From Roundhouse To Fogelsinger, Tawas Racks My Dishes
Notes about The Roundhouse, Tawas, spiritual advancement, deterioration and decline, and the Huron National Forest
There is more to see and do in Tawas than what you immediately notice upon entering the city limits. I suppose that is true of any place really, but in this particular instance it is imminently less than obvious. I mean, for Christ's sake, Tawas is pretty butt-ugly to all but those who live there. But it wasn't always. There are pictures to prove what a charming old fishing and logging town it really was back in the day before Norman's invaded and then all the vinyl "no-maintenance" cladding you see everywhere started to spring up and be called "beautiful" by only the people who actually live there. I would like to think that the city planners who wear the pants in my old hometown don't like my negative comments. I violently throw them around, and sometimes haphazardly, but I make these statements because I truly loved the old place, at least what it was, and I absolutely hate what Tawas has become. And the Tawas decline obviously didn't start with these people in power now. It's been going on for quite some time. I am not really sure when it started exactly, perhaps over twenty-five years ago with the tear-down of the historic Community Building that sat sideways from the foot of the East Tawas pier. But I promise that someday I will find my answer. And for now I'll settle for writing about a couple things I do find good and swell and perhaps still a little unknown to the happy traveler motoring with blinders on through what used to be my beloved hometown.
Photographs Copyright 2010 by M Sarki
It is already well-documented, at least regionally, how fine the kite
boarding, camping, sailing, fishing, beaches, rivers, streams, golf
courses, parades, and cross-country skiing is around the Tawas area so
there is no need again to beat that drum. I will leave that for the
Chamber of Commerce to do. But for a writer like me, or somebody
obsessively reflective, there are numerous comfortable vistas and
bucolic settings in the immediate area to offer ample opportunities to
go inside one's self if that is your desire to do so. It is definitely
mine. Of course, you have the good fortune to frequent instead one of
the three hundred and seventy-five thousand Christian churches in the
area if the holy bible indeed anchors your master plan. And if you are in addition a people person you will definitely not be alone inside those
Note there are other more glamorous destinations throughout our great country to certainly rival a Tawas spiritual advancement experience. These other extreme retreats also promote the congestion of crowds and the horrible littering human being who ultimately destroys what peace and solitude there was and forever will be. So why am I now for shitting in my own nest? It is my guess that these hoards of the horrible will choose not make the long and boring trip it actually takes to get up to Tawas, and will only read about how lovely it really is, and wish that I were dead. Plus there are no amenities available here of the type these people seem to need. Not really any spas to speak of, no chlorinated pools or professional philandering gigolos, and the nightlife actually is for owls here. Add the fact that I will never explain or divulge where these unpopulated locations are that I speak of except to say they are found in the Tawas area and are available to anyone at anytime.
I have a teacher and editor back in NYC who I often speak of on these pages. Gordon used to mail back to me what I considered were cryptic notes written on the pages I had submitted for publication in his magazine. He never explained to me what he meant by those notes, he simply made them. It was my job to figure them out, that is, if I was interested enough in learning what it was he was talking about. And I was. I understood the word "no" which meant the piece was rejected. I understood the words "beat it" when it was scribbled above a title or next to a word in the text. But what I did not understand early on were the words "possess yourself". I really struggled with those two buggers. I mean, what did he mean with his saying to me to possess yourself? It took me a very long time to figure that out, and nobody worked harder than I did to do so. My life up to that point had already taught me that writing wasn't easy, but the living was hard. And when you get the living down better the writing somehow naturally comes along. When you look at what makes you personally tick, and I am not speaking about a clock here but actually desire, what it is you truly desire, and that also isn't as easy as it sounds because society and advertising have mucked all that up for us too, the answers do start to flow. It is so confusing growing up, and if you blindly throw yourself into raising a family, buying a house, working a job for thirty years, all before you figure the first part out, you are in for a very long haul in the confusion department when it finally comes down to evaluating your life and what you have chosen to do with it. At least it did for me. Had I stayed drunk or riddled with happy pills there is a slight chance I could have stayed awake with a smile on my face. At least for a while. But that wasn't possible as the teacher instructed this student to claim the disease instead of the cure. That also wasn't an easy concept to digest, but it has proven thus far to have served me very well.
There is an older single lady who lives in my apartment building here in downtown Louisville. It is obvious, at least to me, that Barbara was quite attractive in her day. She claims to be one hundred. I am guessing she is in her late seventies, but guessing someone's age is not something I am gifted at. My old friend does seem upbeat and positive most days and often she corrects my negative, but honest, perceptions of her beloved Louisville. We get along OK because I am pleasant on the outside, but when somebody asks me serious questions I attempt to be as honest with them as I possibly can be. That is, if I care enough to be honest. A lie sometimes is as much a dismissal of a person as anything else.
It is Barbara's position that everyone should be on anti-depressants. That the world would be better for it. And perhaps she is right. But it is not an option for me and she will just have to deal with it. So I am unhappy sometimes, and I feel the need to deal with certain things that irritate me or cause me pain. I have a family history for initiating a personal behavior that I call transference. Say I feel poorly by no fault of mine own, if external developments or environments cause me to be unhappy, then I do what I call a transfer. I direct these ill-feelings toward the person whom I believe is creating my discomfort and make certain these transferred ill-feelings are received, acknowledged, and felt as deeply as I felt them or more. Some may describe my process as exacting revenge, or retaliating, but I choose to call it transference because I can. It might also be called a teaching moment. At the very least it clears the room quickly. And I do believe in the sanctity of one's personal space.
So Tawas has had some pretty special places in which for me to hide. You're talking to an expert here. I have been frequenting the locale for years and not seeing anybody I know or anyone I even grew up with, which I admit is a challenging and delightful game in itself given the annual natural population hovers around 5,000 total between the two towns of East Tawas and Tawas City. But the main reason I conduct this game is by the time I graduated high school I had already given up measuring myself by the number of friends and acquaintances I had acquired. It has been my experience that past acquaintances are just nosy people. They simply want to impose and compare. I'm not interested in their gasconism. Nor do I think it is at all important in the grand scheme of things. Everybody had their chance to be the good friend when they were front and center and at the starting gate. Too late now after the final cut has been made.
So I like to hide in the forest. I take long walks in there looking for the bowels of my beast and I consider these to be the friendliest woods I have ever found on the planet conducive to my activity. There is something very special about the Huron National Forest that I just can't get my head around most days. It's a feeling though, and something I know I love. It may be as simple as the sandy soil under that carpet of fresh pine needles. Or maybe the poignant scent of the summer's oven baking the jack pine trees, those rousing smells suggesting they might ignite into a raging forest fire just when your back is turned. That glorious warmth of the sun on a given stretch of trail, or the comforting heat massaging your back in a dry grassy clearing. I'm telling you, it makes you feel it in your crotch, man. And it doesn't really matter because you're all alone in there, if you really want to be. You do not have to share this special place with hardly anybody except of your own choosing. And on my many trips over the back roads as I make my way to these forest trails and dry yellow fields I pass by the old wooden barns and farms that all too soon will be gone and replaced by metal-clad boxes. But not so fast you little darlings; there are people like me still wanting them. The old barns are mostly falling over into their own self-made voids, their forms deteriorating much as our human bones do. But these old barns are in their natural decline, unlike the Tawas planners deciding one day they need an ugly Walmart in place of the Roundhouse, and then tearing it down in order to make way.
Important and Interesting Links
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M Sarki was born in East Tawas, Michigan in 1953. Besides being a poet with four collections published, Sarki is a painter and photographer. He...