Rendered Fat Content


Enrico Scuri: Euridice recedes into the Underworld (19th century)
"The Muse and I continue SettlingInto our fresh Eden At The End Of One Curious Oregon Trail."

The Muse and I spent the day seeking without finding much reassurance. We were visiting Portland, the city we'd left twenty years before, after we'd realized that we'd very likely never be able to buy a Villa Vatta Schmaltz there. My folks were aging and I imagined that moving close might be of some help to them and also reconnect me to my broader family. Whatever the excuse, we found a suitable house and our meager offer was accepted. We'd purchased our very own money pit and home, one we'd come to love both in spite of itself and because of what we'd done to it. Though we'd be exiled from actually living in it for twelve long dog years—a lifetime, really—we'd one day return to attempt SettlingInto again. Not so with Portland, for we'd abandoned the place as essentially unlivable for us, but we still relied on it as a source of supply and occasional reassurance. Portland had died for us, but we'd still return and try to resurrect it for a long weekend and to visit grandkids, my son and daughter, and old friends and suppliers. Saturday morning had always shown Portland well and left me feeling proud to be a part of it, but with This Damned Pandemic and last year's riots, it stands as hardly a shell of its once energizing former self. I felt every bit like Orpheus attempting to revive Eurydice, and every bit as successful.

The old reliables either exist no more or are closed pending recovery.
The once-revered Farmers' Market loses sparkle when throngs avoid it and those who show keep more distance than confidence with the suppliers. I can't find the simplest things. That coffee shop where I could reliably find a lemon gingivitis muffin and my decaf no longer sits at the foot of The Postal Building. Great Harvest Bakery has closed for the duration. Even the long-revered haberdashery has boarded windows protecting once-alluring manikin displays. I can't tell what's even open. From the streets, beneficiaries of those short Portland blocks, the place looks post-apocalyptic, ruined and wan, the sort of scene where zombies might be expected at any time, even on a cool Spring Saturday morning. I sit on an otherwise empty bench on a nearly empty street wondering where the bustle went. I expected jolts of Deja Vu to creep through my morning, but I received DejaRue instead. I rue the day I blew up this place by leaving. I feel as though this city's downfall might just have been my fault.

It might be necessary at some points in every life to just blow up whatever you've accomplished, not with vengeance so much as regret or promise. One takes a huge step to try to take cuts further back in the grand procession, to step out of the familiar rat race to join another more novel one, to change. Since everything's mysteriously connected, one shift effects many other points, and rather like the battle that was lost for want of a horseshoe nail, the world once known goes to Hell in your absence. No fault, no blame, just entropy having her way for a change. Everything seems born to fall apart. Nothing's sustainable forever, not even the surprisingly delicate balance that once held together a city like Portland. Things, long deferred, eventually got out of hand. The Chamber of Commerce's and the city fathers' stories were always somewhat mythical, and inequality always persisted. Some of it was even insisted upon as a sort of balancing factor, red-lined neighborhoods and gentrifying actors. Most were prosperous until way too many weren't. Even the long-touted Eden At The End Of The Oregon Trail could be overwhelmed by too many settlers and too much over-promising. When settlers like me, a thirty-year veteran of sustaining this place, blow it up by leaving, It's all over but the grieving.

Do not counsel me to take it easy, for a once reliable world's utterly fallen apart. Do not even attempt to reassure me that things will work out, because deep differences have already worked their way in and squat in every park and underpass. The innocence I once experienced here, the fresh-faced exuberance I once felt discovering and imprinting on this place, hardly seem distant memories now, AND it's all my fault. I blew it up with that first divorce and amplified it with that second. I went from homeowner in good standing commuting to a decent job in a downtown highrise building to living in a close-in industrial enclave with neighbors I could not look in the eye. I commenced to commute somewhere else to earn my living, exiting and reentering through the airport. I even relocated to a distant suburb after abandoning my urban pioneer dreams and the economy shattered. My presence here mattered and I left for greener pastures, returning to purchase milk and honey to find only vinegar and vagrancy on offer. The trains run on time but nobody seems to be riding them anymore.

Be careful what you wish for but continue wishing. I went fishing and caught a sucker, useless for supper or anything other than throwing back into the river. No song will recall hopefulness gone. That absent coffee shop with the lemon gingivitis muffins might never have existed. I seems like a myth now, part of a long-sung legend, gone and achingly not forgotten. I weep a little to myself while sitting on that forlorn-feeling bench on that windy side street while The Muse shops in a post-apocalyptic incarnation of a once-familiar store. Through boarded up display windows I see my reflection, dull and featureless, graffitti-like, and I sense that this was all my fault. Some insist that Antifa did this, as if proclaiming anti-fascism undermined the delicate balance. If so, does this mean the old illusion was a fascist regime? I suspect The Proud Boys dressed in justice's clothing. The once proud parks in which I ate my lunch, now feature otherwise homeless sleeping on the public lawn in fine-looking tents. A public trust and civil balance has been suspended and perhaps won't be returning, while The Muse and I continue SettlingInto our fresh Eden At The End Of One Curious Oregon Trail.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

blog comments powered by Disqus

Made in RapidWeaver