“The other night I had a dream. It was not the first. I dreamed of an alternate universe”. – The Pencilnecks

Driving to town this morning there appeared, standing on the shoulder of my road, not 10-0 feet from me, the very symbol of America, a mature snow-white headed Bald Eagle, He or she was my church this Sunday morning; standing proud and royal, noble and majestic, and unconcerned; not even twitching as my behemoth ride road by. It made my day.

The gym is tiny and not the football sized palace at U.C Berkeley I’m used to. It is sprinkled with autographed photos of champion body builders and some populate the space which has one room for we normal folk and one for the hard guys who pound punching bags of all sizes and lift gargantuan sums; pituitary cases that turn sideways to get through the regulation doorways.

They are, as all athletes I’ve known, especially the contact variety, mean as hell looking until you say hello and then envelope you in their charm. Competitors who have had all the aggression beat or worked out of them are left with a very soft melt in your mouth center.

Motorcycles are big here and these ramblers present an even meaner demeanor; Hells Angels acolytes that all resemble a young Sonny Barger. Most accessorize their choppers with Biker Mama’s who wrap around them like aluminum foil as they tear across the landscape. They’re as central casting rough and road worn as their beau tweekers and wear expressionless faces. I leave them be.

There is an authentic wildness to this place, exemplified not only by my regal eagle or the rugged pumpers or the rogue bikers, but also by the native salt of the earth farmers and dairy men; ancestors, relatives of pioneers that came and saw and settled; staked a claim and never left. They are bedrock; oozing Marlboro Man quintessential Americana; the brink and mortar foundations of our nation.

Despite the proliferation of groups in the cities from Agoraphobics Anonymous to Fans of Zeppelin there remains palpable loneliness, a disconnection, even within close personal networks, a feeling of being company; a guest. Small towns contain an inclusive nature, a similarity, not of purpose but of fate. We interact differently in the city, stressing our independence; here it’s interdependence. There is no diversity here, everyone looks pretty much the same and no climate zones either; you’re weather is my weather. We are one tribe.

We’re connected here by necessity and commonality of lifestyle. In Oakland there’s a dozen or more of everything. Here, if I say I’m going to the grocery or the bakery or the hardware store you don’t have to ask which one because there only is one. In the cities high density residential neighborhoods I’ve lived, sometimes for decades, I didn’t know 1% of my neighbors. In the country where you have to get in your car to find any living souls; we all know each other. If you haven’t been seen for a while, someone, especially if there’s been any kind of hell or high water, will come looking for you.

I’ve heard from some that they would find this phenomenon disconcerting and cause them more than a bit of paranoia. I find it quaint and oddly reassuring since in the city all manner of humanity found prostrate on our sidewalks under our very feet are stepped over everyday. If we stop for a second to offer half our sandwich we feel we’ve actually done some good. So, is this better?

I’m not making a qualitative judgment of locations; one place is as good as any or another. I’m saying we evolve, act and react as humans specific to our site. I’m making a distinction with a difference like when asked if I rather have a $100.00 hooker and a $1,000.00 hotel suite for the night or visa versa; I opt for the cheap whore and the expensive room and not the cheap room and the expensive joy ride. I just recon my date is gonna look a lot better in that room; environment is everything.


About circusinpurgatory
Nick Masesso Jr’s fictionalized short stories, poetry and prose have been published in the Starry Night Review, Elegant Thorn Review, Language and Culture.net and Vagabond Press; the Battered Suitcase. His latest book “Armor of Innocence” and first book “Walking the Midway in Purgatory, a Journal” are available on-line and through bookstores.

One Response to Location

  1. James Mcfarland says:

    Cleaner, clearer prose, message reaches destination. 8.8 rating

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