Thursday, August 9, 2012

An Origin Story

Joe O. was in the rec room, struggling to play the simple opening chords of Foreigner's "Cold As Ice" on the piano, and I was upstairs in my bedroom—upset about something, red-faced, strangely sequestered that day from the kid I was playing with, the same Joe who lived with nearly a dozen siblings stacked two to a bed in a tiny red box house on Nairn, the boy I went to kindergarten with and who got in trouble with me when we slid on our knees, side-grins at each other, that language, the boy who went to Saint Andrews with me, growing into the man he'd become, who was more athletic, the day at recess when the bell rang as the football he threw at the tail-end of a play precisely designed zipped on a line into my ribs, stinging terribly, the same boy who in an act of betrayal to my childish leanings went to a different high school where he wasn't big enough to play football so he volunteered to run the first-down markers during the game against Good Counsel, where I watched from the bleachers feigning disinterest as he marched up and down the field, a small adult now, barking orders, speaking in a foreign language to kids I didn't know—alone, trying to make sense of the promises made by a pop song badly-played by a friend downstairs who was already, although I didn't know it then, leaving.

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