Friday, April 25, 2014

Mike's Story Part 6: Jackboots

By Jenna Orkin

   I didn't let Mike smoke in the apartment when I was home so he would go downstairs in front of the building and talk to the doorman or tenants walking their dogs.  But when it was too cold for that (he was a California kid after all,) he simply slipped into the stairwell.
   One night, after returning from his last cigarette before retiring, he said, "When I was out in the hall, all I could think about was men in jackboots kicking the door down and taking away everything.  I think it has to do with Denver."
   Of all the moves Mike had had to go through as he was growing up, none had hit him so hard as Denver.  For the first time in his life, he'd established roots.  He was on the football team and he had friends.
   "When we left Denver," he elaborated, "my dad didn't explain, didn't ask how I felt.  He just said, 'Get your stuff ready; we're leaving for Los Angeles in two weeks."
   "The way you left Ashland," I observed. 
   From conception to realization, that plan to close up shop after the computers were smashed and flee the country for the terra incognita of Venezuela where again, he knew nobody, had taken all of eighteen days.  And like the move from Denver, it involved divesting himself of everything he held most dear; leaving family heirlooms, which I will not describe, for his closest friends, with the stipulation that in the unlikely event he should return, (see his article, By The Light of a Burning Bridge) they would be restored to him.  (For the most part, they were.)  One of the signs of suicidal intent is giving away one's possessions.
   "That's true," Mike said in wonder.  He was not accustomed to the insights of psychotherapy.  "But why would I want to repeat Denver?"  
   "That's one of the weird things about the psyche.  We repeat old behavior because it's comfortable and fulfills predictions; we're not taken by surprise.  It may suck but it's a case of, 'The devil you know is better than the one you don't.  Also, we may want to get it right this time.'"
   I'm sure this constant upheaval as he was growing up was one reason that even as an adult, Mike never stayed in one place very long:  After leaving his home of Los Angeles, he moved to Ashland followed by Venezuela, Brooklyn, Los Angeles again, Sebastopol, Colorado, (where he must have been thrilled to return,) Calistoga.  
   Like anyone else who'd been close to Mike, I assumed the men in jackboots taking away everything to be government thugs.  It's only in rereading this account that I see that they also represent his father.  But in the end, they became Mike himself.


John Clark said...

Have you ever seen where Mike lived recently in Colorado? The San Luis Valley is mostly dustbowl, including where Mike's trailer was located. It certainly isn't anything like Denver.

John Clark said...

Have you ever seen the trailer and location Mike lived in, in Colorado? The San Luis Valley dustbowl isn't Denver, no way, no how. I suppose it is possible that Mike didn't know that before he fled Sebastopol but it only take a single google streetview to figure it out.