Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Aqua Musang 6 - RELIEF

As I drove towards the night, Vermont’s welcoming woods seemed a world I knew, thought I did not know how I knew it, must have forgotten it. These woods that seemed to engulf me now but where I had barely ever been. And above the woods the Green Mountains seemed to turn greener in twilight, which was just the opposite of how it went in New Hampshire, where the taller White Mountains might sometimes be blue or blue-green but could turn black, even when the sky was still gray-blue or sunset purple.

I was in my car but I was in these Vermont woods. I would stop to stand by trees or rolling fields and just stand there breathing deeply. I would stop to look at ponds and streams and breathe some more And all this time, in the aqua Mustang and out of it, I was thinking of a night in the city that could not have been more than nine months earlier but felt like it was from some far distant time that came right after a time I had thought I could never leave.

It was New Year’s Day night in the city, after another gathering of the new people with whom I was associating in this time that suddenly was seeming to me so much younger than anything that could be called midlife. On New Year’s Day night in a car on the East Side IRT I saw myself not in the city but in a clearing, a wooded place, a nighttime scene lit by candlelight – a semicircle of small boys and girls, and forest animals who were as friendly as the girls and boys. And there in the subway car I heard, above the roar and rattling of the old train in its old city tunnel, from somewhere an angry but warm and affirming voice was saying, “Who wants to stop these children?”

And then the rest of the night – in the subway, in the shuttle and on the West Side IRT, and on the winter streets, and then back in my apartment – all night I went back and forth from tears to rage back to sadness that could knock me over and to rage again and again sadness and then more rage and sadness and rage and sadness – emotions hitherto reserved for fiction or drunk scenes.

It was in this night that the sort of depression that had hounded me for 50 years, came to an end. And so too did the fear, always with me in previous light moments, that it would return. The sort of depression that is physically debilitating and threatens to last forever, which is not the same as down times or angry times or sad times.

From the subway I went to my bright apartment in Chelsea, and spent the night moving between deadly rage and sobbing sadness. And time was timeless. And when I came out of it I found myself drinking milk and eating Famous Amos cookies, neither of which were part of my regular diet and neither of which I could remember purchasing on my way home. I came out of it and stepped into something fresh.

For I knew nothing would ever be the same, which was something I thought about this next summer, nine months later, as I moved around Vermont in my new/old aqua Mustang in what I knew was a break from the hunt I was on – a break before taking the car across the border to the granite mountains and rocky fields, and big ultra-formal summer houses and co-existing towns full of local people who had always lived there. New Hampshire where lay the secrets of the demons that I was going steal, and carry back across the frontier, and hand to the demons’ enemies. I knew I would do it even as I delayed my border crossing.

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