Every two Fridays I get paid and usually take Ruth out for Mexican. I can't do much with my money, but I can at least do that. We go all over town, last night we went back to the new-ish "Mexico" over on Southside. Just before we left out I had an exchange on Facebook with a friend of mine, she was looking for someone to ride shotgun with her husband to New York. He happens to be "directionally dyslexic" and she was worried that he'd wind up in South Dakota. While I've never met the man, they've got it like me- grown up punk rockers with a kid, they both work, she writes books, she's got The Job. They Struggle.
Word is they started gassing people in New York yesterday. I've been following the "Occupation" loosely, mostly from articles my more politically minded friends have shared on Facebook. I try to avoid those type posts. However Ruth and me sat on the couch two nights ago and watched the Youtube video of the girls getting maced point blank behind an orange barricade on Wall street. As we drove the truck across the Nickel Bridge I told her I was thinking that going up there might be the most important use of my time that weekend. A quarter mile to the west a slow train was crossing the river over the arched rail-bridge, the sun going down behind it. I won't give you a laundry list of everything I'm up against. If you're one of the ten regular readers here, you've probably got a pretty good idea. I appreciate the understanding. So I guess we can agree the message expressed in New York this weekend likely applies to me, my situation, the current and future well being of my children. In Southside, Ruth and me discussed all of this over cheese dip. My original plan for the weekend was to focus mainly on more job-hunting.
The idea of open conflict with the NYPD does not excite me. Of all the cops I've had run-ins with in my career, Manhattan cops have always seemed the most laid back, the most intelligent, the most human. Neither does the idea of getting maced, or locked up, of even knocked around by cops scare me much either. My intentions for going would not be because of anything I have to prove to anyone, not even myself. I am a free agent. My time is my time. It seemed to me for a little while that going would be like my friend Larry Levis said at the end of his poem "In 1969"
As the summer went on, some were drafted, some enlisted
In a generation that would not stop falling, a generation
Of leave sticking to body bags, & when they turned them
Over, they floated back to us on television, even then,
In the Summer of Love, in 1967,
When riot police waited beyond the doors of perception,
And the best thing one could do was get arrested.
Or counted or gassed or rounded up by the hundred with hands zip-tied behind backs and sat on the street. I would go because it seemed like an important time to be there, to see what it was like to be inside an Eric Drooker drawing. I would go so that I could hear what was being said, break away for it for a minute, go two blocks and see the waters rushing over the 9/11 monument. To come back home and write and tell you what I saw.
We sat and ate and Ruth told me all the good reasons to stay. The money. The fact that I've got to be at the Fan Free Clinic on Monday to see if they can line up a CT scan for me. If I got locked up, I might not be able to make it. If I missed work because I got locked up, the temp agency might fire me and then everything would be a world of shit. We left out from Mexico with our take-home box. The sun was setting and finally had a good Fall look to it. Red and orange going straight up with purple and blue down around the edges. We drove home and Ruth nibbled on chips and cheese dip as we crossed over the Huguenot bridge. The air was crisp, the sky seemed to be on fire and everything was as it should be.
By the time we got home and I checked Facebook, there was another interested party, another Clay, with revolutionary bicycle emblems as his profile. Nobody had ever met anyone else, yet everyone seemed to be on the same page. Even though in my gut it seemed like exactly the next right thing to do, I told them sorry, but I couldn't go.
I stayed because I decided it seemed a little too much like other times when I've run out the door like that; bad, reckless, dangerous times. No, I didn't go because I made a commitment a while back not to live like that anymore. To avoid, whenever I could, acting as an agent of chaos, no matter how good or pure the intentions driving me.