Ko-Fi

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Sink, You Bastard! Sink!



Every April, it's the same old shit.  I turn on the television and it's some fucking documentary about the Titanic and how it sank.  At this point, does anybody even fucking care?

I mean, it was a big boat.  It sank.  Big fucking deal.

Yeah, sure, it was a horrible thing.  But life is full of horrible things.  Life is full of atrocities and acts of perverse violence.  Sometimes, these things happen because some captain full of hubris didn't bother to steer away from icebergs in the water.  Other times, these things happen because life is ugly and full of natural disasters like earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, and syphilis.   Horrible things happen all the time yet for some reason we romanticise the Titanic as if there was something magical about it all.

There isn't.

I'm proud to say I've never seen the movie about it--Titanic.  Never.

It was a huge hit when I lived in Korea.  People thought for sure I'd seen it.  When I told them I hadn't, it was like I hit them between the eyes with a 2 X 4.

I would tell them, "I like movies where I don't already know the ending."  The ship sank--The End.

But yet parts of our society are just fascinated by this.  Every year in April, around the anniversary of her sinking, cable television is flooded with lurid shows going over the mysterious details as is all of that post-mortem would somehow offer a better explanation.

The boat sank.  That's it.  It doesn't matter how fast the men in the boiler room were shoveling coal.  It doesn't matter how dark it was.  It doesn't matter who had their wireless telegraph machines turned off for the night.  It just doesn't matter.

Yet for some reason, people seem to act like it does.

Easter is full of weird memories like that.  My grandfather passed away in his sleep at the ripe young age of 93 about a week before Easter.  His funeral was the same weekend as the Chernobyl disaster. What I remember most about that was the lack of information.  It was deep in the Cold War and American news was severely lacking.

My mom and I were driving across Iowa, scanning the radio for something decent to listen to, and while she drove her 1976 Chevy Nova, I turned the radio dial.  I stumbled upon a news broadcast out of Canada.  It was two men and they were getting information--real information.  It was through them we were able to learn just how terrifying things had become.

Those of us who were around back then have a different memory of these events.  It started with a curious but grave news broadcast stating that extremely high levels of radiation were detected all throughout Eastern and Northern Europe.  Norway, especially, and they were stating it wasn't from any of their facilities.

People suspected Russia.  Something had to have happened there but Russia, the Soviet Union, said repeatedly it wasn't them and nothing had happened.

And then they said there was a small accident.  But the radiation levels were so high, it was as if a nuclear bomb had gone off.  Radiation filled the skies.

I remember when the radiation reached the United States.  I remember people going outside with geiger counters and getting levels to register for the first time ever.

I remember people going to the store to buy water.

It's curious what a memory will do.  It's curious what we forget.

When I first came back to the US from Korea, I scrapped together money from the two jobs I worked, and sent care packages to my wife and daughter when I could.  The last one I sent was an Easter basket.  It was as large as I could afford.

It was candy, fake grass, and a stuffed, white Easter bunny.

A few years later, my wife sent me pictures of my daughter.  In one of those pictures, she was holding that rabbit.  It was well-worn and had seen better days.  My wife wrote on the back of the photo, "She takes that stuffed toy with her everywhere she goes.  I don't know why."

So I cry every Easter.  A little girl had only a small stuffed animal from her daddy and she carried it with her everywhere she went.  It kills me to think about it.

Horrible things happen all the time in life.  I try to make new memories.  Happy memories.  But that's been far more difficult than it should be.  And the past just won't fucking fade away.  There are no shoulders.  There are no hugs.  There is no hope.  Only tears and a gamble that maybe our efforts can make tomorrow somehow worth living.

I don't have a reason to wake up tomorrow but I'll do it anyways.  Tomorrow is Easter Sunday and I'll avoid people as I usually do.  My what's left of my family will all be doing their own things.  I'm scheduled to work.  I'll do things to keep my hands busy because that's how I survive.  I'll make ice cream, perhaps, and plant some seeds.

The past just won't fucking fade away.  And how can it when we're making docu-shit-dramas about all of the horrible shit that happened?  We can't fix it.  We can't change it.

The Titanic launched with all kinds of fanfare and hopes.  It sank as soon as it got in the middle of the Atlantic.

Chernobyl is currently having another layer being constructed around it.  This way, it will contain the radiation leaking out of the damaged reactors.  To this day, tends of thousands still suffer from health problems because of it.  You can't run away from radiation.

And you can't run away from memories that won't fade.

I hope my daughter keeps her stuffed bunny.  I hope she never lets it go.  But if she has to so she can move on, I'll understand.  The Titanic wasn't supposed to sink.  It was made with great care by proud, professional men.  Chernobyl wasn't supposed to melt down.  It was supposed to provide power to millions.

It wasn't supposed to be like this at all and yet it is.  Because horrible things happen all the time.

And you can't outrun memories.  




  

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