I want to tell you a story.
It is likely – it is even probable! – that this story that I wish to tell is a story which requires more than a single simple blog post to relate. For this is not a tale that putt-putts forward from Point A to Point B in any traditionally recognized manner of travel.
We cannot begin in a place called “Here” with a young, soon-to-be hero smoking his pipe and staring at the horizon and dreaming of a world lying beyond his own only to wind up in a place called “Over There” with the same hero – now slightly older, greatly wiser – having won the girl and the grail and the castle and the steed and a new best friend for comedic relief. No! For this is not that species of story. Not by a long shot.
This is a seed. No, this is a cutting – a wee bit snip of root or stem or vine that will grow and grow until it twists up and around and back down again. This is a story that brings in me and your grandmother and Teddy Roosevelt and the first t.v. Even you – yes you! – make an appearance in this story. Briefly, fleetingly, and we’ve had to smudge your face out because we didn’t get your written permission to show you, true. But you’re in there!
In this story, there is no edge where maps fail and ships fall off into space, captains, rats, and all. This story goes as far as we let it.
But this story starts right here.
And it starts with a moving truck. Here, I’m not speaking of a truck in motion, but rather of a truck whose whole purpose in life is to transport people’s household belongings – their couches and bed springs and dressers and the family photos and pet baby scorpions – and take them from one residence to a new residence. To a new life.
The box of this truck has a pale blue stripe down it and the stripe goes on forever. You see a stripe like that, you cannot help but to think, “How can any one person or one family or one village possess so very many belongings that it would require a truck with a stripe so long in which to carry them?”
You’d think that and you’d be justified in your thinking, but our greatest physicists have studied the truck box at great length and they assure us that no matter how much the movers insist they’ve made the wisest possible use of the inside area of the box, it’s still, at bottom, mostly empty space.
But somebody starts up the truck now. You hear it cough. You hear it roar. You see it drive away now. The moving truck is moving.
And as the moving truck moves away, it reveals something there, still on the curb. Something left behind. Something that had, up until this moment, been blocked from our view.
It is shaped a bit like a person. It is human-like. Humanoid… -ish. This thing left behind up on the curb, it is intended to be perceived as being human, and it does a fair to middling job in this regard. The gangly limbs, the bulbous head, the cartoonishly large eyes – it would be easy enough for you to question whether it really belongs to the species known as homo sapiens, but here’s the thing:
It is crying.
And crying makes even the least human of things look… well, downright human.
It cries. It watches the moving truck moving away.
It is me.
And this is how the story that I want to tell you begins.
[**The phrase “An Amicable Marooning” comes from the song “Gopher Guts” by Aesop Rock, as will the title of every part of this series.]