stepped into the hot air outside hartsfield and it was like stepping into a box of old photographs, molecularly-altering, the treetops and air somehow coded memory-wise, returning and transporting me. S. picked me up and we went to a bar and had some drinks and caught up. went to bed late. woke up late hungover. had lunch w/ R, a great conversation about life and station and purpose and the immediate and unfortunate comparison that arises when you stand next to a friend w/ similar history but divergent life-goals.
next am, sleep till noon. long talk w/ S. i drop her at appt and i drive off on my own. atlanta sprawl, change, glass buildings sprung up like wild grass along busy corridors and the sensation of spirits flying underneath. to my old house on brawley cir, then thru murphy candler park, memories long forgotten rising like smoke from the earth, a mist somehow activated by my presence, then past chs to old house on ensign dr, past huntley hills pool, past the house where i split my lip, up to the elementary school, past the crosswalk where i was a guard in 6th grade, back down longview, past the plaza where athens pizza and razzle dazzle used to be but where now there are only vacant empty husks and shells, like abandoned ships in low tide. up peachtree industrial to johnson ferry, down past blackburn park, the ymca, marist, back to 285, back to sandy springs. a lifetime's worth of reflection in 55 minutes. places and structures with no meaning or utility for me in present tense but unquestionably formative in the past. and the distance between both is somehow eerie and depressing all at once.
later at home base. C comes over. have not seen her in 18 yrs. we have a drink, catch up, trade stories. soon a cab takes us - me, S. & C. - downtown. and then we're at the reunion. a hall of mirrors except what's reflected back is the present and past all at once. i say northern california, los angeles, my background is screenwriting and film multiple times, but then everyone is doing the same, like tipsy robots repeating their data cards. a couple disappointing interactions, a couple unexpected ones. overall, it is strange and odd and i feel the slightest sense of letdown upon leaving, in the cab ride home. hard to pinpoint exactly why. what did i expect really? i'm not certain but perhaps it merely has something to do w/ crossing that line, 20 yrs.
next day, to the circle of hell known as budget rent-a-car (more to come on that front), then i am driving to north carolina, to see my friend in asheville, who i have not seen in 18 yrs. a few hours and then i am there. and then he and i are having dinner, trading stories of the worlds we've been to in nearly two decades. and he is shaped by life as am i but we are the same. underneath the shells and the stories, we are the same young boys we once were.
next day, early am. coffee at the drip-o-lator cafe and then we separate and i'm on the freeway, back to atlanta. along the way, i come to realize some form of this thought: that ghosts to whom i ceded power are/were at bottom so powerless, a construct of my design.
so, weird story. about a year ago i wrote a post about how i heard a ruckus upstairs and it turns out a blue jay had somehow gotten stuck in our fireplace. you can re-read that here. this morning i was working on my website, northern flicker films, trying to get things in order b/c of the new short. it's been a good few weeks, finally seeing this film to completion and having a good public showing and gearing up for the next ones and so forth. i am prone to hyperbole but i'll say this anyway: things i've been working toward my entire adult life are slowly crystallizing. to say the least it's felt important, these past couple weeks. so anyway i was moving some stuff around on the site when i hear a strange clawing sound from inside the fireplace. keep in mind that this is a different house and a different fireplace. in fact this isn't really even a fireplace it's a wood-stove more or less. i hear the sound again. there's definitely something alive in there. M comes into the living room and says the dog was sniffing at the stove last night in a tizzy but she thought nothing of it so whatever it is has been in there all night. we can't see into the stove b/c over the years the smoke and ash have darkened the window but we can hear it. We don't know what to expect: bird, rat, squirrel. I grab the handle and slowly pull the door and step back all in one fluid motion and out flies a Northern Flicker. It takes a few moments of encouragement to get it to the open front door - after all it's scared and exhausted - but we do. and finally free, it takes flight.
there's a yappy 6am dog. there's the long adjustment of new house. there's a overly concerned neighbor fretting about flora crossing property lines. there's boxes yet unpacked. there's a memoir about a brain tumor that has to be worked on daily to get to target date. there's the newness of landlord-ing. there's a video project that looks great in application but won't export properly which necessitates chopping the project into 3 parts, exporting each part, reimporting each part and editing together to recreate single part which naturally incurs a loss of image veracity on each iteration. there's another project that has a drop-dead date that also fails to export correctly and which has both personal and professional repercussion. there's a tiny stove catching fire on 'broil'. there's upcoming travel for 20th high school reunion, and all the subfloors and compartments therein. there's upcoming travel to celebrate a decade of marriage. under it all, there's a long-term project which encounters new levels of difficulty around each turn. and there is, finally, the struggle to recall that it is all - every bit of it - a gift.