There is a satisfying magic in gathering around a campfire. I suppose it’s been that way since the early days. People getting close, staying warm, telling stories. Community, for lack of a better term. Commuting to a communion.
An informal council of the ways and means we navigate through life. Reflecting on the many roads that led us to this very moment, and to this particular place. A respite from the busy lives we lead. It is certainly very nice to get away, from IT, whatever IT may be.
Being faced down with another version of ourselves. The “what if” version, the one that observes a deeper tie to the nature that is kept at bay by leading a life in the modernity of civilization.
Of course, this is a very watered down “what if” version. There are no real stakes, anyways. We all still have cell phones, there is a central office location, and we are not prey to a variety of animals.
So in modern day camping, we are afforded a certain level of security to be able to contemplate the very mortality which we would normally be unable to contemplate when being challenged by a harsh natural environment.
Nonetheless, a fire has a way of romanticizing that mortality, and lifelong friends treat the canopy of a forest campsite, as if it were the canopy of a cathedral, and often espouse the haunting sins of our souls that are profoundly more appropriate for a confessional box. Secrets of mind and heart, and more specifically, about the types of things that don’t get talked about on the regular.
Approaching, if not being smack in the middle of middle age, also conspires with campfire to bring about the conditions necessary to reflect deeply on all the life that has passed by, what’s left, and what will happen after we are gone.
Real moments of coming up against a truth that is obscured in the early part of your life, if you are lucky; simply, that life does not go on forever.
It is tough to wrap your head around this, and even harder to articulate among even lifelong friends, but, when in Rome…
During this gathering, the most significant contribution to acknowledging this inconvenient truth about life, arrived in the “What song do you want played at your service/wake/funeral?”
Apparently, a lot of thought has gone into this. It is a marvelous pre-need arrangement that many of us have considered, I’m sure. A sort of fantasy about death. What can I control, once I pass into not caring about what I control?
How can we be remembered, or summed up in a song?
This is an important last act, or a way to articulate to those left behind what you want them to think of you. An opportunity for them to contemplate their own mortality, and a chance to coddle the sorrow that your permanent absence provides.
I will not set specificity to the selections made by my cohorts, but rest assured, there is a good range of emotion that comes of sharing this information. There is validation, assent, quizzical looks, and downright empathy.
The careful listening and reflection of chosen songs truly humbles. It is a hard acknowledgement that it does end.
But, not just yet. Beers sipped, logs added to the blaze, mortality snatched from the brink. And, as timing usually goes when victory is advanced, park security comes along and reminds us that the campfire curfew is in effect and we need to extinguish the fire.
The sounds that an extinguishing campfire makes are quite dramatic. Leaving one with a sense that the cold will now approach, and make it harder to sleep.
Go Fund Me – Take On Me
Set Me Free
I’m starting a Go Fund Me to help get this guy out of the comic book frame. He’s been stuck in it since 1985
“Path” © C.P. Hickey 2017
I went up to the country with Effemine.
We brought a basket of wine and cheeses.
The sky was blue and well intentioned.
On the way to our spot, we got lost in the woods.
I found it, after some backtracking.
We took the wrong trail upon Effemine’s insistence.
I knew we were going the wrong way, but there was no use in making a fuss.
When we finally arrived to the clearing,
I spread the quilt out, just so.
We started to unpack our basket.
I grabbed her face in my hands and looked into her eyes with fierce love.
Then I kissed her hands tenderly.
Her countenance grew still, suddenly agitated.
Something seemed to be bothering my love.
She withdrew her hands from mine when she discovered that I forgot to pack the napkins. She cruelly admonished me for forgetting to pack them.
They were ivory colored and of a fine cloth, coveted by my sister.
I must have left them on the counter.
Effemine is quite particular about things.
I don’t like to get her angry.
Sometimes she ignores me for days.
The sky grew overcast, and the wind picked up.
Effemine’s bonnet came undone, and suddenly blew off her head.
I chased it to the riverbank, and cringed as it darted into the rolling water.
I looked back, Effemine was angrily pointing at the fleeing bonnet.
Without another thought I jumped into the river, even though I can’t swim.
With a few wild movements I came within reach of her hat, and before I could grasp it, it vanished below the surface.
I returned to the riverbank, much wetter than before.
Glaring, Effemine stood expectant.
Empty-handed I returned.
She said nothing, and kicked the wine bottle over, and violently picked up an end of the quilt overturning it.
I can only imagine how I looked to her, as I stood there soaked.
She turned about and made her way back to the path, as I hurriedly tried to gather all of our things.
The kisses of raindrops started to fall upon my wet skin.
Suddenly, I heard a shriek and a dull dud.
A short distance from me, my Effemine had fallen off of the path.
I ran as fast as I could to her side.
She was motionless, and face down.
I grabbed her up into my arms and rolled her over in one movement.
Upon her face resides the blankest and darkest stare I’ve ever witnessed.
Her eyes, lightless.
No breath from her lips.
Large swelling redness growing from her forehead to her temple.
Hot tears competed with the cold rain now falling.
I went back to the basket and grabbed the quilt, then returned to cover her before I left to get help.
My Effemine, lost her hat, then her life.
I lost, my Effemine.
There was nothing to do, nothing I could do.
In the age of distraction, I find that I hold great responsibility for my fellow citizens. Today, three people almost walked into me as they had their heads in the screens of their smart phones. If not for my well placed “Hey-he-he-hey!”
They would have crashed and burned.
Iced coffee, backpacks, dioramas, cupcake tents, and New Yorker canvas bags tucked inside of Lulu Lemon bags would be all over the trafficked floor of the Green Line Trolleys.
I’m working on an app that let’s you walk around without ever having to pick your head up from your phone. As you near a fellow content consumer, you are given a series of clickable choices that further envelopes your attention, while at the same time directing you around all proximal dangers through the use of new heat sensory and intelligence measurement devices.
My tag line to get people to buy the app: don’t worry if it’s warm or dumb, we’ll guide you through the crowd, you’ll never have to change your gaze, surfing peacock proud.
I looked down the train to my left. Then I looked down the train to the right. The silent majority is grabbing inspiration from glowing palms. The zombie apocalypse is already upon us folks, and I can’t stop myself from turning.
Ramona found the hammer wrapped in a wrinkled brown paper bag at the bottom of the trunk. In fact, it turned out to be the only item she found worth keeping. She prided herself on her current streak of yard sale luck. She’d visited one hundred and seventeen junkies so far, and she had come away as a champ each time. Ramona had bloodhound DNA in her, and a penchant for sniffing out the hidden gems and undervalued items. She especially loved the thrill of plunging into dust laden boxes in poorly lit basements. The dust would rise and disperse when she tipped each lid. Her left arm ended in a metal Maglite and her right arm the epitome of kinetic energy. She would enter the zone when on a search at a junkie. She acknowledged none of the others present. She glided through upturned boxsprings and stacks of magazines, past stagnant furnaces and land mine bowling ball bags; all for the claim. Ramona had made one hundred and seventeen claims so far. She wouldn’t, in fact, never allowed another to make a play for a claim. Once she sensed it, she rushed to it, boxed out her perimeter, and dove deep into whatever obscured the treasure within.There was something of a spelunker in her. Her friend Ben liked to tease her about the level of passion she held for estate sales. He enjoyed watching her as the door opened at the sale. Her cheeks would become crimson suns, and the creases of her brow would appear when he chided her for being so damned aggressive at the outset. She paid him no mind after his initial remarks, but instead drew within and remained deliberate and thorough in her movement at all times. Ramona was known around the circuit, and not well liked. Others would shake their heads and roll their eyes as they watched her cavort through a junkie. As much as they disliked her, there was a certain respect of her art. She seemed to touch each and every item and none at all. Ramona didn’t care what they thought. She was focused and the only way she could find what she was looking for was to be the first to it. She was quite assured that her method of searching for treasure was the best. In truth, who could argue with her results. She’s been able to successfully find the rarest and most expensive items at each junkie. It was often remarked about how well she could negotiate the prices she would pay for her finds. Betsy Barnes told Carol Marx that Ramona had to be a witch; that she used mind control, or could read the minds of others. That had to be the only way she would be able to get away with paying so little for what was clearly worth so much. However, there was no way that Ramona could anticipate the true price she would pay for the hammer she had just found. It seemed at first glance like a traditional hammer, but there was something odd yet magical about it. Through further examination she realized that the hammer felt heavier in her hand than any other hammer she had ever held. This was weird because it wasn’t that big. It was actually quite normal, just a bit worn. She did notice a grace in its movement as she handled it further, that belied the heaviness she had felt. The most telling characteristic of the hammer was its gravity. Ramona was pulled into it immediately, and she knew she would never leave that basement without it. She thought for a quick moment about how she would approach the owner to buy it. Then she remembered the bowling ball on the floor near the boxspring. She was going to bowl a strike on this junkie, she knew how she was going to liberate the hammer from the bag, from the trunk, from this basement. Ramona had found her one hundred and eighteenth claim.