I am sentimental about strange things. Small broken and lost things make me sad. For all my age and the worries about people and matters that are on my mind, I can be moved to tears by the sight of a lost stuffed animal on the street, a post card in an antique store with a message on it from a person long-dead who once reached out to another person, who I will never know and who has also long since passed this earthly dome of pleasure for the stillness of the long blue night and now this heart-felt letter has become but an artifact sold to me for a dollar. I was reading someone’s mail a few weeks ago. The letters were correspondence to some woman from a small town just outside of Pyrenees Junction from the turn-of-the-last century who saved all these notes ever so long. Now they were in a moldering heap in a basket, in the back of an antique store in Asheville.
She must have been a local debutante for many letters were written to her asking she return the letter and alluding to some station or fame. A young lad wrote a painful letter decrying his loneliness. I could not shake the melancholy feeling I nursed for the reminder of my trip. It was as if his cold distant and century-old arthritis of alone had crept into my joints and as I too walked in the woods later in the day, marveling at the mountain views of the Blue Ridge Parkway, I wondered whether I was alone, too.
From time-to-time these supple twilight moments strike me. Not just when traveling. I may see some small thing that moves me, brings up some memory or reminds me of a sleeping desire. My arms extended, my fingertips just touching that which I want. A rusted key dropped outside a door long nailed shut. A button eye of a small stuffed dog on the side of the road. A note carefully refolded, and tossed away. These terrible small things remind me how short, sweet, and sad life is. How many voices never get to speak. Even today, with all the Tweeting, Updating, Trending, and general static stinging our eyes and burning our ears, how little of how few we can touch for real. If things had feelings, as I had thought as a child, that they would be lonely and drinking that cold clear soup each day.
As with things on the street, I often come upon things online. It was to this digital effluvia that I was shocked by the emotional qualities of a crude cat drawing.
By Ayn Rand… No less.
Moved almost to tears… Actually.
I was haunted by this image I viewed on Dailytoastbeastclickholedotfuckingsotcom and peeked at the rest of the day. I saved it to my phone. Looking at it like, certainly this time I won’t feel anything. The lie that sucking on a lime won’t be felt. The child in me taunting do it do it do it, daring me, oh yeah, I like this, I don’t feel a thing. Except I did.
Perhaps I am not sentimental, perhaps I am selfish. Perhaps those who claim emotional reaction to such random things as trinkets and buttons are actually conceited and selfish. For it is perhaps that apart from trying to reach people are like bottom feeding fish – groupers. With their gaping mouths open just sucking all in. A free drink. A bowl of melted brie. Every pork-related snack at the company holiday party. The grouper sneaks in these little lost things and then projectile vomits whatever sadness they are nurturing onto this thing until it is coated in their own story. The sentimental person does not relate to anyone but themselves.
It is fitting, then, that this blogger would be moved by a scribbled drawing of a few cats? It was indeed shocking.
There are two things that I know.
1) I hate Ayn Rand
B) I love cats
With this little drawing, however, for a moment I saw Ayn Rand not at the monsteress of philosophy and political vixen dominatrix of materialism and the virtues of selfishness, but I saw her as as my grandmother. Not Grandmother – the woman who bakes children cookies and cooks Old World Sunday Dinners, but My Grandmother, the women who in 1940 graduated with something of a medical degree and was a difficult person with a strange load stone of her own that never exactly pointed to True North.
My Grandmother we called Grammy, was called Boise by her siblings and called herself Dr. Mott. She was a strange bird of the same vintage as Rand and also foreign-born to European political outcasts. I am not sure if Dr. Mott was an Objectivist, but she was a Control Freak who had lived through a few wars [National] and fought many battles [personal] and was a very difficult person greatly involved in our lives, not always for the better but there nevertheless. I am not sure if she loved cats. I am not sure she had the capacity to love anyone. She was a cold opinionated augmentative combative indifferent woman who on occasion would wake us kids up to see the sunrise to see the fog lift to see some far off deer we needed to use her clunky pre-war binoculars to catch but the white tail of or drive us here and there to show us some view from the top of a mountain we never could again find (here’s your commas for that sentience ,,,,,,,,,,).
Perhaps Rand’s little drawing reminded me of so many moments of my childhood under the effete supervision of my precedents. How many little drawings and scribbles have I produced? How many letters unsent, or lost drawings, or small pieces have fallen off my life and remain in some darkness waiting to be discovered and again loved?
As children we may believe that things are alive. We have so much life in us it cannot be contained in one body. So it leaks out. Into stuffed animals, of course, but often into tables, chairs, and keys to treasure boxes or a stone that for some reason we believe looks unlike other pebbles on the beach. Some of us grow up. Some of us lose more and more life until there is just enough to be contained in one body, sometimes not even enough for one body. We then no longer see the secret life of things and many of us cannot even recognize the life in others. Some of us attempt to fill that life missing in ourselves by sucking others in. Some just learn to live with strange voids in their being. Perhaps that is why there are these little hidden treasures waiting out there. Not waiting alone, but waiting for us. To remind us as how small life is as we pass by. Reminding us to stop and pick up a bottle cap, and remember that one time my grandmother just stopped the car on the side of the road so we could listen to the rain falling on the roof and enjoy the moment.