February 16, 2017

Zoos and Taxidermists

It’s interesting to look into the distance and see mountains. I grew up in a valley between mountains of the Boise Foothills and when I moved to Boise, the proximity was close. They still loomed over me; capable of dominance and beauty over the various seasons of my life. It wasn’t personal and the growing distance now allows the mountains to stagnant from dominance into backdrop. An approachable horizon that blooms in midday when the fog burns away under the heat of the sun. From this distance the valley of my childhood would be less than a gulley with a snaking creek and the trickle of water would be no more.
I’ve been struggling with the multitude of voices in my head. I can isolate individual patterns and recognize influence, but the content is marginal at best. Within them all is my own. Subdued. I’ve made a life of dwelling and built up enough guilt that my reflection wears plainly. Perhaps this is pain to me, stagnation, but I fear that the likelihood is the person who I am closest to feels this the most. And now experience repeats itself and the safety of that childhood moves further and further away, the proximity of that love; now it may be that distance is insurmountable and I backtrack to a better vantage point.
The gap will not be closed. The beauty of travel is the forward motion as it merges with strain and builds on the body into a glaze of sunshine and sweat. There’s not enough time to turn back. There’s always an opportunity to look back. Close or far that reflection is seasonal and colored by the light. Do I try to control the world? At times against any backdrop I look for something like a sign to impart some piece of meaning onto the landscape. I look for a symbol to authenticate and explain my life.
I don’t long for meaning or significance as much as a pervasive quiet. My dreams are chaos and lumber disproportionate to memories of peace. I think that peace aligns itself more with exhaustion and being spent, the road to peace is incoherent shouting until a break and a breath. I don’t know if you can hear me or you’re listening anymore. I need a zoo to separate the differences between myself and myself. To look into true reflections isolated by role and moment and know exactly what manifests. I need these still lives, caricatures of myself, I need to hire a well versed taxidermist and allow them to study.
Twice in my travels I looked at their work. Once, in Montana, I slept outside a school for taxidermists and entered at night while it was closing to look on the largest moose I’d ever seen. The antlers were huge. The bright ceiling lights cast the shadow like a full moon against a tree and I felt small. The exact control may not have been who the moose was. The carcass brought to life, though, carried a magnitude that took me back to the Bryce Canyon. I walked among the life work of a man who caught and captured, stuffed and manicured each prey he chose. There and now I wish for a zoo, captive, with these moments to reflect on. The stuffed snapshot of each self that I have been for a moment.
It’s hard to trust. I’ve never trusted anyone as much as you and I worry what that means. But, I’ve looked at myself here before. I know what this looks like. There is a variety of reflections available. Beyond this horizon, looking back, I can see stalled moments on the mountains that I’ve climbed. There on a crossroads I’ve always chosen and thought, no, this is the most beautiful moment of my life. There is no separation between the unbearable weight of beauty and the fleeting satisfaction of silence. Yet, more than the beauty, I right now yearn for that silence and that painful exhaustion.
I do not think I am condemned and I do not think there is a distance too far between that can destroy the ties that bind. I know that I miss who I am when you are there. I also know it’s very hard and words have fallen short, turned from strokes to brute force. I can’t reach out, so I’m reaching out, and I thought you should know that if you ever come looking. At the very least, I’m sorry. Maybe I shouldn’t have needed. I haven’t been here before and I understand the pressures you are under. I think my name would hurt again here. I wanted to share all of this with you, and I’m proud of what you’ve just finished.
There is something in the distance. In the morning it burns. In the evening it is lit on fire again. Again, again, again. Always repetition and cycles and behind it all is a cycle I long for. Why is time so short and forgetting so long? I never get far from poetry. It lingers and explains my own inconsistencies and then I’m left reflecting and reflecting in silence because I do not speak. I hear these words now. I’m saying them out loud. I recognize the voice and have a piece of control. It’s not getting too far away from me and its patient. Subdued.

I sat at the train depot and looked out on Boise. The elevation sign close to the rails, 2731 feet, is a funny thing. As a child Boise felt low. Closer to the ground and sinking into something and here I am now sinking into something in Boise. The depot was unlocked and I climbed to the top and looked out from another peak—leveled against the foothills—where memory does not see the buildings, but there are they are in front of me. The urban expanse is always changing against the horizon, but the horizon only changes with seasons and I dream of the sun. And her straight, black hair. Shining through the morning fog like a promise. Like what the distance gives when, after exhaustion, it reveals itself to be another horizon. A perpetual promise repeating itself in the satisfaction of silence. I dream of you and I’m sorry.

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