I got a phone call today, from my old Opa (Grandfather). It's his 80'th birthday.
Sure it was odd that he called me on his birthday. But it was more odd that he called me at all.
I'm 34, and he's never done that before.
To be honest, we've barely even chatted before, as much as I like him.
Love him, even.
He was really chatty. We talked about all kinds of things. The weather, for one. Gardening, of course. And...the...weather. Yes.
It wasn't until I got my Mum on the phone that it all came together. He's getting on, and he's thinking about the past.
For those of you that are unaware, the past is a fantastic place full of amazing things, that can only be visited via nostalgia.
Nostalgia is kind of like being homesick, but you can even do it from home, like a pyramid scheme, or a porn website. You can stand in your house and still miss it, only you're really missing its previous incarnation from the past. Kinda like wanting to go hang out at the mall with yourself when you were fifteen, or trying to fellate your shadow. Clearly you have to be quite educated and clever to get your head around the concept. Wait...what do you mean you've never tried to fellate your shadow before? I haven't either, i was just saying...
Anyway, my Opa has been spending a fair bit of time back there (nostalgia, not the other thing), and it's making him appreciate the things he has right now.
Like errant Grandsons.
It's weird. My Opa is kinda my hero. He never said much to anyone, he's definitely the strong, silent type, as opposed to my antisocial, but still intensely loud-mouthed version. During the war (the second one), he, and two of his brothers made the Gestapo's most-wanted list, for taking a hill held by the Nazi's, who greatly outnumbered them, thirty-to-one. The Dutch Military awarded them medals and honour, and all that kind of post-war tomfoolery. The Vanderwerff boys gave them back, and went back to their farms, not even remotely interested in anything other than doing their part to wrest control of their country back from the invaders, then getting back to work. And they stayed there ever since, having daughters and sons, who married and had me, and my cousins.
What I'm trying to get across here, is that he was a no-nonsense kind of man, with his priorities straight.
So to suddenly have him call me up, for the first time in my life, was, as I say, odd. And it was disturbing for the reason that I, now that I too am educated and clever, have been doing exactly the same thing. Visiting the past that is.
As I said a post or two ago, you just can't get time back. You used to be able to pretend, but then Jerry Garcia died, and the whole deal pretty much fell over.
Some people even go so far as to say the past never happened, like Holocaust deniers, acid freaks, and anyone associated with first year Philosophy. But it did happen, and that's the problem. It happened, and now it's not happening any more, because it happened.
If there's one commodity more precious than the here and the now, I'd like a share in it. You can tell they're important, not only because I italicised them, but I slipped the word 'the' in front of them too, just to be sure. I hate to admit it, but Oasis calling their album 'Be here now', was not only astoundingly arrogant, but actually rivalled Socrates for pure, unadulterated wisdom. There really is, no place better to be.
But I digress.
I have gotten to the stage now where I have accumulated so many memories, and have so much 'past' behind me, that I've started to forget things. It's been unpleasant in the extreme to have to sit down and figure out whether the memories I'm having are actually mine, or a movie I saw on tv late at night sometime. And so he typed out into the cold and limitless void of the internet "Do any of you do this too?" Kinda like a modern day message in a bottle.
It's hard to know the truth about anything, even things have have happened to you. My family aren't really any help. They're all exceedingly normal and nice people, and they know enough about the world to know that when you have a past as dark and bad and wrong as our collective shared history, you bury it. I'm the only person that has any interest in seeing it again, and they all think I'm crazy. Like I'm at the cage with the groaning, heaving, slobbering dark beast inside, trying to fight my way past them with the boltcutters. 'Why do you want to know?" they ask. "Why would you want to remember?"
But that's the thing. I do remember. And I can't not remember. At least, I remember something. Don't I?
The further away I get from these memories in time, the more they visit me in my dreams. All jumbled, and out of sequence. They even have smells. Like coal fires, like cold, wet, rusty metal, and like...well, something I can't place, but once every two years or so I'll stop dead wherever I am, because I thought I smelled it again, but it's gone, and...well, it's gone.
I'd like to remember my past, so I can put it all away. Not so it can just fade and rot, and be denied, like it has been. I like tidying things up. Otherwise, what's the point of having a past? If you just leave it behind you? Even if it was utterly craptastic? If I gave you a birthday present, and then took it away right away, wouldn't that kind of be stupid and pointless? If I gave it to you and then it exploded, and it hurt you, you would probably wish it didn't, but would you want to cut the experience right out of your life? Surely you'd rather keep it, so you could say many years down the track "Knifey? Yeah, I knew him. He gave me an exploding present, and that's how I got this scar on my anus."
Or should I be thinking more along the lines of, life is like a car, and while you're roaring through the here and now, there's no real point sitting back to front looking out the back window. Otherwise we wouldn't need windscreens. Or front seats. Or...
Hey, guess what? I don't know!
I don't like the idea of being a big tangled mess of behaviourisms and general oddness, without knowing how it is I turned out that way. It's like looking at a bunch of pipes that all delivered a part of you, and not really having any idea what is at the other end of each of them. Still, I'm the kind of guy that gets really curious about "...Who exactly made this pizza? What is their name? Are they happy? And most importantly, did they wear gloves?"
And if it sounds like I'm saying "It's like..." a lot, it's because I can only imagine what it's like, because I only have part of the picture. Or should I say, the finished picture.
And I guess the reason I'm asking all you people that I'll never meet all these questions, is because I don't think me and my Opa are the only ones. Do you remember your pasts? Do you want to? Do you wish people could clarify the parts you're hazy on? And if so, why is it so important? Because we invent ourselves, don't we? Seriously, don't we?
On a totally unrelated note (seeing as I always have one of those...), I had a dream last night that someone found Jesus Christ's mummified remains in a cave, and they took a DNA sample from it, and cloned him. And he 'grew up', if you will, gave out a bunch of speeches, got it on with the whore from around the way, and got busted trying to smuggle drugs into Indonesia, ending up with the death sentence.
This one's going out to Schappelle.
And on another celebrity note, when will celebs realise the second they go on the record advertising Foxtel, or Telstra, or Telfox, or Foxstra, they lose all their credibility and all of a sudden whaddyaknow? We all hate them. I thought Hugh Jackman was great in X-Men. Good fun. He was even pretty fab in 'the boy from oz'.
But from now on, he's 'the guy from Foxtel', and that's just stupid.
Get fucked Hugh. I hope you Google yourself.
This is knifey, from 'the internet'.