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.

•••

All The Sad Men, revisited

His name was Daniel, but he answered to Dan. As in when his mom called out, “Just tell the man ‘no,’ Dan.” 

From my register I was asking him the same questions (those designed as blatant pleas to grab even more of your cash before you leave the store) that I ask everyone. I was doing so, both because we’re supposed to, and also because I didn’t want Dan to think that I saw him any differently than those customers that preceded him. Even though I did.

In fact, my interaction with him reminded me of a post that I wrote a little over two years ago now. A post remembered as I asked God to bless Dan and his family while they happily left my store. A post that I’d like to revisit here today…

She sat there, munching somewhat sloppily on her burger, occasionally spitting forth bits as she yelped out to no one in particular. And I sat there and stared. I felt bad that I was staring, but I wasn’t doing so out of rudeness. No, it was more like envy than superiority that I felt. It was more a case of “what if” than of “thank God not.” And here’s why.

Whenever I experience one living with severe special needs, I become somewhat immersed in what I imagine is their imprisonment. Their imprisonment in a world who wishes that they just weren’t around. Or at least, not quite so visible. But at the same time, I find myself jealous of their freedom. Freedom from this same world that ofttimes judges them in ignorance.

A world, mind you, that can be far more handicapped than they will ever be. A world filled with folk who care more about little dollar bills than they do each other. A world that places much more emphasis on the cut of the cloth than on the content of the character. In my very humble opinion, this world isn’t nearly good enough for people such as her. This world is a damned and empty shadow of what it could be, and I feel that we’ve all worked pretty hard at making it so. Or at the very least, sat back and simply allowed it happen.

So what of the poor girl-woman that suffered under my “not intentionally rude, but extremely rude nonetheless” stares? Why do I sometimes feel jealousy towards people like her? How could I be so crass as to make mention of the concept? Well, imprisoned as she appears, I would love to see the world through her eyes, just once. Just once to see if what I think to be true, actually is.

You see, I’m of the belief that her vision is much clearer than mine. I’m quite sure, in fact, that mine is muddled beyond the point of ever recognizing the Truth. A Truth that I believe she most likely sees quite naturally, and on a daily basis. A Truth that she may even long to share with the rest of us, if only we weren’t so ignorant to her language.

She sees the Truth, and I see only what I choose to see. And yet she is locked in the wheeled chair, while I roam free…

I suppose I should step back for a moment and let you know where my meanderings on the topic come from. I’ve no personal experience in my own family, but when I was young, I was forced (yes, I meant to say that – or at least did at the time) to volunteer at an institution that cared for people like my incidental lunch companion.

As my parents felt it was important to teach us about stewardship, part of their education to this end included a trip to a local long-term care center that managed the severest cases. As a young and unappreciative pisser, I recall hating the place when we first arrived. The stark white walls did nothing to conceal the smell of piss and medicine. The painted-over drop ceiling served more to rebound, than muffle the occasional non-sensical shout or yelp. The halls were clogged with wheel chairs, and in each sat an alien life form. A being so far removed from my knowledge of the world as to be almost comical, if only they didn’t frighten me so.

Being young, and being a pisser, and being there against my will, I decided that hatred would be my best response. Hatred towards these creatures. Hatred towards their needing my assistance. Hatred towards their being around at all. I did as I was told, but only just. How dare they make me? How dare they be here? How dare they exist?

And then, as happens so often in life, something happened. And that something was this. One of them began wailing. And not just a whimper or a sob, but an honest-to-Jesus moon-raising moan. One that would make you think that they were seeing Satan’s ghost himself. And for all I know, maybe they were. The wailing only made me feel uncomfortable. But to another, it provoked a different reaction. I can’t recall if it was an employee, a volunteer, a random passer-by, or maybe even an angel in disguise. But I do remember watching one soul walk deliberately up to the young wheelchair-entrapped wailer, and hugging them. Simply hugging them. The wails continued, but so did the hug. And eventually both were quietly put to rest. Both the hugger and the wailer were at peace. I stood there dumbfounded as the blinds were torn from my eyes, my little stupid pisser attitude backhanded to the floor.

I could physically feel myself growing up a little bit that day. One of the first of many times I’ve had the experience.

A little while later I was pushing along one of the more talkative residents who would speak and speak and speak, and occasionally even say something. At one point he looked me dead in the eye, and with no prompt or reason whatsoever, told me very lucidly the exact day it would start snowing and the exact amount – in quarter inches – that we would receive. I’m sure you already know by now that I’m going to tell you that he was exactly correct on both counts. EXACTLY. Dumb luck? Could’ve been. Dumb luck does seem to have a way of getting around. But I’d like to think that there’s something more to it.

In fact, I’d like to think that maybe – just maybe – there are certain people who are so spiritually in-tuned, so close to God, that they’re incapable of making themselves small enough as to deal with our little shambles of a “reality.” They’re exalted over the angels, but trapped on this mortal plain, and they simply can’t function at such a junior level. They need our help in this world, but only because we’ll need theirs in the next. We just don’t know it yet. They’re not “retarded,” we are. They are of a higher prominence, yet we sit smugly by and laugh at their superiority.

I know. It sounds a little too naive to be true. And that, in part, is why I wanted to jump into my lunch mate’s head. Just once I really would like to see if I’m right. Or if I’m an idiot. Or both. It’ll never happen of course. For one thing, we don’t live in a Disney movie, and switches of this nature just aren’t possible. But even if they were, I don’t feel that the swap would be a very fair one. For her, that is.

•••

I feel it’s important to note, I’m using this song today not in jest, but in respect.  I too, long for the day when all of us “sane men” are locked away, and we allow the “mad” ones to finally be free.

Happy Easter, kids.

 

A Similar Morning Routine

Breakfast nook painted[1]

As always, it started with a smile.

The sort of broad and surprised smile that created ever-so slight crease lines around her mouth and under her eyes. The sort of lines that alerted you gently to the fact that this was a woman who knew joy. Or at least knew what it was supposed to be.

And she smiled it demurely, for me. Sure, the world out there might have thought that her contentment came from, and/or was intended for them. I mean, the world out there always does. But I knew different. I knew that that smile, those lines, and the peace that I saw glowing within her eyes – in that moment – was intended solely for me alone.

I knew, because I was lucky enough to share a life with her. I knew, because this morning, as always, she followed a similar routine. A routine I liked to call “Bliss.”

As with most mornings, she started by first filling me with her desire, holding me both lovingly and gingerly, in her hands. She then brought my face close to hers, touching the center of my labret delicately with just the very tip of her tongue, before pressing her lip firmly against mine in a lovers embrace. Draining me of my love dry, she filled herself with my heat as I willingly emptied myself at the same time.

She stroked my lip greedily with her tongue again. Leaving me shivering, cold, and somehow still full though empty, as she turned my world upside down, pulling into her very soul, my last drop and trace of sweetness.

Caressing me warmly just once more, she uttered something to the effect of “boy, now that was exactly what I needed,” before placing me delicately into the sink, my handle just touching the side of the glass tumbler that had held her Captain Morgan & Coke captive the night previous.

Both tumbler and I stared belligerently at each other for a moment. Knowing in our hearts that as we’d each fulfilled our purpose, we’d then been summarily dismissed. Knowing that neither of us would ever do so well as him. He who was able to drink her as she drank him. He, who was able to inebriate her, at the same time that she was energizing him. And knowing this, both tumbler and I wished that for even just one moment we could swap places with him. Wishing that just for once, that broad and surprised smile would truly be ours alone – mine alone – for all moments, and for always.

•••

Twisted Wind Down

Much like the ancient computer that eventually won out in forcing me to cease and desist from creating posts for this group, my heart is literally broken over the news that Twisted Mix-Tape Tuesday will be closing its doors for a spell in three short weeks!

I’m going to try to participate in these final endeavors, though at the speed with which my ‘puter works, they may not be ready until Wednesday/Thursday time frame.

mixtape-jenkehl1-300x300

Jen, you are still (in my mind at least) easily one of the top five people (give or take) in all of human history for creating this prompt, and I want to thank you for hosting our musical maniacal meanderings over the past year.

As this is the last “Your Choice,” prompt, I suppose none of us should be surprised that I went here…

Darin did it all. Really. Rock, pop, country, and folk. He even (as detailed here) could be said to have been one of the originators of the Gothic scene. Don’t believe me? Try some of this pudding for your proof…

Rock:

Pop:

Country:

Folk:

And yes, even “Gothic:”

You see, with B.D., we always got “the real thing.” With B.D., we always got more. Which leads me to my third-to last bonus track (there’s always a bonus track…), my personal favorite most favorited of all time, Darin tune:

PS: I intentionally avoided his more “popular” songs today as I was hoping to broaden horizons while applying my adept skills at music snobbery…

All Of Him?

Unbeknownst to me, my youngest took the liberty of listening to me proof-read this, and upon its completion said, “I want to be with you – I want to see what you see.”

One who already sees far deeper than I will ever be able to, I really love that kid.

With the prompt in bold, here is this week’s Write On Edge response – I hope you enjoy…

WoENewButton-e1363040457539

He didn’t smell exactly bad, mind you, but he didn’t smell entirely “right” either. It might have been the damned John Legend song in that moment spewing lies overhead tainting my assessment, but to me he smelled sad. He smelled musty. He smelled – well – he smelled alone.

And at that moment at least, with the possible exception of me, he was.

But I’d the feeling that he was alone most all of the time, that his aloneness was a state constant. A permanent scent that accompanied him. A shadow that always stood immediately behind, whispering softly into his ear, “I’m here. It’s just you n’ me kid.” A constant reminder that his death would be much more a release than a burden. Much more a connection with those loved, than a separation from those lost.

As he stood swaying at my register, complete with tattered grey plaid vest, blue ball cap (emblazoned with one of the two infamous Buffalo losing teams that so many locals seem to love regardless), and worn-through red and white blotched flesh, I found myself wishing even then, that I could remember the music he was purchasing in CD format, as it somehow felt integral to this tale.

But much like his face itself, the purchases seemed to have immediately faded from memory, leaving only my recollection of those confused eyes and scattered beard.

His eyes were the dug-in sort that said so much, whilst the beard-encrusted mouth said so little. Damn it Troy! THIS is a lesson you’ve learned often, and yet – being bred apparently of the hard-knock school – one that you seemingly refuse to graduate from. If there was ever anything that the ex said true, it was that (in the hands of the devious or arrogant at least), “they’re only words.” Not that this customer could be counted amongst that ilk, all the same he was in the end, far more communicative in eye than in speech.

And those eyes spoke volumes. His babbling diction and scent screamed at me as well, but it was those eyes that made me see truly and finally – as was told to me by a friend, advice provided them by their wizened grandmother: “As you are, I once was. And as I am, you will someday be.”

Christ, don’t let me end like that – like the man I think I see standing before me. Please hear my prayer for him, and hear it please for me.

Making change, I made certain our hands touched at least once. So I could know that he who stood before me was real – not some sort of future self ghosting back in warning – so I could unite with that perceived loneliness, begging that it not remain a shadow constant to either he nor I.

As he paid in cash, I’ll never know his name – never know his story, outside of our brief disjointed engagement. But while he wobbled off, that damned John Legend song was still blaring arrogantly overhead. A song that spoke of a love I’m guessing neither he nor I truly wanted to trust in anymore. But I thought, possibly a love that we still both hoped might – in some realm or fashion – be somehow true.

•••