The morning goes like this.
I get up. There’s no need for an alarm. I wake up, pretty much as I would wake up if there were an alarm. I turned the alarm off way back in March when I closed my studios due to the pandemic. But, I wake up at the same time anyway. Six a.m. Six-ish.
I feed the cats. I split a can of food onto three plates. It’s not rocket science.
One of three.
I make my coffee.
I turn on my computer.
For the past several days this image has appeared as I’ve signed on to my computer.Embed from Getty Images
Ancient crumbling Irish ruins. It’s beautiful, really, as it crumbles away, taking whatever memories are inside. Turning them to sand. Turning them to dust.
I will be sad when Windows 10 decides it’s time to change this photo to something else.
Like the ruins, the photo will disappear.
But, as I sat and looked at it today, I noticed what was spread out behind those ruins. Behind all that ancient crumbling beauty.
I’d missed it at first. But, if you look beyond the castle ruins you’ll see in the background the span of a modern city going about its business.
You’ll see today.
All I want to see are the sweet crumbling ruins.
I realize now that beautiful crumbling ruins are everywhere for me lately, planting themselves squarely in front of today.
Those ruins are the old newspapers I scour looking for interesting baseball stories, or non-baseball stories about things like popcorn pie.
“We hear of pop-corn pie. That’s certainly a new dish.”
Those ruins are the distractions I use to block out the horrible today things like pandemics and racism and hatred and greed. All the things closing or cancelling. All the people who’ve been hurt or are gone. All the things that will never be the same.
I feel a little guilty when I look back at that photo and force my eyes to see only the ruins. To see only what I want my eyes to see.
I feel a little guilty when I bury myself in an old baseball box score, trying to figure out who hit the single that scored the run in a hundred-year-old game that is forgotten, turned to dust, except for the bones of that old box score.
And, I feel a little guilty when I foist all this on you, dear reader, assuming you will want the ruins of this old box score, too. I feel guilty that I’m asking you to find it as interesting as I do. To need it as much as I do.
When I stick my nose into an old newspaper today, I get the exact same feeling of excitement that I did when I was a teenager and I discovered the old newspaper archives at the Carnegie Library across from my high school.
It’s no longer the library, my friends tell me, but it’s still there.
I miss the mildew’y scent of the old local papers that were sewn into giant leather-bound books and stacked into a corner – in a space too small to be a room, too big to be a closet. I loved the heft of those newspaper books, the fragile edges of the pages, the sound the paper made between my fingers, the musty smell. There were stacks and stacks of very old and worn Sports Illustrateds there, too, that I’m pretty sure someone donated when they were cleaning out a dead uncle’s garage.
The thrill of opening an old newspaper remains, even if it’s online now. I just need to see what’s inside, to see what once was. To see what I might find.
I need those ruins to stand between me and the world.
To tell me about baseball and popcorn pie.
Thereby hangs a tale.