They Tore The Old Place Down

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Each year for the past 3 or 4 years, I have taken a day to just be alone. I usually pick a place to go that I used to live. I started doing this after my mother died. A close friend told me that I needed to process my feelings, to go somewhere and be still, unaffected by deadlines or other things. And so that’s what I do each year.

This year wasn’t a planned trip. My daughter had come to stay with us for a few days and  I took her to the airport to fly home. I had taken the full day off from work, and she was safely at the airport by early afternoon and I had most of the day left to do whatever I wanted. The airport is only about 45 minutes from a small town that I lived in when I was a kid, one of my many stops along the way, so I decided to head there.

I lived in the tiny town of Castile roughly three years, including 1st and 2nd grade. My dad taught at a small college there. We came to Castile because my dad had contracted a disease that was debilitating him. Formerly a pastor, he didn’t have the energy to be a full time minister anymore. We moved into a small apartment that the college offered, in the building seen at the top of this post. We were upstairs and there were apartments in the down stairs.

I have fond memories of my life there. I had two close friends, Pat and Terry, and we enjoyed the small town and the freedom to roam the village. I especially remember going to a local store after school with Terry and getting a cup of cider. I developed a love of reading there at the town library, and sometimes I can still picture Tarzan in my mind the way I saw him when reading.

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The thing I remember the most is the time I spent with my dad. He would be home, physically worn out, basically bed ridden. We would play catch with a beanbag in his bedroom, a simple thing, but to me it was wonderful. He would tell me years later that he felt so bad that he couldn’t do more with me than catch. But I loved those times, I didn’t think of it as being cheated. Those moments are sacred to me.

I went back to Castile two years ago, walked the town, took pictures, talked with people that I probably went to school with, but didn’t remember. And I visited the old building that we had lived in. It was empty, condemned and leaning dangerously to one side, seemingly held up only by one large tree. I talked to some locals and they said the building was owned by an out of towner who hadn’t been there for years.

So now in 2018, I came back to town. I drove by the library, which looks very much as it did when I was 10. I drove past the cider mill and Pat and Terry’s old homes. I drove by the old school I went to, closed for many years and very rundown. And finally I drove to see the old apartment building. A block away I could see something was different, and as I pulled up I realized the old place was gone. A gaping space where the building once stood. It was a funny feeling, like my memories had been whisked away. Bittersweet. They had torn the old place down.

I’m still processing my feelings. The building itself was nothing. But the memories it represented, of the times with my folks, my dad, my early friends, the beginning of the journey, they are very real. It was a simple life, a bygone time. I miss the place.

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Momentary Numbness

Reflect

A brief post about the journey. I have been planning on writing more on my deconstruction/faith journey. This should be Deconstruction Pt. 3. But it won’t be, at least not in the way I planned. Recently I spent a bit of time messaging with a friend and follower of this blog. The topic was the posts I have done on my deconstruction. It was a very good discussion. And it has led me to want to detail my journey in, well, detail. But I’m finding it a bit of a challenge to make the notes I need to make to accurately write about what happened to me.

It could be the things going on in my life at the moment. My recent cancer surgery has left me with some hefty bills. In addition my wife and sons and I have taken on the big challenge of renovating our 221 year old house (yes, that is not a typo, it’s old). Without going into detail, suffice it to say that it is expensive and time consuming and exhausting at times. In addition, I have launched a Patroen page (https://www.patreon.com/marvborst) to promote my art and raise money for the bills that are pressing. That means spending time creating new art.

Whatever the reason, I’m feeling a little numb these days. The political landscape is driving me crazy, so that probably plays into it. The truth is I have left the religious arena for good. And going back to examine how that happened seems exhausting. When it was happening in a big way there was a rush to it, a feeling both exciting and scary. Now there is a peace, but also a struggle to look back in detail.

I will continue this, I will write in much more detail about deconstruction, but not today. I’m tired of religion. But hey, tomorrow’s another day and maybe I’ll be ready!

Baby Violet

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A pretty special event happened over the weekend for my family. My first grand child was born. Baby Violet, mother Eve and father Tyler, my son, are all doing very well. My wife and I are thrilled and Violet’s Aunt Alicia and Uncle Kyle are excited about her arrival. She’s beautiful and tiny and perfect.

I wish my parents had been here to see her. My dad died when I was 25. He died of cancer, and we were all shocked because we believed he would beat death, because he had beaten it twice before. When we heard he had cancer he told me he would beat it because he wanted to be there to see who I married and to see my kids. We were all wrong, the cancer was too far into his body, and he died two months later. My mother on the other hand lived to 94, and saw and lived with and loved my kids. She would have been giddy over little Violet, I can almost hear her excited squeal, the one she would make when she was really excited about something. Like a great meal or family visiting, the things she lived for.

I don’t know about the hereafter. I used to believe I did. But I like the thought that Mom and Dad are aware of little Violet, that they can somehow share in the joy. So even though I don’t know if they can or not, I’m going to go with the hopeful idea that they can, especially dad, who missed so much because his body let him down.

So we’ll go forward, as a family, and do our best to shower Violet with the love and care that my parents would have. I’ll tell her someday about her great grandparents, and the extraordinary lives they lived, simple people who were filled with love. Welcome to the world little Violet!

Music for the soul

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Stevie Wonder
“Sir Duke”

Music is a world within itself
With a language we all understand
With an equal opportunity
For all to sing, dance and clap their hands
But just because a record has a groove
Don’t make it in the groove
But you can tell right away at letter A
When the people start to move

They can feel it all over
They can feel it all over people
They can feel it all over
They can feel it all over people

Music knows it is and always will
Be one of the things that life just won’t quit
But here are some of music’s pioneers
That time will not allow us to forget
For there’s Basie, Miller, Sachimo
And the king of all Sir Duke
And with a voice like Ella’s ringing out
There’s no way the band can lose

You can feel it all over
You can feel it all over people
You can feel it all over
You can feel it all over people

A couple of years ago I started walking on my lunch breaks with my ear buds firmly planted in my ears, listening to music while I walked. I’ve always loved music. My dad was a very good vocalist, he sang in a quartet in college. My mother was a self taught pianist and accordian player. She could really sing as well. And me? I couldn’t carry a tune if my life depended on it. I stink. As a musician I am not very good. I love the guitar and goof around with it all the time, but I haven’t taken the time to learn how to play properly. But I love the music! I’ve noticed that as I walk and soak in the various styles and groups and solo artists I like, its almost a spiritual experience. Something about being locked into the sounds just takes me higher, lifts my soul you might say. Now I’m not talking about religious music, just music in general. I come back from those walks refreshed, feeling good. You could say I can feel it all over. I feel connected to nature, connected to my surroundings, peaceful. I’m sure there’s a scientific reason for this. Music is, after all, just vibrations that our ear drums convert into sound. Or something like that. I don’t have a deep message here. Just musings. Perhaps it’s because the weather still stinks here in central New York, and I’m not walking at lunch yet! But I think I’ll put together a quick mix for my first lunchtime walk of the season. Let’s go 10 songs, songs that are currently on my mental radar. This will be heavy on the classic rock side, I’m old! Take a look at my list, then post your list in the comments, if your so inclined! So as soon as possible, get your ear buds in and go for a walk. It’ll be good for your soul!

1. Sir Duke – Stevie Wonder
2. Stand or Fall – The Fixx
3. Love Song – Elton John
4. I Love You But I’m Lost – Tears for Fears
5. Mission (A World Record) – ELO
6. Lights of Home – U2
7. The Hunger and the Thirst – Vector
8. Little Wing – Sting
9. Opus Insert – Kansas
10. Feeling That Way/Anytime – Journey
Bonus: All Mixed Up – The Cars