eXTReMe Tracker

Monday, June 14, 2010

"Who wants flowers when you're dead? Nobody." - J.D. Salinger

His sense of the dramatic was unfulfilled.

After fifteen years he had decided it was time to visit his parents graves. He would have preferred a cold, rainy day.

He settled on a hot, dry day in June.

On the drive over he thought about what he may feel. He even wondered if he would feel anything. After fifteen years...

Yet something told him it was time, time to reopen the closet without his eye's being closed.

After pulling into a parking place he noticed a family exiting a mini-van, Mom and Dad and four kids in tow. All were dressed in shorts and t-shirts. They were headed to the Chapel, looking as if they were embarking on a day at Six-Flags.

Welcome to Dead-land, no lines, no waiting, and you don't have to be this tall to ride this ride.

He walked towards the building that wasn't hawking flowers at an exaggerated price, preying on the guilt of the bereaved.

Vultures, he thought.

The sign read information and he needed some. His parents had been on their fifth respective spouses when they died, so they were in different locations. Nothing side by side-no holding hands for eternity.

He had made it to his Mother's funeral, stoned on cheap weed and crazed with grief.

He was dimly aware of a bright, cold, windy graveside service. His stepfather glared at him across the open ground, his Mother laying between them, the sun sparkling on the polished wood of her coffin. He glared back, although it was decidedly hard to glare while sobbing.

His brother was there, two cousins, and he knew some friends of the family. He was such a mess no one could console him. He remembered he didn't care to be consoled.
He wanted to feel, wanted to rage and cry and curse God. So he did.

But now, he needed a map to find the spot. He remembered nothing about it.

He entered the building and a sense of whispering became evident. Out of respect? Not like loud conversation was going to disturb the deceased, but he did it anyway.

The older, large, florid faced man behind the counter asked in somber tones if he could help him. Yes, he whispered, I'm looking for my parents. The way he said it made him think he was six again, and had lost them in the grocery store.

Names? Of course. He told him and added he needed to find his grandmother and Mom's parents too. The look said, oh, another one who was too busy with whatever passed for his life to keep up with his dead family. His return look agreed.

This way please. The man ushered him into a private room with a round, glassed-top table and two reasonably comfortable chairs. If you'll wait here?

Sure. Not like he wanted to wander around the building-his imagination was way too developed for that.

The walls advertised styles and makes of headstones, fonts for lettering, and pretty, snappy colors, to cheer things up. Pictures of the deceased were apparently now in vogue and could be placed in some type of weatherproofing so one could view Aunt Selma in her Bolero outfit for eons.

The man returned. Not once, but three times. His Father was placed beside his father's Mom and her sister and could be easily found. His Mom, well, she was listed as deceased, but the plot she was reserved for had never been utilized. What? Her irresponsible, alcoholic behavior was evident even in death. Just like her, he thought.

He called his brother on his cell. After explaining the situation, and agreeing it was just like her, he thought maybe her husband had purchased a plot for them both. He had died two years after she.

He gave the man his name. Bingo, there they were.

His grandparents were in a section that had recently been re-plotted and the man apologized, the maps of the re-plotting were not available quite yet. They would be difficult to find.

Dude, he thought, they're dead...they couldn't have gotten far. But he held his tongue.

They were in three completely different sections of the cemetery.

OK, who was he going to piss off first? No, not Dad. Of course, he should visit him first or he would never-and around here never was a really long time-hear the end of it.

He consulted his map and began to wind through the acreage. He found the section, consulted the map again, and parked.

He looked, and wandered and looked some more. Nothing. So he began walking, no rhyme or reason, just reading names on markers. His eye caught a familiar name on a marker. A name from his childhood, the woman who rented them his childhood home, a friend of his Grandmother. Odd, he thought, but it gave him a sign he was close.

A woman in a small white compact pulled in behind his truck. She got out, smiling in that way that told him she worked there and it was obvious he was not finding what he had come for.

As she approached he noticed her smile even more. Her teeth reminded him of stars, yellow and very far apart.

He explained himself and she began assisting in the search. Then he found it. His Grandmother and her sister side by side. But a large, old tree was where his Father was supposed to be.

He explained the problem and she dropped to her knees, digging in the ground next to his Grandmother. He wondered if he should help, but his imagination said are you kidding? Dig in a graveyard? Hello? Have you never seen a George Romero film?

And after all, she worked there. Let her get grabbed by a bony, undead hand. Screw that.

Sometimes, she said, these markers get overgrown and can be hard to find. But she was helpful and digging like crazy. It was when she began flinging worms over her shoulder that he asked her to stop. It was obvious, and way too creepy, that his Father wasn't there.

She took his name and number and said she would research it and not to worry, although this hardly ever happens, we haven't completely lost one yet.

I'll bet, he thought.

The woman, now with grass stained knees,returned to her car and sputtered away.

He talked to his Grandmother for a bit, explaining he had been in the Army and in Germany when she died and he tried to come home, but they wouldn't let him. He really was sorry.

He talked to his great Aunt, who at one time had been a dancer in the Ziegfeld Follies. All he could remember was when he was six and she was babysitting him and her robe came open. She was nude beneath the robe. She was also in her sixties.

Thanks for the memories.

He returned to his truck and made his way to the plot where his Mom and her husband were. He found them, quite easily, side by side in a sun baked, shade free spot. Their markers weathered, and obviously forgotten. He felt like shit.

He was the one that had forgotten, or couldn't be bothered to bring flowers. Not once.

He knelt and touched her marker, softly...almost a caress, and he said what he needed to say.

He really wished it had been raining.

It would have explained his face being wet.

Monday, June 7, 2010

...the last attraction.

He met her online.

Meeting a woman in the "wild" had grown to be too much work. In cyberspace he could see what she looked like, read her hopes and dreams, likes and dislikes and not have to tap-dance through an awkward meeting. It was safer.

But she contacted him first. He had seen her profile before and he thought, "yeah...if only," but there it was, a message from her.

So he wrote back. And the correspondence started.

Said she was a counselor, helping people with addictions. Said she was also Spiritual and really felt the need to give something back. She even called him cute.

He thought it was a God shot, being in recovery himself. Who better? She might actually "get" him, and he could understand her. So they set up a date.

The ubiquitous Starbucks,have coffee, run it up the flagpole and see if there's a spark.

She was tiny and blond. Her pictures were from a few years back. Her jeans had a couple of very well placed worn spots. Wild curly hair, worn up, exposing a very graceful neck, cute ears and a cool tattoo below one ear...oh yeah, he thought, that would do nicely.

If she wasn't quite starting to slide down the other side of pretty she would soon, yet she was still sexy. Sexy enough to illicit from him a couple of low pitched throat noises, and that hadn't happened lately.

She wasn't a counselor, she was in recovery too, coming back after a relapse. He should have run, but he chalked it up to "recovery embarrassment." A little white lie. He supposed it could be forgiven. After all, he was coming back too.

She was staying in a sober living house for women. Mom paying the rent and buying her cigarettes. He had lived the same way over the summer, in a house for men, while he was getting it together again. But he worked for his money.

She had no car, so he picked her up when he could and they got along great. They would go to meetings, and talk about all the past fucked up stuff their respective lifestyles shared. What they had walked away from, the blackouts, the broken relationships. And they started to share hope for a better future, a sober future.

Said she had been a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader, for a month, but she showed up at practice on acid so they let her go.

Then she became a paralegal but got blacklisted for doing cocaine in the courthouse bathroom.

She was waiting on a verdict from the folks at Social Security disability. "Not for my alcoholism," she said, with an almost hurt sound in her voice, " for mental, manic depressive and I just got diagnosed with borderline personality disorder." Oh, that made sense.

He had kids, she had kids, but she wasn't allowed to see them. Bad break, he thought. She was so tiny, with a honey like drawl and she told him everything he so wanted to hear. In fact several of her personalities did.

He tried not to feel sorry for her but he just wasn't wired that way.

She needed a favor, a ride to pick up some meds. Hell, he was on anti-depressants, so he figured it was just another common bond.

Her medicaid was still in force so he took her to the pharmacy. She picked up a bunch of medication. So what, she was cute and often funny. Who was he to judge?

They would spend afternoons in his rented room. The sex was phenomenal. She had a gorgeous flower tattoo above a heart shaped ass and it just got better, and wilder and got to the kind of intensity where if they were alone in the same room for more than a minute, BAM, it was on.

He shouldn't have been able to get a good look at her for the amount of red-flags popping up, but the scent was in the air, and he was steadily pawing ground.

Her Mom gave her $1,000 to buy a car. She was turning her life around. He thought it great.

She went missing for three days. She went through the grand on crack and tequila, in East Dallas and Harry Hines and called him quite incoherent after the second day. He hung up, crushed, after begging her to get help.

She called again after the fourth day, sick, weak and afraid. She said she wanted help, didn't understand what had happened. She had nowhere to go after a nasty drunken scene at her recovery house.

He let her stay the night, and fed her and kept her safe. He thought his armor far too dented and rusty for this kind of rescue.

He took her to a meeting and she said she wanted to get better.

In the morning it killed him to do it but he cut her loose. His sponsor had called him an idiot in no uncertain terms, as well as co-dependent and a few other unhealthy phrases, and he supposed he was right. His recovery came first.

She called him a few weeks later and said she was much better, she wanted to apologize and asked if she could see him. Said she missed him and the way he touched her.

He should have run again...

...and we continue.

Waited till after midnight to write this. Feels better.

Not that the writing is any better, but my thoughts seem to come out of the shadows more readily, like they just got invited to the dance.

So the band is setting up and my thoughts are hanging out by the punch, wearing clothes they ordinarily wouldn't, hoping they don't slip and fall on their ass, when the girl they keep staring at gives them the "wanna dance?" look. And they take a few tentative steps toward her.

Realized today this is the one thing I can do, that no one can put a stop to. Oh sure, people can stop reading, I may never be published, but tonight none of that really matters. I don't have to check in with anyone about the things I write, no approval needed, thanks very much.

I could blather on, and have, obviously if you've read this blog, but some people keep reading it.

Doesn't matter if it's pieces of memory; or my notes on how I spent my day, my dreams, my loveless failures. I could write a story about a middle aged man who snaps and chops his spouse into manageable bits while singing, "I've got pieces of April," and no one would really care.

There's freedom in that.

I may be a middle-aged man in a fistfight with poverty, who chases a teenagers ideal of finding perfect love and redemption around the next corner, (see-silly bastard) but once I begin to write...I'm me again.

And as long as I have that, as long as that avenue is open to me, I choose to believe...anything is possible.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The "why"...

I have no solid idea as to why I have a need to write. Yet it is a need as it fulfills something. I suppose the actuality could provide yet another therapist with a down payment on a lake house but it's really not important.

I guess it began with reading. I learned to read very early and found a wonderful escape in books and stories. As my reality in childhood was something I escaped at any given opportunity, reading was an acceptable departure.

Books; stories, comics-didn't matter-all of them took me places I would certainly rather be.

My earliest attempts at writing were what one could call, odd. I remember writing a story about a boy who was so scared of girls he would vomit every time one would one would speak to him. It was only two pages and I showed my Dad, in hindsight never a good idea, and he wadded the pages up and called them "shit".

"Hemingway never wrote shit like this!" I was eleven. No pressure.

So I wrote in secret.

I don't think I showed anyone. But I kept reading. And the more I read, the more I had to. Once puberty hit I learned that girls liked poetry. Never could get behind the rhyming verse, but free style was more my thing. Plus there were no rules to follow. If there were I would have broken them readily.

There is nothing so angsty and ridiculous as a male teen writing morose "no one understand me" poetry." I shudder at the memory and apologize to anyone that ever had the misfortune of reading any.

Then came the "literary outlaws" that defined me in my twenties. I almost killed myself with drugs and alcohol trying to keep up. But to be honest, I never wrote anything of any substance until I got sober. I think it was more the "I'm a creative rebel, no one understands me, fuck convention," posture that females of a certain type found attractive.

Do I detect a theme? Probably.

Writing is something I've always done. Even when making a living for a wife and family by living a life I hated, it was still my safety valve.

Made my living for a couple of years a a journalist. In reality one of the most stifling, pressure filled careers I could think of. But I was published. And on the front page. That in itself kept me going long after the politics and rules had choked the creative side of me into a blue, twitching, mess.

If I could make a living writing what I wanted, it would be a perfect world, but until then...

I'll sleep late, cook for a living, and keep living, one day at a time.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Never say never...ok, almost never.

Screw it. While it may trivialize my daily existence, it keeps the weasels from finding purchase. I suppose one could say..."I'm back."

I have mellowed somewhat since beginning and ending this blog, and have learned some valuable lessons.

The most important is that I get bull goose loony when I don't write, and no one really needs that. Not anymore at least.

And so, we continue...

My new disclaimer...yeah I know.

Okay, the old disclaimer was tired. The ideas were outdated and keeping me stuck in a place I don't want to be now for something more refreshing.

I have recently changed my views regarding women. Seems I had some issues with the fairer sex due to past pain and self- centered fear. (Yes...duh applies.)

I'm done with that.

Being in recovery has helped me change my entire life, perceptions and attitudes. I cannot change my history but I can change my today and my future.

I recently realized that the women I know in recovery are some of the strongest, bravest, most gentle and kind teachers I have ever had. You exemplify integrity and spiritual growth, and I hope you know who you are.

Some may know of my past marital and relationship history and been a participant in them as well. It's past and that's where it the past.

I own my part in those failures but claim no more responsibility in any misery you may be experiencing. I am sorry, but it's time to get off the cross. We need the wood.

Thank you all...