I'm writing this little thing to distract me from something else.
I arrived, after an eight-hour drive, in Blue Springs, Missouri, on Sunday around 5 PM.
A little later, I drove through the old downtown residential area of this medium-sized city 10 miles east of Kansas City. The sunset light was darkening to twilight. Driving south down 15th Street, I focused on the houses on my right: older, smallish houses.
My impression was not stimulated by any thoughts of evil or good that might be transpiring behind the walls of those houses. It was a vaguer impression, a neutral inspiration for thinking as I drove past.
The sense of things was that those houses exuded an insular, dream-like spirit. Tiny front yards. Neat clutter on front porches. Curtains open, revealing lighted living rooms. No one visible inside. Do people live in those houses? What are they doing inside? What are they thinking about? Or are they more like dream-people, who don't actually ponder and reflect, but who only move around stealthily, performing certain banal-arcane rituals?
In a word, those houses are surreal. Of course, all of life is blended into weirdness. But those houses are a more compact, more concentrated weirdness. You can “see” it vibrating inside – through those windows. In those empty lit living rooms, with the other rooms dark. Insular houses in an old residential area.
Those houses felt like they were built along a tree-lined street on Jupiter. And it's as if reality itself was being held at arm's length. As if cosmic gravity was being repulsed by those exterior walls. Retreats. Caves. Cells where familial pathologies – mild or intense – simmer and slowly froth. Beyond good and evil. Just odd. While the twilight darkens into night. Halloween night. No one on the street. All the ghosts are inside those old smallish houses.
Strange little worlds in America.
* * *
The next morning, I was standing on my mother's deck. A clear cold autumn morning. I was listening to the breeze swish through the tall oak tree, just off the deck. The trunk on this tree is so straight it could be used as a reference plumb.
A beautiful light-gray cat scampered into the backyard. A medium-sized, well-fed cat. Without a moment's hesitation, it bounded up the deck steps, looked at me, and then rolled over on its back. The expression on its face seemed to say: “Hey, Tim....what the fuck are you doing here? Cool, man!”
I bent down and stroked its back and behind its ear. This cat was a happy cat. A social cat. A cool cat.
And did I mention that this cat was a beautiful light-gray cat? Black bands ran around the tail. The eyes were a teeming yellow-gold. What a marvelous critter!
Then!....social graces can wait. A movement out in the middle of the yard. All cat senses on alert. And...zoom! – my new friend was off to investigate. To see what might be out there that could be gobbled up for breakfast. Or just played with.
“Goodbye, Smokey [I'll call that cat 'Smokey']. It was so nice to meet you. Hope I see you around some other time.”