6. Story

Background of meaning. This is a term I may use today. It may describe a way I had (have) of viewing the world. I heard some of my “background of meaning” today on the radio. Bon Jovi – I’ll Be There For You. I’d live and I’d die for you. It’s just that the term “background of meaning” doesn’t really do justice to the experience “background of meaning”. When there is a background of meaning, and it is not clear that it is a background of meaning, it isn’t a background of meaning. It is reality. It isn’t even A reality. It is. Reality. Not in the background either…part of the foreground so close that everything is filtered through it. Possibly distorting the view to look like what I’ve always seen before.

I was in a tough spot.

Wasn’t sure why she’d gone, why all those sixes kept showing up, why I’d gotten fired from that job – at least not why “when all of this other stuff was going on”, why that car got ripped off (I should have noticed those guys noticing me put that stereo in the trunk – in fact, I did notice those guys noticing me put that stereo in the trunk – I just didn’t notice it enough to distinguish it as I am about to get my car stolen because those guys are watching me put my detachable stereo in the trunk). I hadn’t had that background of meaning. I’d never gotten my car ripped off.

Resilient wasn’t a term I would have used to describe myself at the time. I’d had no experience being resilient that I knew of. It wasn’t a part of my background of meaning. Happily, nothing very traumatic had ever happened to me. Everybody around me was alive and/or dying in a naturally progressive order, nothing sudden or tragic. I had a mostly solid family background with a not necessarily extra-ordinary amount of undeclared alcoholism fueled dysfunction – most of which I wasn’t even really cognizant of. I ate food. I slept in a house. Sure there was that time my bike was stolen from Silverman’s. And that girl that lived behind us that taught me to play the game “Simon Says, Strip”. Honestly, I thought it was pretty fun (though she may have had some trauma – who knows, and this is my story, not hers). There were those neighborhood “bums” that would randomly upset my sense of calm and order in the neighborhood. The neighbor kids who’d make me fight Billy Bloom once or twice. Mostly though, nothing too traumatic. No need to be too resilient.

This little stretch I was in, this most uncharmed time of my life, this was new territory. I can see now that I may have been a little resilient. Maybe it was those mornings waking up to deliver newspapers, every day no matter the weather – even if it was a little late some days. Driven on by my Mom cautioning me prior to taking that first paper route that nobody was going to be helping me. I’d do it, I said. And I did. Maybe it was developed responding to those people that complained when their paper was late.

Maybe it was that declaration I’d made when we moved to Parma when I was 10. Driven on by my Mom cautioning me prior to signing me up for 5th grade at my old school – nobody was going to be helping me. I’d do it, I said. I vowed to not leave my friends and that I would do whatever it took to get back to my old grade school. Long walks…a mile to State, a bus ride to Bader, a mile to Pearl. Then reverse to get home. Or a 3 mile bike ride. Then back. There was that time I crashed into the parked car because I was asleep on my bike. But I made a promise…didn’t think of it as “having given my word” at the time. Heck, maybe I was just too afraid to go to a new school and it was easier to trudge on, do the hard thing. Eventually I’d even do the new school thing. New high school…I knew very few people because I was so intent on keeping my old crew. I trudged on with that too.

I was also “the youngest” and in that way I did know myself as resilient. Resilient enough that I knew how to manipulate and bludgeon with pleading and ranting until I’d get what I wanted. I knew how to follow through and get what I wanted to get. Looking back, I was pretty resilient, or at least persistent and determined. When I wanted something.

This current beat down from life was new though. Not something I’d experienced before. I can’t recall the exact order of, or when exactly things started to break open. And I’m not even sure that I’ve given a fair picture of HOW BLEAK THINGS REALLY WERE up to this point. How I was desperately trying to break my way out of this jam that life stuck me with. I do recall that the song Runnin’ Down a Dream had come out…and Wikipedia tells me that this song was release on July 29th 1989…the day before my 19th year began.

Like I said. I had plans…

It was a beautiful day, the sun beat down
I had the radio on, I was drivin’
Trees went by, me and Del were singin’
Little Runaway
I was flyin’

Yeah, runnin’ down a dream
That never would come to me
Workin’ on a mystery, goin’ wherever it leads
Runnin’ down a dream

I felt so good, like anything was possible
Hit cruise control and rubbed my eyes
The last three days the rain was unstoppable
It was always cold, no sunshine

Yeah, runnin’ down a dream
That never would come to me
Workin’ on a mystery, goin’ wherever it leads
Runnin’ down a dream

I rolled on, the sky grew dark
I put the pedal down to make some time
There’s something good waitin’ down this road
I’m pickin’ up whatever’s mine

I’m runnin’ down a dream
That never would come to me
Workin’ on a mystery, goin’ wherever it leads
Runnin’ down a dream
Yeah, I’m runnin’ down a dream
That never would come to me
Workin’ on a mystery, goin’ wherever it leads
I’m runnin’ down a dream

…Tom Petty

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