Tuesday, April 21, 2009
The Aqua Mustang 77 – BIGGEST STORY?
Was this, I wondered, my biggest story? When I was a writer, which I was certain I no longer wanted to be, I had never gone near what I was I putting together now – what was coming out now in memories raised by this brief sexual affair or obsession with Gillian in the week I was no longer alone in my tour of the old sites, the place where happy memories were raised as I drove about the White mountains alone checking out the key places of what seemed key events in my early life – and also awful memories as I drove about the White Mountains looking for and finding increasingly more evidence of what I had been putting together this year – of dark things I had never admitted to that surely must have something to do with why so many people from that time, especially the cousins who like me had spent their summers up here in the family places when young, were coming now to such bad ends in the present while still very far from actual old age. Suicide and molestation and cancer that they seemed to invite.
Why what I had thought, without probing, had been times of light and happiness now seemed times of darkness – actually, though the evidence was not all in yet, times of far more deadly danger than I had known in the very dangerous places –bloodthirsty Papa Doc Duvalier’s Haiti, bloodthirsty General Suharto’s Indonesia – where I had spent most of the years afterwards. Where had this word bloodthirsty come form? Was it the term that belonged here in this family place, these mountains.
And why was I drawn here even now when I knew that it was not a place for me and maybe never had been? Knew that I had mistakenly harbored the idea that it was my place. Why did my spirit leap when I turned my car north from the city up the familiar roads to northern New England?
And why was I so aware of things I had forgotten that did not necessarily fit with darkness and danger – those long yellow rays of winter light in the New Hampshire summer, the cold but alluring mountains, the rocky old farms with their safe scraggly cows, the smell of balsam, the remembered taste of maple sugar and corn picked at a nearby farm scarcely an hour before the cook cooked it in the White Pines kitchen – and the remembered embrace with a girl on a hayride that started in Landaff, which was a ind of paradise even though we made fun of inbred local farm people who all looked alike to us – and the fabled trails up the mountains, up above the timer line where I had felt I could see all that I loved over scores of miles in all directions.
I had to know what had happened, but now it was the light story, not the dark one, that I did not want. I had rarely gone back to this place in the years I had thought of it in the light version. I had stayed away most of the time for decades. And the rare times I was actually there I had made sure, as if afraid to be here alone, that I was never far from a friend brought in from outside, even if it was just a fortifying drink.
And now I was here alone, driving and drifting, looking and looking, and remembering – not the way it was supposed to be but the way that I had determined was the right version in the case that this year I had building up as methodically – as if I had been a careful lawyer, which I remembered now was what the family wanted for me when it became clear I was not what they had expected.