Some minds know only their own space that no one else can know
“How do I know what I am supposed to know if I do not know what it is I am supposed to know as I never knew what I didn’t know?”
Transitions in time and space are interwoven into all the days of our lives. For once we wake we start to grow from infant to child and back to a child just before we die. The cycle by that time will have gone full circle. In innocence, we are born in innocent simplicity we die.
I never thought I would see what I saw on the 29th night of November in the year 1986 as seemingly within moments I transitioned from husband to a husband and father of my first and only child. He was born as #4 but he will always be my #1. There I stood in this sanitized room alongside a bed where across the room stood a stand with a mattress on it where a brand new life would soon be placed upon to bathe in the warming yellow light. Curiously hovering the bed was a miniature color TV where I watched in stunned silence as Oliver North lied to the nation. This room was a “birthing room” in Long Island College Hospital located right along the Brooklyn/Queensn Expressway on the Brooklyn side. A room where the father who wanted to witness the birth of his child could stand right at the foot of the bed while the miracle was unfolding.
There was a bubble followed by a pop. Immediately after that my bewildered disbelieving eyes witnessed the miracle of birthright in front of me. With pinkish looking skin and smushed face there he was. This tiny creature weighed less than seven pounds lay motionless as the yellow light warmed his body to the correct temperature. I cried as he cried for the first time when I nervously cradled him in my quivering arms so very cared he would fall out of my arms and break. The life and now continuing legacy of Lee David Elveson named in honor of the grandfather he never knew who never knew him or that he was coming and his great grandfather. Somewhere in the middle of the maturation process, he became me as I was him years before.
Many years later we met Marty in Oceanside, NY although I do not remember how. An unassuming red-haired man with a warm endearing smile. Marty could be seen riding his bicycle all over town wearing his signature baseball-style cap and a chain that hung from his neck. Who knew it would be Marty to coax me out of bed to go to YIO where my son was having a life event as he was transitioning from a boy to a man. That too I saw and heard what I could not have conceived hearing and seeing what I saw and heard that afternoon on the 6th day of November in 1999. We danced all around Lee while I cried as I did 13 years earlier. It was pre-planned that days night would be my last as a transition to a new place that would unexpectedly house us when a crisis arose. If there was a constant it would be consistently going from crisis to crisis with more crisis on top of those crises.
When the orders came that it was time to go I was in the hospital for cardiac issues. I was spared from seeing the site and feeling the fright as the orders were carried out. In the aftermath, there was nothing except for what we had with a dog named Magic in tow. We dwelled in warm rooms surrounded by rooms inhabited by less than holy people. In the middle of this was an invitation to dine with a man who let it all unfold refusing to offer aid until we went through the process. My son would be there accompanied by the father of the boy who was his best friend but was now close to becoming the adopted brother.
To sit amongst us you had to be from Brooklyn, worked in Brooklyn, visited Brooklyn, knew people in Brooklyn, had relatives from Brooklyn or some sort of connection to Brooklyn.
When the storm clouds passed we all reunited under a new roof that sat on top of a mustard yellow sided house in a city called Long Beach known to many as the city by the sea. The waves romanced my bare feet on my first chilly walk along the sand somewhere around April. A sort of love was in the air. A new transition was well underway. The books were all anonymously donated wherever we could think they should be. The newly decorated Saturday was marked for the beach yard sales and lunch at the foot of the boardwalk. As we were finally blended in we came across Marty at a yard sale. He heard we were gone and what had gone down. We chatted and laughed heartily when we recalled how while being banished to the back we deemed it the Brooklyn section. To sit amongst us you had to be from Brooklyn, worked in Brooklyn, visited Brooklyn, knew people in Brooklyn, had relatives from Brooklyn or some sort of connection to Brooklyn. My wife, myself (I from Brooklyn by way of the Bronx, Santa Rosa, and Queens) were from Brooklyn. Who knew Brooklyn? We all knew Brooklyn. Wasn’t the whole world from Brooklyn? At that time it seemed so. With a smile followed by warm wishes, Marty was peddling his way back to Oceanside. Back to where those cursed people lived. I can’t say there wasn’t a feeling of betrayal but we knew better. A man must go home to his home. It was where he must be if he was to be anywhere at all.
As the waves thrashed their sound echoing in our ears there was a new order waiting to be carried out. With little time left on the clock, everything that could be put into something was things we put into a thing to hold our things. Lee was gone on his own after a fight told him it was his time now to lead his life to a future he did not determine. From the pristine beach to a dirty street with a well-known deli we would live above was a place we had run away from to live in another place to live differently than life living in this place. Yet here we were years later back into here after a scare that gave rise to the call to go. In transition, Magic had to be induced to sleep forever. Missy Girl came with us but soon had to go. Millie came to eat the rodents. As we moved yet again to where we are from where we were Millie got sick and had to go back to where she was from before she was with us but never came back. ” Nearly a decade later we are still here but we must listen to the wind in our souls that say we may now need to go again. We may never go again after that unless we go again.
We have known the word life but nobody could ever show us what the word looked like or was. “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” Little did I know I knew little. For there was a once when I could not see I could walk. There was also a once I could see but I could not walk. There were hard lessons a plenty I had to learn with no teacher to teach me. What to know when you must know it is what I now know. Yet although I know it how do I really know that I know it with there being a distinct possibility I do not know what I know. What I know is not known as ever having been known.
Now in my dwindling years where my mind goes noticeably absent in the present time, I turn to the wisdom or words of mine own or those of others I knew from my past and those from an even more distant past to resuscitate me. In our transitions and my transitions within me or outside me, there never was an entourage to save or guide me and or us. There will be no Mr. Miyagi (actor Pat Morita) miraculously appearing out of nowhere when is needed the most. To make the most of what is you need to remember what was. What was then may very well be a reimagined now.
“But you can travel on for ten thousand miles, and still stay where you are.”
_WOLD, Harry Chapin
As we haplessly twisted tumbled and turned through the time tunnels of transitions it was not hard to get easily lost. In my moments of quiet solitude, I find myself confined to recounting mistakes shuddering to think of all that meant so much is gone forever. There are the lights I now look into that radiates joy into me. The limbs that work the eyes that see the ears that hear the organs that function a brain that knows the body it lives in are all blessings bestowed upon me.
To my fellow philosophical philosopher friend Paula Goodman let me thank you for you. Our daily good-natured jousts with words has infused me with renewed enthusiasm to write again.