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

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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.

The last unread letter I’ll ever write you

I’ve struggled with this one. Both in committing the words to paper, and in pondering whether to even publish them at all. I only decided on the latter recently because I will this Sunday be one year past signing papers that free-fall gave me back to myself, at a very heavy cost.

This note serves both as a capstone to my final stage of grief as well as a promise to those of you going down a similar road, that it does end. And you can in fact not only survive, but grow from the experience.

As always, I hope you enjoy…

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To date I’ve learned to let go of:

Your allegiance towards your tribe over me,
And my understanding of what family truly is.

Your manipulation of my life towards meeting your individual goals,
And my complicity in this to ensure your happiness.

Your disregard over my own goals while doing so,
And my disregard of same.

Your infidelity,
And my courting temptation also to fill the hole you left.

Your persistent denial of,
And my surrogate guilt over, your perfidy.

Your continued attempts manipulating me and the circumstances, well after you’d no more use for either,
And my sense of injustice over witnessing it.

Your deception in purging me from your family and our friends once you’d wrung me dry,
And my understanding of what allegiance truly is.

Your eventual success in doing just that, even with my very own children.
All in the same fashion, one at time, over the course of time. Taking your time. Much like a form of water torture wherein the victim loves the water more than oneself.

Your every effort in having me erase my own life,
And my willingness to do so.

Your total and complete denial over all of the above,
And your narcissistic lack of regard for me throughout.

You early on joked that we’d never divorce, as you would kill me first instead. I now realize just how serious your intent was on the latter part of this jest.

I didn’t die though.

I’m still here.

And since I am, the last thing I need to let go of, the very last item I will lose through this useless and hate-filled rape of my proffered love and trust, is my anger towards you.

As such, and whilst I’ll most likely need to remind myself manifold times over the next few months (years, decades, whatever), you are forgiven.

You are forgiven.

Find peace. Get well. Treat your next love like they matter. Treat your next love better.

Or don’t. Ultimately it’s your choice alone, for it is no longer any concern of mine.

I’m still here.

And here, me I’ve freed.

Peculiar Time

I’ve been absent. I’m sorry.

I’ll probably be absent again. I’ll most likely be sorry then as well, but it’ll similarly most likely happen anyway.

I’m here today because my dear friend Tara called me out on The 100 Word Challenge, and as she was nice enough to believe in me, I feel as if I owe her a response. And here it is.

As always, I hope you enjoy…

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The faded photo tittered unsteadily in aged hands, maudlin vibrations causing battered corners to softly crumble.

Within the picture, white teeth bursting through long-ago smiles had since bled unbeknownst, merging with yellowing faces now almost unrecognizable.

Drawing an unsure digit against each countenance, he confidently said aloud the name of his children in turn, sniffle-coughs blubbering occasionally interrupting.

The nurse, concerned over his heaving chest, attempted to remove the instigator from his grasp, beginning a struggle she just couldn’t win.

Victorious, he returned to his slack-jawed reverie, wistfully gazing. The photo was peculiar; the photo was all he had left.

 

(The) Wonderful Life

When we were first starting our journey another lifetime ago, we often compered ourselves to the Baileys, George and Mary. We were the ones who “stayed behind” to support the two aging families. We were the ones who had children to carry on in the same. We were the Baileys true and true, because though we had but 2 dollars to our name (yes, called papa dollar and momma dollar respectively), we were the ones that had each other and the dream…

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It’s a Wonderful Life ends too soon you see, that’s it’s problem.

It ends just after George has his breakdown and subsequent salvation, but well before Mary has her very own mental destruction of a sort. A breakdown that couldn’t be fixed by any mere bell-ring wing hopeful; as Mary would never listen to opinions – heavenly though they may be – differing from her’s anyway. A breakdown that would eventually cause her to run off, indulging in “adventure” – replete with a newly purchased boot knife – all while pushing George from the house, from her life and from the life of his children. A breakdown that would eventually drive her to want to even kill George, if not in the flesh, then at least and more importantly in the spirit.

And George in fact, did die.

More completely than he ever realized was possible.

Not in the flesh, but at least and more importantly in the spirit.

He died very painfully, and for a very long time.

Just long enough in fact, to take root.

You see, in his death, an odd thing occurred. George became aware of something. In his death, George began to finally understand what that cross-hugging Israelite Lover of Life (the very One who took His own in celebration and protection of it) had so long ago said about not being able to truly live, until you had first tasted – and indeed drank of – the rusty cup of death. Not through his own wisdom alone surely, George was somehow able to recognize the fact that his death wasn’t so much a defeat as it was a victory – or at the very least an opportunity to achieve the victory that a long time ago he had willingly given up in order to obtain what he thought would be, if you’ll pardon the pun, the “wonderful life.”

The angels sent this time weren’t Mark Twainian flaming rum punch enthusiasts either. They were actual breathing, living, thinking, loving and bells-be-damned speaking people. OK, and possibly flaming rum punch enthusiasts as well. People who dispelled George’s self-hatred and loathing through speaking their truth of him to him. A truth he hadn’t heard for a very long time (15 + years to be exact), and a truth that through their persuasion he was finally willing to believe to be so.

A truth strong enough as to bring him back to life.

And with this belief, plus the tears that had watered and nourished him as he taken root, George was able to begin to grow again. Not even “again,” really, but rather, to grow anew.

Yes, that’s it – George began to grow anew.

It’s a Wonderful Life ends too soon you see, that’s it’s problem. Ending where it does, we don’t get to see the full story. I suppose that’s the case in almost every tale though. There will always be endings that are really just beginnings to even deeper, more meaningful tales. There will always be a moment in the story where we feel that “happy” is at a maximum, so we cut it there, afraid to carry on much further. And in so doing, we all – as C.S. Lewis once taught me while I was still a young Zuzu’s petal pocket-cramming naive father – sacrifice True Joy for mere happiness.

In the case of the Baileys and the tale we’ll never know, I pray that this George at least is never again satisfied enough with the latter, as to forego the purposed pursuit of the former. I pray that this George at least – and that all of you – are able to truly live, and enjoy moving forward towards, Wonderful Lives.

t

The Looming Sunshine…

They sat on the porch, together.

They sat on the porch, quietly. He invested deep within his book, and she, equally so in hers. Not a word was spoken, nor a head even raised as I walked briskly by. They were each totally engrossed within their own little worlds alone, but together.

The porch they sat on was not nearly big enough for the two of them, let alone their large-format print books, nor the cat that apparently shared their life. So to make space, he at least scampered down onto the lawn just before I arrived, stalking about almost as if to imply that he too was looking for a book in order ignore the rest of the world with. 

The scene got me to thinking randomly (don’t they all?) and what I got to thinking randomly about was this:

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Have you ever been engrossed with a book?

One written expertly, with characters so alive that you could almost pinch them, and a story line so well crafted that you could swear it was divined, instead of merely written?

And then all of a sudden, smack dab deep within the goodness and glory of that book, the whole thing turns rather sour, with the Author making you read through page after page of utterly distasteful activities and scenarios.

You read on, because you know that surely the Author didn’t suddenly lose all their skill, talent and story-writing ability. You’re certain that the Author simply MUST be forcing you through this section – most usually occurring shortly after the chapter that follows the halfway mark – in order to teach you something critical about the characters in this tale.

You’re certain of it but still, with each page passed, you keep glimpsing forward anxiously, wondering when the chapter will end, hoping that the next will bring you back to the delightful yarn that you had been enjoying so much so up until this point. You’d even read a short stanza or two from the pages to follow, and you know that it’s soon enough to be true, just after you can slog through this one black sheep of a bastardly and evil, yet wholly required chapter, first.

That in a nutshell, it suddenly occurs to me friends, is where I find my life right about now. But just for exactly right about now. Having worked my way through most of the chapter I wish I could have skipped altogether, I can see the number of pages remaining continue to dwindle. And while that does cause me extreme joy, it also gnaws on me, similar to the clawing cat that knows with desperation that it’s losing its litter-encrusted grip upon you. I keep finding myself having to fight the urge to try to read faster, or skip whole pages, for I know that I can do neither anyway. I must wait patiently and read through to the very last word.

The next chapter is already looming bright, begging to greet me with open arms and sunshine. But it can not start in earnest until this one first ends.

And sadly that, word by bloody distasteful word…

•••

Windows…

He sits there, drink in one hand, small unseen food product in the other.

I know it’s food, because he holds it gingerly, like it means something more than the size of it would normally let on. He sits in his chair, chewing. Possibly peanuts. Not to be confused with a food-chewing analytical expert, but to me his mouth definitely did seem to swish in the sort of fashion that you’d think it would, had he been chewing on nuts.

Anyway. He sits, eyes casually glued to what turns out to be a television screen. And he does so while she leaves, seemingly unnoticed, from the room. Walking briskly away in her white blouse and black slacks. A look very similar to what you’d expect Bebe Neuwirth to wear on the set of “Frasier,” though this specimen is NO Bebe Neuwirth. No bother, neither am I. Neither are any of us, really.

Mmmm, Bebe.

But alas, I digress.

So he sits and chews, as she sashay’s from the room. And though the poetician in me wants to say that the two were in perfect sync and beat with each other, for whatever reason they were not. And that, my friends, is all the story that there is to tell. Are they happy? Are they sad? Are they in love with each other? In love with someone(s) else? I’ve no idea. I only spy them through their front bay window and make a mental note as I pass along.

Another bay looms into view as I stroll along. It’s a very Polish town, Buffalo, and many of the post-war “cookie cutters” reside here, all storeys single, all front windows bay. Maybe for ambiance, maybe for budget. Maybe just for passersby to have a tale to tell. But this second window provides none. The lights are all lit, but oddly. That weird sort of odd, where the owner was trying to leave just enough on to connect one room to the other, in an effort to traverse them when sauced. But not so many on as to blow their National Grid bill while they were out, getting sufficiently loaded for the experience.

The third looks similar, but buried deep within the kitchen – oh yes, in these houses, every room is viewable from the bay – is a woman hurriedly speaking on the phone. I don’t know if it’s a sign of the times, but I do notice that something is wrong with the phone. Wrong, but right. And then I see it – she’s wrapping her finger round the phone’s cord.

A cord!

Have I stumbled upon the Smithsonian? No, just a person who knows better than to believe every advertiser who says that your way is dead and the next way is king. She’s wringing the cord like she’s nervous as she speaks anxious-eyed into the phone. Is she? I’ll never know, as I’ve already passed her by.

The final window I look into shows no communication, no companionship whatsoever. I suppose you could say, the sort of window I fear of one day owning myself. In it, is just one elderly woman, sitting alone in a televisonless, phoneless, and decidedly Bebe Neuwirthless room. Spilling over her comfy chair almost as if she and it are slowly morphing into one. I would normally compare her to a sloth, but honestly, I can’t think of a single sloth that has ever looked so forlorn. So alone. She sits, looking into her lap at something. Looking into her lap at nothing. If not rejoicing over avoiding It so long, hoping that Death would hurry up and come already. And in either case, dreading what she’ll offer It to drink when It finally arrives. The bleak scene deadens me as well.

So I continue on.

I continue on, but decide that my window-gazing is done for the night. Their stories will be forever unknown to me anyway, and I’m a mere shadow to them. A whitened-shave legged aging ghost walking in an effort to stay attractive to no one in particular at the moment. A wanderer who knows the path all to well from taking it almost every single night, though finding something new on each and every pass. A nobody who is only noticed – if at all – by the cloud-covered moon hovering brightly above. A moon that most likely sees – should he be paying attention – only a spindly armed pot-bellied dreamer peeking into worlds that he really shouldn’t be visiting in the first.

I continue on and am able to avoid what – had I still been window-gazing, would have surely stepped upon – a colony of ants. I spy them as they all toil furiously, together and in earnest. In one big and shameless heap of achievement. And I wonder, are they like that because they are not as smart as us, or are they like that because a long time ago, they in their wisdom decided to refuse to build windows?

Windows that would have kept the outside world outside, windows that would have kept them trapped?

Windows that would have allowed each to look into – ever-so slightly – each other’s souls?

•••