Soundtrack, “Old and Wise” by the Alan Parsons Project.
I hate unsolicited advice. Most men know that it is not wise to give another man unsolicited advice. The most important thing to a man is respect and his pride. These things are earned and not idly parceled out like cans of beer—–although oftentimes such libations are swilled to make up for the lack of such noble qualities. On a rare occasion a man may give a fellow golfer advice about how to grip a club, how to adjust their swing or stance, but guys like that seldom get asked back for a future game. Guys have gotta figure shit out for themselves, it’s just he way it is.
Men like to give women advice. It makes them feel superior. It inflates their anemic ego’s. Most women will politely listen even though they know that men spend eighty percent of their time thinking about how to get pussy and what to eat next. The remaining twenty percent of their time is spent picking their nose at red lights or making fart jokes. Under the three piece suits, the impressive job titles and fancy cars, men are basic creatures bumbling their way through life. Women don’t give advice, they make sly suggestions. “Honey, maybe it would be better to use dental floss rather than a pocket knife to clean your teeth.” “Please don’t use gas to light the barbecue dear. Let me fry the burgers on the stove.” KABOOM!!!
But, in spite of my prior warnings regarding unsolicited advice, I have decided to dispense some brotherly advice. So please, “Forgive Me”.
Our time here is so short—–it doesn’t pay to deny ourselves and others forgiveness. Anger only cuts off circulation to the heart and puts a strangle hold on our ability to convey empathy. Forgive, because in the big scheme of things your petty grudges will emotionally bankrupt you. It’s like paying interest on a debt but never reaching the principle—-ya see, you can’t loan love or forgiveness, their value is only realized when given for free.
I wonder if we wear clothes out of shame, or is it a means to hide our insecurities. It’s tough to take another person seriously when they’re parading around bare ass naked. Nakedness is God’s way of showing us that in spite of Madison Avenue fashions and photoshopped vanities—–we’re all allot more alike than we are different. Under skin and bone our fragil humanness flickers…..
Forgive——-because like a fart, the longer you hold it in, the more pressure it builds, hurting only you, and in time growing louder and smellier—- Forgive because sometimes you have to pull the bandaid off along with the scab in order for the wound to heal, Forgive because there is a child with a bald head dying in a hospital rather than playing on a jungle gym. Forgive because nothing seems that bad until it happens to you. Forgive because there but for fortune go you or I. Forgive because there is already enough darkness in this world—-enough sadness to superglue the softest of hearts eternally shut. Forgive because the shits already out of the pony. Forgive because with age the nights grow longer and peace more elusive. Forgive because winter need not be your favorite season. Forgive in spite of God and his promised heaven. Forgive because the shortest distance between point A and point B is love. Forgive because there’s a supernova a thousand times bigger than our puny sun imploding in on itself. Let go, let go, let go—–because as the old Zen proverb tells us “Let go or be dragged”.
Forgive, because one day you’ll realize that all the stuff you once thought so important were just things made up in your head. This clarity only comes after a major life event like getting fired, losing someone you love, going through a divorce, having a major health scare, facing your mortality or watching reruns of “Friends” (they all look so young). You’ll flop around like a trout out of water, realizing you’ve mistaken the barbed hook for the golden ring.
It all seems so absurd——all the girls you tried to impress with false bravado, the fake laughs given for free to please your dim witted boss, the loud arguments availing only hurt feelings——its all comes back to you like a strange dream, like staring up at the shimmering surface of the water while holding your breath at the bottom of the sea. Down there, there’s only shipwrecks, rusty anchors, the eight armed Kraken and the tiny fart bubbles you release as pieces of your forgiveness. Farting is God’s way of telling you to not take yourself to seriously.
We stubbornly withhold our forgiveness, we’d rather offer up snide remarks and sarcastic smiles. We expect others to rain apologies down upon us, but the sad truth is, some people don’t know how to be sorry. They only learn forgiveness by being forgiven—-and the bible along with all the other holy books speak of this irony. The currency of unspoken forgivenesses pays out in wasted time, it lengthens the bridge we’ve all come here to cross.
This life, man how it pisses me off, locked in, locked out——-passing me by, I don’t know——— I walk around with this old skeleton key, and every lock I slip it into refuses to give way. Lovers, friends, careers, hopes and dreams—even god, they all seem dead-bolted and out of reach. I wanted it all so bad, I wanted everything, I wanted to know something or someone in a better way, a closer way, cause I’m afraid that someday it’ll be to late——-I can’t find my way in——or is it my way out that leaves me feeling orphaned. Another rainy hungover Sunday, cold black coffee, black and blue marks, questions marks, exclamation marks—-moving on, moving out, falling down, falling apart—-how many overs make an end?
I admire but a few professions. The boxer, the standup comedian and the poet. They perform naked, no props, no cue cards, turning the disconnected nothingness of life into form and art. They allow us to take mundane moments and eye them up close as we tumble them over in our hands, like “curiosities” or “what nots” at a rummage sale——It’s a fine line between junk and treasure, truth and consequence, fate and happenstance, synchronicity and chaos———— the “you’s and me’s” and “what use to be’s”——-I wish you could see yourself through my eyes, because beauty is not so much what’s reflected in a mirror—–it’s what lies behind the reflection.
And baby, how I wish I could call you up and ask you to come over, but that number you once pressed into the palm of my heart at 2:00 am under a flickering failing streetlamp is now disconnected, no forwarding address, you’ve gone underground, unlisted, unavailable, I’m just another one of your gypsy memories——- I wish I were more like you, an emotional hitchhiker, leap frogging my way from here to there at another’s expense.
A prize fighter knows the score. He’ll take the hardest punch you can muster and then throw one back at you just as hard, until someone is so busted up that they can’t answer the bell. His only way out of this is through you. You think you’re tough, then bring it on brah! Sweat, spit, tears, Vaseline and the taste of blood fill his split lipped mouth. Rights, lefts, upper cuts, jabs, body shots——with back against the ropes, the jeers of the crowd fade until all he hears is the sound of his own labored breath——- and from deep down there comes the throb of blood surging through his veins. Don’t get pissed or take it personally if he fucks you up, cause mister, he comes from a neighborhood where there’s only one bone for every five dogs——-
Oh my god, listen to how that comedian weaves rhythm and tempo into a syncopated groove like a jazz tenor player creating tension and release as he steers his ship between awkward truth and twisted absurdity. His riffs cut through tendons and bones with the deftness of a surgeon wielding a chainsaw——-daring those out there in the safe darkness of audience to laugh till it hurts, until tears stream down their cheeks. Killing them softly as he makes them contort and grimace with the intensity of an epileptic orgasm——cause the better part of foreplay is always laughter, and right beneath that G spot lies her funny bone. And I never doubted that Charlie Chaplin had more groupies than Gene Simmons and Elvis combined. If you can get her to laugh, the world is your oyster. Or, if you can get her to laugh, her oyster is your world——-“Drummer!——Rim shot please!”
Then there’s the melancholy poet bending words like forged metal into swords that cut to the marrow as he dissects cumbersome words such as love, and truth, and beauty, doing his best to make you cry until you laugh, cause even the saddest of life conditions eventually reaches a point of hilarity——life——- at its best is a tragic comedy, at its worst, an epitaph marred by graffiti and eraser marks——-
I’ll add one more profession to my list. Magician. He suspends reality as he toys with your sense of certainty. How did that rabbit get into that top-hat? How did his beautiful assistant disappear into thin air? He snaps his finger and a white dove appears, the ace of hearts appears at the top of the deck at his command——his cane becomes a bouquet of flowers. We’re becoming children again, believing in the Easter Bunny, Santa and the Tooth Fairy. Life is magic, like the color blue, like the sky blue, like love at first sight, like the purity of children, like ocean sunsets and mountain thunderstorms————like free candy on Halloween….
But adults lose their sense of wonder. Hope and dreams are the currency of youth. Age causes the investment to become devalued by routine and complacency——somehow discounting the small miracles that appear daily——Why? I don’t know, but it scares me when I see those my age stiffen with rust like the Tin Man——If they only had a heart rather than a brain stuffed with straw. Maybe under it all, they’re concealing a cowardly lion. Fear is the lock we must all learn to pick. It takes a titanic amount of courage to swim through this life, cause an ocean of frozen tears can sink the mightiest of ships.
I argue with god, but I’m not sure if it’s him that I‘m taking to task or just one of the cast of voices that loiter in my head. They mumble to me like homeless bums hiding in the shadows of a urine stenched alley. The chorus of voices implore me to watch my cities burn, to stop rattling the chains across my doors——to give up on you, to give up on me——-to severe all connections with an innocence lost.
I”m looking for love by brail, cause love can’t be seen, it’s only felt—-like music. Every word you speak has the power of a million waves, wearing away my walls and causing my granite facade to cave-in like castles made of sand. And did I tell you that I still love you, it’s not a choice, it’s an addiction, stronger than herion, more like oxogen than a drug, something that comes to me in gasps, and at night I suffocate in my bed. And if your phone rings at 3:00 am, it could be me, just wanting to hear the sound of your voice one more time. The right key turning the right lock is a once in a life time chance, like Sir Lancelot pulling a sword from a stone to become king—-but you cut my hair and broke my crown—–
Make no mistake, this is a world where the keys you’ve been given seldom match the locks that you find yourself stranded behind. It’s a place of paddle locks, deadbolts and door chains with squinty eyed peepholes. If ya want in, if what ya need is behind that door, if that’s where your dream lies, where you passion leads you, then you’re gonna have to kick that fucker in, your gonna have to bust it down, you’re gonna have to throw yourself against it, again and again, with all you might——until you get in, or get out, or get through————until you are allowed passage to that place where you know that you were meant to be, that place where you belong.
Soundtrack “A Light On A Hill” by Margot & The Nuclear So and So’s.
Photo by Victor Uriz
The drone of the air conditioning system is what keeps me in a state of blah. The drivel coming from the facilitators voice would anger me if I let his words through and into my psyche. Occasionally, his cliche’s would seep in causing me to cringe. “When do you really start living? Yes, when we confront death.” The air conditioning thermostat had clicked off leaving an empty space for his words to slip into my stupefied ears. “Life; you have to want it, more than you fear it.” His voice had the melodic vibe of a preacher with the pensive drawl of a professor. The participants sat stoic as he gestured with his hands and paced back and forth.
The class is an odd mixture of middle aged folks and weathered senior citizens. A third of the individuals are hooked up to oxygen tanks with hoses plugged into their nostrils. There’s the incessant sound of wheezing, hacking and whistling bronchial sighs. The grim reaper is peering through the window blinds. This is the eight week class for those suffering from emphysema, COPD and respiratory related diseases. The topics to be covered included everything from smoking cessation to what the brochure defined as “wellness”. I suppose we are all somewhere on that bell shaped curve between sick and well. This class was skewed to the right side of that curve, we all knew it, and it bonded us. We all knew the score, we had our backs against the wall——mortality is the great equalizer——-living gasp to gasp…….
The class is taught in the basement of the old county hospital. The place reeks of Pinesole, cafeteria food and musty mold. The linage of life traverses within these walls, from pediatrics to geriatric’s, from mothers pushing life out, to the assisted living ward where others were being pulled out. There is a quiet seriousness that permeates the halls, examining rooms and the patients semi-private quarters. Visitors walk softly, talk in hushed voices and all emotion is stifled. I hated the place, as well as my instructor and my fellow classmates. I showed up every Tuesday and Thursday because the program is mandated by my insurance carrier. Without insurance coverage, my inhaler would be three-hundred dollars a month, now that’s enough to take my breath away.
They say that the first thing you forget about someone after they’ve passed away is the sound of their voice. But for me, it’s the life in their eyes. Age, illness and death carry pieces of us away, but the memory of the life in someones eyes is the first thing to flicker and then forever be extinguished. It can’t be captured in a photograph, or seen once the soul has vacated, perhaps this is why morticians close the eyes of those who have departed.
“Inhale slowly as you count to three, and then slowly exhale as you count to three.” There’s the sound of air being forced through a narrowed space, followed by a chorus of wet hacks. “Great job. Please do your reading and vision exercises before our next class. If you are feeling weak or a need to smoke, please call our 24 hour crisis line at “no smoke” 667-6653.”
I knew that the line to scale the staircase out of the basement would be slow, so I hustled to get to the stairs before the O2 tankers or the gaspers attempted their Everest push to the top. The August heat is stifling as I make my way to my car. As I open the car door the stale odor of tobacco fills my nose. The ashtray overflows with old butts, I inhale a deep breath of the hot air with its dank taste of ancient nicotine. I pick up an old butt and suck on the yellowed filter. Everywhere I go I seem to be drawn to old cigarette butts snubbed out on the ground, or stray singles in my junk drawer or in the pockets of my cowboy shirts. At night in my dreams, I smoke.
Buried in our basement we begin to resurrect our stories. Our tales like shadow puppets, a strange amalgamation of surreal dreams and vague snapshots shrouded by time. Confessions can be cathartic, but I trust few with my secrets—-I trust few with anything of mine. Our instructor repeatedly tells us that our blindspots are what keep us from evolving or——-transforming. For me, there is no making peace with myself, self loathing is my only friend.
The chairs are arranged in a circle with the facilitator sitting cross legged, legal pad and pen in his lap. I’ve attended a myriad of support groups, NA, AA, GA, anger management, bipolar, religious groups, pow wow’s, wounded child and such. God, were a sad, shameless bunch of unraveling fucked up losers. We cling to our prescriptions, lucky charms and technological gizmos, but we’re still unsatisfied, unfulfilled, lifeless, loveless, tripping over our own egos; frozen between a fight or flight response to our fears.
“The road to excess leads to the palace of wisdom…for we never know what is enough until we know what is more than enough.” I wonder if William Blake was an addict. Poe was, and his words ring true in my mind, “I become insane with long intervals of horrible sanity”. All of this thinking is making me crazy. I catch a glimpse of my troubled eyes in my rearview mirror. I drive in a daze, the city is a blur, I’m outside myself. It’s 9:00 am and the day is already to long.
Is this what it feels like to not be alive? Something is missing or broken. But what? I don’t know, but something isn’t right. I spend to much time outside myself, to much time with small talking strangers. I’ve been wasting my days chasing my cravings. I’ve allowed the small things to eluded me. I go to bed wondering about this——and that—- and everything at once.
Life—-It fills me, I fill it, it leaves me, then I’m emptied, in a flash everything connects……What a strange feeling——
Fresh bedsheets, laying next to someone in the stillness of a dark night, cool air being drawn into my lungs, breezes from an open window, scent of pines, hoot owls calling, moon shadows on the wall———-letting everything go——no longer outside myself, no seeking, no finding……..just being, being alive, on this first day of September. I feel summer losing it’s warm grip. Life is suddenly easier in the small things. And it doesn’t even matter if the sun packs up and leaves in search of a better sky.
Soundtrack, “Do What You Want, Be What You Are” by Hall & Oats
Life goes on, with or without me. Fads come and go, hit songs become golden oldies, all my insecurities and self-conscious tendencies slip away leaving behind silent movie memories, like puddles evaporating in time—— seasons never end, they just change, a circle of revolving eternities….again I’ll wait for you to come round again—I’m no longer in a hurry, infinity is patient.
I use to give a shit what people thought, but I’ve come to realize that everyone is so self-absorbed that no one gives a damn about anyone other than themselves—-just a cavalcade of egocentric, narcotic sons of a bitches———And they move through life as though everyone else is a hollow prop, a means to an end, a thing to be manipulated for their own good. Why is it so hard for us to see this life beyond our own selfish experiences and desires?
It’s not that far of a walk till dawn, until Mr Sun bumps his head up against that dogged horizon. Ya see, light can’t wait for time to give birth to another day. I awake to find that I’m still here, alive and ready to breathe. I”m not afraid, nor sorry, cause that’s just waisted time, let the sky creep towards blueness and let the dew sparkle like diamonds to decorate the glory of forever forgetting, rebirth brings amnesia——Who were you before this? I think I must have known you from some other place and time, maybe a lover, a brother, mother, my child, aren’t we all somehow connected? Fools are the bitter ones, dismissing miracles, failing to see the expression of god within stars and dust——the lucky ones grow closer to the day, to themselves, to others,——to what is…….
The bathroom mirror mocks me. I dip my chin and turn my head one way and then the other. “Here I am——this is who I am, what I’ve become through choice and consequence. As of late I’ve become keenly aware of my two selves. My private self and my public self. I’ve lived a divided existence, a chameleon, a shape shifter, camouflaging myself into an unchanging innocuous background. I’m struck by the notion of congruency.
Somewhere along the way I’d lost myself. I’d allowed myself to fracture into a million faux personalities. I did this to please others, to protect myself, to fit in, to avoid indiscretions, to appear normal, to simulate appropriateness——I’d been a faker, a fraud—-These days I’d rather be notorious than anonymous. Authenticity comes with a license to be free, to be crazily sane, to be who ever you choose to be!
As I’ve grown older I’ve begun to allow my layered selves to coalesce into a unified me. Such a task requires practice, but at the end of the day it has liberated me. One of the blessings of aging is that it has stripped me of my vanities. I am who I am, no more pretending——the sky is the sky, my dog is my dog, life is life, what is “is” and so on and so forth….The simplest of ideas are the most difficult to grasp!
I’ve been thinking about friendships and it has occurred to me that my closest friends are the ones who allow me to be myself without pretension or expectation. They know me, they get me, and in spite of my faults, failures and foibles, they forgive me. Needless to say, these days I have fewer friends, but the ones I have help me become a better me.
To be understood is to be loved. And to be lovable requires honestly and vulnerability.
Hugging is a strange and awkward gesture. It’s a custom used both as a greeting and a farewell. Somewhere beneath the skin, the bones, the muscle and the surging blood vessels, we share a primal need to reach out to embrace one another. And in doing so, we become totally vulnerable to a huggers intentions. You may be exposing yourself to an emotional pick pocket, or a freeloading groper—not to mention a host of uninvited germs and viruses. There is no escaping a determined hugger, they’ll track you down and then attach themselves to you like a lonely depraved sea urchin.
Arm in arm and cheek to cheek, we appear to fit together as if by design. At birth we go from the womb to a mothers embrace, and as children we are mercilessly hugged by our immediate family, friends and relatives. But, as we grow older such signs of affection become fewer and far between. I’ve noticed that old folks tend to give longer hugs then younger folks. It’s as if they know they have to take full advantage of each hug they’ve been granted. You can see their eyes twinkle as their soul-ness battery is being charged.
If a baby is not held and loved it will fail to thrive. Such physical neglect will cause an infant to slowly wither away and die. In some ways, we humans are very durable and resilient, yet in other ways we are as fragile as gossamer threads.
Our bodies are very personal to us, they’re our fortress, our little vessel we captain throughout life. To splay ones arms open to another is a sign of unspoken trust. To afford someone this form of naive intimacy requires courage and at times a restrained tolerance. Some hugs are like dental appointments, you know its the right thing to do, but it’s a task you’d just as soon get over with as quickly as possible.
I wish I could hug better, but it really isn’t in my style. I freeze up when blitzed by a crazed bear hugging intruder. I feel my body go ridged when a hug is unexpectedly thrust upon me. In truth, I’d rather just give a hand shake or better yet, a knuckle bump then offer up my entire body for a casual squeeze. I don’t much care to be touched unless I feel extremely close to another person.
Some people are serial huggers. This includes those affection starved co-workers who feel compelled to hug you at the office potluck, or the new age neighbor who surprises you on a walk and embraces you as if you were their long lost sibling. Or, how bout the spine cracking dude-hug from that blundering sweat and beer stench-ed “bro”. It eludes me how any woman could find a fumbling, whisker burn of a man-hug, in anyway appealing. Then you have the weird old cologne drenched guy who gives long back rubbing hugs to any female he can stalk, corner and then smother with creepy-ness—-yuk…..
There are several kinds of hugs. There is the limp wimpy ones and then there’s the stern “I mean business” kind of hug. There’s the macho hug where guys grasp hands and bump shoulders, often used to fiend off any speculation of gayness. Grannies and little kids will sometimes slip in a sweet peck on the cheek. Hot chicks get tired of being hugged all the time, so they often discreetly lean into you maintaining their personal space and then making a hasty retreat.
A good hug comes from the heart. I don’t want one of those “have a nice day” hugs, or one of those cold obligated hugs that are offered up at weddings and funerals. A fake hug has a “one night stand” indifference to it. “Hey, here’s my number, maybe we can hug again sometime.” These are self serving desperate hugs that leave you feeling empty and used.
You’ll know a real hug when you’re lucky enough to receive one. They’re soft, warm and yielding, like chocolate melting in your mouth. In fact, once you are done hugging, you feel as if that person has left a little piece of their heart inside yours.
“I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy because they know what it’s like to feel absolutely worthless and they don’t want anyone else to feel like that.” — Robin Williams
Sometimes the people who act like they don’t need hugs are the ones who need them the most. Even though hugs may be strange, awkward and weird, they convey a lot more than words ever could, I know this because I’m a writer. Words can express ones feelings, thoughts and emotions, but the human touch is nourishment for the heart.
“All humans are fragile, hugs help hold us together……” VU
Soundtrack, “Don’t Mess Around With Karma” by Brett Dennen.
Do you ever ask yourself, “Am I okay?” “Is everything okay?” “Is this the way things suppose to be?” I do, but I’m neurotic, I’m insecure and I live in a state of free floating anxiety. I get this feeling that I’m waiting on something or someone. For what? I don’t know. Could it be love, understanding, a second chance—lord knows I could use one of those. I wake up on a sunday and I feel lost. I hate Sundays’ anyway, they signal the end of another ephemeral week. Endings depress me, they remind me of funerals, break ups and another “day in the life” diminishing in my rearview mirror—- I’m lugubrious that way, and I’m sorry for my word choice, but there is no better word than that to describe my mood—-lugubrious….
I check my email, no messages. I check Facebook, no funny comments directed to me. I check my iPhone, no messages, no tweets, snapshots, no text, no voice message. I check my website, no hits, zip, nothing——nada. WTF is going on?——Oh no, I’m now one of those annoying people who communicate in acronyms. What’s next, a personalized license plate that cryptically declares “I ♥ mi Kat”.
People have way to much unproductive time on their hands. People don’t know how to make shit anymore. My mom use to have a Singer sewing machine and she made us clothes. Yeah clothes, pants, dresses, shirts—— the works. I can’t even sew a button on a dress shirt. It took her a long time to make a shirt, but every stitch, every button and every cut was done with her hands, tailored with love. Now, if that sounds corny, then go fuck yourself. This was back in the day, before you could go to your nearest Walmart and buy a shirt for $8.00. A shirt stitched together with the angst of an eight year old Kid in some suffocating sweat shop in a piss poor third world country. Mom grew her own garden and knew how to can fruits and vegetables. She had cast iron pots and pans and cooked bread, stews and soups from scratch. My dad had a tool kit and a tiny workshop. He could fix his car, fix the hot water heater, build a fence and do masonry. He could’ve build a fucking house if really wanted to. I have a hard time hanging a picture on the wall straight. My folks were living off the grid before it became some kind of trendy California “life style”.
They didn’t fill their days with mindless channel surfing, buying crap off QVC, web surfing; ears plugged into an iPod, eyes glued to an iPad or a computer screen. They did practical and valuable things with their time. When my mom was a young girl, she taught herself to play the piano. It’s amazing the stuff you can learn if you dedicate the time to it. They call them smart phones, but I say piss on that, the smarter the phone, the dumber the person.
I don’t get it. I walk the streets of my neighborhood these days and I don’t see a single kid outside playing. It’s a freaking beautiful day outside and I ask myself “Where’s all the kids?” They must be in their air-conditioned bedrooms playing video games, skyping or hacking into some top-secret government site. When I was a kid, our parents had to force us to come in for dinner. They’d have to holler for us to come in when it started to get dark. We didn’t need or want adults organizing our ballgames or telling us the fucking rules. We made up our own rules. We made up our own games and boundaries. We didn’t require uniforms or fancy gear or anything outside ourselves, we created our world from the inside out, we possessed magic——imagination.
These days I’m not so innocent and the world is no longer so simple. Beautiful girls parade by me covered in tattoos and piercings, gangs exploit the naïvety of the young seeking to belong, guns are carried to school like Twinky’s in lunch boxes, mass shootings are back page news, drugs are a refuge for the lost and on every street corner there’s a sad eyed homeless person with their tattered cardboard pleas. We’re bombarded with twenty-four-hour, seven days a week news, feeding us a steady diet of war, chaos and mayhem. Violence and death have become a form of amusement and entertainment. It’s no wonder that our Kids grow up so fast and so angry. I appreciate what Mark Twain said about the weather “Everyone talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it”. What Twain said about the weather, is how I feel about watching the news—-the world is going to hell and no one is doing anything about it—-but those Nelson ratings just keep on going up!
There’s a certain time in late morning when the light falls through my southern window and I can see all these tiny particles of dust floating in the air. I sit still on my old couch and watch them in amazement. Could these be miniature worlds and solar systems spinning about in my little house. Is my world just another speck of dust floating in some giants living-room. Maybe all my silly woes and worries don’t add up to nothing more than what exists on a fleck of dust. What’s reality?—What’s illusion? Who can say?
I showed up for the love, and I’m not waiting on it anymore….Ya got to give it, to get it—–Karma baby…..
Never fall in love with a girl in the checkout line. Actually, I’d fallen in love with her somewhere between the lentil beans and the egg noodles. I’d followed her down all the grocery isles from the bakery and deli case to the vegetable section. I knew it was creepy, but I just couldn’t stop myself as I watched her fondle the crooked neck squash and those fortunate cumquats.
Is it possible to fall for someone who buys tofu and then turns around and buys cheese whiz in the can——I can’t help but love a fellow conflicted soul. There was something irresistible in her smile, something undefinable about the way she moved——part graceful ballerina and part sensual pole dancer. Is it possible to fall in love with the way someone walks, their scent, the way they read the label on the box of Hamburger Helper? She elevated the rigors of shopping to a thing of eroticism. Oh my god, the way she sashayed behind that squeaky shopping cart was enough to make the bag boys split their sacks and spill their heavy cream.
I wanted to talk to her the way people talk in movies. I wanted to be funny and interesting, profound and witty—-but all that came out was some pathetic mumble about the weather. She responded with indifference, nonchalantly turning away to check her cell phone, a polite way of saying fuck off——- or code for “leave me alone you weirdo”.
I awkwardly looked down at my grocery cart with its random contents; two quarts of beer, generic toilet paper, a single banana and a can of refried beans,——my glum life summed up within a losers grocery list. I fidgeted for a minute, hoping to come up with a clever redemptive line——nope, not today. Feeling dejected, I exited the check outline and headed down the soup isle. In a world of grommet soup flavors, I felt like that dusty ole can of bland chicken stock. Now I know why they call it the “checkout” line.
When I was young I met a girl, she said she’d take care of me, but she couldn’t even take care of herself—— She burned Top Ramen, bled pink on my favorite button down shirt in the wash and was always telling me to get a “real job”. When my band broke up things got even worse. We stopped forgiving one another. We stopped holding hands. We’d lay in bed back to back, facing those bare opposing walls. She taught me how to say things I didn’t mean. In the darkness it’s easy to confuse how things are with the way things once were—-or, with the way things could have been. Once we realized that we were pretending, this is when the white lies lost their power to hold things together.
The stuff that drew us together——music, laughter, defying a world of clocks, money and the wanting of more—-came to be the things that pulled us apart. I went home one day and she was gone. At first I couldn’t breathe. She took her stereo and I was alone in my silence. For the first time I was on my own and alone, no family, no school, no job, just me. Life made no sense, everything was hard and cold—-I no longer had anyone to look after me. No footsteps falling in the other rooms. I suppose she took the cat, knowing that I’d forget to feed it.
Then I met a girl and I told her that I’d take care of her, but she soon discovered that I couldn’t even take care of myself. I tried to rearrange everything, but I ended up making a mess of things. I pawned my guitar and sold my keyboard. Something had ransacked my soul and smashed all the things I valued. I never wanted to take care of anyone ever again. It’s too much trouble. I taught her how to say “Fuck Off”. I laughed when she first said it to me. It sounded strange coming from her, but she was a quick study.
Love is like believing in aliens, it’s a crazy idea, but its better than feeling we’re all alone in this big universe. Maybe love is having someone to look after—-someone to take out the garbage and mow the lawn, someone to make your supper and mend your shirts. You can’t see love, you can only see its shadows. For me, love is a practice, a discipline. It requires patience, attention, and most importantly compassion. I’m still learning these ways. I do know this, spooning with someone is better than staring at your blank walls.