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

 

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The Friendship Farce

There’s been a melancholy that’s been surrounding me lately, a darkness that roots itself somewhere inside of me and reaches out like thorned and poisonous vines to nearly anyone who has the audacity to enter my mind. Of course, it’s not them, not really, not entirely, not if I get down to the bones, but I’ll blame them for it anyway, because that’s much easier – and gods know I’ve tried multiple times in the past, only to be met with their same bullshit.

I’ve been making the mistake of watching – or at least semi-watching as I sit at my work-desk making chainmaille, the types of TV series that involve things called “friends”, which seem to be other people that you can call at anytime and ask to go get a drink or brunch or something that doesn’t have to be planned days or weeks in advance, and seldom ends up with the other person cancelling unless they’re in a life-threatening situation, at which point of course I jump up off of my bed & go save them or vice-versa, and even in the midst of all the excitement, we are able to make jokes about the other person where we both laugh and come back with even a funnier dig, because we know each other well enough and are close enough not only to know that the other person is just playing, offering some levity in a horrible situation, and we know that we can say these things without the other person getting offended because they aren’t a lily-white boring piece of shit, and understand that there are much more important things to contend with in daily life than getting upset or hurt by something our friend said in fun and being able to laugh at it, because they’re, y’know, our friend.

I remember having friends like that when I was younger, mostly when I was working as a Harley technician. It was a simpler time, a time when people could not only dish shit out but take it without taking anything personally, and as we tested each other’s limits, it brought us closer. We’d see each other nearly every night at a bar called Stinger’s or at one of the Harley shops I worked at, and if someone needed something, needed out actual presence, we were there for them – we were never “too busy”. Hell, I even got my ass kicked (& quite well, I might add) because fucking Billy didn’t realize it was time to shut his damned mouth when there were suddenly 7 of them to our 2, standing up for a girl we didn’t even know because a friend of his said her ex was hassling her. After, with black eyes & swollen faces, we laughed about it – then laughed about how much it hurt to laugh.
Or when I lived in Austin Enchanted Forest as recently as 2005, when friends would come to the door of my tent and ask through the thin material if I were there, simply because they wanted to say hi. There were a few, but the one that holds the deepest place in my heart, and always will, was a woman named ‘Tea’ who would sometimes come in even after I told her to go away – especially after my dog Bean was killed by a train. She knew that as much as I didn’t want to see anyone, as much as I wanted to wallow in some of the deepest pain & desolation that I have ever felt, I needed a friend, if only just to hold in comfort and silence

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I don’t know this world anymore. You can barely say a fucking thing without someone ending up acting like you just pissed on their sand-castle… but that’s not really what I’m here to get off my chest today, even though it did feel good to drain that particular poison out of my fingers.

A couple nights ago I posted on Facebook looking for a person or three to simply meet me at a dive bar, any dive bar in the City. Just meet for drinks, conversation, laughter and maybe even fun. That’s all I wanted.

I didn’t want to go to one of the many social “events” happening, where inevitably I go alone, wander around alone, save for a few mundane and worthless encounters with people I hardly know and am supposed to somehow be happy to see (though admittedly, on rare occasion, there actually is someone I’m happy to see, but all we do is talk for a few minutes then go our separate ways) …until I realize, yet again, there are much more fun things I could be doing – like walking home alone.
It’s far too easy to feel isolated, to feel friendless, even in large gatherings that are built primarily of people I call “friends”, in the loosest sense of the word.

I just wanted to meet at some random place where nothing was happening except “us”, the anonymous bar-crowd swirling around us, our only purpose being to hang out with each other, take the time to listen and talk and maybe even find out things we didn’t know, things that might bring us closer. (“Really? Your sister only has three toes on her left foot too?” “You got arrested for WHAT?”)
I posted on Facebook because I knew if I tried to call people I would just get increasingly angry & depressed with each fruitless call, every person saying that they couldn’t for whatever bullshit reason – and besides, not only do I not have most people’s phone number, but was only able to think of two people who would likely at least be interested. One just recently moved to Seattle (& doesn’t drink anyway) while the other is out of town – so I opened it up to everyone. Who knows, maybe someone might respond that I would never have thought of, and maybe we’ll actually have something to talk about. It was worth a shot.
What I got in return were about 7 or so replies, each one from people in an entirely different city saying “I would, but…”  While I forced myself to appreciate the sentiment, words aren’t worth shit when actual physical presence is wanted. I don’t give a fuck that you would “like” to come hang out. Hells, I’d like to be able to give thousands of dollars to some people I care about and charities that need it, but saying “I wish I could” is worth less than not saying anything. You can kindly shove your “I wish”s & “I would, but”s up your ass. I would much rather hear the honesty of your silence.

Okay, enough of my rant. Letting some of it out through my fingers did help a little, as always – and the disgust I feel with myself & this world had been alleviated a bit, the load lightened as each whiney word was vomited out of my head and onto the screen – and though I have much more to bitch and whine about, I promised my dog I would get us both to the park today – her for some running & playing, and me for the laughter & smiles she brings even when I’m in much darker places than this.

I guess that I do have one friend I can always count on to be there- I just wish she were old enough & had the language skills to hang out with me in a bar or over brunch or just someone to try to figure out how to get through this life without ending up detesting nearly everyone, and perhaps even make this darkness fade to a lighter grey.

The Way It Works / The Circle

The comforter loosely tucked around my body, the cool air from the slightly open window on my arms a perfect contrast to the soft warmth underneath. Cozy, warm & content as I sit up against the softness of my pillows, Ruby asleep with her back pressed tight against my legs. A single candle glows softly in the sconce on the wall behind me offering just enough light to pick out the letters on my laptop – in the quiet & solitude of 4:30am, the sudden brightness of my reading lamp would shatter this perfect moment.
I can barely see anything.
Screw it. I’ll squint.

I had just woken up thinking how amazing it can be, when things are used well.

Thanks to a few incredible people who are still lifting my spirits, still, even after all this time reminding me that is still one HELL of a warrior inside of me…

– & some ‘creative logic’ on my part in the herb & food needs (i.e. “I *think* I can stretch that out until… um… the 1st? Shit.”) – I was able to afford to take a journey out to El Cerrito yesterday to visit an incredible friend, woman, & fellow warrior who is going through her own medical hell – getting two different, completely soul-crushing messages about 48 hours apart like a fucking double-tap to the heart.

We had a kickass day, hanging out in her room, talking, laughing so hard I *honestly* thought my guts might finally come flying out of me (I was holding them in, squeezing as hard as I could with both arms & yelling at her to shut up before I popped – but would she? NoooOOOoooo – the bitch!) and… just remembering what it felt like to be *normal* people for a few hours, watching stupid TV, singing songs at the top of our lungs and giving each other loving hell.

I needed it just as much as she did, if not quite a bit more. There’s a healing in just simply that connection, that amount of love that that no medicine, no herb, no “perfect living” can *ever* equal.

We talked about our animals, and both wondered if either of us would still be alive without them… and she had the amazing idea of making a Youtube video about the caring for them – what they like, what they need, can or can’t eat – what makes them happy, the treats they like or a certain way they like to be scratched, or petted – or not…
Just in case.

Just in case so if anything ever did happen, if we weren’t able to talk or move or…

Then at least we would know that, even then, we still did our best for them…
On the way out there, some dancers got on the BART train, did their speech blahblahblah… and as they began I moved my eyes up from my writing, looked at them – then looked around at the other passengers, who were nearly ALL doing their best to ignore these courageous kids who were dancing for THEM, maybe in hopes to shine a little more color on the grey, Friday evening lives they lived.

They were, actually, pretty good! Did that new thing where it looks like your entire upper body has had every bone broken and swivels put in to repair the job instead of pins.
And thanks to those who help *me* – I was able to offer them something. I pulled out $5 – not much but a lot for me at the time, and the worst part is – I was sitting four rows back from the door, and as the hat-holder got to me after I *called* him to come over – that $5 was the only bill that they left with.
Still, they left the car in style – saying their thank-you’s & smiling.

After the day with Isa & finally back in the City, walking through Civic Center BART there were a couple guys around my age setting up – one in a wheelchair, but still somehow tall & lanky with pencil-dreads, his partner shorter but still thin, and looking close you could see what appeared to be not an easy life in their faces.

Then, as I took the first couple of steps up the escalator, they started singing – and I jumped back down. Goddamn. They sang an old spiritual, lanky in a *low* base & his partner harmonizing beautifully – I had $3 left in my pocket, so gave them that…

and I made my way back up the escalator into the frigid San Francisco night with my p-coat pulled tight, hat brim down – and an enormous smile beaming out from underneath it, still humming the spiritual.
And none of this would have ever been able to happen without you – you know who you are.
Thank you.

 

answers

This is what it has come to. this is what needs to be done – and I’m fucking terrified… but I can’t let that stop me.

Dressed, drinking my mate’, a smoothie, taking all the herbs and trying to breathe. Trying not to think of what I will say, and trusting that the right words will come. The heart can’t be scripted.

It’s been set up, arranged, the best possibility of a time to catch her at home… and it’s happening.
A friend is driving down from Sacramento, grabbing my ass, and then we make the 2.5 hour trip up to Philo, where I surprise my mother on her doorstep.

I haven’t heard from her in over 10 months – I’ve left 30 or more messages, sent three letters… and still, no word from her.

What hurt the most was that there wasn’t even a birthday card sent. I mean fuck – I would have been fine if it were just completely void of words… just SOMETHING. Something… from her.
A heart-ripping contrast to only two years before, when she sent 7 birthday cards, each saying a little something.

I’m terrified… but this is something that needs to be done. The longer it sits inside of me, the more potent the poison becomes. All I want to know is one thing… why? What do you need? (Okay, two.)
Just… tell me to stay, or go away again… this time, forever. I’ll respect whatever you want. After all, saying goodbye was the very first thing you taught me, remember? Of course you do. It’s the very first thing I learned; having your smell, your heartbeat, your voice and everything that was peace & comfort ripped away from me as they took me from your arms.

You made me stronger than you realize, mom. I know what alone means better than most everyone – and I have done well.

I did the one thing I intended to do, which was live long enough to meet you.

I just didn’t expect you to be so wonderful.
I didn’t expect… to love you.

So, today, hopefully, something will be understood. I’ll do whatever you wish – just tell me.
I am, after & through it all – your first-born. I am your son… and even if I never see you again after today – I always will be.
At least nothing or no one can EVER take that away from me.

in silent screams

I leave one message for her, then another after a few days, a week… then twenty, thirty over the months. After a short while I find I’m talking to her answering machine, having almost conversations, telling it what I’ve been up to, how my day was, my week. It’s silent as I tell it that I think I’m getting better, that I wish she could meet some of the amazing people who are helping to keep me alive…

but it’s never her.

It must be around eight months now, maybe nine since I’ve heard my Mother’s voice – or heard from her at all. There’s been some amazing news that I told her answering machine; I’ve met my Blood Father with whom, on that fated New Years Eve of ’66/’67, she created me. The last time we talked, when he & I were only barely beginning to plan it, I asked her how she felt about me meeting him, & she said she was completely cool with it – “He’s a really sweet man.”, She said. He is… I was in & out of the hospital, been cured of Hep-C.
My Birthday has long since come & gone. The day she watched as I took my first breath… the day that only after we met meant anything to me slid by without a word from her.

I went to a small party which only by coincidence was the same day – dusted off & put on the well-practiced smile that hides everything else churning & twisting beneath the surface so that no one knew & it didn’t dampen the moods of my friends.
Hell, over this lifetime its gotten to the point where even I believe the mask I wear for those moments,,, until I get home, check the mailbox and again find it empty.

Maybe everything is broken, and she’s not getting any of my messages. Maybe she doesn’t check them. Maybe it is just too much for her and she has left me with nothing but silence, confusion, – and far too few beautiful memories of the times we had together… just like the others.
Maybe I did something wrong.

Maybe… this was a mistake. Maybe there was something past the smile that I never saw, the few times I was able to get up there to see her. An uncertainty, a fear…
Maybe I planted myself in her life too quickly and grew up too fast in the 47 years since she last saw me, one day a baby fresh from her womb, and the next, a man who has already lived a full life that she wasn’t allowed to be a part of.
Maybe, I did something wrong.

Maybe… I’m broken.

I’ve sent two letters now, another one will arrive for her shortly after thanksgiving. I’m thinking of sending a stamped & addressed envelope in this one. Maybe with a note to me with multiple choice answers.

Hi Casey!
Great to get your letters. I’m doing a)great b)pretty good c) busy, and I/I’m a)VERY sorry b) insanely busy with work c) have been feeling kind of down, but/and meant to write/call…

My ½ sister – her daughter, who I talk to about mom every month or so when we go to the archery range or dog park says not to worry; that maybe mom is feeling bad because she wasn’t able to be here for me, and she’s been a bit depressed lately anyways, not really being able to get around due to her recent hip transplants, or….or….

If I had a car I would have been up there long ago – maybe.
Probably. I understand the need & desire to be alone, but this has gotten to the point where it has just fucking become selfish.

It’s been 2 years & 6 days since the first time in my life I saw my Mother’s face. Could hold her in my arms. Could, at last, after 46 years… feel wanted. I found the heart that I belonged in.

I think of her every day, miss her – especially now, with the holidays here & looming, a time when we should be together – if even only through a phone call.

She always seemed so excited to see me in the few times I’ve been able to get up there.
Maybe she had a change of heart, and closed the part where I seemed to fit so perfectly before.
Maybe there will be a beautiful letter in a plain white envelope waiting for me in my mailbox tomorrow.

I don’t know.
Her answering machine ain’t talking.

incomplete

I was offered death on a silver platter, on the house, free of questions or guilt or blame; the setting complete with cocktail forks and a shell cracker to be sure that every bit of its marrow and juice was consumed, to pick clean the memories and every bit of what was and could have been so that nothing remained but the carnage and shattered bones of a life that had become empty. It was a gift that would have been so simple to accept – an easy way out of something that had become lackluster and plain –

There was one mistake made though in the almost perfect set-up. It would have been far, far too easy to do. Some said I was courageous, which I possibly now understand.

Perhaps the courage was in turning it down. I have an unquenchable thirst for adventure, for life, for proving the impossible possible, for realizing dreams – yet with all of the meticulous preparation there was no beverage served to satiate my craving.

Possibly it was believed by the hosts that death would have been enough of a voyage in itself to entice me. Perhaps the Powers That Be, The Great Big Ooh-Ahh, The Universe, The One And All were giving me a way out of what’s coming, and a fantastic justification at that.  I’m certain that one day that final journey *will* be enough and I’ll cease this struggle for life – but that can only come after all the things I wish or need to do while alive have been undertaken.

 

The fifteenth day of the second month in my new apartment. I’ve become to view it as a jail cell that locks from the inside, offering peace, offering comfort, but this is not who I am. It is with unease that I call upon the words again, beckoning to them, encouraging them to be my friends again, as where I need to go inside is a place that I inevitably go alone.

The Search.

It takes everything I am, everything I have been through, every tiny bit of strength that has been cultivated over my years, and yet I don’t believe that this will be enough. It will, however, be better than the first time, be better than when I attempted to do it myself, as this time I have hired a search company to assist me – I had little choice, although payments for the fee will leave me destitute for the next four months. It’s either live for this time barely able to survive due to lack of food and the herbs I need, with some air of hope for finding my birth mother, or it gets put off longer and longer with the possibility of never getting done at all, never having the questions answered that I’ve been asking since one day as a child I found my adoption decree hidden in my parents things and taught myself how to ask them. Either I do it now, and with the help, or it never gets done and I’m forever left wondering, forever remaining incomplete, a shadow of who I could be.

At the autopsy they would find a heart with a hole in it and no guts.