The dream began with a group of us high school students still in Early County High working on “the final project”. Steel boxes, no, not coffins, nothing that obvious, but the boxes were thin and flat, like security cases for cookie sheets. I didn’t understand how we could be in post-graduation mode and still have this “final project” but that made as much sense as having a teacher scream at us about acting like adults but not letting us go to the bathroom when we had to pee.

In the dream I walked home, and one the most enduring memories I have of the high school was this: a cow pasture with cows in it sat next to the school, and if you think the coffin metaphor was cliché’ imagine the cattle comparison. But right next to both the school and the pasture was a cemetery, so there is that, too. The sidewalk beside the pasture was my path to and from school, and I grew up thinking concrete fence posts were common, because that’s what was holding up the fence around the pasture. As I left Early County, and Blakely, and got out into the world, I never saw another concrete fence post.

In the dream, the pasture was already gone. In Blakely Georgia, the cycle was for someone to build a new “shopping center” that had a new grocery store, everyone would leave the old one and it would close, then in another seven or eight years it would happen again. There was the Piggly Wiggly when I was a kid, then the IGA when I was in high school, and finally, there was the cow pasture strip mall, where they paved over the cows’ home, built a new store, and I think it’s closed now. I haven’t been back for over a decade and won’t unless someone else I care about dies.

I was looking for one of the concrete fence posts in the dream and couldn’t see one at all. The shopping center was in ruins, and broken concrete pillars were half buried in the dirt. The ditch that had run like a scar across the field, and across the cemetery, had drainage pipe laid in it, and buried, which seems stranger than anything else for some reason.

Reality began to set in when girls I knew became pregnant and dropped out of high school to have babies. Their boyfriends, or husbands, which were usually the same guy, would get some menial job, they would put a trailer in the backyard of her daddy’s house, and live there until they could afford to move. In due time the baby would grow up, go to the same school with the same teachers, and be taught no to have to pee until class was over. They would be taught not to be tardy, and they were told to just say what the fuck ever to drugs.

No one wrote, no one painted, a few people played piano or guitar, and I did know a trumpet player. But by and large, no one left, no one did anything but produce the next generation of students, unless they died young.

I woke up from the dream wondering about the fence posts, and what the symbolism was with the cookie sheet steel security boxes, with their heavy-duty rivets, and hinged flaps in the front. I wondered if they ever fixed the electrical outlet on the north side of that room, where we dug out the granular insulation, a small pile each class period.  I wondered if all the teachers I once knew, and hated, were all dead now, and if former students came to the funeral, and were sad.

I wonder what happened to those concrete fence posts, dozens of them, now remembered by only a few people, maybe just one. A day will come when that school is torn down, another built, and someone will send me an email, telling me it’s gone, just like the other schools I went to as a kid, yes, all gone. The lesson they never taught us, for they themselves did not know it, is this ends, this all ends, everything, and one day, nothing will remain of the world we once knew, and we certainly will not survive it.

The cows, the kids, the teachers and the posts, the building and the final projects, yes, even those, will simply cease to be, except in dreams.

Take Care,

Mike

One thought on “Of Concrete and Cows

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s