impact entire cultures. This month is about those things that vanish and the impact their absence may have on us.
Another month is in the books. May was about doors and doorways, the literal and the symbolic. We all encounter doors throughout life. We pass through some and we are denied passage through others. It feels as if the past few months have had more than their fair share of doors. I’m going to end the month with an odd instance concerning my relationship with doors.
I have a fear of knocking on doors. I’m afraid of ringing doorbells too. Why, you ask? I don’t have clue. I don’t have any bad experiences or weird memories (my only explanation is that I’m an odd duck of sorts). I just don’t like knocking on doors, and here is on such experience to give you context.
I’m at my best friend’s house. I’m standing at the back door. The back door is open so there is only the screen door, the kind where the top half of the door can be either screen or glass depending on what season it is. It’s summer so the screen is in the door. My friend and his wife are expecting me. I’m standing there looking through the screen into their house (that’s a creepy kind of sentence). I can hear the TV in the basement. And me? I don’t ring the bell. I knock so quietly I know the sound won’t be heard over the TV. I keep doing this, knocking quietly. My friend’s wife comes walking through the kitchen and sees me. I act as if I just walked up and quickly ring the bell. She says, “Wow, perfect timing.” I agree because telling her I’ve been outside knocking for over a minute would put me in the running for the mayor of Crazy Town.
What’s the moral of the story (beyond now knowing that I’m a bit odd)? It’s not the fear as much as it is how I deal with it that I want to share. The fear of knocking on doors has never left, but I deal with it by texting people when I arrive. No more knocking on doors when all I need to do is send a text. So, what’s the moral? If you can’t through a door then try a window (or maybe a text).