No Day But Today

For quite a long while the Original Cast Recording of Rent has sat on my CD shelf unlistened to. There was a time when never a week went by without that CD making its way into my player. Today I dug it out and brought it with me on my trek down to my ancestral stomping grounds on Cape Cod. I sang every note of the show (even the ones I had no hope of hitting) on my way down there, until I couldn’t sing anymore, and then I just listened, and no matter what you may think of Rent there is a message within those songs that gets me right there… that reminds me what its all about… that brings me back from the kind of depression I was in yesterday and this morning.

Listening to that CD was the perfect warm-up for my day long adventure exploring the graveyards of Harwich, both the familiar ones, and the ones I’d heard or read about, but never found. I traveled down bike paths and dirt roads to remote burial grounds that aren’t marked well on the map I have. I found lots of interesting looking graves but only two relatives I’d not seen before.

One cemetary simply doesn’t exist. Short of putting on ruby slippers and clicking my heels three times I have tried every thing to get to where the map says this cemetary is. Today I even drove down this long, treacherous, heavily wooded, dirt road, hoping and praying I didn’t get shot. When the No Trespassing signs started showing up I turned around real quick.

I frustrates me that so many of my ancestors’ final resting places remain unfound. I know where most of them died. I know where most of them should be buried. But they aren’t there. It drives me nuts. I’ll probably explore the same cemetaries over and over again, hoping I’ve missed something, until the day I die.

After Harwich I traditionally stop over in Yarmouth on my home to pay my respects to my great-grandfather Charles Clark. My Grandpa Clark, was estranged from his father Charles. Earl Davis Clark died when I was only three years old and so for most of my life the eldest Clark relatives I’ve known have been my own father and his sisters. There are still Clarks in Yarmouth and there are Clarks in New Jersey but I’ve never met any of them face to face. I’ve had a couple of phone conversations, sent a letter or two but I still feel like the only Clarks I have true connections to are my father and my aunts.

As I stood there by my great-grandfather’s grave I thought about how unfair it is that because of what happened between my grandfather and my great-grandfather, (and I only really know parts of the story) I now have no real knowledge of my past. I have the dates people were born, the dates they married, the dates they died, and a story or two from old newspapers or records but I have no glue to bind those pieces together.

I feel cheated.

And that’s to diminish the wrongs that Charles did Earl Davis, or any wrongs Earl Davis might’ve done Charles… I just wish that they could’ve kissed and made up… for the sake of future generations who now have little hope of the kind of oral history that makes genealogy really exciting and worthwhile.

I said goodbye to Charles and headed out of Yarmouth, bound for Route 6, headed west. On the way home I blasted Aerosmith and Tom Petty instead of music theater.