It happens when we get older, and know things that might have been better left unknown. We’ve had far too much time to build walls, now
and I miss the pain and beauty of love.
It happens when we get older, and know things that might have been better left unknown. We’ve had far too much time to build walls, now
and I miss the pain and beauty of love.
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.
I had left phone messages, sent handwritten letters & cards, and still hadn’t heard anything back from her. For the first few months I wasn’t concerned. With the exception of a brief time shortly after we met, she’s always been inconsistent in getting back to me, and is a complete Luddite when it comes to anything beyond phone or cards. It’s frustrating, but something I’ve learned to tolerate. It’s just who she is, and I don’t have much of a choice but to accept it.
I had spent 25 years of my life searching for my Birth Mother, not knowing if she was even alive, and with each year that passed growing more anxious. I would vividly imagine the first time we met only being able to lay flowers on her grave – so this, this was small.
Only a couple years before there were times she would call me out of the blue, just to check in, say hi – and eventually would always return a phone message. My first birthday after we had met, she sent five cards, each addressed & in their own envelope, and even though the frequency of our communication got less & less after that, she never failed to at least send a beautiful card for my birthday. In these she would fill me in on the latest in her life, and it was always the same thing. She worked in a hospital lab, came home, watched TV for a bit before bed, & on Sundays, usually went to a local restaurant, a place called Lauren’s in Boonville. She frequently closed the notes saying “I need to get a life!” Helpless to do anything about it, reading that always hurt.
It had been months since I’d heard anything from her. When my birthday came & went without a card, I started to get worried. The messages I left & cards I sent increasingly got more desperate, eventually flat out asking if she wanted me in her life anymore. Maybe this was all a mistake. Maybe she decided that she didn’t want to be reminded of that time in her life, being shipped from Colorado to San Diego to have me, away from the humiliation that a pregnant & unwed child would have brought to her family in the ‘60’s. Maybe… hell, I didn’t know what to think. I was terrified that after over half my life searching for & finding my Mother, I had again lost her.
Still no reply.
All I had were letters and phone messages to send, and nothing came of those. I thought about taking the train up there, but the station was much too far away. Bus, same thing. If she didn’t want me in her life anymore, I could somehow learn to live with that – but I needed to hear it from HER, I needed to know why before I could begin to accept it, to heal as well as I could. With each day that passed, each letter or card that went unanswered, my heart collapsed a little more. Did she leave me again? What’s wrong with me, why can’t I fix it, why can’t I see it? What did I do wrong this time? I just needed to know. I needed answers. Maybe with answers I could work on what’s wrong with me.
I had been journaling, trying to make sense of it. I posted some of what I wrote just to get it away from my mind, and people were nice, reached out in words of concern. They were appreciated, but words didn’t help anything.
Then, on one of my posts, a friend offered a ride. I figured it was a nice gesture, but more than likely wouldn’t happen. People say a lot of things, promise the world, but at the end of the day, seldom come through. I didn’t let myself get excited, but figured I’d at least play along.
If this happened, he would have to drive down from Sacramento, pick me up, and then drive the 2.5 hours to my Mother’s house so we could catch her after she got home from work at around 5:30 – then after surprising her by knocking on her door and figuring out what the HELL was going on, would have to do the whole trip back to Sac. I saw how absurd that was, and although I needed answers, him doing this – for *me* – was just ridiculous, and far too much to ask or hope for. It was constantly on my mind to cancel just for his sake – but Kitty never faltered, never gave a hint of reluctance. It was going to be more than a 400 mile round trip for him, and all he wanted was for me to get the answers I needed from my mother. He also said he liked the idea of “sand-bagging” her for answers, and even if it was a last-stand, at least what needed to be done could be done.
When he showed up at my door that Saturday after our planning, I decided that maybe it was time for me to accept that he was serious. This was happening.
With all the apprehension and anxiety I put myself through, it turned out to be surprisingly unapocalyptic. As I walked up to her door I could see her through the large living-room window, sitting in her chair & watching TV. I watch her as she walks over to the door, unable to see me yet.
“Ohhh, HI, Casey! What a surprise!”
She motions for me to come in.
“What the hell is going on? Have you gotten my letters? Messages?”
“Yes, I’m so sorry…”
“But you didn’t even take a minute to answer them? ANY of them? Not one?”
“I meant to, but…”
“But what, you couldn’t be bothered? Do you have the slightest idea what I’ve been going through? I think I made it pretty fucking clear in the letters.”
“I know, I kept meaning to, but it just got harder as time went on and…”
Looking at my Mother’s face, seeing *my* face in hers & seeing the regret and apology, the anger starts to subside but I’m not letting her off that easy. I still don’t know what I need to know.
“DO you want me in your life anymore? If not, I need to know why – what I’ve done or if it’s just your trip, if this is too much for you, do you still want me?”
“Of course I do. I’m so sorry, I… I’m just bad at it, bad at staying in contact. I promise I’ll try to get better Casey, I *do* love you and want you in my life, and I’m sorry I put you through that, I didn’t mean to…”
We’re both sitting now, the anger & dread nearly all washed from me, and I’m explaining to her like she’s a three year old what it did to me, what she did, how she made me feel. I know she understands, but I don’t want her to forget. I don’t want her to take this lightly, and especially don’t want her to ever do it again. Hoping I got my point across well enough, the conversation moves into seeing how she’s doing, how the hips that have both recently been replaced are feeling, and knowing Kitty & I need to get back on the road soon. I go outside & invite him in, and shortly after we’re back on the road, leaving my Mother to her grey, empty life & TV.
As we walk the short distance to his car I turn to see her sitting again, and vow to myself that somehow, I’ll figure out a way to get a car, get up here at least a couple times a month to either take her on small adventures or just stay the weekend and help her clean up the weeds in her back yard. I think of planting a garden for her, how nice that would be. She’s mentioned that she would really like to get a dog someday. So many things I could do for her, if only I could get up here.
What Kitty did for me that day, I will never forget.
I do what I can for people to try and help, but it’s frustrating being so limited. I can only do small things: take dog food down to the homeless kids & their dogs around Civic Center, give a few dollars here & there when I have it, drape coats that I don’t wear anymore over people trying to sleep on cold San Francisco nights – but it’s never enough. I know there is so much more I could do – but it requires a car. There’s no way around it.
That was a year and seven months ago. I haven’t been able to get up and see my Mother since.
A few months ago she ordered somey jewelry from me, and I still haven’t seen them on her. Small things like that…
On September 5th is my 50th birthday, and right now my greatest dream is to be able to go pick My Mother up and bring her back down to the City so I can spend it with her. Have a small gathering of friends so they can finally meet her, this beautiful and amazing woman, and she could meet them – get out of her house and finally enjoy life a little bit. She deserves to.
I have a campaign on GoFundMe to help me get a car, which would not only allow me to get a little adventure and excitement into my mother’s life but help me get to shows & events to vend my jewelry & grow my business – as well increase the quality of my life in every way I can imagine. I could help so many more people…
If you can, please donate to it, share it to your friends on Facebook, Twitter, emails, and anywhere you can think of. Click on the link below, and please – give what you can. I would appreciate it with all my heart – and if, with your help, I am able to get a car – if you ever need a ride somewhere, *anywhere* – you got it.
The occasional whisper of tires as a car drives by below, an unintelligible shout, the scattered songs of birds. The only sounds at this hour. Only the crackheads & I seem to be awake. Even the sirens are quiet, sleeping.
It’s 4am & I’m up on the roof of my apartment building with a fresh cup of coffee, a cigarette, & Ruby. The clouds above reflect the city lights giving a faint glow, just enough to see by. A cool breeze plays with my hair, blowing it in my face then away. I wrap my robe a little tighter around me.
I sit on the short wall of my building, look down at the weeds growing in our forbidden & neglected back yard. Near the far right corner calla lily’s bloom, defying the otherwise abandoned and unloved desolation. With their beauty inevitably comes a warm sorrow as I’m reminded of when Striggy brought a gift of bone-white lily’s to my tent in Austin. With love & reverence I placed them on top of the pale blonde box I had picked up earlier that day, already made into an altar surrounded with candles, a picture of Bean propped up against the box that now held the ashes of the most amazing dog & companion I’ve ever known. She was killed by a freight train a few days before, found by friends lying between the tracks, her favorite stuffed toy a few inches from her head. Nearly 13 years later & the tears still fall for her.
I turn back facing the roof top, close my eyes, take in a few deep breaths as I find a strange comfort in this sadness. Now, it’s filled with love and warm memories instead of the anguish I carried inside for years, holding it tight, afraid that if the pain wasn’t there I would somehow be betraying her memory.
I know better now. I understand death better now.
I think of how exquisite this life is, how fortunate I am. Occasionally I still let the weight of it all get to me and forget these things, but not now. Not today.
I open my eyes and catch Ruby briefly chasing her tail. I chuckle silently to myself and somehow love her even more.
I think of the time I spent in Hospice. Months on end so close to giving up, so desperately wanting to stop being strong, and each morning having to somehow find just one reason to keep fighting. One reason to stay alive.
As impossible it seemed to be able to imagine at times, I needed to believe that I would somehow get better.
I had to know, with as little doubt as possible, that there would be mornings like this one to look forward to.
Lifetimes ago, I called to you, called, and finally
you looked, noticed how my wings glistened with light
and reached to take hold of my hand.
You were blind to how these wings were scarred, wounded, broken,
or you just didn’t care. You saw something that you thought you could fix.
You reached down, down far – and almost fell
almost fell – for me. Some things I just won’t let happen. See where the scars come from, see why I use what I do for paste now, and don’t judge.
Out of bourbon and fire, fire and ashes, ashes and dust, dust like thousands of words and the tears of joy and sorrow that created them, out of these things I make my paste. I make my paste out of the same wind that carries them away. I make my paste out of the strength of the blood of my heart, of mine, not yours. You want me to be my best, my best for you. I want to be my best for me and only that because that is what stays. I know me better, I know what I want I know who I am and who I will be and that is not your creation. Even in your love, it can only be made by mine of myself. Only I can make me, again, and again, and again – and I do. You haven’t known me long enough to realize this. Let me be and love me and let me always become. Try to mold me and I crumble in your hands. Love me and let me be if you’re strong enough.
If you’re strong enough, I will be stronger for both of us.
I spend much of my days lately going through my past, reading each post, filtering out those that say little and creating what will be a book out of the others. Remembering who I was, and trying to figure if there is still some of him inside of me, or if he’s still there, buried under all that’s happened since and trying to dig his way out.
Some of the things I’ve written are still saturated now with the same pain I felt then – but some things I read make it worth it.
This is one of those things that make it all worth it…
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
’06 – – – Because this makes me feel that everything in my life that got me to today was for some sort of reason…
I’ve been reading this almost every day since I received it in the mail about a week ago.
Every time, I get choked up.
Frequently, tears fall.
and I don’t think I will ever understand what I do to deserve things and people like this in my life
simply by living it the only way I can believe in…
(Sometime in ’05)
I find myself hesitant to write this as I don’t wield words nearly as deftly as you do. There is very little art in my language – pragmatic ramblings at best. And yet here I am putting paper to pen anyway. Because I miss exchanges with you. Because the internet feels cold and incidental. Because I’m hopeful that intention can affect distances, mental if not geographic. Because it’s so nice to get real mail!
There’s a part of me that’s worried about you nearly since the day I met you. Me being the mother that I am and you with your constant chaos and complete lack of social safety nets that I rely on in my own life. Yet some how you have managed to amaze me with your resilience and your will to survive time and time again. You’ve given me pause to question some of the things I give power and importance to. Boiled life down to it’s essentials.
When you were leaving S.F. for Boston my worry spiked. You seem like a mythical creature on the endangered species list – magnificent and otherworldly, but fragile and only possible in certain realities. Your disregard for those social construct nets is something that seemed possible only in a defiant city like S.F.
Wow, I wish I’d put a date on the first half of this letter. I wrote it possibly over eight months ago. It got lost in my papers and I suddenly found it just recently. But I read those words and realize it still holds true – all of it. So, I continue…
Nonetheless, out you ventured into the cruel world that never seems to appreciate it’s mythical creatures until they’re gone. But in a world stingy with it’s magic you’ve milked it, found the leaks and siphoned it, nurtured it’s growth in sidewalk cracks, passed it on like notes in class. You NEVER cease to amaze and inspire me.
This praise and awe does not come blind to the darker side. I know that you carry anger, bitterness, resentment, malice and cold along with all the glitter. It doesn’t make the wonder any less real – more so, in fact. The fervor with which you hold on to the beauty of the world comes in part from your knowledge of how ugly it can be. In times I’ve heard you resent your will to live. The thing is it’s not just a will to not be dead, but a will to live. To really live and take life for all it’s worth.
I guess this is really just a long winded way for me to tell you that I love you and I’m immensely grateful to have you in my life.
And I’ll never forget getting mailed a PB&J sandwich.
And I found this picture and thought you’d like it.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
There was a time when I loved myself.Thought I was indestructible.
I’ve learned more since, but I still believe the latter. Not many people live through what I have been through – they give up.
I never will… but one day I just might want to go. IF I ever feel like I have given all I can.
I don’t see that day being anytime soon.
I love you. All of you. If you read this – thank you. I will do whatever I can for you. For us.
Just in something of a low spot for the past years.
I will fly again.
It’s been three days since I last took morphine. I am winning. I am a warrior, and this is the current quest. I have many.
Outside my window the clouds block the penetrating sun, offering a spattering of rain from time to time. It’s not enough, not close to a storm – but for now, for me, far better than the hellish cheer of a sunny day.
The words don’t come easily today – my mind is getting in the way of my heart and my heart is from where my words flow. Too many thoughts, too many concerns, too many bills and not enough food – but things will work out. I haven’t starved to death yet – only gone hungry. I think maybe that’s worse, as when you’re alive, you’re aware that you’re hungry, whereas if you’re dead – well, all worries are gone. Simple.
Still, I like this being alive thing. Even if I occasionally moan & wail about it, it’s not half bad most of the time. Just… lonely.
I want to tell you stories. My stories. These stories will shed light on part of my life, though leave the rest in darkness – as they are in my heart.
Is memory a product of the mind or heart? Taking away all we think we know, don’t some memories cause your heart to ache, others to have it soar? I know better, but at the same time I realize I don’t. What do we really know? They say the heart is only a muscle, beating 101,000 times a day, pumping until it stops; but the mind, our subconscious, controls it all – every tiny thing we do, like fingers knowing without looking where the keys are as we type, knowing what letters to write as we scratch paper – but what about love?
We don’t feel love in our minds. We bleed it, the one we love pumping through our veins, our hearts growing, glowing… then breaking. It is a physical pain. We feel it.
These will not be love stories, though love is in them. Or better said, love is just outside of them, circling, searching for a way to break in.
I’ll begin tonight.