Sunday, September 23, 2018

Letters To Patti Ann (Chapter 4) "Ode To The Sky King"

"hello patti ann,

i had a nice day off today.  it is finally nice and sunny here, with a little cool breeze at night.  i set up my front patio with a table and chairs and we had beers and listened to music.  we are all finally able to relax and have some fun after 3 years of grueling work.  hope things are well with you.  i'm still thinking of you a lot.  i've been thinking of my friend charlie that died in november a lot.  i wish he were still here, he would like this time of the year with all the girls on the streets.  today was one of them days where you just appreciated life.  it's hard appreciating life sometimes though, it's so hard for all of us in our own ways.  it's hard to keep perspective. i'll do a better job keeping in touch, it's just when we're in the studio, it's long hours and my mind doesn't function the same.  i can't wait til you could see all the things we're going to do.  I believe we can make change. hopefully, everything is going well over there for you, hope to hear from you soon.  do you have a chance to read books? i'm not sure if you can turn pages, but if you can read on the computer or something it could be something nice.  so many worlds to discover by reading.  i've been able to escape many mental prisons by reading with an opened mind.  anyway, i'll talk to you soon.  



Road maps!  Remember them before we had access to anything in the palms of our hands?  Information was like heavy cargo on the back of big trucks and took time to get delivered all the way to Grand Point.  I always loved the feeling of going on the book mobile to check out books.  I knew all those books were my little gateways out of town, out of our mental prisons.

Tobacco people are tough people.  You harvest in July in the humidity and heat and then you have to hang it in the shed and process it.  There was always one guy who could walk the beams and hang the stalks without becoming nauseous over the strong smell of Perique.  After a day in the field there wasn't much energy to spend reading or cultivating the arts.  It was the furthest thing from one's mind even though a few managed to pick a guitar beneath the tree.

I'm sure my ancestors were grateful to learn the art of Perique tobacco farming from the Choctaw Indians, but getting up every day, day after day with those long rows waiting for you in the hot field was what one had to look forward to.  It must have been a prison.  My dads generation wasn't having it though.  The automobile became their freedom.  Just like the Native Americans learned of the horse, the Coon Ass found his car.  A whole world opened up to them.

Before the natives knew the freedoms of the horse, they had no leisure time and spent days hunting for the nights dinner.  It was very hand to mouth.  The same went for us I'd imagine.  I remember farmers knocking off at 5 and going home to shower and putting on a new work uniform and heading to Dave's Store for a night cap before doing it all again the next day.

The "Sky King" had different ways to escape town.  I don't even know his real name.  That's how it is and was in old Grand Point.  One goes by a nickname their whole life and when they die their real name appears on the obituary and no one ever knows who it is.  I know for sure his last name was Martin.  I had always heard stories of him being a pilot.  I think he may have learned to fly in the military.

One day in my years after college I went to visit Ms. Gladys who was getting on in years.  "Sky King" was sitting at the kitchen table.  Just me, him and Ms. Gladys and he began to tell me stories of landing airplanes in peculiar places.  Like on a strip of land in the Atchafalaya!  He pulled out a map and made a hard sell to me about knowing where the Arc of the Covenant was in Mexico.  He had it all plotted out and was in cahoots with someone who had all the geographic knowledge.  This man had an imagination, but I was right there with him in believing anything was possible.  I had been away at school for four years in Mississippi and knew there was a whole world out there.  And besides I was watching my parents crop grow right before my eyes with opportunities coming to us that no one ever had before in the way back country town.  2.5 miles of winding road seemed like an eternity from the rest of the world in those days.

I was born a generation or two right behind these folks.  Factory's came to the river and people slowly left the field for better incomes and more stability.  Some people believe we choose our situation that we are born into  and we pick our families, mothers and fathers to help create the desired outcome of a life we want to achieve.  It's a nice thought but it's hard to believe I'd choose such a hard road with so much death around. But then "Sky King" told me of the ancient secret and then I knew I was in the right town.  In the right life.  I'll get to that later.

A friend of mine who recently experienced the sudden loss of her brother told me she couldn't believe I lived with that from an early age.  It was always around.  My mamere had pictures up of her two kids she lost and it was haunting.  When you live like it's your last days, one can evolve pretty quickly.  One book, one conversation with a pilot and next thing you know I'm the "Sky King" and instead of searching for the Arc of the Covenant I'm excavating life and trying to find meaning and to make sense of it all.  One thing is for certain.  If it weren't for death none of this would mean anything.  Patti reminded me of that.  Our mortality makes time precious. I'll be back again and again.  With secrets.

"Even death is not to be feared by one who has lived wisely."-Buddha

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