Armed Robbery 2

February 26th, 2014 § Leave a Comment

A man gathers and gathers, but cannot stop the slipping through the fingers. Like one piling a mound of sand …

The migration out to the ‘burbs is in search of a better life. More space. Less crime. Empty sidewalks – nowhere to loiter. Keep the kids out of trouble, in the classroom. If you have the means, you do it: You make the sacrifices for your family. On paper, it computes. So, I have to believe as my Father pulled up to his little castle in his brand new Cadillac Sedan de Ville, as he drove down the descending driveway past his plum tree, his heart was filled if only in fleeting moments with the sense that he had gathered a good life for himself and his family.

But life is not lived on paper … as we all know. No sooner do we step back to admire, we notice the slipping away. Unforeseen – virtually, unknowable things. He couldn’t have anticipated it, but the move was rough for his boys. In those two years in West LA, me and my older brother had found a place for ourselves. A role in the script. The move took us from that … that colorful complexity of Cameron Crowe to the vanilla simplicity of John Hughes. It’s not that we weren’t called “chinks” in LA, it’s just that everyone else was called something too. And somehow that made us laugh as much as fight. With the move to the ‘burbs, we went from seeing ourselves in the cool afro’d kid, riding shotgun with Spicoli to being Long Duck Dong. And none of it was funny anymore.

The “slipping through the fingers” happened with my parents too. Liver cancer was found in my Father less than a year after the move. Just when all seemed to be gathered, life itself slipped through his fingers. Two years later he was gone, and with him the future my Mother and he must have held somewhere in their hearts.

And all this in search of a better life. A better life? What exactly is a “better” life anyway? Is it in the gathering … this and that, oh, and that other? The wanting and the having? If the distance between us could have been removed, what would he have told me about life … about what he saw as he stood at the end of it? As it slipped through his fingers, I think he got a real good look. And so without bitterness, in the darkness of an early July morning, he quietly surrendered.




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