vanishing

Someone new to help, something else to make someone happy each of the past few days. From being at the right place at the right time to help a stranger get her dig to the emergency room after an attack by another, to finding, just outside my apartment door on the morning I decide to bring a bag of warm clothes that has been sitting for months, the person who perhaps needed them more than any other – and just the right size so that they would fit her thin frame.

There is no altruism in my actions, in my need to help others. It is as vital to me as food, as breath. As the beat of my heart – but even, perhaps, more so than those things alone.

I need them to prove my existence. To remind myself that I’m someone, something. To help push away the constant doubt that I am a corporeal being, flesh, bone, blood, and not an illusion, an apparition, a phantom. A dream.

In my life I have been called all of those and more, always by those who knew me a bit more than the shallow toe-dip of most. Always by lovers. But then, it was them that made me believe I was real.

In this life I live now, days, sometimes weeks pass without talking or seeing someone who knows me, without touching another human, without the challenge of a good conversation, something that might make me think, question – and I feel myself vanishing again in the absence of those things…

No, the things I do for others, at least at this point in my life, isn’t even close to something just for them.

In many ways, I need  them much more than they need me.

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Together again

It’s because I feel that something needs to be said that these words go down. Something, but I’m not sure what.
I catch faint glimpses of it now and then, in the quiet times, where it has clawed its way up to the top of this stagnant well – and then it’s gone again, leaving me with only the essence, only a broken line or faint idea. I reach out to grasp it, help it into the light, but I am no help. It still falls back down and leaves me up here, empty and alone, waiting by the edge to help again.

Or maybe I am the one bloodying my fingers, tearing out nails, clawing my way, try after try, to the top.

Most likely I am both the climber & the one waiting, trying to put myself together again.

for what it isn’t

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.

alone

 

coming true

This timing isn’t working. All I can do when I sit down to write in the morning is think about how quickly I can get it done. There are so many stories I want to write, so much life I’ve lived, but they don’t fit neatly into a few small paragraphs. Into a small pocket of time. There is so much more I need to be doing, and so much more time than I had intended to have this ready by has already passed. just a few more things and every bit of focus I can dredge up to get them done before I’m able to take my art and life to a place that has only been a vague dream with no knowledge of how to get there – like the whisper of a pirate’s buried treasure with no map of how to get there.
At least, up until now.

Suddenly this lifelong glassy-eyed, “wouldn’t it be nice if someday” dream has an incredibly good chance of  becoming real… and I’m having an insanely difficult time believing it. It’s as if David Bowie called you out of the blue to explain that his death was just a hoax, and not to intrude but he would love it if you could find a nice two bedroom apartment where you & he could live for a while, and just live quiet lives hanging out, chatting over pints at local dive bars on the nights when you two weren’t at the studio while he cut another album – and by the way, do sing or play an instrument?

Okay, so that may be a bit unbalanced on the level of disbelief in the possibility of it happening, but you get the picture. The life I’ve considered nearly impossible to ever be mine is now so close to becoming reality that I’m absolutely terrified. More than finding my birth mother, more than dying. This is being able to do what I want, to have the freedom to go anywhere, to simply treat a friend to a nice dinner on a whim as we walk past an interesting looking restaurant – I can’t even remember how many years it’s been since I’ve been able to do something as simple as that…
and to be able to help. Having a car when someone needs a ride or to move, money if they need that, donations to animal shelters & sanctuaries, and eventually even a yard large enough for Rubes to run around & plan in – with her new friends.

I see the steps, have carefully thought about how it’s going to grow, and am ready as I can be for the inevitable challenges along the way.
I’ve learned quite a bit about how to work through adversity over this life I’ve lived.
Maybe it – the good and bad – maybe all that I’ve lived through has been preparation for this new adventure. Maybe it has all been trying to teach me not to be afraid, that one way or another, it will all work out – just like it always has.

All I need to do is get my ass in gear & get the things I need to get done, done – and maybe, come this Friday – four days from now – this impossible dream will get its first taste of reality as I receive the first wholesale order for my jewelry.

Either that, or David Bowie will call.

trained well

Less than an hour after I took my pup out for a decent walk, she paces the floor of our small apartment, from the couch to the front door, one end to the other. As she walks in the direction of the door she looks at me with her RubySmile, as if to train me: “Look, I’m smiling as we walk towards the door! See? Now think, dad – where does the door go? Understand what I’m trying to convey here? Door = outside = potty = me smiling! Now I just need you to come with me, turn those things that make the door open. Okay? Here, let me show you again.

and again.

I try to ignore her. I need to get my daily writing done, and I know if I get up & come back I’ll go straight into work instead of doing this, and likely not ever get to my daily writing, no matter how I assure myself that I will. This commitment will just fly in & out of my consciousness like a mosquito when you’re trying to sleep, making me know in no uncertain terms that I didn’t follow through on a commitment today & taking my focus away from what I need to be working on.

She’s got it down. the click of her claws on the hardwood floor, back & forth & back & forth like Poe’s pendulum, slowly slicing away at my patience to the point where I would do anything to have it stop, and knowing that I have at least 50 words written I consider this writing done and gods make the clicking and pacing STOP and that’s IT I don’t even care if I end this in the middle of

Saying goodbye to my little friend

It’s always there, reminding me. Reminding me that I’m sick regardless of how well I may feel, reminding me that there’s something wrong, something that would never let me believe, even for a moment, that just like nearly everyone else I could relax.

Every time I looked in a mirror it made certain I wouldn’t forget.This monstrosity. This hideous thing sticking out of my abdomen.

Every single time I saw a woman that enticed me – a playful look in her eyes, a laughter that sounded like music, the language in her body and a beckoning gaze  inviting me to approach, I would begin to smile inside with the hope of putting an end to this everlasting loneliness – then turn away.

What if we ended up liking each other? What if we laughed at the same absurd things, our eyes sparkled a bit brighter as we looked at the other… what if one night we went home together, and it came time to take off my shirt?

Of course I would have warned her, told her about it, but hearing and seeing are two entirely different things. When she actually saw my umbilical hernia, that I have a tennis-ball sized mound of flesh & intestines sticking out of my belly that looks frighteningly similar to a scrotum, what then?

For years I’ve been destroying any possibility before it began. For years I’ve been pleasing with the surgeon to cut me open and fix it regardless of the consequences, knowing that they couldn’t be worse than what I’ve been putting myself through.
Knowing that they couldn’t be worse than facing the near-guarantee of a lifetime without anyone special to share it with, knowing I would never get close enough to let myself fall in love again. Knowing that this loneliness would forever be a part of me…

Now, over six years of begging & pleading, I am 18 days away from the surgery I’ve wanted all this time.

He finally agreed.

Sure, it’s risky as hell for me, with a roughly 30% chance something may go wrong and I’ll die, but weighing the risks against spending the rest of my life afraid to even approach & flirt with a woman? I’ll take my chances. I really fucking miss being in love.

Eighteen days.

Shit. I need to try to remember how to actually talk, flirt – and date  again!

Maybe this surgery isn’t the best idea after all.
(Just kidding – FUCK YEEAAH!)

nowhere but now

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.