Eternal Love

 

9.28.2017

I wear the necklace that I made out of her teeth much less these days, the smile she always wore that now, on occasion, I do. But both of our smiles are fragile.

Twelve years. It doesn’t get easier, only different – but that’s perhaps my fault, my choice. I never want to forget. – there are still triggers; but it has found  a different place in my heart, one of warmth and fondness instead of pain. Now, a subtle smile crosses my face as I recall her beauty, and we again smile together.

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Her ashes still rest by me, and the memories of those glorious days on the road from San Francisco, the long & accidental way to Austin. Austin wasn’t the plan, but as always, plans change – and we were needed there in the days following Hurricane Katrina to help. Every day an adventure. I had purpose. I was needed. The months living in The Enchanted Forest, both extraordinarily beautiful and full of sorrow, will remain in my heart, along with Bean, forever.

More than anything, she loved the car. I took her with me everywhere I could with me… but on that day – September 28th, 2005, she couldn’t come. Going to help a friend build a rain structure for a wedding reception, I was only gone for a couple hours. This time, however, she wasn’t waiting where we parked at the end of the driveway as she had always done before…

I learned moments later that her body had been found on the train tracks by friends at the Forest. Head crushed, but a stuffed toy, somehow, still in her mouth. I think that’s what they said. After the first words I wasn’t listening anymore.

Nearly always in these days of the year there’s a melancholy or need that comes over me – a longing. (Or, more appropriately said, it’s amplified.) A need to travel, to just go and watch cities & past disappear in the rearview mirror.

The way the Universe smiles on me sometimes, even when I don’t see it until later… A friend of mine, David, loaned me his car to do things I needed for four days, and on the last, after everything had mostly been done, I decided to give it all to Ruby – the only dog I’ve known who loves the car even more than Bean did. Starting at 5:30am, our drive began – sunrise at her favorite local park, then down to the Wharf where I took her for the first time as a pup of only four months old. Top down, loving every second of the wind & sunshine, we drove like beasts crunching bones & sucking the marrow out of the roads & the day, until the uncharacteristic San Francisco heat drove us back inside my apartment to rest in front of the fan.

Only a day later, when I realized the date, did the deep-seeded need become clear – it was my tribute to Bean, and all the miles we had driven together.

I look at the photo I took of her moments before we began our adventure, looking out the window of my van with a beautiful smile on her face – waiting for me to get in the car so we could go…

Bean

I’m sorry Bean, I thought I would see you sooner than this – but I had other things to do. I know you understand.

I miss you.
And one day, we’ll all drive again – you, Ruby, & me.

Until again, my sweet girl.

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Life, Death, Dogs. A Rooftop Contemplation

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.

A Warrior Awakened

There was a time that I was called, by many, a warrior.
I have fought for the life I dreamed of and found it, I have fought through what most thought what was the inevitability of death and rose above.

For a long time, I looked for a different word than “fight” – but truly, nothing fits this better.

I will always fight for something better – whether it be myself or others – but it’s usually me, usually the things that have been ingrained in me that I battle.
Eventually, I always win – for now.

A warrior is not your everyday ignorant fighter – there is discipline involved, knowing the good from the bad, knowing the battles that you’re above, knowing the battles you can’t win and walking away.

When the person you battle is yourself, the same rules apply. The same discipline. The same grace.

This is my life right now, looking over my past and yearning for a better future because of it. I fight. I learn. I battle the ghosts and old bones inside of me.

I’m learning again, teaching myself, climbing up to grace.

Eighteen months in  a hospital and all that went with it crushed me…

But I will be that warrior again – and I will bring you with me – if you desire.

Do you?

wings

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.

Old Bones (aka why I won’t let myself die.)

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)
Dear kSea,
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.
7.4
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.
Much Love,
Whit

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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.

Just another beautiful night…

Sometimes life throws you something that you didn’t expect & are better for it. This was one of those nights.

Rose was kind. Kind and wonderful enough to actually PM me and offer to put me on the list, if I wanted. With all the people I know, I hardly know her – but she is the sigle one who approached me without me first asking. I would do anything I could for her because of that. It’s stupid how easily I’m devoted & loyal. I don’t think that’s a fault – at least, not for anyone but me. (Though I kind of think by saying that, I’m now fucked… We’ll see.)

Aaaanyway, I walked from my apartment to Baxtalo Drom (The Lucky Road) – the show she produces and has for quite a while – and in the rare times when I was able to go always had a wonderful time.

Of course, in those times I was lit on morphine, so the times I had, full crowd, amazing performances, all the bells & whistles to make a great evening… were somewhat dulled.
Morphine sucks. (My public service announcement.) (Your welcome.)

Tonight however, my noggin was ALL screwy – sober as hell on the way there, I could barely walk straight. Muscles weren’t working right, mind was jittering like a scratched record – I was a mess. But hell, I looked better that I was and can almost always pull off a little bit of conversation. I made due. No one suspected a damn thing. I’m a pro at this – false smiles were the first thing I learned…

It didn’t take long tonight before the smiles on my face were real, weren’t something contrived. This is what I wrote in my notebook:

“In times like this, I see the fun others are having. Intimate, shared, free.
Regardless of how I’m feeling in mind or body – most times – I do my best to let it contamine me. I begin to honor my smile, I begin to dance. I forget everything but NOW, and there is nothing better than this.”

So yeah, it ended up being a good night. I smiled, danced a bit – and then it was time for me to leave. So I did. Duh. Just felt like it. No good-byes. NEVER good bye..

Until again, if I must say something…

Realizing I had only eaten a bowl of cereal today, and thinking that maybe I should eat something more so the sides of my stomach don;t grind against each other, I decided to do the worst thing imaginable, short of eating a puppy.

Burger King. Bacon Double Cheeseburger. I hang my head as I write that. Good thing I can *almost* touch type. I had to close my eyes.

I ate half, hating myself with every bite – but then, I found at least a bit of redemption. As I walked up 9th street, half a burger in hand, I crossed Market and came upon the Wells Fargo Homeless Troupe. Always there at night, most just kids like I was – when I was.
I offered the still warm 1/2 burger to them, and after a few who said thanks bit no I found one who was willing to eat this crap. Hunger doesn’t let you choose. I felt good & wrong at the same time. It was confusing.

Further up the street I met my 2nd stage of homeless, and though on most every day I walk through them & their really bizarre things for sale, I heard a tune being played on someone’s radio. Didni’t know it, but saw three people dancing.

So I decided to dance with them, and did. WE did.

I find it so beautiful. Regardless of who you are or where you sit or what your situation is…
IF you can let that go, if you can dance with *anyone* – that’s all that matters. That’s all that matters because that will put a smile on your face and light up your fucking heart, and

and welcome back to human. Welcome back to love.

And then I walked another block, turned the corner and was shortly home to Ruby. She was all wiggly ass to see me again. I LOVE that!

I fucking love this life sometimes. Most times.
When I think about how many times I could have taken or lost it, not to experience nights like this…

I love it all times.

And in that, there is magic.

 

Nothing is easy.

 

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.