Monday, September 14, 2015

Rorschach Stars

Apparently, the stars are my emotional Rorschach test, or my Tabula rasa.  And though I just became aware of it tonight, I have somehow always been aware of it in myself.

This is Labor Day Weekend and my girlfriend had something she needed to do with her family that I wasn’t really up for.  She’s in an area where there is no cell phone service, so I’m on my own for these few days.  Furthermore, the apartments that I live in are emptied out for the holiday weekend.  There were a few people floating in the pool during the day today, Sunday, but as of about 9:15pm, the place was silent as the middle of the woods. 

It was the same here last night as well, Saturday evening.  At about 11:30pm, I went and laid down on one of the several lounge chairs that are perched on a third story upper deck of our complex.  I first brought my cat up with me, thinking that he would enjoy the fresh air and serenity as well.  However, upon depositing him next to me, he was immediately perplexed as to what this place was and let out several guttural cries that were qualitatively different enough from normal meows that I thought better of leaving him out with me.  It was likely that the few one or two people in the complex would think there was a problem of mating or otherwise outside. 

After putting him back in the house, I went back up and lay in the long lounge chair, breathing in the summer night air.  As I looked up, gazing at the stars, I started to imagine in this absolute quietude how if I could propel myself out at one specific star that I chose, moving nearly at the speed of light, that it would still take decades if not centuries to get there.  Meanwhile, after the first few moments of leaving the earth at over a hundred thousand miles per second, everything would appear somewhat still around me, given that the distances between the stars and me were so great.  And maybe after a time, I could notice slight shifts in perspectives of the millions of suns dotting the black space around me. 

It sounds funny now recalling it, but just at that moment, I started to feel dizzy because my perspective changed as I noticed that I was looking now across the universe at a lateral, horizontal angle, rather than looking straight up at the sky, which is accurate, of course.  So being, I felt as though I could slide off of the side of the earth and had to look down at the deck on which my lounge chair was sitting.  I closed my eyes, breathed in deeply a few long breaths, and I started to feel myself again. 

And I thought about why, if given the chance, I tend to want to stare up at the skies at night.  When I do so, I feel like I have the whole universe to myself, and because of the void of stimulation, which often accompanies such occasions when I can take a few minutes to look up at the stars, my mind wanders rather rapidly through memories of the past, and specifically, in a way that does a sort of accounting of past losses. 

The feeling is usually a gentle, melancholy feeling, and yet, it is also exciting to me.  The memories more often that not bring me back to when I was working in various places in my past careers, knew people of the past, and was traveling quite a bit between my working shifts.  The feelings of my young adulthood percolate up, revealing a time when I was slim, full of energy, smiling most of the time, and when I realized that having some self-sufficiency, I could be the captain of my own adventures.  All of this…from staring up at the black ink dome on front of me. 

So back to tonight, Sunday, the night after the one I have just described above on the deck.  I spent the day today doing something that I love, which comprised exploring and documenting interesting places. Arriving back home at about 8:30pm, I fed my dog and my cat, and then appreciating the silence again outside, I put on my swimming jams, grabbed a white fluffy towel, and then jumped into the warm swimming pool.  I love breaking the still glass surface of the pool with a huge cannon ball entry.  The pool water always sways back and forth for a minute or so, creating those interesting pool light reflections on the surrounding trees. 

After floating around a bit as if in a saline lake, I transitioned into the hot tub and immediately submerged myself into the hot, bubbly water, which permeated through my hair onto my scalp.  “Oh God, that feels good,” I said to myself.  I backed my wide ass onto the concrete seating shelf with the bubble jets hitting my lower back just in the right place.  “Meow!”  I thought about how my lower back hasn’t given me any significant problems for over a year, which was almost exactly the same amount of time that I’ve been training in Muay Thai and also in American boxing classes.  I surmised that it must have all strengthened my mid-core to some degree, distended as my belly still appears. 

Now nestled in just the right spot of the hot tub, with bubbles blasting my back and my feet enjoying the warmth of the circulating water, and with no one around, I looked up at the familiar tall palm trees that reach above the complex walls, and my eyes again immersed themselves into the black night sky, as if magnetized by an addiction that I can’t kick.  The stars were out again from the bright ones to the faintest that our city sky would allow me to see.  The only other times of the year that I could have all of this to myself would be during the coldest months of the year; i.e. the end of January and most of February, when everyone else is huddled inside these Mediterranean-styled California apartments keeping sheltered from the frigid forty-eight degree weather.  Brrrr!

And as I observed the fixed stars tonight again, my mind immediately began to drift again to days gone by.  My friend, Fran came into my mind.  She often does.  She lived in these apartments many years ago and afforded me lots of excitement and drama while I was concurrently working at the Walt Disney Company and training for three marathon races per year as well as literally hundreds of shorter races.  How did I do it all?  I’m still trying to figure it out.  But Fran was a good friend and she brought her post-bellum Southern feel to Burbank.  And I also had some other great neighbors at the time.  The memories flooded in again and, as I often do, I over-idealized this past, saying to myself, “It was a simpler time.  There were more people to socialize with.  There was more fun to be had.”  But I know it’s not true. Those times were as complicated as they are now, and actually even more so.  I was busy as hell, as I just stated above.  I had aging parents, production demands that were downright crazy most of the time requiring me to work about sixty hours per week.  I elected to train sixty to seventy running miles per week.  I was starting to see my girlfriend at the time, weekend trips to various parts of California as well as London, Iceland twice, Denmark and Norway, and a whole bunch of other stuff mixed in as well. 

And yet, this all soothed me.  I laid in the hot tub, looking through the palm trees into the starry skies, enjoying the reminiscing of these trips, people, pressured schedules as the aromatic smells of them wafted across my brain, bringing with them hints of laughter, longing and pain.  And those Rorschach stars opened my mind and my emotions and reminded me that all of these events and people are still there.  They are sometimes packed away into a dusty, dingy corner of my brain, but when called upon by the void that is the stars and the black universe, they dance back to life and exist alive as ever for me.