October 25th, 2020 8:05am pdt

If you are visiting for the first time, go to the beginning

The Ice Skate Issue

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"Holy fuck, it's a bad one. I have to go back in time again, to that beautiful four-year period just before moving east.

The big mall was wondrous then. We visited weekly for one reason or another, and that is where I first discovered the D-555 and other items which struck me upside the head. The little store was called 'Futuretronics' and was a required stop on our stroll through. Another was the 'Bombay Company' which held things from all over the world and had the look and feel of exotic travel. Furniture, decorations, everything. The store was really beautiful and we always popped in to grab the scent of wonder. There were others, but I am certain I need not describe the entire map from back then. The point is that place felt enormous and full of possibility. We were young enough to feel as if much was ahead and some of the things we saw and experienced in those places would eventually grace our lives in some way. During the key four years, a few actually took place. Others were dreams. We had lots of time.

I bring up the mall due to so many memories of us visiting and the feeling of possibility as we looked toward the future. Everything felt wide open and bright. We had no idea that we would be moving east years later, or that the time we spent in and around that mall would become so important. The area was my favorite in the south bay, from the mall itself to the nearby restaurants, and right around the corner where the big domes awaited our next outing. All of it was really fantastic and close together. There was no such Santana Row back then. There were little shops, another small theatre, and various restaurants spread out over the property. No street, either. Directly across from the 21 was another wonderland to explore. We often wandered through while awaiting the screening of a film.

Those were the days of the huge Macy's store at one end of the mall, including the Cellar and cafe. Both were on the lowest floor -- below entry level -- and every visit to the store meant I had to wander. Like The Good Guys just up the boulevard, the Cellar held its fair share of consumer electronics, and everything from the simplest pocket calculator up to the latest television technology. Those boxes were capable of multiple channels displayed at once, otherwise known as the 'channel index', which was like a grid of sixteen small squares, each with its own content as selected by the remote. Amazing, to put it mildly. I don't know the reason, but the picture-in-picture went away at some point. Sony was at the head of the line, too. When the PIP began, it was difficult to set up, so Sony went a step further. Along with the vertically-flat screens and image, I was taken off my feet by the beauty of their televisions. Every time we went through the Cellar for whatever reason, I had to stop off in the electronics department and stare. All those model numbers were dreamy, and I knew every one of them by heart. The displays of technology were on the left as we strolled through, and the beginning of the furniture was opposite. I cannot even begin to guess how many times we were there over the course of four years. Yes, I was that nuts over televisions and all of the related electronic gadgets which popped up year after year. The technology was amazing at the time, unlike now. We passed that department and my heart leaped. I will try to avoid berating the current times as they relate to high technology. That is a circle of shit.

The entire basement of Macy's was fantastic. From the electronics and furniture, gift items, and on to the seasonal department. Their holiday display took my breath away every freaking time. She adored Christmas, and that led to many trips into the Cellar to browse and enjoy. Everything was flawlessly decorated and we could smell the cinnamon and cranberry.

ceramic skate

Part of her inspiration to drown ourselves in Christmas was the tree which went up in her parents' house each November. I spoke of it already, so I will only add that her holiday mood was adorable. Lights, garland all over the place, everything. She was very fond of the holiday. Sometimes after Christmas day we would head over to Macy's and see what had been put on sale for the following year. On one particular occasion, I ran across something I would never forget. An ornament hanging there on the clearance tree. Upon seeing it, there was no way I could leave the store without it. One glance and I fell in love.

Ice skates, older style. Right there with all of the other clearance items. I grabbed them and looked, and there had been no tag, numbers, name, or anything else to identify the skates. But I wanted them. The appearance of that ornament was all Christmas, even with no bright colors or holly berries. Just a pair of skates with a decades-old look. But I had to have them. Straight to the young girl at the checkout. 'Um', she told me. The girl did not see a way to ring up the skates because there was nothing to scan or any price tag. I told her I could find something similar for the purpose of satisfying the register, but she hesitated. I then stated that I did not care what the cost was because I was not leaving without them. She suggested they should not have been on display in the first place without a tag. Hmm... Did I need to go up the ladder? Yes I did. One call and the manager approached to help after a few minutes' wait and realized my need to bring the ornament home, so she grabbed whatever was nearby... And 'beep'. A less-than-ten dollar item was rung up, she handed me the skates and instructed the young girl to just let it go out the door, and there I was with my precious ornament at last.

To recall something like this after the loss of other meaningful items I have mentioned is about as bad as my situation can get. I am sitting here right now after being reduced to nothing more than a support system, and now the ice skates are piled on top. I remember them. The appearance, the offset nature of the strings and partial rotation of one of the skates, the beige color and vintage effect of their laces, and the way my heart leaped at first glance. A bad one. Wait a minute... Is there a good one anymore? I wish that was funny, and like every day now, I wish anything was funny.

The ornament may have been ceramic or possibly bone china, just like all those beautiful sculptures made by Lenox. I am not certain. Beige, one dangling slightly lower than the other, and so charming that I damned-near choke up when I recall them on the tree. There it is, just another inanimate object from nearly thirty years ago which has so much love and meaning attached that the memory is breaking me in half. I may eventually find another which is close enough to the original to make me smile, but like the CD player, it will not be the same. I went through a bit of a struggle for those little skates and they came to represent life at the time. They are elsewhere now as I left them behind upon exiting Michigan in favor of home. Very little came with me.

The period currently in focus is taking over my ability to reason through a given day. At this moment I am losing my way. I have nothing aside from good memories of those years, and due to my love for them the future appears dim. Within recent entries are remarks about the wonder being all but gone these days. It's true and feels depressing. Technology continues to leap forward but nothing of note comes along. Just the advancement of existing electronics, phones and other devices becoming faster and more capable, yet there is a distinct lack of discoveries. And yes, I keep bringing it up. I know, so stop that before it gets going. I do not like the state of technology now because there is no excitement. Thirty years ago (or any other period other than the present, really) the small steps seemed larger somehow. The feeling was one of an open view, wide with wonder and plenty of reason to look ahead and await what to come next. Well, all of it has now been treaded. Smaller, faster, cheaper, better... Just like from a film back during the nineties. The newness is worn for good. To think that everything related to the best part of my life has been rolled up into a small space with only a few items inside is kind of crazy, but however I came to such a conclusion, the fact remains: Everything is gone, the hour is too late, and there is little reason to look out the window anymore.

The simplicity of a Christmas ornament sent me into orbit. Nothing more recent has had quite the same effect.

ceramic skate

I am an extremely sentimental person who quickly attaches meaning to tangible items quite often. I don't see any of it as a failing, I am simply different than in the long past. For example, if something sits on the table in the backyard for long enough and does not move, one day I begin to feel that if it is not there I will miss the sight. So, it becomes more important. And said item could be anything from a coin to a dead flower. The item itself does not matter, but whatever may be going on in my life will fuse to it and then there is reason for it to remain. Ugh. I cannot say enough about the skates. To this very second I miss them and the time period they now represent. Damn it, anyway. Another issue on top of the rest, and most decidedly the type which can enjoy no resolution whatsoever unless I decide to accept the fact that time has progressed and I cannot go back there again. Things change, people come and go, but still my head is wrapped tightly to the fact that I can't deal with being where and when I am. This is becoming too difficult, and when compared to the blissful time all those years ago, everything seems dire. Yes, I realize I may be glorifying the period. I would not be surprised to learn that by doing so I am hurting myself, too. Actually, I already know. Just like many other little events throughout my life, I look back and see defining moments which mean more now than perhaps they did at the time. I am quite certain others see something similar when peering into their own pasts. It is natural to miss it. My problem is the gradient has become so dramatic that each moment of a given day holds a bevy of little representations of just how shitty this life has become. The tiny reminders which I mentioned that sit idle due to memories attached just remain there collecting dust until they are nearly unrecognizable. I feel the same, but then become slammed upside the fucking head knowing the time is burning away. I look upon them and feel pain.

Well honestly, even if I still had that little ornament, I would be exactly the same. Just an ornament, right? I have to cease going on and on about that time because the writing will benefit exactly no one. Not even me. I am feeling worse now than at the outset of the month, before I began to drown in memories. Sometimes I wish I had brought the skates with me, and other times I believe they are right where they should be. I am hoping she hangs them on the tree each year. Plus, I am not going to seek another similar pair of skates. There is no point in it. They were there while things were good, after which I filled our lives with turmoil, and then they were forgotten and effectively closed the door on a time period which is now in control of my thoughts on a given day. Damn it, anyway.

Ever closer to the holidays. Halloween is just a week out. After that I will promptly fall on my face as the end of the street draws near."