Rochester’s Ghosts

Posted in Uncategorized on July 13, 2010 by Tony M. Vinci

I almost drown once.  Fifteen years ago in Canandaigua Lake.  Dead-blue night, the moon hiding behind pale cloudstreams.  I slipped through cold waves, letting my hair flow from me like sunlight onto the shifting surface.  I pulsed with the waves, my heart beating outside of my chest.  Then something tugged at my lungs.  Inhale.  Water biting my face and neck.  Exhale.  Limbs hardening to stone.  Inhale.  My lungs filled with tar, and I fell through the waves.  Once below, instant calm, middle-of-the-universe-between-dark-and-dark calm.  Underneath the strange ceiling, I remember seeing the moon, a single eye in Summer sky, winking me to my death.  But I didn’t die.

This peaceful undying, this is what it felt like leaving Rochester.

Driving over 490’s scarred pavement, glancing Rochester’s skyline blur in my rearview, I felt something crack inside.  For thirty-five years I lived and breathed that peculiar air, and then I found myself slipping away from it.  Drowning underneath a different sky.

I’m not sure precisely when they started, maybe as I passed the Manitou Rd. exit, where I grew up.  I began to hear them, the voices of long-dead days.  Autumn winds winding through cornfields at dusk.  Harleys burning down East Ave. after midnight.  The still quiet of overly-sweetened earl grey in winter.  The clatter of students after class.  Inches of ice melting slowly off dead branches.  Memories of my Rochester.

So why choose to slip underneath the surface and leave?  I guess the growing echoes in the vacuum of my heart began to scare me.  I’ve been so used to opening my center to the tides of the world, I almost didn’t hear those chambers fill with nothingness.  I need to find a mirror, see what’s really inside, and open the passages again to light.