The astronomical solstice snuck up on me again.
I had a strong urge to shave my head. I think the blade hit my skin at just about exactly one minute to seven o’clock last night. That was also the exact moment when the earth’s axis was tilted as far to the sun as it gets.
Or perhaps I’m in tune with the cosmos.
Or perhaps the cosmos is in tune with me.
Anyway, I shaved my head. And I realized several things.
1. Each head shaving symbolizes something. Cutting off the hair is saying goodbye to a moment in your life and moving on. This one symbolized saying goodbye to Milo. I picked up his collar from the vet on Thursday, where I also paid the bill: $1,126.47. And then I realized I’m also saying goodbye to our stimulus check from the federal government.
2. I found Milo’s collar lying on the kitchen table this morning, and realized it would make a cool bracelet. It’s black leather, with spikes: a Harley Davidson collar, a Rob Halford collar. I’ve been wearing it on my wrist all day. Milo’s tag makes a little jingling sound that makes me think a cat is in the vicinity — I’m constantly looking around for this phantom cat — though strangely enough I don’t think it’s Milo creeping up on me, but Grandma Folds.
3. After nine years I have finally acclimated. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the subtropical climate of New Orleans since we moved here from the Midwest. Felt right at home. If anything, as my body ages I find the heat and humidity more oppressive, not less. And so you see I’m experiencing the climate as the natives do. In the Midwest summer was a time to be relished; here, it is dreaded. With AC we can hibernate through it and make it to next winter. Winter in the Midwest was a season to be dreaded; here it is cause for celebration.
4. Thus the climate of New Orleans is an inversion to me, an upsetting of the natural order. Thus I would start the New Year on the summer solstice.
5. But I realized my new year was getting off to a bad start. It started off at 6 AM with Folds barfing all over my sandals, and it just went downhill from there. Have you ever had one of those days where everything goes wrong? Like when you wait inside for hours, worried that if you go out it will rain on you. But it doesn’t rain; the weather is fine. After skulking in your darkened rooms all day, you step outside. And immediately — I mean immediately — the clouds burst with a fury like they’ve been waiting just for you, and you’re soaked. After a number of such setbacks, I simply returned to bed and started the year over.
6. Of course it does rain a lot in New Orleans in the summertime. And every time it rains heavily the streets flood somewhere around here. So rain makes us nervous. But New Orleanians are expert at dealing with constant low levels of stress.
7. Anyway, like I said, summer is now the hard season for me, not winter, and we are right in the heart of it. Summer does not begin with the solstice. That’s bunk. Midsummer on the other hand has drifted forward on the calendar just like Christmas.
8. So I would like to celebrate the time from the astronomical solstice through St. John’s Eve to Midsummer proper as an interregnum, if you will, a four or five day festival between years, an extended return to bed to start the year over. Believe me, I need it.
9. With Milo’s passing, I realize I’m the only male in the house.
10. Writing is a compulsion. Even when I don’t make sense I can’t help myself, I have to write. They call it graphomania I think. Thus I try to pursue a disciplined approach to writing. Thus the appeal of formal poetry. Which I haven’t written forever. But I love highly structured forms. This blog is a structured approach; I try to write once a day. But occasionally I have to do a core dump like this. What better time than this gap between years?
11. Also, I shaved my head because my barber up and flaked. Don, like Quentin before him, was cutting hair at a little shop just two blocks up Iberville from our house. He quit — it was just a part time job — and now there’s no barbers there. He’d never cut a white man’s hair before, so I had to work with him, like with Quentin. And just when he was getting the hang of it, he’s gone. I’m tired of training new barbers. So I decided I’d just shave it all off for now.
12. Folds has been dogging me all day, which is a very annoying and very uncatlike habit. Cats shouldn’t dog people. It’s just wrong. But she seems so old and feeble, I’m afraid she’s going to die at any moment.
13. I think I’m going out of my head. The freshly shorn head makes me look kind of crazy. And when you consider the abyss within, you realize you could plunge in precipitously at any moment. Any one of us could. There’s both horror and ecstasy lurking beneath the surface of our everyday existence. Here’s the evidence:
14. So, yes, a clean scalp and a clean start, a new year — a new life. Since this is the first such year since my acclimation, I proclaim it Year 1, EBA. It will officially begin June 25, I guess. Feel free to join in the festivities.