Do you hear me, young Warum?
Sing in me, Muse, and through me tell the story of that man…
I want nothing less than an epic tale of adventure, desire, violence and music to come of this conversation. Do you hear me, young Warum?
My name is Ulysses and I understand all the weight the name carries; ten years at war, ten years lost, Dublin in a day. Homer and Joyce and all that jazz. I have always understood it. My parents are to blame, as is customary in children’s names.
My father was a Latin and Ancient Greek teacher, a priest who fell in love with a beautiful red-haired woman who happened to be a Literature professor. Even after he was married and no longer wore a priest’s collar he still talked louder than most people, especially in class, as if he was still preaching instead of teaching. Such a contrast to soft-spoken mom. Ulysses, the name, was one of the small number of things they had in common. Books were their true one love affair besides each other. All in all, enough to keep them together for many years. Their life was mostly uneventful, except for the fact he shouldn’t have fucked her and did. So he did the right thing. He stopped being a priest and married her.
My mother was the daughter of catholic Irish but fled her family to Portugal. She found a not so secret pleasure in stealing a man from God’s service and on top of it all in Lisbon, supposedly founded by Odysseus himself. Resourceful, sly, deceitful Odysseus, master of many crafts. I heard that story every Christmas.
She never went back to Ireland. My grandparents faced their fear of flying only once and visited our small home, found it lacking – too many books, too little space, some dust settling on the second-hand furniture. Her in-laws died in a panic that their son would face eternal damnation for having renounced his vows. So we had small, cozy Christmas celebrations, just the three of us and an excess of port wine into the night.
My parents are only marginally relevant to this story, my story, my friends’ story. My childhood and most of my teen years are also of limited relevance. Still, I’ve always felt that all stories should begin somewhere in the distant past, that everything is connected in ways that precede the living. Maybe it has something to do with growing up surrounded by all those books, our house a nest of stories.
I read a children’s version of the Odyssey as a child, the full thing later on. In my twenties I decided it was time to sink my teeth into my namesake novel and spent three or four months with my head swimming in thoughts of wondering and wandering. Well not all of it, I read bits. I did read the last pages, yes, got tangled in their rhythm, that long fast heartbeat of desire. I never was much of a reader, though. My true passion was music, always music.
Still, I hope I can find the words to tell our tale. This story, our story, began when we were seventeen and happy, lying in the dust, looking at the stars, our last summer before we were supposed to go to college and decided not to. Well, some of us did. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Today’s date is November, 2020.