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.

Closer…

 

I can feel it getting closer.

What began as something that I thought would be easy over a year ago quickly revealed itself to me that it wasn’t when I got down to the work involved. This wasn’t something that I could take lightly – and I was far from prepared to deal with the way my own fears made me stumble along the way… but I kept at it.

It’s all I had.

Now, what I perceive as the hardest part – the part that tested me, made sure I had what it takes as I read, studied and re-wrote every work on every page in every part about 20 times is nearly over, and soon I get to do what this has all been buiding up to – write my book.

It’s amazing what I have learned over the time I have been putting the first part of this project together, and there have often been times where I think that I learned *too* much, as with nearly each new discovery came a new change that need to be made and what I thought might be alright before simply wasn’t anymore. Not for me, at least…

But soon it will be over – I’ll be able to focus on what it has all been building up to – and just as importantly, I’ll be able to quit being consumed by the emotional walls it is necessary to get through every time I need to ask for help for the herbs I need to stay alive, and, at long last, be able to support my SELF and the things I need.

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I’m not going to pretend that writing this book is going to be anything even *close* to easy, and the process of it – rough draft, re-write, editing, design, promotion, etc. will be quite a task – as well as the rawness of emotion that I will need to re-live will at times, I’m sure, rip my soul apart… but the exciting thing is that it WILL get done, each & every day a bit more – and it will help someone else.

It *will* help.
And I can feel it getting closer…

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.

 

“friends”

Saturday morning, 7am. What I’m doing up at this hour I have no idea, but since I’m here, may as well write.

I’ve recently come back to it, to the pen, the laptop, to the words that have been sitting inside of me and denied an outlet. I’ve been unfair to them – and so now they’re making me pay, trying to remember where they go so what I want to say is said.
It’s fair.

I’ve been writing again, and fuck, it feels good – almost like seeing an old friend you love dearly but haven’t seen for a while, but better. The writing comes almost whenever I call it, never too busy, knows that the words “Hey, want to hang out? Maybe get coffee?” mean so much more than that. The words know that sometimes, I’m drowning in loneliness and I’m so fucking weary of being the one who has to call you over & over again just to see your face and enjoy your presence for a brief amount of time while on this side the phone remains silent..

So you’ll understand if I choose my words over you, right?

I sent out a private message to someone a few weeks ago, again asking for help to get the herbs I need and explaining why – as well as briefly, what was going on in my life.
I got a message back – “That’s so much to read – do you need money?”
It would have taken maybe four minutes to read, and took everything I had not to tell this person to go fuck themselves but my health depended on it and I can barely afford bills much less my herbs so I leaned against a building’s wall as I wiped a tear or two of anger & frustration out of my eye and simply replied “yes.”

I’ve been writing a lot lately, and some of it has been good as I find my way back…
but I’ll be damned if I post it. If you don’t care, why the fuck should I bother.

consequences

In the past week alone, I’ve heard of three separate people who have recently passed from Hep-C complications. Without you, I would have been one of them four years ago. That doesn’t mean, however, that I’m in the clear. It’s still a daily battle, closely monitoring everything about my body, doing special exercises, tending to wounds and doing what I need to to keep from getting sick again.

I don’t just “get sick”. If I neglect to do anything & my health goes south, I end up in the hospital, to face an even harder fight if I get out.

But I also need to think of the consequences. The swollen legs & splitting skin, the distended abdomen, the crippling pain – you think just the thought of that would be enough for me to push aside my fear that you’ll end up despising me, or at the very worst, ignoring me. Scorning me, my words…

 

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Every single day I fight like hell to never go back to this...

Every single day I fight like hell to never go back to this…

But your financial help is the ONLY way that I can get the various herbs, foods, and other things I need to avoid being hospitalized and fighting to stay alive. Especially because right now, thanks to you, I AM getting better, and feeling more of the person I was before all of this… but I’m out of money, and a few days away from being out of some of the herbs I need.

Because I was afraid of what you might think of me, I got myself into a somewhat terrifying bind.

There is no other option I have, and as much as I loathe having to keep doing it – I’m the guy who goes through complete hell if, like last time, I don’t try every option I can think of, and there aren’t too many.

Therefore I ask again, and will until we either have won the fight, or I end up in the hospital again, wondering if just returning to the same fight is worth it.

And thank you, for everything. With all of my heart, with all of my hope & spirit, thank you. 

I love you.

~ Casey


I live for…

I met T. in Austin in 2005, during the four months I lived in a tent in the Austin Enchanted Forest. It was during Katrina, and that’s why I was there. To help.

T was kind, warm, comforting, and we became friends quickly, easily. There were many nights she stopped by my tent when I was writing, and quickly learned that I meant no harm when I told her to shut up for a little bit. I liked that.
We sometimes cuddled, often held each other. She was everything for me when Bean was killed, just letting me cry as I held her and not saying anything, because there was nothing and certainly no words that could make it better.
At least, that’s how I remember her during those months.

We’ve seen each other once since I left Austin, in a beautiful home I was staying at in New Orleans a few years later. I xzerbited her belly as I taught her to stiltwalk, desperately trying to maintain her grip on the rafters while I did nearly everything to distract her, both of us laughing hysterically while she tried not to fall & I made sure I was ready to catch her if she did.
She let go of her fears, held onto the rafters.

Some time after that, she sent me a message saying she was pregnant & was going to name her child, whether boy or girl, after me.

It’s difficult to render me speechless, but that certainly did it.

the amount of gratitude & love I feel for not only her, but so many other people I have met along the road, as well as the incredible family of friends I have here is truly overwhelming – and it’s because of all of you that I fight the way I do when things turn scary and I need to remember the Warrior inside of me to keep going – to keep creating, keep changing, keep dreaming – and making my dreams come true.

I will never be able to thank you enough, any of you – but I *can* show you ho grateful I am for having all of you in my life, and you better fucking believe I will – and gloriously.
I’ve had difficulty with getting past certain points with my book and the campaign for publishing, but figured out why now. IT’s also the reason I’ve been getting sick. Stay tuned for an apartment purge as soon as I get out of here – most everything will be for free, others I’ll need either trade or scratch – but we’ll cross that bridge in about a week when I escape this place.

This is what I found this morning in my PM’s, and the reason for this entire post.
I just couldn’t help but share it with you, because I like sharing the things that make me feel amazing with people…

“…Just wanted to check in on you, and am sad to see you are a mess right now. I hope you are getting proper veggies and such from your local friends.

Nico Ksea **** is 5 years old now, and a big sister!

I keep a little picture of you I stole from the interwebs in a frame, and recently she asked about it.
I said, “this is the man who taught me how important it is to write, and use beautiful words, even for ugly things. He is one of the most amazing, most special people in the world, so that’s why I gave you his name.”
And she stole the picture to hang on her wall. Little stinker.

I love you, big time! Even though I have been away and under a rock raising my little goblins, I keep you in my heart all the time, every day.”

This is what keeps me alive, what I live for.
I live to be all I possibly can be – for you.

Thank you for letting me.

I fucking love you.

Spirals / The Game

It was our first date. We met over the internet, enticed and attracted to each other but of course, who knows where it might lead? That’s much of the fun or terror, depending on where your mind chooses to find home.

We agreed to meet for tea. It was a windy, rainy afternoon, and I found a place, a tea room, with a fireplace. I would meet her and we would walk there together, exploring each other, too old to put up facades and being who we actually were.

A call shortly before asking me how flexible I was. There was something she needed to do, someone she needed to be there for. I was invited, requested, as she knew a *little* about me… but not the most important thing, not yet.

The actual “date” transformed from meeting for tea to taking care of a friend of hers going through some difficult times. I loved how it showed me more about her, and I was more than happy to break from the norm. Besides, she was needed, I had been in her friends place before. I could help. I would be of value. Not just another anyone over tea.

We did what we needed, wanted to do. She thanked me profusely for being so flexible, thanked me completely unnecessarily. I would rather do this than sit in a tea room. I like showing who I am… though I have a tendency to think that most people I just meet, who don’t know me, think that it is only for their benefit. To perhaps impress them with someone I can’t help but imagine they think I usually am not.

I don’t know how to fix this, but I do know that it is MY mind that is the culprit, the perpetrator.

We go to a Mexican joint to get her food, begin talking about something besides how much she abhors the weather or laughing at her continuously failing umbrella. It is so easy to laugh with her…..

I talk of my recent past, how perfect it was, could have been if that one let go of her past, not carried it around as her identity. We talk of the East Coast, of NYC where she is from, and realize we were something of neighbors at a point. Life goes on – that was New fucking York, and finding people who you lived close to at some time is a strangely small thing…but then we start talking of names.

Her ex-boyfriend. My Ex-girlfriend. She tells me his name, I know it. Not him, ut his name as an artist – and I may have met him a few times, because my girl at the time knew him.

“What was your girlfriends name?”
It was an amazing relationship – she was in law school, I was working at times 70+ hours a week, managing a kitchen that I couldn’t find a suitable second employee for. I kept my apartment but lived with her becase it was closer to work, and if I didn’t live “with” her & our dog, Max – we never would have seen each other.

Begin fond memory:

Gods, she was incredible. Brilliant. Drop-dead gorgeous and SO fucking intelligent in debate that she could argue that it was daylight, the birds were chirping and it was another beautiful spring – when my argument was that it actually WAS 2am on a dark night of a dark moon in winter… and she would win. She never made me feel less-than, never made me feel small… still, it surprised me when:

I named her.

A few nights ago, I was on a date with a gorgeous woman who briefly dated my former girlfriend after I had left NYC to go to school. 20 years ago.

The world is a very small place.

She told me that B, my ex of twenty years, talked about me quite frequently. I didn’t ask about what, I didn’t think it would be bad, as we parted ways still loving each other, talked a few times after that and then… lost contact.
It surprised me when she said, without provocation, how much B used to say how much she loved me.

It certainly wasn’t one sided, but me? Then? I wasn’t much… at least not that I saw.

Twenty years, and I am brought back to B through the incessant toying of time and the people who dance through it.

I fucking love this life.

I told L (my date the other eve) what I needed to at the end of the night, giving her a chance to run.

28 fucking years, and it hasn’t gotten any easier. 28 fucking years, and I’m still pissed off when people don’t ask ME about what it means, what needs to change if anything. Twenty-eight YEARS, over half my life, and if you don’t dig me – cool. I can live with that.

Twenty eight years and I see SO much fucking more than you could even begin to imagine. From the first day I’ve had to look deeper into myself, into you, into every choice I made, not only sexually but in ANY decision that just might extend over a year… at least until recently.

28 years, and though this impermanence has constructed the way I see, it is not my identity… though by thes last few paragraphs that is hard to trust. Just venting…
28 years, and of those who were singular, those who were and are special, those who I told before we met in such a sweet sweaty sexual way, exploring & discovering the flesh, our desire, lust & how deep we could go into this intimacy, this knowing, this pure dirty innocence of what we discover…
only three. S, K, & L. Three in that entire time said “no” because of what I have been both cursed & blessed with.

I can dig it. Life goes on. Someday there will be another that I need to conjure up all of my courage to tell.

Oh, the stories I have inside of me… Interesting to know that this is only a small rant, and most of the stories have little to do with this strange HIV game.

I’m fucking exhausted. Good night.