Where Did You Go, Where Have You Been?

Where did you go, the you that was there before?  The you that I tried so hard to be like?  You’ve settled in now, haven’t you?  Settled in for weekdays, Pampers, “the grind”.  You’ve all-but disappeared into it.  And that’s fine.  So have I, in my own way.  I look at the cubicle-dwellers, the 9-to-5ers, the mortgagers with judgment.  I judge them for a life spent in the cattle chute, but I’m the same, in my own way.  I wake up to an alarm five days a week, dash my utility bills off monthly in tidy little envelopes, take extra long showers and even bubble baths to de-stress from the rigors of a world I can’t even begin to understand.  I’m in the grind, too, in my own version of a cattle chute.  You were beautiful once, even more than you are now, supple like sand underfoot right after the wave withdraws, and I’ve never been a model but I had that nice little six-pack of abs and that 90s-era skater hair.  Who could forget the smell of your own hair in my face, your feet akimbo in the air.  We must have been dank and gorgeous like John Sloan’s Wet Night on the Bowery, everything akimbo in the air and musty and frivolous.  But who could look back and want that time again?  There was so much pain and we didn’t know a damn thing.  Who wants to not know a damn thing?  But then we wake up in this world, in this present-tense, and wonder where our beauty escaped to.  How did it siphon off?  We’re always so safe here, so comfortable.  When was the last time you felt real danger?  It is important to feel real danger.  What proof have you that you are alive?  What new horizon can you actually imagine, aside from the top of your stairs, or the local pizza parlor?  Dammit we were gorgeous but now it’s just about not forgetting umbrellas and digging out of debt.  Who ever heard of digging out of debt?  Does the field mouse understand what an interest rate is?  How about the barn owl, how much does it know about 401(k)’s?  What in the world is going on here?  What does any of this have to do with living?  Remember once, you and I were racing each other back and forth through my parents’ front yard–I guess it would have been my front yard, then, too.  And it kept bothering me when you would beat me because I was young and an idiot and full of the uncertainty of a scared animal.  I hated that you beat me again and again but I tried not to show it.  Then we laid in the grass and kissed deeply and for a long time, everything about our bodies sweet like warm milk just out of a cow’s insides.  Then we laid there and looked into the blazing-bright sky and, as young people are known to do, talked about the clouds, and what they looked like, and what held them there.  And then I asked you, Am I the funniest person you know?  I needed you to say yes to that, without any pause, but you didn’t say yes, you were honest, and it killed me inside.  Oh to be that young when such a small thing mattered so much.  Who wouldn’t love to hear, nowadays, near the midpoint of things, that you were the third funniest person you had ever met.  What a compliment that seems now!  These bits of personal fire are rare now, rare like two sweet bodies laying in the country grass, rare like paid-off debt.  Down the chute, down the chute, we all just keep going down the chute.  And what can we do?  Try and hop off?  What are the options?  Become a vagabond, wander the cities and towns, begging for whatever work there is and move on, like Richard Kimble searching for that one-armed man?  Or move to some commune–assuming they still exist–and paint or grow potatoes but also share your washcloth and help raise other peoples’ bratty kids?  No thanks.  The cattle chute’s the only way to go and still have your own place to poop every day, and there are so few comforts in this animal life as it is, you’ve got to keep the ones you’re able to find.  So slide, slide, slide we will.  But damn if one doesn’t miss the days before you knew you were on the cattle chute, the days with your hair in my face, where did you go, where have you been?

6 Responses to “Where Did You Go, Where Have You Been?”

  1. Ahh yes, Those little things that are never said and shouldn’t be important – they come back in periodic waves. Hit and miss to be sure. But months, years and decades later. They pop up in the middle of the day and the dead of night. And every time, the thought, why couldn’t they have been said?

    • sethdellinger Says:

      Yes, indeed. But such is the nature of being human. Rarely does anyone else understand us, or what we need…nor do we understand them.

      • indeed, we all miss not hearing something we needed and sometimes we were the ones that should have said something and did not or said something that would have been better off left unsaid. As you say, it is the nature of human beings and , if we are smart, we shall try to do better tomorrow.

  2. Kyle Sundgren Says:

    Good thing I didn’t read this during my “I’m about to turn 30” melancholy phase! Crimeny, I loved the shit out of this!

    • sethdellinger Says:

      Thanks, sir! I love it, too…one of those rare moments that as you are writing something, it is also exactly what you’d like to be reading. Every now and then you catch lightning in a bottle.

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