Memories. We all have them. Defined in my old, Oxford Dictionary–AKA The Big, Silver Book That You Can Bludgeon Someone With that has sat on my desk since… College? High School? I wish I knew–as “mental faculty by which things are recalled; store of things remembered; recollection, remembrance” et cetera et cetera. Memories. We all have them. Some more than others. Often times I wish mine weren’t so prevalent. And tonight? Tonight a whole slew of them came rushing at me like an out of control freight train, or a big, silver book swung at you by a Major League Fireballer that throws somewhere between 98-102 MPH. And finally… FINALLY after weeks of silence and quarantine the old gears started turning again. And here I am. Here we are friends, family and oft times casual readers. So? Let’s get schazzy.
Tonight, Cara and #NatNatBoo wanted to play Uno Attack. For those unfamiliar with this game it’s basically Uno on ‘roids. Instead of drawing a card or cards you push a button on a simple machine, and said machine coughs out none, one, two or as many as 10 cards at you which you then have to corral. You can’t control it. It’s totally random. So if you don’t like cards flying at your face at around 25 MPH it’s not the game for you. But I digress. For some reason, my 10 year old, some times preteen wanted us all to play with stuffed animals. She ran to her room and grabbed her stuffed dolphin Winter, an old, yellowing owl that #NatNatBoo used to chew on when she was teething and? And. My old teddy bear Ixo Facto. Not Ipso. Ixo. Ixo has taken up residence in Cara’s room for years and for some reason, she broke it out tonight. And BAM. Memories. A whole sh*t-ton of them.
Those of you, reading this that are not familiar with the story of Ixo Facto be grateful. It’s a long and sordid tale that I will not get into tonight. All you need to know is that Ixo was gifted to me by someone a very long time ago… Someone who meant a great deal to me for… God. Ages. Sunrises and sunsets beyond end. Said person has not been a part of my life for decades but memories? They’re a bitch, folks. And they have a way of coming back when you don’t expect them. As soon as Cara handed him to me I staggered from a landslide of them. Total f*cking recall of a younger version of me… A guy who wore fedoras and black trenchcoats, smoked clove cigarettes and wrote poetry. A beardless version of the guy I see in the mirror every day with less gray hair and a sparkle in his eyes. Life has dimmed that a bit. It’s receded my hairline a smidgen and given me crows feet if I squint too hard. But he’s there. Always there. Like memories. They never fade.
We want them to. We work awful hard to push them way, WAY back into our subconscious. We bury them under obligation; trying to balance home schooling our kids in this #AgeofCorona while fulfilling our work from home (WFH) responsibilities, paying our bills and the like. As a writer, blessed (or cursed, I leave that for you to decide) with one heck of a photographic memory, it’s a constant struggle for me. I’ve fought my memories for the longest time, intent to occasionally fictionalize them in the pages of a novel or an oft times unfinished story. Because Writer Frank and Working Frank are two completely different entities. One dreams while the other puts food on the table. Is there a way to reconcile the two? I wish I knew. But it feels like one has success at the expense of the other, and the balance that I strive for daily gets thrown out of whack. I’ve wished and prayed for many things over the course of my existence on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence. I’ve been fortunate to have many of those wishes come true and many of my prayers answered. But that balance? That reconciliation of the Artist with the Provider? It alludes me to this day. So what do I do? Where do I go from here?
That my peeps is the question that plagues my mind this unseasonably cold and quarantined Tuesday at the tail end of April, 2020. Maybe I need to stop fighting. Maybe I simply need to pick a path and take it. The road less travelled, or the one that’s worn from overuse? There’s a life down both paths. A good one I think. Full of love and success and in the end? Peace. But I am only one man in millions and one man cannot forge two, seperate destinies. There is only one for each of us. Yes, I believe in fate. I further believe that there comes a point in your life when you need to make a choice. And that really is the crux of Frost’s problem. “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood and I? I took the one less travelled by. And that has made all the difference.” Do I follow in his footsteps and… For lack of a better phrase “give it a whirl?” Or do I stick with what I know? Play it safe like I always have and trudge, ever onward into the future?
I have no idea. Ain’t that a bitch? Not exactly a poetic and Frost-like summation of my current state of mind, but hey: That’s a part of who I am, as well. Fedoras have given way to comb-backs and black trenchcoats to button down Oxfords. Clove cigarettes… Heck, cigarettes in general have been replaced by a Juul. My once-clean shaven face is covered by a thickening and graying quarantine beard. The memories of who I was, while ever-present occasionally take a back seat to the knowledge of who I am. Frank Marsh, Business Development Consultant. Don’t get me wrong… I like what I do. I actually LOVE it and feel incredibly blessed to be where I am, professionally at this time, especially when so many others out there are struggling. If you’re reading this and you are, please know that I think of you often, and would give anything to make it all go away. But I can’t. All I can do is pray for you and hope against hope that this bizarre, “new normal” that we’re all living in right now is the precursor to something awesome. Now and always, I say booyakasha. Respect. We WILL get through this. And I promise you that when we do, I’ll fire up my non-existent grill (working on it) and have you all over for Superburgers. We’ll drink, and hug (not necessarily in that order), reminisce about where we’ve been and talk at length about where we are going.
Which brings me back to Ixo. And memories. Memories are a reminder of who we were. They are a part of who we are and to deny them their place in our respective lives is near-sighted. I apologize if you don’t agree with that. But I’ve gotten in the habit of veering away from opinion over the last few years and that one? It’s mine and expressed. If you’d rather forget then by all means do so. I’ll never think less of you because of it. Had Ixo never come into my life I don’t know where I’d be. Not here. Probably someplace very, VERY different. But Ixo and his story taught me a valuable lesson. He and his tale taught me how to love. And the lessons? They hurt for a very long time. And occasionally? They still do. But portions of life are steeped in pain, folks. I’ll never dwell on them… I stopped doing that a long time ago. But I’ll always acknowledge them when they return and then? God willing, my gears will start turning and I’ll write about ’em. ‘Cause that’s what Frank Marsh does.
And with that? This rambling piece of #CoronaQuarantine induced Mental Flatulence draws to a close. Out go the usual thank yous. To my minions Cara and #NatNatBoo for a spirited and incomplete game of Uno Attack earlier tonight (we’ll be resuming post-home school and work tomorrow). To Heather, whom I love, who has been texting me for the last 45 minutes or so and is likely wondering what the f*ck I’m up to. Now you know sweetie. Thanks for your patience. To everyone who is reading this right now… Friends, family and oft times casual readers, thank you. God bless you, keep you and watch over you in the days and weeks ahead, as we continue to navigate our… for the most part shared “new normal” in the hope that maybe, just maybe our days staring out our windows at the world as it slowly, slogs by will soon come to an end. And finally? A bit of a departure. A long overdue thank you. For Ixo Facto. For the story behind him and the person that inspired it. Inspired me. Maybe the first. Hopefully not the last. Booyakasha. RESPECT.