One thing that I did do was take my first driving lesson. Yeah...those of you who are not New Yorkers may be snickering at that, you may even be inviting your kinfolk over to point and laugh (“Look Cletus...the boy’s twenty and he can’t even drive yet. And they call YOU slow just because you repeated fourth grade five times.”) Those of you who are New Yorkers may be saying “Okay....why the fuck do you want to learn how to drive?” The first can be easily shrugged off with a haughty New York sneer and the secure knowledge that living in The Greatest City In The World comes with access to a remarkable system of public transportation which abdicates New Yorkers from the need to learn how to operate something so crass as an Automobile. I know many native New Yorkers between the ages of 40 and 70 who have never bothered to learn to work a horseless carriage. We are too busy learning other things, like how to remark about how great having all that theatre nearby is even when we never bother to attend much of said theatre, or how and why to wear black on a day so hot that at every “Don’t Walk” sign you end up wondering just What That Smell is. Okay, so I never learned the second but then again I’ve been too busy actually attending all that theatre that we have just lying around. Anyway, my point is that the most you need to know about cars in New York is that you need to check to make sure the driver of an errant one is not a beautiful woman or a particularly burly man before shouting “Hey...I’m WALKIN’ Here!” at him/her. But I am saddled with a house in the country (defined as anywhere you can’t get a half decent bagel with a schmear) and to get there the services of several tons of pollution spewing metal are required and thus I must learn to operate said tons of metal. This is why I found myself in the driver’s seat on Bear Path (the new name of our previously unnamed road, a gift of the road naming kick that the town of Rangely has recently been on) with my mother in the passenger’s seat looking like she was about to either die in a spectacularly painful crash or be subjected to a film retrospective of Freddie Prince Jr. (It’s actually the same look). I did fairly well despite being exhausted and my mother’s constant attempts to disturb my zen like calm and replace it with enormous levels of anxiety that are almost assuredly not good for driving (“You’re going WAY too fast!” she’d shriek as the scenery blurred by at the unfathomable speed of 27 miles per hour. “Now you’re going way too slow!” she’d grouse as I slowed to a 24 MPH crawl.) There were a couple moments of reasonable worry...most specifically when I took a turn off onto the highway (I only did a TINY stretch of highway) way too wide and when I took a turn off FROM that highway way too sharply on account of I spotted a cop car and I didn’t bring my learner’s permit, which I was also never issued (my story if the cops pulled me over was going to be that my mother had blown out her knee and I was just trying to drive her home. Country style cops should buy that! Yeah...that’s the ticket...to the pokey.) I was able to put all those years of playing racing video games to good use on the real road and erase the memory of the time I was driving a golf cart on my rich friend’s farm and broke my father’s ribs by hitting the accelerator instead of the brake and smashing through a fence.
Yesterday I was also confronted with the truth of my solitude. One of our neighbors up here asked me whether I’d brought anyone up with me....I said no and she sounded somewhat...concerned. It’s not just her either, there’s a universal sense up here that if you aren’t importing and putting up with a variety of personages then you’re doing something wrong. It’s not really a country place for solitude, having once been a rather popular resort town with majestic old hotels that have long since disappeared. Everyone brings someone up at some point or another. I have nobody to bring. Normally this doesn’t bother me, and it doesn’t really bother me now (I am quite happy with solitude, what can possibly be better than being able to do what you like without thinking about other people’s feelings or desires?) but it bothers other people. You can see that they are starting to expect something...a roomate... a girlfriend...a boyfriend (it’s a mostly metropolitan and thus progressive summer crowd) or some sort of something to prove that I am moving into new and exciting college style social circles like they did when they were children (Julian still brings up his college buddies to the lake...more than 60 years after he walked) One of the people I had dinner with the other day, some sort of second cousin or something, looked to me for hope with her 10 year old grandson who’se a precocious little bugger prone to breaking into essay form discussions of the workings of the esophagus during dinner or complex analysis of various insects in a car ride. The sort of stuff that I used to do when I was a precocious youngster and before my father commited suicide and sent me into a tailspin the profundity of which I don’t understand even now, after I’ve regained some degree of control of the aircraft of my life. I had nothing but sheepish suggestions that he learn karate and study the sports page carefully so that he can switch the topic to football if the more normal kids are starting to get irritated by his intellectualism and can kick their asses as a last resort if that doesn’t work.
Isolation has been on my mind a good deal recently...I’m still not sure how I feel about it. At times I’m glad not to be bothered with other people’s concerns and able to explore the things that I enjoy without them. At others I’m ambivalent and sort of wish there was someone else who I could at least talk to about these things and have discussions with the way other people have discussions with me about things that interest them. Sometimes I am desperate for some sort of external connection to prove that I am worthy of continuing to breathe. The thing is that other people bore me so quickly. I can’t handle more than a couple hours with most people under 30 before I just want to get away. Older people have more complexity and can hold my interest longer...but then I’m the one who can’t hold THEIR interest long enough because for all my wit and intellect I’m still green on the vine and wisdom is something that needs time to grow.
I don’t know...I have never been one to form many complex and robust friendships and the older I get the less and less apt I am to form any at all. Perhaps it’s a function of my fear and assumption of rejection stemming from untouchable anguish at my paternal abandonment. Perhaps it’s a function of the unpredictability of other people which clashes with my new “Control above all else” lifestyle which has helped me crawl my way out of the pit I dug for myself during and after high school. I needed a lot of control to get SO MUCH BETTER (if I type it in Caps I’ll believe it...right?) Maybe it’s a function of just how difficult it is to find people who can keep up with me when I’m fully rested, fired up, and rolling along...rare as that is these days (gotta keep busy...keep the edge off...keep sane) Almost certainly it’s a combination of all three and a bundle of other things whipped together into one delicious inscrutable cocktail. I don’t know. I should try more. I doubt I will. Isolation isn’t healthy. Socialization is a chore.
It’s a puzzle that I can’t crack at the moment...and at the moment the waves upon the lake are calling to caress me...without judgement or complaint. I believe I shall heed them.