ww: an ode to hi ho.
08/09/2010 § 1 Comment
Today was a “b” day.
After work, riding up my street, I saw my roommate, Tony, walking home.
“Yo, T! You are back so early! You have that interview, do you not?”
“Yeah, where you off to?”
“Taking a little b-time.”
So it was I pedaled with no direction except East. With my tires freshly pumped and moving with the wind, I glided through Little Portugal, Kensington Market and Chinatown. I pedaled past my old street, my old park-ette, my old school, my old thoughts. Like an impulsion imploding, I locked Blue Velvet to a post outside Lillian H. Smith, one of the city’s many public libraries. There was no thought to this process, just following intuition.
Ascending the revolving stairs, my legs took me to the Merill Collection of Science Fiction. Inside this room of glass walls and faux-metallic offices, I found myself drawn to the receptionist’s desk.
“Hi. I would like to borrow Breakfast of Champions.”
The woman had white hair pulled back and glasses appropriately studious. In a methodical cadence, she explained:
“Is this your first time here, at the Merill Collection? If so, please fill out this form and provide all the necessary information. Since this is your first time here, I must say, please do not write in, bend corners of, mark in any way, eat food or sip a beverage around, defile or deface the book that you borrow. You must leave a 25-cent deposit but if you do not have it, I can lend it to you. I also request that you show me proof of identification so that I know that you, as the borrower, is who she says she is. You may not in any way or any time remove the book from this area. We are closed at 6pm and after you put your purse into the allocated lockers behind you, I will give you the book.”
Either out of habit or a love for orderly rhythms.
I sat with Breakfast of Champions for a couple of hours, reeling through the pages with a familiar ease. After a few lines, I felt invigorated with those words that had tumbled in my brain, but never read from another person until now: “born onto this damaged planet”, “canvas camisole” (when referring to a straight jacket), “if wishes were horses, beggars would ride”. Hi ho.
Either out of familiarity or general discontent, these phrases made me think of my childhood, particularly the first. I remember wanting the world to just change, to make it better and for the wild things to rule the land because they were far better creatures than ourselves. I was 6 years old. What a buzz kill.
From an early age, I had a negative outlook on the general sense of things and how they were but only because of what I believed we could be. I would see long faces and under-eyes with baggage, carrying too much weight of all the things that, in the end, don’t matter (like proving something and having good credit.)
Then, as I got older, I started seeing remarkable things happen. Despite heads held low and rounded shoulders, I saw small adaptations. At a bar that I used to work at, the door did not lock properly. The latch would jam, preventing it from hooking onto some hinge-like device. Still, every night, instead of saying “who cares, not I”, every worker that closed the door for the final time would take a butter-knife to un-jam the latch and slam the door, locking it. One small step.
The evolution of man and what it has destroyed in the process is nothing short of miraculous. We idle in efficiency because it gives us more time to do the things we want to do. Usually, the things we want to do have everything to do with having fun. It is the reason we work so hard to retire. We think that one day we will not have the energy to work anymore and will want to laze around and enjoy the last of our life. Have you ever spoken to a retired person? They are some of the busiest people I know.
We think that age brings fragility when it only brings about a better sense of humour. A psychological study on personality differentiation shows that as children we associate ourselves and who we believe we are with many different things. We dabble into a bit of this with a dollop of that in the attempt to find something that reflects who we think we are or who we want to be. As we get older, our personality differentiation becomes more streamlined and unilateral. We choose a tidy box and cut out the things that do not fit into the box. We curl up inside and close the lid, shutting out the light. Somewhere along the life line, either from boredom or suffocation, we re-emerge and our personality differentiation reflects our dabbling nature of our childhood. We take up art classes, choose a different career, get a dog, move to different places and choose different spaces. Some anal-ysts believe that it is human regression, whereas I like to think that wisdom shines a little light on the whole hilarity of a life’s purpose. Closer to the end, we realize it was all a joke, albeit, sometimes a cruel one, and that life is too short to be doing anything except the things that make you giggle.
So it was, taking a little b-time brought me to this point, sitting here in front of a computer, writing about my spontaneous spurts of laughing out loud in the “quiet zone” of a library while reading a story of one of my favourite human beings who I never met and never will.
Ode to hi ho.