Untangled Things by G. L. Morton

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Editors’ Choice Essay

October 2019

Untangled Things

Reviewed by Dr. Terry Kibiloski, Editor, Computer Times


Untangled Things ©

By G. L. Morton Kibiloski
October 5, 2019


Untangled things first happen in untangled places. For me, Detroit Michigan was the place where it all began. Initially, I was the centre of familial entanglements, the consequence of being a newborn to a teenager, whose bright future was now dimly lit.  At first, I was wanted, then I was not. Eventually, these untangled things would seem to unravel somewhat and there would be a happy conclusion, of sorts…These untangled things will be explained by contrast and comparison.

First, the importance of place will become critically clear. Detroit Michigan: home of the automobile industry and the birthplace of the Motown Sound, with so many prestigious inventions, developments, and personal success stories, are all interwoven while seamlessly untangled. For example, the well-planned patterns of the freeways and thoroughfares allow motorists to navigate from the West side to the Grand Boulevard to the home of Hittsville USA. Then, on Woodward Avenue, one could observe the Vernors Ginger Ale bottling plant in motion, only a few blocks from Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker on his pedestal in front of the Detroit Institute of Arts Museum, down to the foot of Woodward Avenue to find the dock of the Boblo Boat. Then, travelling eastwardly on East Jefferson Avenue towards the bridge to cross the Detroit River to circumnavigate the spectacular gem of Belle Isle, and what a beautiful island it was. The grid pattern of the City of Detroit is untangled. The phenomenal efficacy of many of the streets’ timed traffic signals, and unconfusing freeways enabled motorists to travel to and fro without the bothersome traffic jams and motor vehicle accidents that in many cities would become the daily norm. The major city’s suburbia was yet to be developed and untangled. Like the sprawling freeways of the great Southeastern Michigan metropolis, all interconnected yet unproblematic, their complex structures were perfect early examples of strategic urban planning and dynamic mechanical and architectural engineering untangled.

In all its glory, the Motor City was replete with variants of art, culture, and technology that never were in the way of one another. In fact, the southeastern city of the great mitten-shaped state, at one time touted the highest income of the working middle class per capita of any city in the United States. All results of untangled things, not without challenges but room for growth and development, prosperity, and world acclaim.

Amidst fortune and fame, as an only child, there I was gifted, blessed, and centered, to have had Lillian in my life. For a maternally grand mother to have been my mentor, my heroine, and my beloved guardian, were distinctions that could only have been formed and nurtured in Detroit Michigan, without fear of contradiction.

My early life of transience, and errant ways and means, began at then Detroit’s Willow Run Airport to Idlewild, now JFK International Airport in New York City. Because of the stark  dissimilarity of the Motor City repose and the hustle and bustle cacophony of the Big Apple, I longed for the tranquil Green Pastures of Michigan, even and especially as a little girl.

Detroit easily captivated me in the private oasis of the meticulously manicured backyard that was so artfully defined. The blue hydrangeas, I called pom-poms, and the daily blooming morning glories along the backyard fence, were each like picture postcards, notwithstanding the pesky Mulberry trees at the furthest corner of the pristine yard. There I would wallow in the lush carpet-like grass and gaze upward toward the severe clear blue sky at the occasional passing DC-3 Gooney Bird, whose propellers’ white noise, soothingly flew by, off to unknown places; the faraway places I longed to see, and someday would, inevitably. Outdoors, the visual splendour of the colors of green and blue became my forever untangled things no matter how intangible.

During a particularly unforgettable idyllic summer vacation in Detroit, while being with Mother, I found quiet deliberate pleasure in untangling her jewelry. The thin yellow gold strands were usually an unintended knotted mess that she had long disregarded. With neither time, nor patience, understandably, she would leave her delicate chains in her vanity drawer on the velvet-covered mat. As if the jewelry drawer was a magical workshop, she must have known that once found, the glittery mess would soon turn to a mass of sparkle, by my adoring diligent persistence.

Once I took hold of the heap, like a metal spider’s web, not knowing where the knot began, I went about my task to reach the center, with unguarded attention. The core could not be that far away, I thought at first. Then, hours later there it was, the little start of it all: the first knot of the cause, and the last knot to be untangled.

I remember the gleeful delight on Mother’s face when she saw the rows of her necklace chains, all at once untangled, and strategically placed according to length, shape, and size, and no sign of the once garbled cluster. It was from that point on that Mother trusted me with the simpler, then more valuable jewelry to be made ready to wear again. While she marveled at my painstaking pursuit of what she deemed to be a lost cause, she never once asked how I achieved what must have seemed to her to have been done by a team.

The lesson I learned in my memory of untangled things was that my accomplishment pleased Mother remarkably, and I felt an overwhelming sense of pride. Moreover, I learned that the sense of patience in oneself is a place of quiet and calm that would displace the torrent and tumult of my once having been called a high-strung child. My unforgettable trips back and forth between Detroit and New York City were each a different kind of untangled thing; one more physical than the other, and both undeniably beyond my control.

Far away from the tangled cluster of pedestrians moving about the streets of Manhattan, at any time of day or night, there was an absolute contrast, by sight and sound in Detroit. The Motor City was usually quiet by night and busy by day. So, as often as she could plan her summer times at home, Mother and I cherished the night songs punctuated by the crickets and the gentle breeze while we were on the front porch glider. With only the distant street light casting shadows of the bridge-like canopies of oak, maple, and elm trees that covered the street, there was nirvana. Each treetop’s branches formed a spectacular marvel, a natural wonder, unlike anything to be imagined in New York City. Combined, the vista was that of a well-knit fabric of limbs, and branches and twigs and mostly well-defined leaves of hues and shades of green. Against the gently flickering glimmer of the citronella candle in the net covered red glass jar, safely set on the front porch floor, there we were, ever so slowly gliding, beneath the dark summer sky that was speckled with Heaven’s constellations.

The quiet of night with only the alluring melodious chorus of  crickets chirping, was a perfect background for the air of Mother’s whispering voice. Though there were others nearby, those times were only for Mother and me, to be shared by no one else by inclusion nor interruption. The serenity, security, and peace I felt was beyond enchanting. I hadn’t a care in the world, not of worry, nor strife.

Remarkably, the summer’s air in Michigan emitted such a staunch contrast to the tar-baked rooftops in lower New York City Manhattan. The Michigan blue skies and muddy waters of the harmless critter-filled lakes provided more fun than the barely tolerable, though greatly appreciated forceful spray from the open fire hydrants in Greenwich Village, on the 90° days. A beach seemed galaxies away by a long torturous subway ride. The formidable trek on the subway train tracks presented a plethora of visual effects in every direction. The intermittent flash of  lights fading into minutes of total darkness in the subway tunnel would suddenly be all aglow with sunshine. At last, the subway car emerged above ground from blackness to the outdoor light on elevated tracks; now, ever closer to the sun and the sand, of the beach no longer a mirage.

The thought of Mother’s busy life as a local, state, and national politician, while  she always made time for me, still amazes me to this day. Just a few of her immeasurably unforgettable endowments with her were: my first DC-3 flight from DTW to NYC; my first train ride from Grand Central Station back to Detroit; my first trip to Lansing to the State Capitol Rotunda floor beneath the spectacular dome; and not least of all, my first nightly prayer lessons were some of many untangled things gifted to me from Mother. To her, I was first and special.

The memories of Edison Avenue in Detroit, and Jane Street in West Greenwich Village in New York City are indelibly remarkable in contrast to those recollections of then, Detroit’s industrial power hub reputation versus the grandeur and largesse of the Big Apple. Both cities with all their vast differences and afforded experiences, are to be forever held in my heart, closest to my dreams and memories of untangled  things….

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