“You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.” Albert Camus

fall-autumn-red-season

Changing seasons know
Time keeps going without fail.
Sunny mornings come.

 

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“Comedy is, for the most part, just an obsession with injustice.” Whitney Cummings

He came to school hungry
She never satiated on breakfast.
He acted out,
She sent him to the office.

Later they learned about nutrition
He taking advantage of the program
She realizing Pop-Tarts aren’t that great
The food allowed them to survive.

Years later,
He was working and shopping for produce
She was retired and doing the same.
His basket ran into her little cart.

They recognized each other
His maturity not masking the child
Her wrinkles not scratching out his memories
Of their year together in fifth grade.

They never realized the food bond between them
They never put it together that “hangry” is real
They only knew that giving each other a chance
Created a flood of memories right there in the safe part of the store.

From the journal of Carter Hamorton:

Little did I know during that last and only dance of the night, my time in Williamsburg was coming to an end. I could feel the need to move on and get on with my life. The thoughts of leaving Williamsburg had not fallen into the failed spell of the future, yet, but on this night under the disco lights and with the rest of the 2am crowd who were belting out Sinatra’s, “New York, New York,” I knew this phase of my life was over. The clubbing days were over. Sure there would be hanging at Paul’s Deli, but trying to have fun at Club New York or Tusks would never be a part of social scenario again.

On my first visit to Club New York it was still a roller rink. I’m pretty sure it was the only time I was on skates, which is good thing for every bone in my body. Sometime during college, the vacant rink became Club New York. Imagine Studio 54 without the hoopla. There were two bars and seating around a central dance floor. The walls were kitschy cut-outs of the New York City skyline set under a twinkling night sky. Williamsburg was not known for its club scene and Club New York seemed strangely out of place on Richmond Road. The putt-putt was there. Pancake houses were everywhere and aging hotels very nearly hid the next big thing to hit the Colonial Capital. It seemed like a good idea, but the best part of it’s location was its proximity to a 7-11, as if that wasn’t true for everything in Williamsburg. Strolling out of the club to the 7-11 in the early morning was the ultimate convenience to get some nachos with chili and cheese. In the end, Club New York would fail, like most clubs. The reputation of the place got to be too big and the Newport News revelers started coming to Williamsburg. The place became too crowded and rumors of violence began circulating around activities in the parking lot and bathrooms and finally the club went the way of Studio 54.

I was gone long before the that.

The beginning of my exodus from the club started after a mad dash through the waters of Long Island. I’d tell you more if only there was more to tell. We all have things that we are not proud of. To those who were there, “I’m sorry.” Sometimes I believe that we hear the messages from those older than us and at a young age we believe in our invincibility. Having fun is the goal at the cost of making solid decisions. The night of the Long Island flood was a crack in my belief that “nothing could ever happen to me.” It wasn’t the Club New York tipping point, but it certainly chipped away at my partying levee.

The old guy at the bar has always been a comic character for me. As a kid, I used to see the William and Mary athletes in a heroic light. I believed that anyone playing a college sport was someone to be admired. In college I used to play basketball at Walsingham with bunch of William and Mary basketball alumni. The games were so different than the ones at Season’s Trace or Quarterpath because these guys were actually running plays, boxing out, and hustling back on defense. One of the players seemed like a cool guy, but he was probably already pushing thirty. He had a real job, a real car, and if rumors were true, a way with the ladies. The next domino to fall in clubbing life happened when this dude that I thought had everything committed a flagrant foul against my man code at the time. He asked me to help hook him up with someone that I had gone to high school with.

What??? Dude, you were a successful college athlete and now you have money, a “wallet.” You are nearly thirty years old and you need help from a 21 year old local dude to pick up a girl? He became the old guy at the bar and broke the mythological mist of celebrity in my mind. My mind went fast forward and I feared that if I kept on the same path that I was traveling, I might end up like this William and Mary legend. Some of you know, “legend” is not always a term of endearment…

On the last dance night, I think all of the impatience of becoming an adult was about to blow up. At heart, my restlessness is better served as a home body and that what I was looking for. The New York skyline that loomed over the dance floor was shallow and impersonal and Sinatra was separating my feelings weekend adventure from my desire to settle down. All would not be easy after leaving the ‘burg and there would be a short time of irresponsible reincarnation. Rest assured, I was never the old guy at the bar and I only dance at home now, much to the consternation of my wife…

#that’sthewayIrememberit

This morning I’m left in the fog of driving back from Williamsburg last weekend. Interstate 95 has become a major roadblock in my interest in driving through Virginia. I don’t think I would mind the drive if it wasn’t so congested. Getting to the back roads is simply a hassle. Lights and volume make the whole thing a mess.

It isn’t the drive alone that has me lost in the haze. This summer has been one of revelation as I research Virginia history for a book that I want to write. While the book will take place above the Mason-Dixon line, two of the characters will spend defining times of their lives in Virginia. The research has led me through slavery, which is something the South should never be allowed to escape. The history of slavery is the kind of legacy that cannot be forgotten or excused away in economics or state’s rights. I’ve also been reading about the tenuous relationship between African American and White families in central and western Virginia during the bi-polar time of desegregation, bi-polar because the era offered such hope and created such bigotry.

The malaise started to lift as I read the “Yankee rag,” The New York Times, and a story about Jon Stewart. I’ve been a fan of his for a long time as he has a connection to the ‘Burg, he’s funny, and really smart. What was interesting about this on-line version of the paper were the videos used to illustrate big moments for his show on Comedy Central. Each clip was accompanied by an advertisement for Colonial Williamsburg that promoted “freedom” and sported a family riding around the Historic Area on those two-wheeled, self-balancing scooters.

My old boss from Colonial Williamsburg must be laughing his bearded face off whenever he sees these commercials. I can hear him saying, “Effing, Disney!” with a great deal of habanero spice in his comment.

However, these commercials had an effect on me. I found the thought of freedom to be so appealing for my time to escape the Colonial Capitol on an emotional level had arrived. I grew up in the South full of the confusion that kids from anywhere are faced with. I feel like I knew just about everyone and was able to fit in wherever I found myself. This was good and bad then, but as an adult I look back at my southern existence and the chameleon way that I lived and I feel a bit of sadness. A great deal of my youth was proving to others that I was cool and tough. The reality was that by trying to answer to whatever group, whatever the culture, I often accepted the worst ways of that group. Rich made fun or poor and vice versa. Whites made fun of African Americans and vice versa. The common thread of all these different groups was their ability to offer critique other groups, often in most unflattering ways. To fit in, I betrayed myself and many of the friends I had. I was hypocritical all for the sake of being accepted.

As an adult, I relish calling out hypocrisy, but this summer has been perhaps the most important time in my life journey, as I have finally been able to look past my jackass ways that I always rationalized as humor. I should have left the humor to the comedians because without an outrageous shock statement, I’m not that funny.

It was the commercials paired with some insight passed on by a real comedian, Steve Harvey, that let me toss my junk out on this last trip down a congested I-95. The repeating mantra of freedom from the commercials and the sermon about “scrap being melted down” by Mr. Harvey spoke to me. They suggested that a person can move on, that the past informs the future, but the past does not define the present. When I think back to my time in the ‘Burg, I loved the racial diversity. My best year of high school was 11th grade when one by one the two other white kids quit the basketball team, for a brief time leaving me the “token” on the basketball team. That year was something, probably the most significant year of education I ever had. Two years later I would wreck it with an insensitive remark that embarrasses me to this day.

I’m letting that southern thing go. I lived there for awhile. My parents are down there. I’ve got a great friend who still lives in the area. The rest is foreign to me. It’s sad that all the 7-11s are in such crappy shape. The houses around town have lost the quaint charm I thought was there. Even the Pottery Factory has died. I now hold memories now as an author or reporter, not as a burden to be dragged around for the rest of my life. I cannot define myself with regret. The regret was put on me to move forward. I am.

I grew up in Virginia.

I don’t own the Virginia’s history.

I apologize for my hypocrisy.

With that, I’m on my two feet, securely balanced, and walking away.

The causes wither away
For they never amount to much.
The fights fade into nothing
For they are rarely worth it.

Didn’t Dalton say, “Nobody wins a fight.”

Anymore I’m learning to not care.
The upheaval of wanting things
Is too much to bear,
Not just for me, but for Our sustainability.

Wasn’t it Ragnar who said something about being a patient man?

Of course Dalton and Ragnar are just characters
Who both survived in the hypocrisy of their quests,
As do I, although,
I’m learning.

Tantalyzing, enigmatic expressions of youth
Force patience to crumble
When petulence sticks responsibility
With the sharp end of a verbal rapier
Yet
Once an agrarian thought takes root
These same mysterious beings
From other seeds
Sprout new attitudes
Giving life to the beginnings of maturity

My neighbor is celebrating a birthday
He’s an adult
Still searching to find his way
Through the hustle and bustle
Of maturity
I found it hard to believe that I am
Two years past
Twice his age
Since I’m trying to find
My way
Through the same stuff
Maybe it just happens that way
Where we realize that the important stuff
Really has little standing in the realm of
Life
Fast cars, big houses, boats
What’s the need
Nine to five or longer
Does the toil matter
Perhaps my young neighbor has figured it out
Staving off a direction as long as possible
Living his terms
Walking his dog
Hanging between winter and summer residences
And only moving when the flakes
Fall or stop
But then I look back
With my doubling life years
Knowing the comfort of settling down,
The consistency of a schedule,
And the freedom tenure brings
Happy birthday, young man
I’m quite peaceful
In my semi-advanced stage

Remember when everything mattered
Did that change after 9/11
Did life become different after Ferguson
Maybe
I just know
That I’m not crazy about
The state of “whatever” anymore
Sure I might write a rant poem
Complaining about an event
But I’m just writing
Not deliberating
Not caring so much
I much prefer this easier me
Letting go of an overdue batch of burdens
That only served to make me
And those around me deal with
The stress of caring about everything
I can’t worry about the President
Have you noticed it really doesn’t matter
I can’t worry about my job
It will be there tomorrow
And if not I can see a new career
As a possibility for newness
For those who know me
Or follow
Don’t think I’ve lost my opinions or
Love of a good fight
But keeping a steady perspective
Sure chills a soul
In a good way

Have you ever noticed
They way people react
When they know the humor
At their expense
Is how they actually
See themselves

Tight muscles
Loose fingers
F-laden verbiage
It’s a crack up
Because we take ourselves
Too seriously

A student asked,
“What ‘s the greatest life lesson you’ve learned?”
I had trouble answering
So many have offered so much
Too often I’ve nodded my head
Faking acceptance of the charitable wisdom

I think though
Getting over myself
Might be the lesson

I’m just a man full of imperfections
Strengths and hopes
Of being better
The edges are sharp
And the corners blunt
But inside my acceptance of me
Is bringing my ability to laugh
At me
And all that true stuff people want to joke about

Let us be okay
When someone jokes of our weak heart
Let us be okay
When someone is snarky about our bitchy ways
Let us be okay
Because as Seuss suggested
It’s more fun when you know
How to laugh
(AT YOURSELF)