Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Sign

So I’m out for one of my late walks the other night…morning…about 2:00am. I walk up Main Street and the night is dead quiet, the air still, just the sound of the traffic lights blinking yellow.

I’m lost in thought as I walk along, thinking about a girl……a girl from a long time ago. I light a cigarette and my attention is suddenly caught by a familiar humming sound.

I look up and realize that I’m standing under the neon sign for the towns’ main hotel. It’s an eerie feeling. I worked at this hotel a long time when I was a kid and a teenager….during the off season, even before I was a Carny. I haven’t walked under it in many years.

The sign hums away…glowing… as I’m transported for a fraction of a second….back…before I was a Carny. The timing is perfect….this is exactly the time I used to get off work and walk under that exact sign…..timeless…humming for an eternity….while I get old.

It’s funny how smells and sounds can transport one back to a previous time, especially in autumn.

In that fraction of a second I realize that I would do it all again if given the chance….no regrets.

While all my friends were going to college…getting married…having kids…I was on the road…living in Carny land, seeing the country…living one day at a time.

The sign continues to hum and glow as I walk away, a lot older…disappearing into the night.

No regrets.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Where The Road Ends

This past summer was a frustrating one. The company downsized and my responsibilities diminished. There was a time when I was one of the few people that could do the job I do, not bragging, it’s just a fact.

I knew the company was downsizing this year, I had no idea it would affect my job the way it did. The industry is changing so fast, a lot of faces have disappeared over the last couple of years, and a lot more will in the very near future. A lot of us are becoming obsolete, we’re dinosaurs.

I’ve never said what my position is in the Carny world, there’s a reason for that. There are only a few of us that do it, if I specified, people would know who I am, and I would rather remain anonymous for my own reasons.

You see, I don’t have to work a joint or a ride, because of my position I had the freedom to wander the Midway day and night, and have for the last 17 years.

As a result of the industry changing, and the company downsizing, I’m not needed anymore, I can easily be replaced by a younger less experienced person that will work for less and take a lot more shit.

A lot of other people offered me jobs for next season, working in a joint mostly. But I can’t do it, I won’t, I’ve been free on the Midway too long. For me to go into a joint and make less money, and take orders from an idiot, would be a step down.

I’ve seen it with other people; I’ve watched what happens when they can’t accept that their time is up. They’ll take anything just to hang on, their pride disappears, one year they’re running stuff, and the next year they’re doing some shit job way beneath them, their pride gone.

I will not do that to myself, I refuse, I never forget who I am, even when others do. I paid my fucking dues in full; there isn’t a chance in hell I’m taking orders from someone that knows less than I.

So ends my 26 years on the road as a Carny….poof…..gone, where did the time go?

Sure I’m scared, so what, it’s a fact of life.

I’ve been working on my resume, it’s a little tough, and what do I write? “Professional Carny”.

I don’t know where I’m going from here, it’s scary. I’ll find a new profession I guess, if anyone’s hiring, let me know.

I’ll continue to post my stories and experiences from the road; it’ll just be “Diary of a Retired Carny” instead.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Home Is Where The Heart Is

The town looks the same, smaller.

My mother is thrilled I'm here.

Most of the people I knew are long gone now, time waits for no one, things look the same, but they're different.

I haven't seen my old friend Dave yet, he's working out of town, it'll be good to see him.

Late at night I go for walks, everywhere I look there are memories or ghosts from childhood, from someone elses life.

I'm an alien here, I don't belong, too many years, too many miles.

Home is where the heart is, mine is out there......somewhere.

We can't roll back time, we all become who we really want to be, whether we like it or not.

I blew in on the autumn wind, I'll drift out on a spring breeze.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Home

I hopped on the Greyhound and headed home, it would be the first time I saw my hometown in 14 years.

I didn’t talk to anyone on the bus for that 5 hour trip. I stayed to myself and stared out the window, thinking, wondering what in the fuck had kept me away for so long.

Life’s like that I guess, shit happens, time passes, one day we wake up and we’re a lot older and hopefully wiser, the years have passed and though we think we’re the same, we’re not.

I fell asleep and I dreamed, I dreamed of lazy summer afternoons, summer holidays away from the prison they call school, being free.

I awoke realizing that I’d got my wish, no regrets.

I looked out the window at the familiar landscape and buildings as we pulled into town.

The bus pulled into the small depot and I got off, I was the only one getting off in this small town.

It was late afternoon.

I grabbed my duffel bag from the driver. I sat on the bench on the sidewalk and watched the bus pull away and head down the street, back to the highway.

I lit a cigarette and looked around, nobody in sight, just the gold leaves of autumn blanketing the ground around me.

The town looked smaller than I remembered.

I sat there a long time before I called a cab to take me to my mothers.

The Invisible Man

I'm invisible on the Midway most of the time, a wallflower so to speak. I wander and watch, mostly you people, the ones that come to play on the Carnival.

You don't notice me, but I see you.

I'll sit and smoke, watching, wondering what your life is like, if you're happy with the choices you've made.

I watch you women, wondering if that's your boyfriend, husband, or just a friend. Does he make you happy? Is he a "play it safe" kind of guy? Does he bore you? Does he excite you? Or do you wonder if there's more out there?

My guess is the "latter" for a lot of you. The look in your eyes gives you away, he's too wrapped up in himself to see though, or too childlike to comprehend.

The boyishness in a man is cute, but it soon becomes tiresome.

Where I Fit In

We fit where we want to fit I think, in this country anyway. We have it good here compared to other parts of the world.

To say that all I can ever be is a "Carny", would be bullshit. I do know some people who will only ever be "Carnies" though, they don't really fit anywhere else.

The "Carny" life did "choose me" at a young age, in a manner of speaking, I was naturally wired for it though, some are not.

My brothers tried it, they were given the opportunity, or curse if you will, they weren't built for it though. They went on to lead normal lives, get married, have kids, nice houses, white picket fences, then there's me.

No one in the family says it, but they all think it, I'm a waste, I could have done better. I see it on their faces when I roll into whatever city they're in to play a fair. They pick me up at the lot and take me home for a couple days, to visit nephews and nieces that barely know me, that might see me once a year, briefly.

Do I regret it? No.

I'll tell you why.

I'm on my own path in life, we all have our own roads to go down. If you truly want to be unhappy, try doing what other people think you should be doing.

We all have an inner voice that whispers to us, all people have it I think, mine tells me not to worry about tomorrow, "things will be what they will be".

So I don't waste a lot of time worrying about stupid shit.