• Harry Jensen

May 27th, 2020

I like the idea of superheroes, which is why I’m happy to report that there might be a vigilante patrolling the neighborhood. This individual is a man with a leathered face and a Kill Bill yellow suit topped off by a navy-blue bandanna. Captain Yellowbritches plays bassy 90’s hip-hop from a concealed speaker, perhaps hidden in a black leather case which I recognize, from my days in karate, as the container for either nunchukus or Japanese scythes, farmer’s tools turned weapons. I cross the street when I see Captain Yellowbridges — because of the plague, mostly — but he never looks at me, walking slow, torso tipped back like a strutting prince of Pisa, towering undisturbed as he walks around Laurelhurst. He takes care of me, maybe.

There are some people I worry about, people I can’t claim to know. One is Conspiratonius. I haven’t introduced myself, but I have enjoyed what he has to say. For the last year, Conspiratonius could be found pacing around NE Portland at the dead of night, forever rehearsing and revamping a gatebustering, whistleblowhorn of a condemnation of the technofascist masters of our fates, a polemic bearing up and down on the government officials who use Google to spread misinformation and AIDS throughout the heartland. He would yell into the night, at a bikelock or a telephone poll, and I would listen, enraptured albeit uninvited.

I haven’t seen Conspiratonius for a while, and I am sad I do not have a real name for him. I spent many nights at a punk bar owned by a Modest Mouse member listening to him explain the evils of html and GPS and 9/11 nanobots. He was young, around my age, and I don’t know if Conspiratonius had a home, but his lifestyle did not suggest it.

I am grateful I have a place to stay, a place to be without bothering anyone too much. A fallback friend, a safety net, the chance to revert to your childhood life — these things are gifts. I read a CNN suggesting that the pandemic has significantly impacted and will continue to drill away at the economic stability of Generation Z, “Z” as in “Zero chance of survival,” I think. The article tragically suggested that Gen Z babies are resorting to flocking home to “Mom and Dad.” But what’s the shame in that?

Being 22 years of age, many of my peers live with their parents, or are gearing up to do so. I think it is strange that we, as individuals, should bear the guilt, regret, or burden of defeat when circumstances beg us to return home. To be able to return anywhere is a great gift in an era where every inhabitable inch of the globe has been claimed, coveted, and carefully exploited for centuries upon centuries.

I have felt a tremendous amount guilt through relying on my father, even in his dusted fate. It weighs on me that I’m not an independent superstar with a multi-bajillion dollar blog already: when will we make it? However, the last promise to my Dad that I made would be that I’d be okay without him. I’d hate if anyone said that about me — I want everyone to need me like emotional heroin — but it was important to my father that his wobbly son persevere after his death.

I feel unworthy of returning home to Minnesota, of needing my father and his house after he’s gone, but more than anything I am grateful to have a father that provided for me in the first place, a dad who worked towards and succeeded in leaving his kids something they could use, something to help them survive. Not everyone has one of those dads, one of those towering pillarous people, but I was lucky enough to be gifted one, and there’s no virtue in flagellating myself for the gift of my father’s prematurely scythed reaping of blood, sweat, and tears. Daddy never rocked a yellow leather suit, but I’m happy to know he’s still here, somehow.

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