When Carla left, she was certain that the man she had found with a fresh degree and a fresh beer in hand at the bar was slowly cutting strings from his own sockets and joints. She didn’t really understand what those strings meant to me, nor the fact that their removal was necessary for me to keep moving on. But at this point the moving on is steadily braking.
Dad was never able to fix anything. Anything with a nut or bolt was meaningless to him. Toilets, sinks cars, and glue were strange bits in his hand. Just call someone up, those were his favorite words. Money can buy service and service can provide a better good at home. Maybe that’s what my degree was telling me: I am more than capable of writing my thoughts down, of interpreting academic articles, of telling someone that I think they are doing a good job, of spending money, than fixing anything. Emotional problems were never his thing, and apparently I can’t do any better. Carla kept telling me what she was dealing with but I didn’t want to deal with her problems. I wanted to help fix them but she just needed me to listen. But my dad was never able to fix anything. Apparently, neither was I. The degree didn’t help me fix anything. Carla didn’t want to fix anything but she did anyways, she did it in her own way. I never helped her though.
The autumn leaves are so beautiful, and the deadwood supporting the railway contrast the leaves so well. It’s like the line between lipstick and pale skin on a pretty girl.
All the urban labels surrounding Cleveland are myths, because they don’t even get to the real things. Poverty drugs and crime are so vague. How about suicidal teenagers? Litter that gets kicked around for years before finding its way to the Cuyahoga. We’re famous for that, for the river and when it burned back when the money was coming in. But people don’t notice the garbage that are miles and miles from the river, on rusty streets and in food and on your car tires. Unless it pops the tire or scratches your fancy car, it’s not a problem. And the poverty means bearded men or fat women in huge coats wandering the streets looking for pigeon food, not sadness or alcoholic teachers or not having anything to say because there’s no one is this goddamn planet that will listen to a goddamn thing you say because you smell like shit and you couldn’t get a job if Ronald McDonald handed you a broom and offered benefits to keep the floors cleaner than your teeth.
Carla was so glad that she met someone from Euclid that made it out as well. We had that in common for a while. Making it out is such a façade though. You never really leave home, no matter where you’re from, because the words you grew up with shapes the way you view everything else you run into and it shapes the way you hear words. A spoiled brat hears no more texting do your homework and the poor mother hears no more government checks you horny hog, you welfare queen, you thieving bitch. Someone knew me as steel belt trash in the Carolinas because my browning teeth didn’. Even in my classrooms people could tell I was from Euclid, even though they’ve never heard of it and wouldn’t have any idea what it looked like even if I gave them a picture or told them about the time the crazy nanny up the road had a heart attack in her giant layers of coats and socks and laid in the street untouched for two days before people realized that bum and bitch was dead. That’s what they said around the school though. She was such a bum, such an annoying bitch. Talked crazy smack about your prissy kicks and tight shorts and couldn’t make a word of clear English out of those gutter gums and woodchip molars, or whatever the fuck was left in her mouth. But Carla was one of those types that could filter out the onslaught of bad news in your neighborhood; she always saw the journey as the destination, but heaven was security and a home that was so far from a broken window and a doped up child you couldn’t even dream about it anymore.
For me it was an escape route. Go to college to get out of the money trap, the credit trap, and the bad family trap. There are sharp steel traps biting at your feet in this dying steel belt and the only way out is a college degree. Buy up the bank’s degree and you will be free. Carla bought into it and fought her way out. My dad was never able to fix anything though, so when I graduated and all the pretty firms from the Reagan days were hiring sons and ivory university pricks all I wanted to do was sleep, and since I can’t seem to fix anything either it was time for me to quit the job and pass the loans on to my dad, who can’t fix any damn thing if he was given a how-to book with nude women walking him through the pictures.
Every now and then, there’s a large gap between the railway boards and I’m tempted to get my foot stuck in it, just to see how it feels to be an animal stuck in steel. I can hear the train coming around the corner now and my pace can’t get any faster. The train’s not gonna move but I’m not going to either.