Strength Through Joy

When I see the depth of greys overhead, it takes me. Takes me back to all of the times I have seen the grey. There is a dampening. Of time, of feeling. The coolness on my cheek. The melancholia touching down.

This weekend it was picturesque. Like a monochrome Van Gogh. The steely horizontal smear of the bay between Victorian buildings disappearing down the hill from this lifetime to all that went before. The passage of time. The grey overhead still. I touched down mentally at 17th Street and Alabama in San Francisco’s Mission District.

It was 1992. I was a lad. My bicycle was beautiful, and to some I supposed I was as well. The pavement so viciously abused it seemed more like hardened black mud with angry steel veins shooting through it. The tracks had been unused for a generation at least. The industry that was the cause of all of the steel railing, concrete loading docks, roll-up doors and amazing assortment of valves that made up the landscape in this wild strip in the middle of the city had long since departed. For whatever reason. My neighbor, a concrete plant. Everything dormant but the concrete plant. Its grey grit covering everything. Everywhere. Everything. The grinding, spinning, churning, dumping, screeching, loading, moving, chugging, clattering, hollering, honking, whistling, bellowing, and mostly, the grey grit…they were my company.

My bed laid on the cold concrete floor of what was rented as an office space with no water or heat. Raw space.

I had stolen a 12’X 24’ drop cloth from the beautiful art deco/Aztec palace that is 450 Sutter. Some painters had taken a break. I was on a delivery as a bike messenger. I saw it. I was a thief. Certain things, I simply could not pass up. This drop cloth spoke to me. The floor was intermittently busy with dental offices, and I had to have the cloth. I some how peeled it away from its taped-down borders to quickly fold it into a tight bundle that miraculously fit into my messenger bag. A gaping maw on my back that swallowed what I willed it to.

This drop cloth became my bedroom. I hung it in the space…and it created my bedroom. Oh such unlikely delights in such a non-descript space.

Grey mornings greeted my cold legs as I cast myself on to the city’s streets to scour my meager messenger’s livelihood.

I still own that drop cloth, I have sent it around the world…

People can’t understand when I ship my precious motorcycles to Japan, or Texas…or wherever, why I wrap them in this old cloth.

I still own that drop cloth.

I still look up into the depth of the greys overhead.

“I can’t believe that you’re knocking

Knocking on my door
Oh it’s been so long, been so long, oh
Fate has a way of showing I’m where you belong
Oh it’s been so long, been so long, oh

I can’t believe that you’re knocking
Knocking on my door
Oh it’s been so long, been so long, oh
Fate has a way of showing I’m where you belong
Oh it’s been so long, been so long, oh

The sound of my heart stopping is surprising some/so?
It’s been so long, been so long, oh
Time has a way of knowing
what we have in store
Oh it’s been so long, been so long, oh”

“Been so Long” by Vetiver

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