“…drink up baby
stay up all night,
with the things you could do,
you won’t, but you might…”
It is very… very… late.
My day starts long after others’ have ended, I do more before 9am than most people do all day. I also weave more self-aggrandizing hyperbole into the mundanities of my life than your average drunkard.
I’ve only been at work tonight for a couple short hours but it will be a looong day today, essentially a triple shift (23:00 to 08:00, 09:00 to 16:00, 23:00 to 08:00), and I wish to take a moment in the quiet overnight hours.
So… I stop by the cafeteria to build a coffee for medicinal purposes. That’s right, I said build a coffee. Raiding the voluminous pantry for cinnamon, cardamom, fennel, and whatever spices I can find to tickle my catastrophe. Lotsa cream and lotsa sugar, I like my coffee like I like my women: high-strung and strong enough to kill the average man.
On a mild and steamy sepia-tinged East Texas night like this one, the warmth of the drink is more of a hindrance than a comfort. I pour my frothing concoction into a tall metal tumbler and fill it with ice. Caffè con Ghiaccio, grazie molto grazie.
With a slight wave, I tell my colleagues that I shall return within the hour. Having quickly grown accustomed to my frequent twilight sojourns, this information garners little interest… my co-workers only nod politely and return to their newspapers or electronic devices.
So… I am walking down South Commerce, a two-mile stretch of four-lane highway that bisects my hometown in hemispheric twain. The village is sleeping at this hour; businesses close up shop before ten o’clock here, even on a Saturday night. If there’s a bright center to the state of Texas, Overton is the town that it’s farthest from… but I came to stay, not to play.
As I pass different marts of commerce and other seeming insignificant locales, my mind is crowded with memory…
The vacant slab adjacent to the McMillan House, we used to park our cars up there and watch the cars cruise up and down the main drag. Horns blaring and engines revving in adolescent macho posturing. Down one road, across another, was where I sat in a certain girl’s driveway and didn’t make the first move. Up another street, and around the corner, I did make the first move but was not reciprocated. Along a back-alley, a friend read a poem to me under the streetlight; a poem he had written the very same evening.
I recall all these, and others. Tiny droplets of joy ‘midst strange ancient shames; things ugly and surprising, garnished with sublime delights and strange wonders, spill over my mind in a faint humid mist. I recall moments and voices with painful and pristine quality.
What days may come, I know not. The LORD has seen fit to bring us here, and purposes abound. Time will certainly tell… but, barring that which is shrouded with the mystery of times yet to come, it appears that my children shall grow up in this little green plot of GOD’s good Earth.
Perhaps, in time, the shadowed alleys and wan glimmer of streetlamps will spur their own fond recollections.
Verily, it seems, with each hour I am authoring my children’s past.