“Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m sixty-four” – The Beatles

The phenomenon that has more people born in August than any other month, while more die in January, interests me for the common fact that I was an August baby. The former factoid owes its existence to the proud results of a joyous Christmas season, while the later has more to do with the deadly flu season. Applying a result for it and a finer point to it; today is my birthday.  

As another happy birthday grin greets my morning mirror I pause to ponder the realization that this blessed event seems to circle round more quickly with each increasingly shorter year. I generally spend weeks celebrating this touchstone since it’s just short of miraculous for a whole host of reasons. Far from doing differently this year I am adding to the festivities surrounding this concurrent with another constant, occurring simultaneously, a perennial vagabond surrender to the magnetic pull of the road rolling out and back in again like an ocean wave caressing the beach of my life. I’m pulling up stakes in my beloved California and heading home to the frozen tundra of Wisconsin to be a Packer cheese-head fan and, grandiose and ambitious as it sounds; a country gentleman.

These dual events give rise to obligatory ceremonies of bon voyage; both to the reminisced chronology of the many victories, defeats and glories of these past years and the soul connections of old friends left and to the hello’s of new imagined vistas with ancient undertow. I’ve logged five celebrations thus far, each with a single special person, each pouring more alcohol through me than I usually down in a year. Since these Salons have me awakening woozy at the crack of noon, I’m waiting until I get past them before planning the check list that accompanies relocating, mundane tasks that escort leaving a routine worn deep these thirty-four years. 

Once we get past 20,000 days alive we’re bound to be polled on our acquired sage wisdom; posited in questions mostly having to do with what has been learned; variations of the same query: What’s the one nugget of knowledge I have stored in the vault I’m willing to impart? What mantra can the petitioner add to their daily meditation?  It’s hard to resist that fifteen seconds of fame when all lean in to gauge your response to this question and since I’m known for engaging in a juicy pontificating, even when not asked, I’ll have at it.

What I’ve learned, which isn’t far off from what I always wanted and mostly got, is knowing that the best revenge is to be happy and have fun. Since this punch line often lands with a thud I’ll reach for something more profound and add a warning that may please no one. Despite what religion, politics, consumerism and what we felt when first meeting that last great love would have us believe and strive for; there is no perfect happiness. As Charlie Ponzo, my great friend and barber for twenty years till’ I decided to go full Monty and shave it all off, rapped about our past, present and future for the better part of two and a half hours, the notion emerged; perfect happiness is just a place we visit.

By pure luck and marrying wisely he’d just returned from a vacation at the Ritz Carleton in Paris, widely considered the finest hotel in the world. It wasn’t the $300.00 bottle of champagne that greeted him and his wife in their ninth floor suite (the tenth floor is reserved for royalty and celebrities) or the view of the Eiffel Tower out his balcony perch, or the orgasmic dining or the topless nubile nymphs on the beach overshadowed by hundred million dollar yachts that dotted the harbor at St. Tropez that made the trip and the story special. It was that a kid from the projects had landed in that place after having come from just plain Oakland.

Even when we experience what appears bad or evil or wrong; things like poverty and ignorance and violence, we know without them we wouldn’t have a steerage mechanism to good and loving and right. It’s not perfection, which we can experience in moments, but the balance of knowing, based on opposite experiences, just how grand a thing can be, while those born into the luxury Charlie was passing through will never get as high; since for them it just another day in paradise.

There is no perfect happiness, no pot of gold at the end of some imagined ultimate rainbow. We can only get as high as we’ve been low. In this somewhat crazy round about alternative universe it’s the good times that make us happy and the bad times that show us just how happy we can be. 


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 Rainbows

  1. Nice. Another riveting Masesso memoir. Fond memories, seen from an eagle eye, looking back in the rear view mirror, on the Highway to Midway !

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