Vicarious living can be described as being mentally unattached. Unattachment, it seems, is a quality of the scientist, the philosopher, the researcher, the soldier, the criminal mastermind and the occultist. This “attachment” is exemplified by my excursions to Highland Lawn Cemetery. I admire the greatness of our past Hautens and their monuments and I hold in contempt the modern decadence that, at times and random intervals, dots the landscape. Since I am unattached to those present, I can wander at leisure, although I remain careful to avoid “Baby Land”.
Oftentimes, surnames seem familiar to those people I personally know, but there is the ever present sense of detachment, since families bifurcate and surnames are common and I am terrible at recalling names of people.
Atypically, today I visited the newer eastern section first. The cemetery is usually devoid of the living, but people were present and I then realized that Memorial Day was a few days away. The art of detachment also includes not tracking upcoming national holidays. In my youth, every Hoosier knew the month of May as time trials for the Indianapolis 500, so I can be forgiven if it slipped my mind.
To avoid the people who were laying trinkets at the graves, I went to the west side and returned to the east side and continued going east to where I assumed the original entrance had been located. I was circling back to the eastern hill above the pond. There was nothing extraordinary to inspect and I continued my wanderings until I noticed two matching headstones.
In my vast experience of cemetery wanderings, I have observed that spouses are placed on one headstone and children and parents have separate markers that occasionally have matching scrollwork. I didn’t recognize the name of the deceased (and I don’t recall it now). However, I recall both dates. I remember the dates because I paused for some time to review and study the adjacent marker. To my surprise, the name on the second headstone is someone that I’ve know for twenty fives years. Well, to “know” is a strong word for someone who has perfected the science of vicarious living through the art of detachment. His marker indicated he was two years older than yours truly and I deduced that the stone has been in place for twelve years. He has been in business for many years and he can occasionally be seen in the mass media. Judging by the date of the decedent, I knew they were not married, yet had matching markers.
I found this discovery to be disturbing for no reason in particular and now, ex post facto, I have only speculations regarding my discomfort. I know that my return to the car was quicker than usual as I cut straight through the cemetery, instead of my typical meanderings.
The first rule of Vicarious Living is to be detached and the second rule of Vicarious Living is to be detached. Now that I am no longer indifferent to visiting Highland Lawn Cemetery, I can not foresee myself returning in the near future.