Ah, Friday, autumn is in full swing,
Fall sports are nearly done,
Leaves are everywhere, and all I can do is sit
Staring at the television with arms weary,
The weight of the week plus the lifting off weights
Making them heavy and satisfied
Grateful for gravity, charity, and discipline.

It’ll be bed time soon,
Fog might rise tonight and in the morning
I’ll run on a narrow trail with my kid
Who’ll probably tell me I’m too slow, but
That’s cool because it’s true,
Old too, but she knows better than to poke the bear too hard
Because I might just shuffle along faster than she wants.

Or I might make her pay for breakfast…

It was probably around 1982 when I was in high school. The car I was sitting in was being driven by my driver’s ed partner and she was pretty unsure of how to tame the big block that was in the retired police car donated to my school for our class. We were looking at the cones, that didn’t seem spread out enough for our car to pass through and certainly not with my friend behind the wheel.

I decided to break the rules because starting and stopping the way that we were had lost it’s novelty. I reached over and turned on the radio. Don Henley’s “Dirty Laundry” played and the car started moving with more confidence. I suppose my partner needed a distraction to keep her foot from mashing the break. We began passing through the cones without any fear. She was doing a great job. All things end, though, and it was all good until the wrestling coach, our instructor, yelled on the walkie-talkie from his ground control tower to turn the radio off.

We went right back to the herky-jerky ride as before.

Tonight, I was sitting at the computer and struggling to come up with ideas. I’m so far gone that I’ve resorted to trying to figure out what is going to happen with the start of school and there is still a month for the most recent plans to be amended. I’ve lost it.

Then, a couple of things happened. First, my wife shared some great stories from her family that were passed on to her by her aunt and uncle. They were new to both of us and we could only smile because they seemed so unbelievable in our lifetimes. It seems that even though we grew up many states apart, it is entirely reasonable to believe that our families have been paralleling each other for a couple of hundred years. Crazy, huh?

The second was “Dirty Laundry” coming through my little JBL speaker. The coincidence of the song, matched with the myths and facts of a family history was too much for me to ignore. My mind is racing and the floodgates will be open for the next couple of days.

Lovely.

After long days at the shore
Playing the ten-dollar game and riding waves,
Before the serious internet surfing began,
Prior to YouTube taking attention over, and
Commencing before the nightly reading,
We played Monopoly.
The games were a bit fierce,
A fictional account of real estate’s fierce existence,
Where we talked trash, made outlandish deals,
Suffered through jacked up rents, and
Made it through the hours to bankruptcy.

Today, landlocked in a basement cave,
Life’s clutter met post vacation energy restoration.
I took the advice from my hyperkinetic friend,
Capitalizing on the my own energy
To wage war with a stockpile of old photos I’d taken
Back when I thought I had a little Ansel Adams in me.
All those years ago, I printed many photos,
Some made it into frames, a few made me some money,
Most sat in boxes or baggies hogging precious square footage,
Until today, when I committed to letting them go,
Relentlessly, emotionlessly, with nothing but malice.

At first it was easy,
The marginal prints, the ones that never had a chance,
The unfittest, they did not survive.
Doubles, triples, why so many, gone, gone, gone.
Then photos of my childhood opened up,
Water damaged, blurry, or otherwise inconsequential,
Yep, gone.
Then I got to the tough ones, photos from my parents,
Back when they were younger than I am now,
I kept all of those.
They’re my parents, after all.

Then came my wife’s family photos,
An easy culling as well as they are all keepers.
So many repeats and I could see the photographer’s process,
Someone trying to figure out the lighting, the proper pose,
The best aperture paired with the appropriate shutter speed.
The photos were composed well, purposeful, artistic.
I could be so objective because I only know a couple of the people,
My entry into the family came late,
But I loved looking at the bloodlines,
How the old folks gave their genes, their mannerisms to my family,
All the way to my step-children. That’s pretty cool.

One amongst them all stood out, bringing a smile to us all
For recreation and fellowship run deep in this family
As my wife’s way old family enjoyed a game of…
MONOPOLY.
Two weeks ago, we had not played the game in twelve years,
Now it seems there is some history passing time
Rolling dice and cashing in on fleeting wealth.
They are better dressed than our shore attire,
Even if all the ties are not cinched properly.
Hopefully, their fun was like ours,
Although, I hear competition was key…just like ours.

1958ish…

My father is rarely doing nothing,
He’s always puttering around,
Making this, fixing that, reading, chess playing,
Even though he believes the computer cheats,
A possibility I suppose.

I don’t have the same skills he does,
Energy? Yes. Dexterity and vision? No.
I’d prefer to shutdown during a run
Letting my brain drift to nowhere
Unless, of course, I’m writing.

The pandemic, though, it’s making things better,
I know, how could I think that,
I don’t mean in a healthy kind of way,
This has been a disaster, but I once was told,
“Life is what you make of it.”

Yesterday, I made it bad, dark, gloomy
Until my birthright kicked in and doing something became real.
A little motivation from a friend,
A dip into the well of music streaming, and
Before long the mood was gone, the time passed, life began again.

Songs, some familiar, some never before on my radar,
A smattering of music from whatever genre
Made for a fairly irreverent list of songs
Making fun of spiritual soothsayers and judges
While proving tonal DNA runs deep in the recording industry.

Just as the genetic code from our parents does,
Puttering provided the energy to stop feeling sorry for the day.
The time, wasted, maybe, I’ll say put to good use
Because the psychology of getting over sucky moods
Depends on how you go about things.

What kind of sucks,
Is that no matter how much or how hard
I work out,
I’m still not getting much better.
My times aren’t improving,
My soreness doesn’t go away as fast,
I’m really holding on.
As Jackson Browne sang, “Time the conqueror.”

It hit me hard today,
I was running with my stepson,
I ran my first marathon around the time he was born,
He’s sixteen now and ready to drive,
To bad for him DMV isn’t open for testing, yet, pandemic and all.
Anyway, I have one rule for people I run with
Go as fast as you go, slower or faster than me,
But go your own way.

And that he did,
Leaving me alone in a field as he sped into the woods
A mere two minutes or so into a four-mile run.
He’s powerful, assertive, unbothered by roots and rocks
Because he can pick his feet up when he runs.
I can’t sustain that, shuffle ensues, and then I have to be careful,
Not so much so that I don’t push, but
It is so that I’m not sixteen anymore.

Accurate accusations are exactly on point,
My family and friends have me down
Calling me repetitive, a repeater, or laughing
When I use my only superpower
Which is to bring something back in a conversation
Long after it was said.

I love the familiar,
The obvious,
Especially, when it’s used in obscure ways
To make a point,
To get a laugh,
If for no one else, at least I know where it’s going

“Everything’s Right,” that’s how it all started
Phish filling up my car with the song of the last week,
I can’t get enough of it
Everywhere I go I’ve got this playing
On repeat, because that’s who I am,
Right?

The seat in my car was heating,
Outside the wind was blowing across a soccer field,
Dew covered the ground and
I wasn’t sure I was up to running,
The doubt and the lack of interest was pushing back
Against my musically inspired changing motivation.

Eventually, as is the case with Phish, the song ended,
I laced up the trail shoes and headed out,
Socks soaked in a second, lungs complaining right away,
“Everything’s right…” swimming all over my brain,
Reaching down to my heart,
Putting a spark in my soul.

The thing is I don’t know the words to the song,
And I don’t run normally run with music,
So on the headphone free ten-miler,
I was stuck singing on repeat,
Over and over again,
“Everything’s right.”

It was awesome,
Around the pond all those times,
Stopping at the batting cage, Nancy’s stop,
Running across the Y-parking lot with a finger twitch
Around the pubs and back.
It was right.

Getting into that zone,
Where the singularity occurs between the breathing,
The form, the voices in the head,
That melding of it all makes whatever
Oh, so satisfying
And this run was that.

After sitting for a few minutes out back in my car
I went Mr. Rogers, changing my shirt and shoes
Before starting for home.
I was still singing those two words, the sun, the sky, and endorphins
Were still right, but as the song came on, the Phish refrain was changed,
“Frrreeeeeee!!!!”

Listening to winds blow,
Relaxing, watching the trees sway,
Calming.

Listening to fireplaces pop,
Soothing, seeing the flames dance,
Mesmerizing.

Listening to people cope,
Refreshing, hearing their strength,
Inspiring.

It’s in the way things are taken,
Perspective, wanting the best,
Survival.

For all of the talk,
Preparation, being ready for stuff,
Difficult.

Yet there are those,
Friends, making it through tough times,
Stoics.

Closer to home as well,
Family, propping me up each day,
Peace.

It’s been the better part of a month since I ran with my friends. Last night, my phone blew up with a texting storm that pushed the boundary between laughing and gagging. The few moments of inappropriateness and the destruction of innocence brought a much-needed relief from days of monotony inflicted by social distancing. I’m not sure when I’ll be back around those guys again, but it was sure nice to hear from them. Hopefully everyone, everywhere, is being safe and able to avoid this virus. It would be good, too, if you checked in with all your lost peeps.