There are miles and miles of concrete in Houston.
“It was a moment for the books.”
And while I just discovered Little Hands of Asphalt the other day, I was searching for a story in the past to write about. And I wondered why it was Oslo that was so gripping to me. It’s such an intimate story about a small city. I racked my brain for something to relate to the song out of Albuquerque. Some synonymous elements and regional contrasts and a clever spin on the story. Meanwhile I’m driving nearly 100 miles every day.
“The calendar looked”
My wife is in the hospital. The doctors are trying to keep her from giving birth early. No stone will be left unturned toward this end. It is a noble cause, but there are hospitals and shift nurses. A 6 year old in Kindergarten. Family and friends that need status updates. Errands to run. Homework to be done. Lives to be lived. After school programs to register for. Ash Wednesday to acknowledge.
“just like the novels we had only skimmed through.”
Daily rituals to adjust. Spirits to assuage. And all of this driving to be done. Space and time to massage until it’s putty in my hands. This is a story as important as any in my life. I am the reporter. Here is my live feed. And somehow a sentimental song about a small town is the soundtrack for the leap into light speed my life has taken. Somehow it seems appropriate. With all of this chaos, an environment of stillness has to be maintained. Lucy is after all, a baby.
“So I circled out the dates that I’ll skillfully waste.”
And I was searching and searching for the story that would bring this song home for me. Some clever segue into an existential experience. When I realized that I am here having a human experience right now. And there is nothing that has come as close to seeing into my heart as it is right now than Oslo.
“For now that’s going to have to do.”
And the miles of concrete become just sidewalks in a small town that I happen to be traversing at an enormous city pace. And thinking of how many experiences get us here. So many bridges that I thought were burnt.
“It was the brightest summer day, after we swam into the lake,”
In the past month, online social networking has brought all of these segments of my life back together. From elementary school to junior high to high school. All of these personas that I have presented throughout my life must be resolved. Maybe something I haven’t wanted to do. Maybe something I need to do before my daughter is born.
“that you told me our luck is gonna end.”
And the backdrop of this is a world in chaos. War, economic collapse, corruption, partisanship… People are angry beyond description. My existential tendencies might get me wondering why we are bringing another child into this world, but our personal circumstances won’t allow this. Our little crisis is the center of our world. Our love for each other in our corner of this troubled world trumps any global concerns. I’m going to have to plug back in later to see what happened out there.
“So we better be concerned. We’re where the subway turns.”
And then some part of me has to know. I have to have one foot in each concern. I have to provide, so I start a big job next week. My miles traverse the chasm between these worlds. There is electricity to deliver. Natural resources to plunder. Negotiations to extend. Somehow we must reach a truce by 5 o’clock. Live to fight another day. Then I cover another 50 miles making sure to transition my emotional state to one of caring parent and compassionate spouse.
“We need a camera and some cash to spend.”
And this baby delivered from the sea. Her brother delivered to the trees. The ashes of his prayers on our foreheads. We wait another day and experience the tiny miracle that is our love and peril. The phone calls from the concerned. The generosity of the able. And still show up to put ourselves down for the evening and nourish our souls. Each day a phenomenon in giving and a lesson in receiving.
“And our picturesque blame, we’ll put in Ikea frames.”
Somehow we will bundle the experience in some cohesive narrative that we can recall at dinner parties into the future. That I can somehow fit into a few hundred words in a blog. But each mile is a an experience. And this enormous city gets smaller and smaller each time I drive down its gaping freeways. The arteries pushing me like a blood cell with a payload of oxygen. Breathe in, I am home. Breathe out, I am in Fulshear. Breathe in, I am in the medical center. Breathe out, my son’s elementary school. The church. The freeway. Clear Lake. The grocery store.
“Up on the wall it looks profound.”
Little Hands of Asphalt is a new discovery for me. With a conversational style and a sentimental approach, this is some very thoughtful music. With impressive instrumental performances and measured vocals, all of their songs are so intimate and reach beyond their simple themes. Spit Back at the Rain is their EP that I have been listening to for a while, but Oslo is on a compilation from the Oslo, Norway Indie music scene called Oslo! And somehow the song has wormed its way into my present circumstances. Such a compassionate approach to the human condition. And a reminder to me to stay calm. I present the compassionate persona. I give the gifts of the magi. The scents of a king. The trappings of a queen. Hope is all we have. And the freeway gives and receives.
“and reminds us Oslo is a small, small town.”
Yeah Houston is a small, small town. Breathe…