Thursday, March 19, 2009

Please Have More Living

      We had a death this week. My brother, Down Town Guy, wrote about it on his blog TallyHassle, which I would link if I knew how to do that, but if you want you can go to my blog list and click there.
     I can't write much about Demitri, I didn't know him well. I knew him in high school when he was a boy, climbing trees, writing and painting. I met him again a few times at parties and gatherings of friends, his face all sharp angles and he was a man.
     I went to sit on my brother's steps with our friend who was close to this man, and bear witness to his grief. Then, when it was time to go I gave him a ride home, because he lives almost right across the street from me. His plan, which wasn't his plan at all, was to ride out that night with friends. To drive eight hours through the night to go to the wake in North Carolina. 
      I suggested we go to the grocery store to get him food for the road. The grocery store was bright and surreal and I remembered a trip I took there at night right after my Aunt Lynn died. I knew I had to get food, I didn't want to be there but I wanted to be home and well stocked and so I had to go. I remember I put things in my basket but I don't remember what those things were. I was hyper aware that every one is in their own world, that you never know what people are going through. Their faces seemed painfully alien to me. I saw one person I knew and I grabbed on to him, pushing my face in his shirt saying "My aunt is dead".
      Togi was in shock as we walked the aisles, both of us getting a few things. I had to keep saying, "Would you like to put that in the basket?" because he seemed to forget the items were in his hands the moment he picked them up. 
      We drove to his apartment and I parked around back, eventually turning off my car to sit and talk and smoke awhile. Togi and I have the most wonderful conversations. There is something about him that lets me say anything, that puts me at peace and allows my true thoughts to come out. I am not afraid of what he will think of me, and I am always curious to know what is on his mind.
          We didn't talk about Demitri in concrete terms much. Mostly we talked about life, alcoholism, and death. Not necessarily in that order. He shared two death stories with me, one in which the person was old and in pain and was able to die when she was ready, and one in which the person was young and alcoholic and died horribly, kicking and screaming and saying he was not ready. He told me that he thinks that we live relatively long lives so that we can gradually let go of our egos and then, when it is time, we have very little to give up and we are ready to go. I hadn't thought about it that way and I liked it. I told him I would have to think on that some more. 
        We talked about alcoholism, and is that any better or different than shooting yourself in the head. The idea of it being that when we are using we are killing ourselves slowly. I suppose the difference is awareness, and the struggle. I brought up people who eat two double cheeseburgers everyday and die of heart attacks when they are 55. I reminded him that, other than the alcoholism and the smoking, he and I are very healthy people who exercise and are vegetarian, and that to live a life that does not hasten your death at all would be a very ascetic life. And besides, I said, the end result is the same. It's what you do before you die, the loving and the living.
       We talked about a lot of things and then at one point he said, "All this is true, but it doesn't help." It doesn't help. It doesn't help when your best friend shoots himself in the head. It just doesn't.
        I had a moment a couple of weeks ago when I was walking down the road where I all of a sudden desperately felt death so close. It wasn't a feeling that I would die soon or that someone I love would die soon, but a feeling of the inevitability of it, and it was so sharp I thought, "Get Off The Road". Not the physical road that I was walking on, I was on the sidewalk actually, but it was the thought I had when I'd been hit by the car back in the way back and I knew with absolute certainty that if I did not get off the road I would die and I was not ready to die. Then, after I had that thought, it was like a wrenching in my guts, a whirling away from death. Not to run away from death, that would be futile, but to face and to fight my loved ones as they marched toward it. It was a funny thought, me with my back to death, battering back my friends and family, and it snapped me out of the desperation I was feeling but the image stayed with me.
        When I was talking with Togi I remembered that, and I didn't bring it up but I tried to tell him that the rest of us left would not leave him. That we would hang on.
          Another thing he said was that each death was different, just like how you love people is different for each person. That there is no way to prepare for how you will feel.
           I couldn't feel what he was feeling. I could be true but I could not help. I watched the emotions wash over his beautiful face and I thought that the only thing I can do, the only thing any of us can do to help the ones we love is to stay alive for as long as we can. To be careful with ourselves. To keep living our lives, no matter how hard it may seem or how unfair or frustrating. Watching the cavern open up in him, I don't want to cause that rift in anyone else. 
       When you love someone, their life gets in you and becomes part of your life. When you love someone you are taking an awful gamble. When you let people love you, your life is no longer wholly your own.
      I don't blame those that take their lives. For them, it must be a more terrible thing to live, and that is very sad. I suppose that our friend was ready to go, even if we were not ready to let him go. We can never be prepared for how we will feel.
      I am thankful to Togi for letting me sit and talk to him. He helped me more I think than I helped him. It's easy to walk around with blinders on and do our work and eat our food and forget what the end result will be. Last year when my friend Jarryd died, he had just that day told me he was happy, that he'd been swimming naked with pretty ladies and spending time with friends. He understood that life was in the living and loving, and that you never know what may happen. I wish I did not have to be reminded of that, but I do, and I am. 
      I am loving you, you people I love. I am loving your life. I am living for you. I am living and loving you.  

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

So Sweet it Slips

I'm not angry anymore
There are angels at the door
I have no need to greet the devils 
Just a wrasslin on the floor.

        And just like that: Spring. Last night my check engine light came on and a strange smell of burn pervaded the interior of my car. I was wearing my nightgown covered by a sweatshirt, flipflops, and nothin' else and I'd left the safety of my home to get cigarettes because god knows when one is in a funk one needs her smokes. It was 10:30 at night and I'd gone to bed early, but I'd woken up in a nightmare of small creatures biting me and something oh-god-what-is-it was hiding behind my door, watching me. So off to the corner store for cigarettes with only my wallet, cell phone left behind.
      Car problems frighten me, honestly my heart beat faster when the engine light came on than it had when I woke up from my dream. I parked down the street, scurried inside, slung my sheets over my head and talked myself down until I was dreaming of two sweet baby boys, one for each hip.
      The morning came quick and I called my dad. Not the dad that bought my bed, but the other one. He is tall and that's not all, I am a lucky girl indeed to have two such darling daddies. The man came as soon as he had finished his meetings for the day and his soup, and after I had hollered her down from her apartment across the way, my sister was there with me to greet him. As is always the case when Mr. Moon is around, I at once felt everything would be fine.
        A couple of hours later and some stops along the way I had a headlight replaced, my battery connectors fixed, and the car left at Pedro's because it suddenly developed a desire to lunge.
       I don't know when I'll get the car back, but here's the thing- it's okay. Maybe every angry person should have their car taken away. Taken away when they are hungry, and there is no food in the house. How can I be angry at the world when it is so pretty? 
       I put my walking shoes on and I stepped out. I love to walk. I don't love to walk for exercise, no, but I love to walk to places. I love that I can just step out the door and put one foot in front of the other and get somewhere, without a car or pedals under my feet. My own sweet legs that work and work well, the slow shift of my thighs, the muscles sliding soft under my skin, the well placement of my ankles to my arches and the strong balance of my toes.
     I relearned how to walk in Paris, back when I was married. I watched them walk, and perhaps it is because they use walking as a way to get where they want to go more than we do they seemed long-leggier. We (and here I am generalizing) seem to walk with the idea that it all starts from the knees down. They (and again, really a gross generalization) seem to walk from the highest of their hips, they slang those legs out with a toss and stride, shoulders back, chins up, eyes straight forward. So did I, from the Louvre to the Musee de Orsay, to the Eiffel Tower, and all along the Seine, and I ate some cheese, and I watched people kiss, and I have to say they are good at it.
        Tallahassee is not Paris, but it is my home, and by that I mean my heart. I walked to the health food store and I felt my heart and my eyes open. I was hailed by construction workers. I smelled the corner of Magnolia and Park, that always smells like the fair. I saw a half eaten cookie placed carefully on a post a though someone said, "Oh, I've had enough, maybe someone else will want it". My skin sucked in the sun and on the way back I picked pink azaleas that I put in a glass in front of a picture of my sweet Mama and Mr.Moon on my dining table. Later I walked to the library to restock and I had a discussion about Zora Neal Hurston with a man in a tie and sneakers.
        I feel humble now and quiet. The sun is setting soon and people are out there driving home. I am so thankful to have my family. I am so thankful to have my legs. I am thank you three times. I am thanks a million. In my kitchen I have arugula and organic tomatoes, a hunk of fish, a cup of tea, I will feast well tonight.    

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Everything Is Fucking Fine

So. As of yesterday I am unemployed. I worked my last shift on Sunday, came home, slept for about 14 hours, woke up, ate six biscuits with jam and honey, slept for another fourteen hours and now it is today.
     In my last post I wrote about starting up a new business with my family. That same day, I got the call that told me it was not going to happen and yes, I was a little disappointed.
      I like to know that things are going to happen, I like to plan. One of the things that drove me so crazy about that job that I just left was the chaos, the inability to make a plan and stick with it. 
       I understand that life is what happens when we are making other plans. I understand that one must be flexible in life, and that God doesn't close one door without opening another and blah blah blah. I understand that when I am angry at someone I should look within myself to find my own character defects and to see my part in whatever the situation happens to be. I understand all that. I even implement it, staying calm for the most part, doing the next right thing. Or at least doing my best to do what I perceive as the next right thing, and isn't that all we can do really? 
      But I've hit the wall. I'm angry, and I'm going to let myself be angry because it is a new day and I'm not motherfucking Mary Poppins sent in to make everything better and teach everybody life lessons and then leave when the wind changes. Y'all can all go fly a fucking kite, you might as well, the weather is beautiful.
        I stopped seeing my therapist because of my unemployment, but I'll be fine. One thing she told me is that it is okay to be angry and grateful at the same time. That I don't have to feel guilty for my anger, and that sometimes anger is the appropriate emotion in a given situation. Like my accident and the resulting chronic pain. I can be grateful that I did not die and for the life lessons it taught me and for the closeness it gave me with my family, but I can also be angry that I am thirty years old and I'm dealing with decision s that most people don't have to deal with until they are 60 or older. I can be angry that I can't get out of bed without holding onto the wall and I can be angry that I fall over when the weather is changing. I don't have to feel guilty about that, even if I am standing next to someone who has no legs, your leglessness doesn't make my pain go away. Perspective is nice, but the fact is, I live in me, my perspective is through my own blood and my own bones and I have to walk my miles in my own shoes and that's enough. 
       I'm not angry at my family. How can I be angry at the only people who really like me? Who know me and still think that I'm fun to be around? No, not angry at them. I'm not angry at God. My higher power just doesn't work like that. I am loved by the universe because I am the universe, there's no fair in a swirling mass of what will be will be, my faith and serenity come from knowing that I am meant to be here because I am here, nothing more. So, not mad at God. I'm not even angry at the place I worked. I feel sorry for them, they are not happy, joyous and free. I am just angry. I am an exploding star, a suckpool of snakes. If a bull gets stung by a hornet, is he mad at the wasp, or is he just a snorting madness in general, pissed off to the max that this unexplained burning sting has happened to him? The bull does not stop to blame the wasp or God or the people who build the fence, the bull simply feels his anger, knocks down the fence, kicks and gores everything around him, and eventually feels better. I will be as the bull.
      And when I'm done kicking and snorting I will find a new job.
      Until then, please do not stand next to me. My massive horns and terrible sparking hooves do not need a hug. I am as I should be. I am one with the universe.