Old Age Again — Part 1
It’s not a man cave. ‘Study’ sounds pretentious for a stairway leading up from the garage. The Crow’s Nest.
I’ve been doing repairs these last weeks. A fifty year old lamp I like that needed major work for the last 3 years. Rewiring—soldered joints, trips to the hardware store. I sewed up two small rips in the shoulders of a serviceable coat and am sorting things out, dusting and waxing . . . polishing brass and cleaning glass. Dusting and waxing takes forever.
I must have fifty or sixty tchotch·kes, (a small object that are decorative rather than strictly functional). Knives, brass pots, modestly rare coins, small statues, brass and ivory, framed photos, posters from San Francisco sixties, books and crystals. Most have travelled with me over many miles and fifty years. These things I love to look at, give me pleasure, memories that go back decades. Close to eighty now. My retrospections glow as unattended mental embers waiting for recall. Short term has shortened some, but is still functional.
This getting older thing:
At some point one begins to speculate, how many years are left? Another decade? Two? I might get lucky. On the other hand, a lot of friends have gone to the clearing much younger after living much healthier and more conservative lives. I’m ready to go, but not in a hurry. I suspect it will feel like stepping out of a crowded room . . . or maybe, simply, out. In which case there will be no disappointment at my unawakening.
A more relevant speculation is this brass jar I’ve been polishing today. I enjoy the polishing. Was a sailor in another lifetime? Wrote a poem about in once.
He never feared the storms
or loss of life at sea
but oh, those boredom hours abiding
waiting for a breeze
days spent polishing the brass.
The jars are from the Ganges at Benares, India—early 1980’s. What will happen to them when I’m gone? Just brass jars with screw on caps. A yard sale maybe, ‘loppis’ they call them in Sweden. They may find new owners who will care for, and display, and polish, never guessing they have held the Ganges till evaporation finally retrieved—years later.
A less likely fate awaits three spearheads. The largest two feet long, the smallest, three pronged, eighteen inches. These have occupied a dozen walls in these last sixty years, might be illegal here. It’s almost illegal to own sharp objects in Sweden. People won’t believe they’re real, made to be used . . . from Ethiopia—seems so unlikely. Dangerous metal. Maybe Heavy Metal fans would like them.
There’s a hook shaped knife from India where sellers used it to wack off the end of a coconut. With one quick chop, the fruit was opened. I bought the knife and a coconut and went to the beach with them. Beat on coconut as hard as I could for a half hour, but could not even crack the husk. It looked so easy when the seller did it—a skill acquired over time I suppose. I left the wounded coconut on the beach, but carried the knife back to America, and years later to Sweden.