This is an element that got left out of the last post. It’s the end (titled prologue) of my memory of memory post. I was messing around with some filters on Facebook and put a hat and sunglasses on my dad. He looked at it, and said, “I look like Roman.” Roman is my mom’s dad, my Grandfather. And just so you know, Conze, who I quote, writes with a peculiar eloquence about Buddhism. I link to a very good article he wrote on the The Five Spiritual Faculties. I take some comfort that nobody will read this, so it’s more of a scratch pad for how I fold this into Part II, the backstory of the characters and their family. This was written some time in 2017 I think.
I’m not just being deconstructive here with the narrative. It’s just that you have to realize that we talked about Roman because of the hat. And the hat and the story that followed and memory now, a memory of my dad remembering on Christmas, is truly a muddled narrative. I could frame tale it. You know, like Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. Why would I waste my time. The point is that this whole thing is because of that stupid Facebook thing of putting a hat and glasses on a face.
I am always hoping for more information about my grandparents. I’m sure this is somewhat disturbing or annoying to my parents, particularly my mom. I’d be annoyed to; what about me? Ask about me, I’m alive!
I’ll just let you know, that’s Roman driving the Packard. And the memory is taken from my mother. Edward Conze quotes the Visuddhimagga about past lives, that “these things become as clear to [a monk] as if lit up by a lamp.” I know I was there when Roman came home drunk, having left his children alone and unfed because my mom was there. That’s her.
There I was, that was my name, that was my family, that was my caste, such was my food, this was the happiness, this the suffering which I experienced.
Yes, for that and many other incidents and accidents, hints and allegations, all of them led to me, at least partially. These people, some of whom I cannot meet except through memory, a lamp throwing a pond of light in a dark cave, are me. I knew Roman, but only as an old man. I described him to my mom one time, when he was well into his 80s, as an exiled Central American dictator.
Today, I’d give anything to get drunk with him. And I’d love to beat him with my fists as hard as I possibly could. I’d love to ask him why. I’d love to know about his faith. I’d love to know what made him who he was and what he became. This is the way I feel about myself. Each time that lamp lights up a part of the cave, each time I catch a glimpse I want more.
The young man had such a fancy for this girl. Her face. Her big brown eyes. And yes, her figure. These were all feelings he shouldn’t be having, especially toward her. She was the daughter of this man who was controversial in the church. He was a womanizer. A drinker. A preacher. His sermons were shouted. His playing on the guitar violent, abrasive, striking chords with no relation at all to the hymn. His mother would not approve. But the man offered him a ride to a revival, and so he’d get a chanceto sit in the back seat next to her, her brother on the other side, all the way to Santa Fe.
My dad talked about the trip like it was yesterday.
“What kind of car was it,” I asked,
“It was a Buick, it had to be 1964, no,” he paused. “No, because I was about 17, still a teenager, your mom was 18, so it had to be 1962.”
I started Googling.
“I remember he wore his hat low over his eyes, and man, he drove fast,” he paused again. “Sheesh, I mean he drove fast.”
“Like this,” I asked, showing him an image of a Buick from that period.
“Let me see,” he said, taking my phone. “No, no, it had these things on the side and it was rounded on the back. This has fins.”
He went on.
“I mean, it had to be 80 miles an hour, and your grandmother was in the front seat,” he said. “I can’t believe I didn’t say anything, but he was so dominant.”
“Seat belts,” I asked.
“No, not that I remember,” he answered, “ And I remember looking at your mom and your uncle, eye contact, about how fast he was driving.”
“I didn’t see the speedometer, but I’d bet we hit 100 miles per hour.”
“How about this,” I asked, turning the phone over to him.
“That’s it!” he exclaimed, “That’s the one!”