Chapter 4: Room for Growth


“Boredom is, after all, THE problem” – Alan Watts

Finally joining in on the chat, Huckleberry types “Infinity:Cancer.”

This was a typical situation, not unlike daily conversation. 1.) He says something honest, from the depths of his mindheart to the tips of his lips. 2.) No one gets it. That or Huck´s just really, really stupid and no one has the heart to tell him. 3.) Huck temporarily gives up on soul satisfying communication and settles on the soup d´jour, remaining a husk of a potentially present Huckleberry.

A list of numbers appear on the screen. They could be times for an encounter. They could be ratios. They could be messaging in secretly established code to cut ahead on the stock market.

8:00, 7:57, 8:26…a host of digits flow on until 8:69 rages adolescently through the list. “Well, I can vomit the first thing that comes to mind, too.” Huck glances.

“Infinity:Cancer” Step 1., complete. “sorry, don’t know what that means dude.” they replied. Step 2., complete. “Lets meet up at 8:30” Huck conceded. Step 3., complete.

It´s not always like that, though, as made evident by recent farewells to good friends. Tis the season, mind you, for here my erasmus study abroad housemates are starting to leave for their respective homelands. The first to go is Svetoslav. An extremely sociable bulgarian lad, Svetoslav was a fantastic housemate and it was a pleasure for Huck to accompany him on his way to that strange and mysterious land of transitions: the Bus Station. He had a wheeled baggage and a lead filled bag which Huck carried, no doubt filled with lead books, a computer made entirely of lead, and other aleatoric lead objects.

There was a 6:30 “afternoon snackaroo” Huckleberry agreed to attend, so he had just enough time to escort Svetoslav to the first step on his reverse journey through the jangly fabric cultural identity and moderately complex venture in time at 5:30 for the 6:00 bus.

The kid had everything, even his cell phone charger, which could very well postpone the apocalypse these days it seems! He even left equipped with a broad smile. That, my friends can be difficult. Here we have a young man sadly, and perhaps slightly apprehensively, embarking on a one way adventure of re-integration. Facing the transition with a bittersweet smile surely must have been a beautiful moment of growth for the kid. Solid steps and a healthy attitude can keep you going even when gas runs out. S´gonna be rough, but he’ll be better for it.

En route between saying goodbye to Svetoslav and the merry merienda at 6:30, Huckleberry hit up the old “fare thee well” circuits he had not used for several months. The buzzed and hummed with nostalgic excitements painful and pleasurable. Farewells are an absolutely enigmatic human invention. Their revelations and repercussions are often prismatic in diffusion. Their one way journey revolving door has a way of marking our trunks with age rings. If you take a good look inside someone you´ll see just how many farewells they’ve seen and just how varied the impressions are that they left. It takes a long, and patient look.

On his way out of the bus station towards the post office, his destination to meet up with a friend on the way to the evenings birth, it started to drizzle outside.

Winter drizzles and plenty of sunshine in the deep country of Extremadura means January asparagus. An improbable image considering winter back home: jeans boots one sweater sleeves rolled up dry stem of long grass in teeth or behind the ear wide smile under the all day sun surrounded by green, pickin´asparagus. Damn good slice of heaven. In the hills near montanchez classic whitebluegreygreen moss-forest covered since we created god old mighty stones lay ´round emanating subtle pulsing “welcome”´s – like stones in shallow water painting the view with perfect ripples echoing nothing but admiration and recognition in all directions.  A place whose humidity allows every branch on the most insignificant tree to house a mini-ecosystem of its own with wondrous variety of fungus, moss, and other mild-life.

At every turn -Contrasts Abrupt-, reposing shadows, resting fleets of weary children playing tag with the sun. Said young shadows lean against rocks, and small divots whose angle against the low january sun allows them to stretch legs out even farther than normal, because at its purchase the merry bright eye can’t pick them out as easily. No reason to make a run for it, could be brilliantly fatal.

Making a stop at the little castle atop the town of Montanchez, Huck enjoyed the company of his good friends talking, of all things, how one might want to be buried. Bringing to mind Dave Matthew´s “Gravedigger, when you dig my grave, could you make it shallow, so I can feel the rain?” and bringing to mind the maple tree planted with Polly´s ashes, Huckleberry looks out into the vast expanse of Extremadura and feels the wind tease his mind into thinking, “Here we are all placed, in the middle of nowhere. No one tells you how beautiful being nowhere really is. It´s a learnityourself kind of experience. I think, one day, it would be nice to write a whole series of Learn It Yourself books.”

Later that evening they feasted on found asparagi in the shape and form of a mozz top tomato bottom pizza. “This is the perfect moment for Chevre, where has it gone off to?” He munches into the asparagus pizza with bitter satisfaction as his heart searches the airwaves for signs of chevre.

Getting out into the countryside was a healthy change of air, equaled by the later to follow change of bedroom. Now that Svetoslav is out of the flat, Huckleberry can move on up the ladder from his closet plus dresser sized refrigerator wannabe bedroom to the spacious natural light  and breathable habitat 3 meters closer to the morning sun. Change was good. To inaugurate the flip of attitude Huck lit some ceremonial incense and gave a nod to Sabi, the little purple plastic buddha that´s been travelling with him for several years. Sabi looked somehow more pleased than usual. Perhaps he enjoyed a bit more sun, too.

He´s been changing the air not just around him but also in his lungs these days. The long of it is this: Ever since Huck was a child, or for as long as he could  remember, his singing was always met with reproach until a certain age he decided perhaps it was best not to sing – it´s too much a hassle to deal with the strange pestering pleads against his vocalizations. The reach of the these reactions was deep and kept Huck from singing sincerely for a very, very long time. The past year leading to present events in this story, however, was filled with plenty of singing and now, Huckleberry ventures to do something he would previously have been too cool, or too artsy, or too serious to do – sing folk songs while merely strumming chords. This unbelievable humility-stretch of the ego may seem infantile and facile at first dear readers, but keep in mind the intense seriousness of Huckleberry´s attitude towards the integrity of his artistic identity. (yes, you may laugh at him, no one will stop you!) A marvelously humbling gesture if my eyes ever laid upon one.

Perhaps the nail in the coffin for Huckleberry´s singing was precisely his manner of receiving music. He clearly remembered becoming aware of the fact that other people didn’t hear the tops and bottoms of pitches like he did. To hear one, was like a ribbon of sound running through your hand. There were changing borders, a plasticity and flexibility of mass between them, and a very articulate sense of movement. Chords were a whole different world. Once he relayed his sensation to his brother, but it was clearly a crazy comment (step1) and probably taken as such (2). Huckleberry learned to ignore his silly finding, too (step3), thanks to the beautiful grinding machine of education slimming down the cells of our response center so as to make said brain more palatable among the throng. After all, his perceptions were not relevant to the rest of the communal reality, and “every one has made sacrifices around here kid.”

The base of his aural understanding remained, however, more or less unadulterated. Or shall we say hindered his capacity to synchronize his vocal chords with solfege which, experientially, made no sense to him. Sounds weren’t synonymous with syllables (other sounds), there were autonomous constructs that, like organic compounds, aligned together in beautiful arrangement however they ended up overlapping, slapping, thwacking, or zapping along together in their melodious parody of time. Nevertheless, he worked had, appreciated, and learned said method when it came his way in life although he would never really become a natural solfegger. Just as well. Or better, show him a sculpture or a lithograph rather than ask him to associate seemingly arbitrary syllables to sounds of another structural nature, how about a nature like ceramics?

As all human beings should feel comfortable to do, at least now he was singing.

Singing folk songs, pop songs, jazz songs, christmas carols, singing whatever. Singing simple simplicities he wouldn’t have been caught dead singing in the homeland. Given the absence of a computer at home doubled by the absence of an iPod, this Fall Huckleberry enjoyed the fantastic self experiment of, “If you want music, you´re gonna have to make it!”

He had probably never sang so much in one single period of his entire life. Perhaps when the world ended, and this one began in 2012, Huckleberry subconsciously abandoned his chains for reins and is finally getting a handle on them.

Singing has so many benefits, a conclusion to which he would – experientially – arrive to a late understanding. One of those benefits was that gentle reminder that every pitch carried, “this sound is you – you have no choice but to be true to yourself in its production. You have no choice but indiscreet naked honesty.” All the better, because Huckleberry is a terrible liar.

Now, patient friends, let’s not get into the wrong signification. Shall I rephrase? Huckleberry learned as a child that one of his worst characteristics was a horrendous inability to create a good lie. Where a normal, real person could get away with a socially appropriate white lie, Huckleberry fumbled and flipped and awkwarded out into the spotlight obviating any need for interrogation with his unsightly performance. The kid can´t hide shit.

“Well shit,” he hums, “if you can’t beat em, blunt em.” And so his character developed other traits to deal with his blatant honesty. For example, silence. If you can’t say what you want to say, or need to say, don’t say anything at all. That would become Huck´s virtue (step 3). Later rather than sooner, Huckleberry learned that it is actually always best to get that silent, tacit truth off your chest in words. Otherwise, you just might explode. He went from accepting the indoctrination from those around him that his opinions-thoughts-reactions were irrelevant and unnecessarily expressed to knowing the difference between “knowing not to speak” and “knowing when to speak”. At this point, he is quite comfortable with his incapacity to pass a lie, and he´s blanded his bluntness with discipline making his fault into a trusty point forte. If he´s got something to say, he´ll inevitably say it – add a little tact and a little spice, and suddenly expressing your deluge of admiration for someone isn’t so bad.

There are times when that system fails, and Huck reverts to his conditioning and retains his words in exchange for silence. Almost invariably things go wretchedly wrong. Sometime in 2012, young Huck had the remarkable infinity of chances to simply tell his friend Polly, “I know that I’m not quite ready for anything right now, and I know that you’re still recovering from a several year haul of a now defunct relationship, but I need you to know that in a small and perhaps insignificant way you mean the world to me right now, and getting to know you has given me hope for which I will always be thankful.” There never was a chance for any prolonged romance between Polly and Huckleberry, but of all the things friends do share a little bit of temporary awkwardness wouldn’t have been the worst thing.

It´s those sort of things, that, having taken root in your heart of memories, have the potential of all of a sudden awakening one day to find that the counterpart sun from which they synthesized emotion will never rise again, and the withering of that entire world becomes a pain in your chest that your body recognizes absolutely beyond a doubt as death. Parts of you go, rotting.

The links and chains that tamed the once wild unkempt spirits rip out from you, their tormentor, following the mind and heart to which they truly belong as that soul travels to a new world, having no longer a place in this one. This, actually, could just about be the worst thing two friends could share.

So, there he was in the drizzle, humming very quietly. Warming up his vocal chords to face the music and grow a little. “My hair and the rain don´t quite mix well.” she responded to the now raining midnight.

“Well, I’ve got an umbrella for that.” Huck inflated the punctured umbrella above them. It would hang in there just enough time, he thought, and they both knew that its pointless expansion was more of a ritualistic referral to the mutual understanding that had been made. Even so, all rituals lead somewhere. Some things simply had to be said before the candle inside burned out at both ends between stomach and mind leaving the heart in a sticky situation. As they said goodbye near her flat, “Wait”.

Trying to avoid being intrusive while still getting the floor under his feet he gave a tug on her jacket. “Wait”

“What.” she shot back not necessarily in the mood to hear the necessary.

Closing his umbrella, feeling that nice drizzle, “It´s just that I like you immensely.”

“Yep. I´m not available.”

“Yeah, that´s what I wanted to know. Well, careful with the hair on your way up to the flat” he tongue and cheeked.

“Good night! I hope this doesn’t change our friendship.”

“Of course not”

Now, these are the sorts of things that friends can share. They’re actually quite beautiful and for whatever uncomfortability they might momentarily bring, there is the promise of a moment shared, already fulfilled.

It would be returning from these types of moments where afterwards Huckleberry would look at his desktop sitting companion, Sabi, and feel that that knowing, playful smile pierce his heart. This time, in response to Sabi´s knowing-all-along cheeky fucker grin, all Huckleberry could do was smile, agree, and laugh a solid belly laugh. There´s a buddha in everybody, where they put it in this world is a whole ´nother story.

to read Chapter 5, click here


2 thoughts on “Chapter 4: Room for Growth”

  1. I could use some sun and asparagus Huckleberry. I could use your song too, although I do have my own voice which is constantly singing something-or-other nonsense and has undoubtable labeled me a crazy in my new home. Luckily I do love crazies so I get along quite well. Continue the stories dear friend.

  2. I could use your song, too! You have such a lovely voice.

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