Sunday, June 10, 2012

Rose Hill

This is my favorite graveyard.  There are no roses, but there is a hill.  The graveyard, perched at the top but spilling over the sides, boasts a view that is sweeping without sweeping you under -gentler than the too-sharp, too-fierce vistas of the American West.  The graveyard is sizable but not overwhelming, well-kept without being fussy, pretty without being precious.  It embodies, in short, everything I love about the Midwest, with the added plus of hilarious signage.

Life is a dead end, and all that.

I try to make it out to the graveyard at least once each trip home.  It's a fair walk, almost two miles each way, and the route wends through the university I intermittently attended, the downtown in which I was married, and, finally a neighborhood of weary, gentrifying bungalows on the western edge of town, in which I wore through, pace by pace, the soles of a heartbreak or two.

I enjoy walking by myself, and the graveyard is always empty.  So there's that.

There's excellent coffee available on the way back.  So there's that.

But the real reason I come is to be reminded.  Slow.  Down.  No way out.

Last night, as I was battling sleep to read just one more page, someone died.  Someone dies with every inhalation, every release of breath.  This particular death came late but still too early, after head injuries sustained during a bike ride with friends. The deceased was a colleague with whom I was to teach in 10 days' time.  I knew him only a little.  He had a lovely smile; in any case, he's gone.

I'll keep wandering through the graveyard, but you should know I've opted for cremation.  At my end, let there be, at most, at least, a reception and some decent joe.

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