Geese and Youth
On Monday I’d gone to a writing workshop that I found called Wild Goose Creative way up Summit which runs parallel to High Street but much farther north than I’d yet to hike. I thought about calling first because I’ve hiked it far for nothing before but I still didn’t have a phone so I hiked it anyway and when I got there the lights were off. I resolved to sit like an Indian on the little concrete wall in front and read about drunk saints in lonely California nights til someone arrived.
The walk had been lovely through a part of town I’d never seen, old college cottages that look like shit but with fantastic old front porches and giant ancient trees along the sidewalk that you could smell the ivy, to my back the crystal towers of the city real small in the distance still sparkling beside the sinking sun. At one point I passed these brick apartments real old and rustic with wrought iron gates, brown leaves and all the old bricks too covered in ivy and I couldn’t resist walking along in them so I did, and I found a wide brick path cutting through the trees in the back, that ran beneath the road and stretched and wound for miles it seemed, so that I promised myself I’d walk it one day and find the miserable ends of this empty wood path beside the silent trees.
Sitting on the wall there was a coffee shop across the street and I thought of going to wait in there but I didn’t, just sat there reading watching people pass, listening to a kid sing from a balcony while his friend played the guitar. It was getting dark and I felt I could sit right there never moving until I had a full gray beard and wise old eyes but I saw someone inside and when he unlocked the front door I went in. It was a small place, one long skinny room with a bare floor and brick walls, a small stage by the door, some lights, and what seemed a modular counter you could move, with sheets hung up to section a few spaces. The man who’d let me in was short pudgy, with tiny eyes and a fuzzy caterpillar under his lip and a real high voice. He was rolling out a table and I offered to help set up. He said ‘Yeah sure wonderful, that way I can get a pot of coffee going for us, excellent great.’ So I went behind the curtain and rolled out another table and started getting the chairs set up and felt fine that I’d offered because I had opened possibilities for that man even though they were small and didn’t mean too much, but he’d used them to make everyone coffee and I didn’t fail to see how all this works on larger more significant scales: I set up chairs so he could make coffee so we’d all be happy, that’s society ain’t it? A few other guys showed up and the host(ess) with the high voice at once began long conversations and since I didn’t know anyone I walked around to take in the place and was bored in a minute.
The meeting finally kicked off and I realized it was the five of us despite what the guy with the high voice said inbetween playing host and endless talking, mentioning something about at least ten people and more so we’d need both tables and as many chairs. And the median age there was 40. Our host looked like a chubbier Ferris Bueller and he went to get cups in the other room, the whole time talking to us going through the cabinets, keeping his conversation up so that one of the guys looked over at me and started laughing and I was well relieved someone else found the absurdity of all it.
The host had a chubby squat face and well combed hair that he probably uses lots of conditioner singing show tunes in the shower and he wouldn’t ever stop talking so that I got the impression he’d put this group together to talk at people, always saying ‘Yes yes, that’s so right, I know exactly what you mean’ whenever someone else managed to get a word in, and he didn’t care to cut people off, just raise his hand and talk. When he said he taught theater and French it made sense him so much talking talking and loving his voice. He mentioned even a list of five things he would ask strangers to get a conversation going, he’d mention cars, books, movies, music and games and he described it as his ‘scatter-shot’ method shooting out a bunch of topics until someone would talk to him. And now I’m thinking about it, that’s not how you talk with people. The idea isn’t to force conversation and when you’re the only one talking controlling the conversation you’re not broadening any possibilities, you’re not weaving into the Great Quilt of Life’s strings and instead making knots around yourself. The whole point of a conversation is to open yourself and the other person so that at least some of your possibilities take to winding together and when you’re the only one talking you learn nothing of the other person and the conversation fails. But the scatter-shot? If you talk it should only be with the back of your head, whatever ideas flow in just say them, speak because it bounces around between people so smooth and no one will ever be talking at the same time this way.
But back to the meeting. Another guy by contrast was real quiet shy reserved in his long face and real tiny mouth. His story had an interesting point, focus error when you focus too much on one thing that you mess something else up that’s really simple basic, though I think I got the name wrong and the story was poor written. The other guy talked real slow from the side of his mouth, an older guy and now I think maybe he’d had a stroke and wasn’t slow because he tawked reel sla-oh with long low vowels so that he reminded me of the sportscaster from Anchorman.
Anyway I need to get to the point which is real long coming and thanks for staying through but they all wrote shit except for the guy who’d laughed earlier. He wore glasses and a short brown beard and reminded me what I’ll look like in twenty years. He’d written a story, an inner monologue about a father who loses his daughter and it was so distant and distraught and real good sorrowful. Me and him would get to talking about unreliable narrators and mechanisms of writing, agreeing and bouncing off each other’s points and the other guys sat watching quiet while the hostess kept agreeing trying to pry into the conversation. Anyway this guy said he’d based his piece on Ovid’s Metamorphoses ‘which is all about change,’ he said ‘and I found it appropriate you know, with all the change and revolution that’s coming.’
It was embers being kicked up in head
Here I am talking again with people twice my age who see and understand completely what’s coming and happening and why can’t I find people my age with these ideas? Every writing group I go to has failed in this respect and there lies my lamentations.
Where are the youth? The wild and wide eyed so eager to devour without a shame to be spat out? Where is the vibrance to live and create? The youth in whom each moment is a work of art, everything they say and do a flow in the stream like well placed strokes of glow paint in the sky? Where is the excitement for movement? Has the eager desire and lust for American Freedom really been squashed? Who closed the road and the Great American Highways where thumbs were like bus tickets? Who spoke and silenced, condemned dreams to textbooks and professors? Where are the youth? Where are the triumphant cries to live free on the outskirts and rally fast down burning bi-ways to take empty everything in wild strides? Where is the lust? For life? What heavy thoughts sit on youth’s minds that we cannot see through veils of GPA’s and fast-track careers in business suits? Where is the revolution? Where are the youth?