Sunday, November 9, 2008

Up on the Roof

For several weeks, I have been considering an entry on the relentless pace I lead daily and the fear that it will eventually cause collapse and misfortune. Just a few minutes of half-dreams cushion the time between alarm and my leap from bed each morning. There is hardly a pause before the night is late and lonely, and I fall asleep with a book in my lap.

No question that this is of my own doing. I am generating all of this activity and have the power to curtail it at anytime. Writing blogs, playing music, finding cannons, or telling a sad story on the radio does nothing to satisfy my need for food, clothing and shelter, yet this has all become a need as basic as breathing and, without realizing it, I had been suffocating before.

Influenced by the other need, the realistic need to pay my cell bill, and glad to have work, given the economic fears, I have been replacing the roof of a house more than an hour away, consuming more than usual time to make a living. Working with a couple of friends, it is a mellow job, high up the mountainside, over-looking miles of hardwood forests and open hayfields. While gas prices have fortunately dropped and temperatures for late fall are pleasantly high, we are pushing hard to get it done efficiently between rain storms and the expanding darkness.

Sunday, I worked by myself, methodically laying shingles and singing my new song. At lunch, it seemed silly to sit safely on the ground by my truck when the view was incredible from up on the roof. I imagined a perch out of a Carole King song, balanced on my ladder (strapped in, of course—OSHA approved!), munching my turkey sandwich meditating on the awesome vista. Unable to sit so pleasantly still, however, I had to scramble back down for my notebook so I could eat with one hand and write an essay (that was later abandoned) with the other about the wonders of the panoramic vision spread before me.

Well, after bragging a while back about rarely being sick, this pace has fulfilled my prediction, delivering a second punch of a stuffed head and aching cough in a month. Not listening to my own warnings to take a rest, my body captured the germs to make it so. Still, I have worked miserably right through it, determined to take advantage of the great weather and necessary paycheck.

Some times, I do just stop, and looking at myself like the snapshot of a stranger, I am amazed. Tonight, for example, I sit with a hamburger and a beer in a corner booth of a family restaurant (I am a trattoria kind of guy), yellow pad filling with black ink. Rain puddles outside, neon lights splintered in the drops. Guys step up to croon at an open mic. In my own neighborhood, it is Saturday night, and I know no one here.

Times like these, the momentum of the last months of change overwhelm. Twenty years of life everyday with the same good woman creates such a basis of existence, a reference point around which all else revolves. To break that anchor tumbles me into a swirling world with no boundaries and unexplored vistas over every rooftop.

Some friends are rediscovered, others drift away, still coupled themselves, or at least attached to my other half. Alliances are shifted and some encounters are suddenly awkward. New friends and companions are just at the confluence, merging or submerging with no rhyme or reason. Who can know? Recognition of my old self is hard to find.

No wonder, then, my head fills and my body aches, racked with coughing fits, slowing me down to ponder the view. The redefinition of self is hard work, the pace relentless. Some days feel like a blessing of banter with a son to be proud of; others are best passed curled up in contemplation, as if thumb in my mouth. Too many mistakes have taken their toll, but the blanket of fear must still be thrown off.

The best are those days when the sun shines, the conversation buzzes. Work gets done, laughter blows through the trees. The rustle of the wind promises that life only gets better and better, and the memories of the past never lose their luster. Today, I will make one of those.
Please share with your friends


Laurie said...

Thumb in your mouth? I would say that out loud but I would have to take my thumb from my mouth to do it!

A beautiful view in nature is almost a rebirth experience. For some reason it gives one the reason to hope and move forward doesn't it? I need to get out into nature for a regular visit. I need the renewal of my heart,my soul,and my hope. Nature is healing to me. Sometimes we just need healing don't we?

Very beautiful post, as always Kip!

Pauline said...

You'll be okay as long as you keep your eyes on the hope you glimpse through the fear you feel. Beautifully expressed, as always.

Anonymous said...

Another excellent post Kip. I do hope that you're feeling better soon, being ill sucks.