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.
The beginning and end of these recent days bring the same thoughts, without answers, without release. I try to be strong, I search pages and my Self for some vague semblance of peace, and occasionally, for a short amount of time here & there, am able to fight it, though all I feel I’m doing is coating the bitter taste inside with a sweetness that quickly fades as my acidic reality eats through the superficial shine.
Everything changed with one decision I made, choosing to fight instead of fade away, but now in this loneliness it’s so hard to find another reason. I want to be a better man, have a purpose, someone to make proud – but it’s been years, and I don’t remember how not to be alone, and love is only a memory – so now, again, I throw words into the well, wishing I might come true.
I know with all I’ve been through I can get past this as well, in time – and maybe then love might come my way again. For now, however, I need to keep writing – it’s the only thing that’s always been there for me, the only friend that’s never gone away – and again I’ll use them to strip the darkness in my heart clean.
And show myself & the world, again, why I decided to live.
And who I am.
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.
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!)
For hours we talked. We talked of the Sun & the Stars, of everything around & under them. We talked of writing and authors, of our pasts and present. Of herbs and addiction, of friends and difficult relationships. We talked of romance. She said she was a hopeless romantic, I told her I was a hopeful one which made her smile. She talked about lovers, of past boy & girlfriends, but not having anything current to say from my side, I mostly kept quiet.
I looked into her ice-blue eyes and I could only think of clichés to describe them, and worried about a piece of the glitter surrounding her eyes falling into one. I found it kind of dorky and cute the way sometimes she stifled her laughter by pressing her tongue against her upper lip. We talked outside of time, the world moving on around us.
Although we could have sat there enjoying each other’s company for much longer, the growing soreness in our asses had something else to say about it. It was time to stand, to go. It had been a lovely time together, getting to know each other, finally meeting a decade after she had first heard my name from a mutual friend.
Instead of parting ways outside the café, we sauntered down Market Street, side by side weaving around the people & construction, enjoying the continued conversation & moving slowly, more as if we were strolling through a park on a warm spring day than in the rush of San Francisco as it left work & headed home. As far as I could tell, we were the only ones there.
“This is where I turn. I’ve had a wonderful time.”
A warm hug. I answer, we go our separate ways. On the way home I walk faster, at my normal pace, the hint of a smile playing on my lips as I hope that it actually will be soon, and, newly inspired, think about what I’ll write.
At least that’s what I expected to happen, but we kept walking, taking now about hidden treasures in Golden Gate Park. She says she’ll take me to the “Faerie Door”. I imagine her being able to take me through it to her true home. Now walking through Civic Center Park, I begin to wonder where she’s going. My mind starts spinning. Maybe she has an errand to run that just happens to be in the direction of my apartment. Yeah, that must be it. If it were ten, fifteen years ago, if we were walking away from a bar a little tipsy, if pretty much everything were different, then I could accept that she might be coming home with me – but these days? A lovely woman I just met coming home with me? What a silly thought. That just doesn’t happen to me anymore. She must have someone else she wants to visit close to me. Maybe she wants to get some Vietnamese food to take home. Quit having such foolish thoughts, kSea. You know better.
We wander up Hyde Street together, each step getting closer to my home and she is sill by my side. I start to get nervous, confused, trying to remember how to do this… this boy/girl thing. The game, the ritual. I can’t. Hell, the last lover I had was three years ago, and I don’t have the slightest idea of how to read all but the most blatant & obvious hints anymore – and those I’d likely even have trouble with, looking around the room for someone else and wondering if they were actually directed at me.
I need to calm down. This could be, and most likely is, entirely innocent. I don’t know what I’m thinking. Really. I have no idea.
We turn the corner to my apartment, which is now about 20 yards away. A friend of hers once looked at an apartment in the building next to mine I find out, and then I’m opening my gate. I apologize beforehand about the mess & dog hair everywhere. I refrain from saying that I wasn’t expecting company, thinking it might come across poorly and accidentally give her the idea that she isn’t welcome & make her uncomfortable.
I quickly grab the clothes off of my couch & toss them in the walk-in. “That’s your closet?”
“Yeah! I have another one right there.” That’s it, kSea. Suave as ever. Christ.
She sits on the couch without asking or waiting for me to say anything, and I like that. It makes me feel like she’s comfortable here. I offer her anything, and thankfully she’s happy with water. I can do that. I have water! I pull my finest ex pickle jar out of the cupboard for her & make sure it’s company clean, not just “me” clean. It passes. Must have been a good day when I washed it.
When I come back into the room I notice that she’s taken her hair down and nearly drop her water. It’s beautiful. She’s even more beautiful. I sit down beside her, leaving a good foot & a half between us. It’s a small couch. I mentally take the word “loveseat” out of my head.
The talking continues, she likes my knives (are you fucking KIDDING me?) and says she used to have one exactly like this one. We talk about knife throwing. (I can’t even make this shit up. Dear gods.) I tell her stories o fme as a child, crashing my mom’s car into our house at 11, setting my mattress on fire at 8. We laugh. Compare notes of families, talk about adoption & blood.
I’m terrified. This is what I’ve been doing my best to avoid every time I went out, and doing it very successfully for over three years. With clothes on, I look okay, but I’m reminded at the times I have to look in the mirror what I look like without them. Scarred & discolored legs, the umbilical hernia looking like a fetal twin sticking out of my abdomen, the inguinal hernia less horrible, but at the top right of my pelvic bone. Even if you know what to expect it’s hideous. I try not to look at it unless I have to. I don’t want anyone else to have to.
Even as rusty as I am, I know I could have swayed our conversation with a couple questions to a place where I could have found out if it was alright to kiss her, if she would allow me to, if she wanted me to… and I would have loved to. But everything inside of me wouldn’t let it happen for fear of the possibility of it going further. After some time she puts her hair back up. I feel like an idiot, just wishing I could get past all that’s inside of me. A warm hug, and we take the elevator downstairs. I bring Ruby so I have a reason to walk with her just a little more.
My Dr. had called me that morning, telling me that the surgeon still won’t agree to do the surgery on my hernia’s, now two instead of one. He says that there’s a 30% chance of complications due to the ascites (fluid retention) in my abdomen, but I can’t help but call bullshit. Though there may be some fluid, I work hard keeping it as minimal as possible with teas & herbs, and if he did do the surgery I’d work even harder, agreeing to even take the prescription diuretics they want me to. But still, he won’t. He’s afraid, he’s concerned, and he doesn’t have any idea how strong my will can be to live – when there’s something to live for.
It’s been nearly three years since I’ve even kissed a woman romantically, hoping that one day, with all the fighting to get the surgery done, he might give in – but still, there’s that 30% chance that I could die hanging over everything, hanging over a life that I now don’t even have the morphine to mask the oppressive loneliness.
What he doesn’t seem to understand is that, as my will to live fades, the chance of dying without the surgery keeps growing – with each memory of a kiss that never happened.
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.
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.
I haven’t done this for a while.
This thing where I write – you know, just write, write what I think, what I feel – or not think, just write like I could back when everything I though was formed in a way as if it was already written, where I noticed so much more, where I felt so much more alive because of that and I put things down in my head in beautiful prose and all I needed to do was copy the pages that had already been written in my heart… all I had do do was shit down and rest the fingers on these little square things that make the letters and then the letters when put together well became words and when those were put together well it made the beauty I saw or the pain or the frustration or the joy or the love come out and it would just be here because it needed to be because when it was when it worked then I felt so much more alive so much more like me and it made sense when it made sense I was so much more in love with you and felt so much less alone.
It was there, simple, it was honest and it was true and at times it was good at others, scathing, but I really didn’t give a fuck what the words ended up sounding like because it was honest and if for one reason or another it was one of those times where I hated everyone then fine because there were words behind it that didn’t somewhere, many times there were the words that were written through the eyes I prefer to see through, and it was just me, just like you, when sometimes the pain was there and it was as real as everything else… but there was so much back then. So much beauty, pain, frustration, confusion; So much love for every fucking second. I was alive and I knew the world was mine and all I needed to do was figure out how to get it, how to let it know…
Everything was magical, back then.
But now, now. I don’t know anymore. Every single day is a fight, every smile forced and false. Somewhere along the way I was broken, somewhere along the way I made far too many mistakes, or just one, but at the time it seemed right. At the time it seemed like what I was supposed to do, so I did it and in doing so, lost myself. I created something that I thought was going to be beautiful, that I thought would be worth it, but all it is doing is ripping me apart piece by piece and I don’t know how many pieces I have left to give.
I need to dig down, find the answers. It’s not you I hate, it’s not me. It’s not the magazine, but what I have become as a result. It’s how fucking alone I feel in trying to make it happen every fucking day and trying to ignore the feeling that none of you really give a fuck about the magazine, about me, because I can’t find the line between them anymore, but that’s not it. It’s how fucking alone I feel, and it’s not your fault because I’ve always felt this way so there must, there must be something wrong with me, because I think I’m doing things right, but nothing ever works out…
and fuck, this isn’t want I want to write at all… but it is, maybe, because that’s what came, but these days for some reason I’m worried about what you’ll think which is the most fucking absurd thing possible because… because I at least want to pretend you give a fuck, and the last thing I want to do is sound like some whiny woe-is-me asshole but … but that’s how I’m feeling… but no, NO!, I’m supposed to be fucking strong, I’m supposed to be resilient, I’m supposed to keep on fucking going because people aren’t supposed to show weakness, not like this, not like this not whiny and self pitying because that’s childish bullshit but gods I feel like a child and I’m fucking scared and I fight back tears of frustration every single day these days because I need to get things done, as futile as it all seems I need to get things done but I’m fucking terrified and I don’t know why the magazine isn’t working the way I want it to and I don’t know why you never ask me to hang out with you and I don’t know why I feel this way when so many of you say you love me and I really don’t want to read any bullshit “it’s going to be okay” comments because what I want you to do is ask me out for a cup of coffee just a fucking cup of coffee where we can talk just you and me and be real and express our fears and be human and honest and maybe you’ll let me know you’re scared too or jesusfuckingchrist not even that just say “hey let’s do something, y’know, hang out” but that never happens and so it must be me something wrong with me, something wrong with me? Still? And I don’t know why half my life ago I fucked that guy or maybe that guy then got that call that changed everything (okay, just wait, just wait and it will all be over) but I’m still alive when so many others have died and there’s a reason somewhere there’s a reason that I need to get way down inside but I’m frightened but even though I’m frightened I am fucking strong but I don’t know how strong I can be I don’t know how much I have left to give and I’m full of nothing but frustratiion and I want to stop looking at the full bottle of morphine knowing that’s all and I want to believe that I’m not that far gone but sometimes, sometimes… and I think the magazine is good but I don’t know if it’s worth it but I want to keep trying and I want to make it grow and I want to change the world because I’m not dead and I DON’T KNOW WHY and I can I can and I don’t want to stop making the magazine, I don’t want to stop creating my life, I don’t want to… ,
I just want to enjoy it again, and feel like it matters.
And then this came in my email literally just before the end of the last “paragraph”, before the last line above, wne I already knew what was going to come out of this fucked up head…
It fucking blew me away, as the Universe usually does at times like this – but seldom so directly.
Hi… I’m sure this seems kind of weird because you don’t know me
(well we’re facebook friends, does that count? haha), so I’ll
introduce myself a bit. My name is ***** **** (name removed by request) and I’m a circus artist
and dancer. I’m mexican but soon moving to Buenos Aires to train in
order to enter a circus school, after years of struggling with what I
wanted to do with my life. I first fell in love with circus at about
14, after discovering the Cirque du Soleil. Then, there were no circus
schools, classes, or teachers in my city, so I applied to Montreal
school. I was rejected (which few people actually knows), and decided
to forget about that dream. For the next 5 years, I did many kinds of
dance (but mostly ballet), until I lost my ballet teacher, and with
nothing to do, decided to enter a silks class (now there are some
circus classes here). And then contortion. And acrobatics. And
handstanding. And aerial hoop.
I was amazed. I found what I thought I had lost, I felt alive, and I
knew this is what I wanted to do, because it makes me feel happy and
alive as nothing else in the world.
Yet, I’m 21 years old, and though I’m flexible and more or less
strong, this is a really late age to start. I have lots of things
against. I actually started Graphic Design, but dropped out after one
semester. Then I started Fashion Design, which is cool but not what I
really love. Then, a month and a half ago, we weren’t able anymore to
pay for the place where we trained, and became “homeless”. And then I
realized I was fooling myself by trying to “play safe”. During those
days my best friends were out or unreachable so I was really face to
face with myself. And then I decided to go for what I really want.
Buenos Aires was my choice because it’s a city with lots of circus
opportunities, great schools and definitely more affordable than San
Francisco, Montreal or Europe. I’m lucky to have my mother’s support
(my father thinks I’m wasting my time), and I was able to get a
ticket to Buenos Aires, where I can stay with a cousin. I’m training
all year to be ready for the school I want’s audition in 2011.
Truth to be told, I’m terrified. I’m really afraid of not making it,
of not being strong enough, of failing, of… wasting my time. But I
feel deep inside there’s no really another option. Everything else
would be fake.
I’ve been following you and Culture Flux for some time now, and I’ve
been reading your facebook messages. I know your going through hard
times, and though I can’t do much, I wanted to tell you what you’re
doing is inspiring and definitely worth it. I admire you for going
for your dreams and fighting, standing even in tough conditions. I
wanted to tell you that you’re not alone. I guess this sounds naive,
due to my age and life, but we’re really in this together. Us and
others. These aren’t good times for dreamers but that’s what we are
and I think it’s worth a try to go for our dreams. I send you an
illustration I made for you, to show you in some way my support to you
and your project. I hope it helps in some way. I’d be glad to really
send it to you, if you agree.
Morning now, still amazed at what she sent to me at just the perfect time. Always amazed when things like this happen… and christ my hands are cold but still I don’t think I’m done here, not yet, because as perfect as this is there is still an emptiness inside – though the will to go on, at least, is much stronger.
I don’t know how to fix it, where to start. I look back trying to find answers, clues as to who I was when I was who I wanted to be and I wonder if I ever have been that person. I know I’ve been close. Close.
One thing I do know now, without question, is that I need to continue with CultureFlux. I need to continue because one person cares, because one person is inspired, and I can’t let her down – for a million reasons, and because of what she has given me. We give our strength to each other, our fears, and through that they are diluted. Through that we can walk a bit taller, feel a bit better, face the world even if we are terrified of it, and maybe even smile because we know how strong we are deep down inside. We just need to be reminded from time to time…
and not feel so fucking alone.
I need help with CultureFlux though. I don’t know what… but I need people. Good people. People I can tolerate. People who have beautiful dreams and believe in this one. I want meetings on how to improve it, market it, figure out ways to bring it to print, have it make money. I want a fucking office, because I’m sick to death of the cafe. There’s a great place called ActivSpace right across from where I park my Motorhome where they have private office spaces for only $400/mo., and I want one of those. They’re cheap, and have a window. I’ve already talked to the manager, move-in would be rent + $500.
All I know is that after almost two years of doing it almost entirely alone, I don’t want to – can’t – anymore, and I need to keep it going.
Maria has made me realize that this dream has come true, but I want to reach even more people so it needs to grow and I need, perhaps, you. I sure as fuck need someone.