A Year Ago, Today

A year ago today we spoke not of homophobes masquerading as bureaucrats, projecting their personal perversions upon decent folk simply longing to pee in peace.

A year ago today we knew not of divisive poseur tyrants-in waiting, whipping up a delusional privileged few into a bully storm of intolerance, vomiting notions of “building walls” instead of tearing them down.

A year ago today we weren’t yet grieving forty-nine families grieving.

No, a year ago today we touched victory. And love. And peace. Even if only for a spell. A year ago today we flooded the streets in celebration of the revelation that for the first time in American history, most ALL people were finally freed the privilege of plunging heart-first into the marital mistake.

A respite, a ruddy hint of what “We The People” are truly capable of, a year ago today was a very good day indeed.

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#LoveWins

#DamnRightISupportIt

Nothing.

Enjoying a few too many cocktails recently, I was describing the following post, which had only up until that point been scribbled somewhere inside my head. To my tipsy surprise, the friend with whom I was speaking told me that I definitely needed to publish these thoughts. Understanding they may very well have been equally as tipsy as I, still, now I have.

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Please don’t ever think that you have nothing. The only nothing you have, is the nothing you refuse to let go of, ignoring all the everythings around you in your ragged pursuit of it.

Let’s put it this way: imagine you’re a child at a party. Not just any party, but your birthday party. Your party, spent slouched in a chair sobbing, holding a deflated crippled balloon flaccidly in your lap. You tried to breathe new life into it, but every desperate effort was damned as the molecules of heaving air escaped through the unseen, unforeseen gash towards the opposite end. Weepily raising your head towards the sky you bellow at No One, lamenting the fact that this balloon – this very special singularly unique balloon – is no longer thriving, no longer yours to adore.

Your caterwauling never reaches its wail-volume potential however, being muffled instead by the tens of hundreds of bright balloons surrounding you – at this very moment bouncing off against your head, neck, back, and flanks. All of them full, vibrantly alive, and desiring of your attention. Bouncing joyfully in the hopes that in catching your tear-filled eye, they might persuade your entrenched frown right side ‘round.

These balloons not only absorb your mournful yelps, they also have the power to sooth your pain, muffling the hurt similar to the way they do the dirge. At the risk of taking the analogy too far, these balloons – these hundreds of balloons that are afloat especially for you on your special day – have the power to lift you up straight up out of your misery, up even out of yourself.

More often than not, this scenario I feel finds us choosing to ignore the hundreds of joyful choices around us, focusing instead our energies in attempting to resurrect the death that lies before us, this torn past unreturnable. If you’re like me in this, I’d remind you again to please not be that way. I have learned through my own wasted exertions that the nothing that once was will never again be. For even if it does come back ‘round, it will be something different than what is was before, something familiar yet new.

Truly, the nothing you think you’re trying to hold on to is already gone. It mightn’t have been your fault, but that isn’t the point. Let it go. Let it go so that you can grab on to the everythings that are right now at your door, beckoning to you, begging to lift you up as they too soar.

So please, don’t ever believe that you have nothing. For any nothing you do have, is simply the nothing that you alone choose to keep.

Squandered Epiphanies

*

Sunday was one of those rare days when I found myself actually awake well before I needed to be, with more than enough time to get ready for church without rushing about.

Of course, and as these things go, I squandered every damned last extra minute, and found myself still bolting through the door yelping, “wait for me Jesus!” when I realized that I was already supposed to be where I was just now heading off to.

In fact, I was in such a rush that it wasn’t until I was seated, moistened by both a late summer sweat and just a hint of former Roman Catholic guilt – and exactly at the point in the mass wherein we pray for the recently deceased – that I realized something:

Someone wasn’t here today.

Someone who had been here – to my knowledge at any rate – just yesterday.

Not “here” as in the church itself, but “here” as in at all; as the day prior I had gotten word that Someone dear to me and dearer to others still had finally come upon their great reward. It was a Someone that I loved.

Someone that I loved.

And how odd it is that only in their death was I finally able to appreciate that feeling for what it was. Understand it for what it is. Acknowledge it to be true.

Someone I love and now miss is not here today. No, not ever more.

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And, as these epiphanies tend to cluster ‘round a recently illuminated mind, it then also occurred to me in very short order that this sort of thing happens every single day, a million times over. Every single day there are others – many, many others – who simply are no longer here today. Gone. Dust. Legacy. No longer are they a curse nor a blessing . No more are they anything, but what they gave unto us, and what we gave unto them in return.

And as such I wondered, why can’t we be better?

Why can’t we stop hating, judging and fearing?

Why can’t we forgive, and mend, and build anew?

Why can’t we be, and let be?

Why can’t we – well, as one of the greatest rock songs of all time once said – be friends?

Why can’t we let go of the trash in our heads, and use that freed space for great thoughts, and inner peace, and outer love, and for the possible and final realization of the full potential of what those wonderful grey bumpy things bouncing about inside of our heads promise to be when We grow up?

Whenever the fuck we decide to finally grow up…

On a microcosmic level example I suppose, and in an effort to shed even more ever-present R.C. guilt, why can’t I – even though the pain caused by their transgressions was deep, overwhelming, intentional and still being doled out in sporadic venomous rations – forgive my ex-hole enough as to finally stop calling them that? And why can’t I take that forgiveness and apply it to the incorrectly (and sometimes justified) assigned failings of my own good self as well?

For fucks sake, I watched both my dad die miserably years ago, and the ex-hole choosing to live in a similar fashion today. How many examples does it take for me – for any of us, really – to finally learn The Lesson?

Someone I love and will now miss is not here today. No, not ever more. And I never even got to say goodbye. I never did so because in my daily blindness, I never once thought that the time was nigh.

And yeah, I did use the word “nigh” just now so that you’d think that I was some sort of educated writer, but in honesty, I would give up the impression desired if I was granted just one more kiss on Rae’s cheek before she bolted off to her Yahweh.

Honestly, I would.

*

Stumbling back into my office from a quick run to her funeral service today, I was met by a private note amongst friends that two of the very best I have ever been blessed with were themselves blessed just hours before with the birth of their long-awaited twins; twins that I will forever more now call only Luke and Leia, by the way – regardless of their parents chagrin.

In reading the note, especially on the heels of the service I had just attended – one wherein a life was celebrated instead of a death being cursed – I had one last epiphany and saw that Tomorrow was once again here. Another chance to learn, grow, share, enjoy, and maybe – just maybe – build upon the efforts of those who lived yesterday to become just a little bit better tomorrow. For, just as someone isn’t here today, there are two more who have just arrived. “And the ripples of the good will continue to spread in wider circles than the ripples of the selfish, for they travel across much deeper waters.

Sounds good, right?

Someone I love and will now miss is not here today. I would like to be of a mind, and live in a world, where that is a celebration instead of a curse. A world where goodbyes are heard only through all the hellos also being made. A world to come, if We make it so. A world to come, if we decide to be friends.

Dedicated to Rachel Cohen.

Today…

hawaiiIt’s Easter. And everything starts anew today. Though in actuality, it’s tomorrow when that will occur.

But that’s another story.

The day is belligerently bucking the usual tradition of Buffalo NY cold and wet, for that of sun, warmth, and cloud-free endless blue sky. I am enjoying this change of pace with a change of pace as I mosey along for a Sunday stroll, wrestling into knotted position around my waist, the sweater that I initially felt I needed – until the very moment that I was too far away from my starting point, as to actually return it.

As I cinch the sleeves into the hug they’ll embrace me with throughout the duration of my walk, I first spy them. A family. Another multi-generational, happy and utterly complete family. Gayly smiling and playing all on the front yard. Almost as if to say, “yeah, where’s yours?” Hell, they might have even been carrying around their own personal white picket fences, as they were so perfectly Rockwellian in their nature. And as I passed them, I once again felt plainly the epiphany that I have felt so many times over these past several months: Your father is dead. Your marriage, equally so. One due to his inability to quit smoking, and the other, due to her inability to ever stop looking for the next “big thing.” Combined both with your inability to ever give either a good enough reason to just stop.

Stupid people making stupid choices. Stupid choices that hurt others, and stupid choices that hurt you. Stupid choices that you couldn’t altar. Stupid choices that you at times even emulated, because you yourself are stupid.

Withholding a preemptive mood-ruining hiss, I passed the family without harming them via the daggers being launched at that moment from my jealous eyes. But as I did, these thoughts came to mind:

• I can’t bring dad back. But I can learn from him, both in his victories and in his defeats. So that his life will live on in me, and in the lives of my children, and – should trees prove to drop apples once-to multiple times more – in the lives of my grandchildren and great as well.

• I don’t want to bring the marriage back. No, not anymore. For I have already learned that I will know love one day, and it will be a love that is bound not by a contract, but by Love itself. It will be a love that ends, if it ends, not because of foreign men with interesting names, nor because of my fear of me standing up for me.

As I continued on my walk, I saw another family. Again, multi-generational, again happy. But this time I thought: maybe both members of that couple aren’t the birth parents. Maybe their love was a love first realized only after failed earlier attempts elsewhere. Maybe the people before me were happy in earnest, only because they had known times when happy was woefully absent before. Maybe these people decided upon celebrating Easter long before Easter came. And maybe – just maybe – my life can be like that as well.

It’s Easter. And though in actuality, it’s tomorrow when this will occur, everything starts anew Today.

•••

A New Face

k~ continually inspires me. As such, much like she has successfully done previously, with this week’s Inspiration Monday challenge, I attempted to use not one, but all five prompts. I hope it worked, and I hoped you like.

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“You’ve gone and fouled up the whole scheme of things, now haven’t you? Why don’t you just wipe that stupid grin off your face?”

The words never left her mouth of course, but through her bristled stare and hardened oxblood-red lips, you could tell that that was exactly what she meant to say, the very moment that she worked up the courage to actually do so. Sadly, it was a courage she’d been “working up” for most of her adult life, but to no avail.

“That is OBVIOUSLY the blouse isle,” she continued to silently scream through the thrift store where she stood at a safe distance, “and YOU are OBVIOUSLY in no need of any of those!”

Again, her lack of courage being an instance where cowardice in one, is a blessing to the many around them.

Having difficulty swallowing her disdain, she cringed as she observed blouses – colorful, flouncy and free – being held up first in surprised joy, and then to the breast, checking to see if they would fit.

“And being so flagrant about it! The nerve! You should only be the way the good Lord made you – no use in being any different! Why, it would be a sin – it would be like going up the drain!”

Her face continued to harden, making of it almost a new face, as she stared only through the windshield of her ignorance and fear while murmuring finally aloud through clenched and ground-down teeth, “I can only imagine the shame your poor family must feel…”

Her words were cut short by the appearance of the man who saddled up next to the teenage blouse browser. Shaking his head slowly in sad disapproval, he pleaded, “son, we’ve talked about this. You can NOT buy that blouse. Dude, you know that that shade of green makes you look totally dead! Besides, I found a pair of cool pumps you might wanna buy instead.”

The boy replied with a quick and excited “awesome!” as he hurriedly placed the blouse back onto the rack.

And in that action was when he finally noticed her, their eyes locking for a brief moment. He smiled naturally, and before he broke contact, placed both thumbs high up into the air as he mouthed the earnest and complimentary compliment of, “I LOVE your hat!”

In that moment, and while still only a shade of a glimmer of a possibility of an idea to her yet-hardened soul, she could have almost sworn that as he turned away she saw in him a different face. A face somehow new.

•••

For today’s post, I was going to end with another song altogether, before stumbling upon the choice below. I think this says exactly what I was hoping to say, only far more eloquently. Mainly – in the (new) face of hate, Love is our only defense…

Thirty-three Words…

Rationed to my life,

If that was all I’d left,

I wouldn’t need but four.

To profess, between yester ‘n today,

My feelings respecting you.

Breathing dear, my last

“I love you more.”

•••

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Hellbent on going out on a high (and ball-peen free) note, I used the crux of the Trifecta challenge – as shown with today’s post title – by using “Thirty-three words,” as my prompt for this week’s free, and final, Trifecta Writing Challenge.

Coming in relatively late to the game (and YES – admittedly still bellyaching over never having won a week =) ), I really did enjoy my time with the Trifecta community, and wish you all the very best.

This is NOT a President’s Day Post

In fact, it’s not really a post at all actually, but rather, a recent facebook status update I made. One that I feel should be thrown into a larger web of the social media. One that, with a singular simple addition of a word (and more than a whole slew of singular edits), I feel will work pretty danged well for this week’s Trifecta Writing Challenge:

FUNK (noun)  3 :  SLUMP  <an economic funk>  <the team went into a funk>

Picture11-1While struggling to swallow my latest fit of depression tonight at work, I met a mom who had really nice kids, and pretty sweet tats. As these things transpire, in conversation I found out that each tattoo represented one of the children. As she explained each in turn, I learned that the child whom I thought the most mature (a birthday boy JUST turned twelve who simply HAD to have Minecraft merch to celebrate properly), was born with autism. But it was his sister who stole my heart and gave me hope, in that at no more than 10 years old, she knew that she was transgender – a knowledge held since six years of age according to the mom. To date, she is the youngest transgender person I believe I have ever met.

While mom shared with me that her daughter was treated very poorly by her classmates and the school, the girl that stood before me was still a happy, well-adjusted kid. One who knew and was comfortable with whom she was, and (from my vantage point) well-loved by her family. Including her baby brother, whom she could not carry correctly, even had he come with instructions sewn in. Seeing them all (four kids and one mom with pretty sweet tats) woke me up out of my self-imposed pity-party over my current (and hopefully temporary) funk, to the idea that there are still a LOT of really good people out there. People who love without condition. People who would rather build each other up, then tear each other down. People who can, willingly I would assume, love something much bigger than only themselves.

I’m glad that that mom, her kids, and her sweet tats came in tonight. I’m glad to know that they exist out there. This world is five people better off as a result.

•••

Admittedly, the song chosen today has absolutely not one singular thing to do with the post, but honestly, how many challenges come along that provide you with the *perfect* cue to end with this gem?