Friday, July 23, 2010

the mountains still endure




So a week ago I was sitting on a plastic chair on the deck watching the sun set over West Virginia, with a  pleasant and healthy twang in my legs from a gruelling walk down to a waterfall in the Shenandoah Valley.

It feels like another lifetime.

That was about 24 hours before we returned home to mounting bills and angry notices in bold type and more than 120 hours before the end of a week surviving on Ramen noddles and empty promises, dreams of a different life and the reality of applying for second jobs demonstrating magic sausages in supermarkets or driving a forklift round a warehouse at 2 a.m.

You can dress up the American dream anyway you want but I have a recurring and distubed vision now that it hangs naked and blanched from an elm tree at midnight like one of Salvador Dali's dripping watches weighed down by 30 pieces of silver.

Today the mercury rose to 107 degrees and the air was almost too heavy to breathe. The East Coast sweated, its skyscrapers were warped and indistinct in a heat haze. The grass turned yellow and then turned in on itself. The smell of burning rubber stalked the freeways and tunnels.

Conversation was muted in the newsroom as if the heat had knocked the life out of everyone. There are large, redundant spaces, whole departments that lay waste and forgotten. I had not thought efficiency cuts had undone so many.


Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled, as we shuffled out of the heat and watched the clock mark the slow passage of the remains of the working day.

America seems to have been subdued for so long. It is no longer the place I read about at school; Cohen's cradle of the best and the worst.

On this day in 1967, a bothed police raid on a party in Detroit led to five days of rioting that left 43 people dead, 1189 injured and over 7000 arrested.

America is less inhuman now but perversely less human too. Yesterday's rioters are resigned to their lot, to push trolleys full of rotting goods through stip malls riddled with concrete cancer.

The euphoria of Obama's election victory has long since faded away. The visionary has turned back into a politician. The cheer has been replaced with a half hearted sigh in a place where the air is sticky and stuffed with the rank humidity of summer.

Passion is a mere snapshot and a rictus of memory; a face in the dark and sensation snatched away, a promissoy note that we can never pay.

The cities are listless and wilting in the heat or the recession but not all is lost.  Beyond the horizons of our petty struggles the mountains still endure.

3 comments:

  1. Why are all the best writers I know in the blogosphere just struggling to survive in this recession? (And me, too. Ramen sucks!) I must mention to you a fellow blogger, Lisa Golden, whom you should "meet." Somehow I see y'all clicking. Anyway, even if I am wrong, she's worth a read, and I'll mention you to her in the next comment or e-mail we exchange. http://lisahgolden.blogspot.com/

    It has been scary for us, as well, these last few months. Several of my freelance clients were laid off, took early retirement, or have had their hours cut back significantly, so that there is no work to farm out to me. The potential new clients I meet are hesitant to give away any of their work, for fear they will be next and considering that they should be socking away as much money now as possible, against a future rainy day. Meanwhile, the job search has begun for my husband, who finishes his hard-won phD in December, and since March we have located exactly zero positions that sound attractive enough to apply for. This employment landscape is bleak. :(

    Crossing my fingers for you...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for your kind comments Meredith. Yeah sorry. That last blog was a bit of a downer, fuelled by the odd glass of wine. But hey I'm applying for weekend jobs, demonstrating gourmet sausages in supermarkets which could be fun and doing some tutoring and some additonal writing.I guess people who sell cars are struggling too. Do mention me to your friend - good luck with your husband's job seach.
    David

    ReplyDelete
  3. I so love this post, David! I thoroughly enjoyed it!!
    Every word you use and every statement you make is just splendid, it gives this writing piece a charming feel.
    A must read review. You just described the heat so accurately..107 degrees!?
    And thank you for letting me know about things regarding US. I trust your opinion/aspects.
    I also loved how you finished your story.
    The last paragraphs are so eloquent, poetic and delightful. And yes, the mountains still endure..
    How encouraging and optimistic is that!!
    Betty

    ReplyDelete