I saw a building I hadn’t seen before, though I had walked by it at least a few times a month. I stood on the corner for three lights, while we caught up on lost time.
I heard five people’s voices rise in pitch as they walked by me, saying “puppy!” I looked down at Ruby and thanked her.
I bought a man some food so he could eat, using money a friend loaned me so I could.
And I looked into the eyes of everyone I could, hoping to feel a new friend, or love. Hoping my soul might see her and kind of say “Oh, there you are. I’ve been looking for you.”
And it would feel like two people finally meeting each other
after a lifetime of not meeting each other.
Inside me swim any number of feelings, either ready to choose from or, at times, forcing their way to the front of my attention.
From it’s birth at the tiny Cat Club to its growth into what it has not become – a two-evening, three city event, in it’s hometown of San Francisco held at one of the largest appropriate venue’s available & still waveringly sold out, I don’t recall ever not attending The Edwardian Ball when I’ve been physically able.
Until this year.
Why I made this choice has a number of underlying reasons, but I think what surprises me the most is that, in all honesty, I don’t miss it or the people, nor do I believe that they will notice my absence. At all.
Of course when I’ve gone there have always been the friendly faces, the smiles, the hugs and “how are you”s, but I have no reason there, no purpose, and nearly all contact is superficial at most. I show up alone, spend the majority of the event wandering alone, feeling alone, and more lonely in the middle of hundreds of people than I feel by myself in my apartment – and leave alone.
One of these days it would be nice to have someone to enjoy it with, someone to arrive & leave with – but at least this year, I had no desire to make all the effort to go and see the people – the “friends” – who, in the years that I have known them, haven’t once spent any amount of time with them at something that wasn’t an event, a show, a party. In the years I’ve known them, never have any called or messaged me, simply to say hello. It’s growing more & more difficult to deny the reality that, in the grand scope of things, very few of them are little more than good acquaintances – and I feel more alone – & lonely -when I’m around them.
It’s time for some things to change.
The Edwardian Ball isn’t going anywhere for a while – I’ll come back, I’m sure… but I won’t show up alone.
Outside with Ruby this morning in our “back yard”, the lot behind the apartment building I live in, I stood there in my pajamas, bathrobe & boots, enjoying the early morning quiet, grey skies & cool breeze.
As Rube did her usual sniffing around I lifted my head up & closed my eyes, taking that moment in as fully as possible, finding gratitude in just simply being able to be there. In the nearly 7 years I’ve lived in this one place, only recently have they opened it, unlocking the steel gate so that it could be used. For a couple months only myself and one other resident in this 48 apartment building had the key, but as soon as the security cameras went up they replaced the handle of the gate with one that doesn’t lock at all.
To have a small patch of solitude that I can pretend is my own, and just walk or stand on something other than concrete without having to get dressed and walk to a park, to simply be outside & alone with Ruby – in the middle of the city, it’s quite a blessing.
To be here. To be alive. There is so much to be happy for, so many small things that are so frequently are overlooked or taken for granted.
Fat too many people seem to look at happiness as a goal, something to be won if they work hard enough, make enough money, save enough… but happiness should never be a goal for another day.
When I was in hospice, there were many occasions, sometimes for weeks on end, when I wasn’t certain that I would be alive the next day, or even in a few hours. I didn’t have the luxury of looking to the future hoping to find happiness; and as hard as it sometimes was, I needed to find reasons to be grateful, to live moment by moment, and find happiness & grace inside myself. To force myself to smile at a nurse through the pain, to laugh at the absurdity of being able to smell the stench of my own body decomposing, to find the courage to simply accept whatever happened, knowing that it was a miracle that I had even lived this long – and man, what a life it had been…
I keep everything I learned in hospice inside of me, creating my own happiness & grace, and though I’m certainly not happy all the time – nor, I think, do I want to be – when I need to, I use what I learned as the means to a good life right here, right now – and not a goal to be achieved some other day.
My happiness depends on nothing but me.
But of course, a nice little patch of grass & dirt to pretend is my own helps.
I went to a memorial last night, a celebration of a friends life.
I don’t get emotional about people dying. At most, I feel a little saddened or concerned for the family they may have left, but inside of my heart, if there is anything felt at all is is more focused around fond memories of them, feeling blessed that they were in my life and that we were able to experience some of it together, share it and some of the time we have with each other, enjoy its magic.
When I heard of Jan passing, however, it was different. I only knew him a short time, but I sensed something of a kinship in him that I seldom feel with anyone , and seldom have. He was someone special to me, someone I looked forward to getting to know, share stories with, share our sadness, frustration, joys and love.
But I never had that chance. He never knew what I felt. I never took the time to tell him, to pull him aside, to tell him what I felt. I figured that, if I was right in what I saw in him, it would happen – after all, we had time. I would see him again, and maybe then the opportunity would arise where we found ourselves engaged in conversation, standing outside at a party or the last two sitting around a campfire in the early hours of the morning…
Last night I found out much more than I had ever known about Jan as people stepped up to the microphone to talk about him, his life, frustrations, joys, and love – and they described the exact person I felt when I saw him, in the few times we chatted. They described who I saw behind his eyes – the person I wanted to get to know better, the person I felt was more – and as they were talking about him, the tears fell from my eyes as I found out more and more… because they were also describing me.
Jan, even though we never had the chance to know each other, you taught me a valuable lesson, and I thank you.
In the future, if I come across someone who, behind their eyes, I see kin, see someone familiar, see someone who, even if I don’t know why at the time, I feel like I should get to know – I won’t hesitate. If I have to, I’ll step through my shyness & insecurity & fears & pull them aside, to a place we can talk, and begin: “This is going to sound weird and I apologize, but you remind me of someone that I never got a chance to know until after he died, and I think we could be friends…”
Every morning I would wake up excited, the doors to infinite possibilities wide open & inviting me in. Decisions were sometimes made by careful deduction, but more often than not with little more than whim, the flip of a coin, direction of the wind, or the quiet, passionate desperation that endlessly seethes inside of me – the eternal need for the unknown, for adventure. To continually test myself with whatever blessing or adversity the Universe could conjure up to throw at me, and grow. And learn.
Plans to move to Boston fell through so I found myself in Austin volunteering for Katrina refugees in an artist’s forest. A new friend had never been to Burning Man so I promised her a ride from New Orleans, only being able to find a van to buy less than 10 days before we had scheduled to leave. I couldn’t find the magazine I wanted to read so I decided to create it, not having the first idea how I was going to, or even how to build a website – and four months after it launched was producing shows for the first time & winning awards.
Nothing could stand in my way. The world opened to whatever I sought or desired, and if it didn’t exist I created it. It felt like nothing could stop me, like this life I had shaped and formed and fashioned would keep storming ahead. I made my dreams so real, so beautiful, that they virtually fulfilled themselves…
…and then there was nothing. I felt like I was lying in the middle of a freeway, unable to move as life rushed by and all I could do was lay there, static in a world of action, decaying, decomposing, trying not to die.
And time passed. What was supposed to be a three month vacation turned into eighteen months of hell. People visited, some, I’m sure, expecting it to be the last time they saw me alive. I was good at reassuring them, I think, letting them believe I was fine, strong, getting better so that they would be more comfortable. I don’t think I ever expressed how terrified & unsure I was most of the time. I wouldn’t even let myself believe that. I couldn’t. Instead I focused on healing & what I would do when I walked out the door. When I could, I read feverishly. Studied quantum science, I taught myself to use my mind to heal my body.
It was easy to get to know the people in the hospice well, as it was only 14 rooms, 14 people at any time. You found out why they were there, created a familiar bond with them. Of the 15 who died in that time, I watched four with the exact same diseases and symptoms as I had give up and die – three of them younger with less severe symptoms. I’ll never know why. Was it the constant pain, or thinking there was nothing to live for? Had they forgotten their dreams?
I don’t know. I would just wake up and their room was empty, sterile, as if they had never been there.
I couldn’t let their deaths affect me. I couldn’t give in to the pain or the constant terror or the stench of my own flesh rotting. Up until the moment I walked into the hospice – those years had been the happiest of my adult life. I wanted them back.
I had to keep fighting.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I walked out of the hospice just a little over six years ago.
All that time I have carried what happened, what I went through, on my shoulders & in my heart – and deep inside of it, I have also carried my sickness. Using it as a crutch, the only thing special about my present is my past – that I’m simply here. Alive, but not living. My life no longer moving forward the way it had been before it all went to shit, and I was left with nothing to hold onto but what I “had” done, instead of what I am doing.
I learned a lot about mind/body healing while in the hospice. I have absolutely no doubt that, as impossible as it was sometimes, if I hadn’t *known* I would live, I would have ended up just like those I watched while there – another sterile, empty room, my body carted out on a gurney behind the curtain of night.
But I still had work to do. Until I let go of that part of my past, I would always consider myself “sick”, and therefore never be able to be *truly* healthy, perfectly healthy – but it had turned into my identity. “The guy who didn’t die” was all I felt I was anymore.
At least until recently.
It feels, now, like I have a future, something to look forward to, and something that I’ve been looking *for* since the moment I walked out. Though it’s not close to enough to satisfy me fully – I still need a vehicle to get the fuck out on the road & just *drive* for days on end and find myself nowhere I’ve been before, I am creating again – I am frequently challenged, always learning, and I love designing & constructing my jewelry. And I have something to look *forward* to. I can let go of who I *was*.
The warrior awakens. There are new battles to win.
And you better fucking believe I will.
There was no sleeping on those nights. I knew this, but still I tried. Laying on my unfolded futon in my tiny room, I could see the faint glow of the full moon through the wooden slats covered by the blue-tarp roof.
The air thick and hot, it wrapped around me like a fever sheet as I finally got out of bed. I stepped the few feet to the kitchen, careful not to bang my toe on anything in the dark, and looked out my favorite window onto the street one floor below. The willow tree that on a breezy day would reach inside was as still as death, as was everything else I could see. The porchlights on the small homes across the street looked like they were shining through a light gauze, and leaning on my kitchen counter, gently pulling the branches of the willow through my hands & loving the feeling of its life, I knew that it was far too hot for me to sleep. I could either fold up my futon, sit down & write, or…
I looked at the clock. Still around 8 hours until I needed to be out at Jackson Square. I liked being there earlier, but definitely no later than 11am for the lunch crowd walking up & down Decatur. I would stand until the storms came through, nearly every day like clockwork around 2:30 or 3, and use that time to either grab a café au lait and beignet’s at Du Monde, or just sit on my milk crate and rest underneath the balcony of the nearest building, reading, writing, and waiting the hour or so it took for the thunder, lightning & rain to move on.
So much, I love the storms. Many times I would just sit there watching the rain splash into puddles of itself, and feel a charge roll through my body & mind as the lightning flashed & thunder rumbled across the sky, through my body. It felt like I was a part of it, and if I wanted to, if only I knew how, I could simply disappear into its magic & become a part of the storm’s passion, leaving everything behind & off to another new adventure…
Still naked, I put on some clothes & my boots, poured some ice-water into my thermos to bring with me, and stepped outside, locking my door behind me. At the top of the stairs I breathed in, and smelled the fragrant still air of the Southern night. Completely relaxed but eager to feel the wind on my face, I quietly walked down the stairs, unlocked my bike, then walked out the front gate on to Esplanade. I thought a few seconds, then realized – I knew exactly where I was going.
It felt beautiful to be riding through the streets. Everyone was inside & the city was still quiet from everyone leaving because of Katrina, so the streets were mine, & mine alone. In no rush to get where I was going, I swerved back & forth from side to side, sometimes riding up on to the sidewalk for a bit then back into the middle of the street, or randomly riding in extended figure 8’ts, at the top of each “8” moving just a little bit more in the direction I was going. The warm wind on my face felt glorious, and feeling so wonderfully light-hearted, knowing these moments were as perfect as they could possibly be, I wanted this one to last as long as it could.
Crossing through Jackson Square Park then Decatur, I smiled & circled around the spot where I would be standing again in just a few hours, visualizing hundreds of people putting 5’s, 10’s & 20’s into my busking box. I was still saving up for a van to get Raven & I to Burning Man, as I’d promised her a ride a month or so before without having a ticket or any way to get us there at the time, but knowing things would work out. In those days, they always did. In those days, I was magic.
There was no one around, so I didn’t bother locking my bike – just laid it down off the sidewalk on the rocks. There was a soft glow from the moon, but still I was proud of myself that I had thought to bring a flashlight as I stepped from rock to rock, down to the river. Finding a good rock to sit on right on the edge of the Mississippi, I saw the cargo ships downriver, silent, still, & peaceful. I couldn’t help but think of what it was like a hundred years ago, remembering all I could of “Huck Finn”. I guess if I ever had a hero, someone I wanted to emulate, it would, without question, be him – with a good helping of Samuel Clemens thrown in for writing & the Gentleman.
Feeling on my face the slightest whisper of a cool breeze coming off the river the full moon giving just enough to see the ripples in the water moving with the current… and as I sat there savoring this perfect solitude, I felt my heart beating and strong, full with the beauty of this life.
Who am I anymore? My heart has grown black, blocked, protected, & I cannot see. But I remember.
I’m increasingly feeling that finding my mother was unfortunate. I had promised myself, promised her that I wouldn’t and don’t expect anything, but how could that even be possible?
If she hated me for finding her, I would have been fine. If she wanted to be a part of my life, even better – but I was depending on absolutes, either one or the other, and certainly not this. This, I couldn’t have imagined.
It began beautifully – exactly, more or less, what I wanted. She was excited to meet me & had my half-sister drive her down to the City. The first birthday of mine after we met, I opened my mailbox to find five cards from her…
And when I could, I visited her. A ride with my half-sister & our dogs, a ride with a girlfriend for a birthday present… but as time went by we talked less & less. I left months of unanswered messages, sent letters with no reply. A desperate ride from a friend to confront her. The only time we really talk is when we are together.
At first I was able to laugh it off. “Gods, she’s worse than me.” “She’s mostly a hermit.” “She’s bad at keeping in contact – I guess that’s where I get it.”… but the walls were already being built.
Of course I remembered how. It was the very first thing I learned how to do when I was torn from her arms. Detach. Hide the pain. Move on.
But this time it’s different. I’m stuck in a limbo of uncertainty, and I’ve worked too fucking hard to break the walls down to ever want them there again – though it makes things so much easier. Insufferably lonely, but easier.
I need to weave a new self-narrative of who I am & who she is in my life. Fragments of what was, what might have been, & what is, integrating the abandoned baby & the adult that baby has become.
I need to knit the fantasy birth-mother & the real one together, who she first was, & who I haven’t talked to in over a year nor seen in nearly two, and as painful as it is, accept it. Accept her, & accept… whatever we are now.
I feel that’s the only way to set my heart free again, to let it feel the light as it once did. To remember that part of me and once more… shine.
The world, this life is not perfect, yet we try to arrange people, places & things so as not to disturb our little fear-built fantasy of what it should be, and when people say or do something that doesn’t fit our fantasy, we feel that they’re against us. That life is against us.
I see people fighting to control the things around them every day – getting offended by the most ridiculous bullshit because it isn’t what *they* think. If someone else says or does something that stimulates the fear they have, then *that* person is wrong. Only fear can make a person so blind as to how beautifully magical life is, how incredible it can be when they give up the need for control of those around them.
They’re trapped in a bubble where everyone who doesn’t fit their idea of what “should be” is against them, and almost inevitably spit their sad little outrage out on the Facebook screen.
But I stray.
My life has been one of nearly constant introspection. I have done my best to simply live & let life happen instead of control it, and occasionally I have even been able to achieve this. ( https://kseaflux.wordpress.com/2005/08/ ~ 6 months forward.)
I look back at the past, remember & re-learn things I have forgotten. I feel around in the darkness of my heart & hope to find the answers I once knew for the questions I have today.
…and I understood that I was blaming this on my Mother. Trying to control her, to make her fit into my idea of what I think she should be. What “family” should be. Who the woman I searched over 25 years of my life for should be.
She didn’t ask for this, though she says she wanted me to find her. That she thought about me all the time.
Maybe she doesn’t need to think about me anymore. Maybe a thousand things. I don’t know. But I’m not going to let *this* blacken my heart anymore.
I was going through old Tribe.net testimonials yesterday, reading who I was, trying to repair my heart, trying to understand where & why things turned. These are from only 10 years ago.
This person is still in me, somewhere… and I will find him again.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
“I do admire you… I do not know how you do to live the life you live. You remind me of the replicates in the Blade Runner Film. So wild and beautiful like poetry lost in time… like tears in the rain…
Do birds ever come to you?
I will be praying for you these days… for you, my friend, to get home soon. I am so very glad life is good to you because you are so good, way over too many stupidities of this world. And, I might be wrong, of course, for I perceive your nature must bring this need to pull it all the way. Not being a slave at any risk… it’s a pretty good damn meaning and purpose. I believe in you, you are an inspiration to life itself…
I feel you have been giving way too much, and you are so intense, could be dangerous like love… you seem from here like a wild tender beautiful authentic being, more than human. I want to pray for you to find what you are looking for, what you really need….
There is something of me in you; still we might be completely opposites… You are, brother, creator of fantasies, worlds, and million thousand ways to fly. I watch you fly mesmerized; still I wish something wires you to the land… I don’t know why, sometimes I wish I could become that wire to connect you with your land, or at least, send it to you in some magical way…
The higher you fly, the further away, the deeper this wish buries in me… like a dream, it cuts. It’s not easy to say this kind of things, to describe this kind of experience without some fear…
I hope you’ll understand… I hope you do receive a kiss and a hug with these words which aren’t enough, I know, but it’s all I got now…
~ ~ ~
“I find it hard to breathe in your arms. it has less to do with the urgency of your embrace, the strength in your slender sinewy limbs… more the relentlessness of your self. I find myself outnumbered, surrounded, because you are starving, ravenous, for life and love and laughter.
and these things I have, like candies spilling out of my overfull hands
I hold them behind me, not to taunt you, but unsure that I can surrender them without loosing fingers.
you are no tame bird”
~ ~ ~
“it was wonderful seeing you last night. you were looking more balanced than i have seen you
before, gorgeous and fit of course, but also you energetically seemed very clear and free. So many real smiles, even your aura shining. i’m so glad. you’re such a great combination of goofy and lovable and innocent, and fucking searingly sexy and worldly and such a piece of inspiring art to look at. fascinating art that creates itself from the inside out and can reach out and grab a lady’s hair just right.
I miss who I was when I knew the light.