Gone, but not forgotten.
Love You, forvever.
Missing Someone gone.
The Love is forever.
Gone, but not forgotten.
Love You, forvever.
Missing Someone gone.
The Love is forever.
Posted in In Their Words, Musings, Prose, tagged Doc Rini, forgiveness, Grief, In Memoriam, Love, memories, Music, Passion, pedal steel guitar, Personal Journey on September 24, 2012 | Leave a Comment »
“I want to leave something behind when I go.
So they’ll know I was here.” -Darryl “Doc” Rini
The Palomino Club 1987
Billie Jo wore my boots that night, the black and blue Tony Llama’s. Because they went with the dress. I know that’s right, because she borrowed the dress from me, too.
For some reason the three of us were in the parking lot, between two parked cars. Her boyfriend held up a beach towel and played look out. I was a lot more nervous than she was; she was never very shy at all.
They had dressing rooms, didn’t they? I’m sure they did. But for some reason we were out there. Then she was in my dress and we swapped boots and earrings and she was ready to go.
Billie Jo was a coworker and a friend; that’s why I was there. Oh, and I like music. I liked Billie Jo’s voice and I liked her. But I never liked “Country”, to say it nicely. At this point I was unaware there was such a thing I could ever like. I plead ignorance. I was still learning that good music is good music, period.
So I simply went to see my friend play, and hang out at The Palomino. And, yeah, there was that outfit.
Billie Jo played and sang and growled and purred, and it was a good show with a good crowd. Whatever my taste in music, I could appreciate her talent and I enjoyed myself enough. It wasn’t until the last song her band played that I began to see things a bit differently.
Truthfully, I can’t remember what the song was at all, though it may have been one of Billie Jo’s originals. It was a driving, rockin’ number that made me think of fast trains, and if I’d have had someone with me or been a little less shy back then, I’d have been on the dance floor. But things got even better when the steel player took over the song and made it his own.
She’d already introduced the players a few numbers back, and it was Darryl “Doc” Rini on pedal steel guitar who was now setting his instrument on fire. I had never seen anyone play like that before, and I fully expected to see something combust, or melt. I couldn’t do anything but sit still and watch until he was finished several minutes later, awash with sweat. And then I was still absorbing it.
I’d seen plenty of players give their all to playing, and I love to watch people do whatever they do well, when they really love what they do. But Doc had that extra something so many wish to have. Passion. And the ability to make you have it too. He gave that passion a voice, and the voice came through the steel. Until those moments, I’d had no idea anyone could do that playing Country Western music.
I was pretty close to the stage, and I tried to watch the finger picks he wore, but they flew and his hands were just a blur. For all I knew his hands were performing some feverish and ancient magic ritual. He was sweating more than I thought was possible for someone sitting down. Of course, he was working hard and likely in some kind of altered state. I was transfixed. I realized my mouth was open.
He’d seemed to teeter just on the edge of losing control, and you know, he never did lose it. Not a stumble. I imagined smoke rising from the steel when he finished that solo. I tasted ashes, and still he played on. I thought about the fire hose on the wall, and I know that’s corny. I wondered how many people were in the club. It seemed like there were suddenly a lot more people, and it was awful hot in there with all the bodies. Things felt dangerous, and I was looking towards the front door, wishing for air.
Before I can think about how to get there, his face is before me, words falling from his lips. Cowboys and bikers, tourists and squealing girls all making sounds like a boiling soup of noise; my head is ringing from his long train-robbing solo. It sounds like stampedes in my head and I can’t hear a word he says, but his eyes are a piercing blue and they bore down into my soul like deep water pouring into me, and I don’t look away like I usually do. I admit, I can be cold that way, and who has not been approached in a bar and it’s really nothing special. And then there’s that look again like fire and blue water together, so I smile, and say “Pardon?” and dip my head a little closer. I still can’t hear. The third time my ear ends up just about where his lips are and I know this voice is the smoothest thing I could ever feel at all and I feel the heat of it when he says in one easy breath, like it’s the first time “You’re a very pretty girl”. When I look up, those eyes look the same as they did, no different, and I see what I later will forget. The same thing I saw when I watched him play.
One day I’ll look back and remember it was never really gone, just hidden lest he burn himself up on normal days.
We’ve had fun, no doubt. I can’t really say how long it’ll last, because it won’t really end in the usual sense. I’ll just go and do other things after a time. I’m living the five minutes of my life where I just won’t be pinned down. At the same time, I do have a way of getting my back up about a guy not telling me how he feels about me. I figure he’s had enough time to know, and he knows how to speak.
But that really isn’t his language, at least not yet. He speaks through the steel, and sometimes, through his eyes. Whatever the reason, I’ll wander off finally.
While we are here, he makes me laugh. He has a wicked sense of humor that covers nearly everything from his coworkers to the five or six leaks in this Hollywood Hills roof. I know he has a deformed and less than prestigious car that he never complains about but gives a pet name to that cracks me up, every time.
While we are here, he plays the steel for me when I can get him to, in this place in the Hills that leaks rainwater on the bed. He doesn’t like an audience when he practices, when he pushes himself, perhaps because it’s the only time he doesn’t feel in control. But he does let me be one, sometimes. I enjoy it even more than watching him perform. I get to see the real thing.
While we are here, I will tell him the one thing I know, that he was born to play that pedal steel, and is really here to be heard. I believe this of him more than I believe most things, and I tell him so whenever I can.
He looks like a young John Heard with a smile like the Cat that ate the Canary. A hiccup easily missed that floats out a feather here and there. I sit in the bed watching The Headbangers Ball on the TV until the feathers stop and the snoring starts, and wonder just what it is we have in common. And I know there’s only one thing, and it’s something neither one of us can name or even see. We’re both watching the sky and the dark and the strings for it, but it is elusive and multicolored. And while it makes you dance like bullets when it’s aimed at your feet, it hides in alleys when you ask it yourself, to dance.
What I’ve fallen in love with is the theme music to our story. And it will always take me there, just like this. It will forever make me know exactly who this man is, just like the first time. But I’ll stop listening, because it’s time to go. In too many years to remember why, I’ll finally remember what it sounded like when it became a part of me.
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Billie Jo, but like I imagined, she isn’t hard to find. She looks the same with that long blond hair and the quick smile and she’s playing and singing wherever she lands. I’m glad to see her, but she says “Doc’s got cancer.”
I don’t know this, and wonder why I don’t. “It’s in his brain.”
She asks me to call him and I am surprised when she says, “I really think you should.” Should I really?
Here’s where things start to get hard for me, where I stop knowing how to tell the rest of the story, the end of the story. Because there really isn’t one.
He’d had brain surgery and been recovering a while. He has me helpless within minutes with his humor that is so Darryl-nothing sacred, completely irreverent, yet steeped in a touching and self-effacing insight that is crystal clear. I cry tears of laughter, and of sympathy. But mostly we laugh.
His immediate recovery from surgery was brutal I think, and was graced with what he referred to as a male Nurse Ratchet. Nurse Ratchet reportedly thrust a mirror into Darryl’s hands right out the gate and said, “You might as well get used to it.” With a shaved and swollen head full of staples, he said he wasn’t ready. I myself might need to get used to the thought of it for a day or two before looking, but Darryl did look, and his first sight of himself brought Frankenstein’s monster to mind.
At least this is the story he told me, and I laughed ‘til I cried, and then just cried.
Later, I received beautiful letters from him, revealing the Darryl I never knew. I don’t know what ever happened to those letters, but I wish I had them now. I’d known Doc in his day, but Darryl was someone I only suspected, now and then when I heard him play.
Not so very long ago I learned Darryl was gone by “the late-‘80’s”. I don’t know why I ever imagined maybe he wasn’t. I’ve not known of many brain cancer survivors that have lived a long time. And it had been a long time. I suppose I hoped, and didn’t want to think about the obvious too much. I’d shut a door and moved to another planet; I couldn’t, wouldn’t keep the connection I had with him. And I suppose once I’d seen those letters he wrote, I could have never again seen him as that smooth talker in snakeskin boots who’d run me over in The Palomino. I knew more. I loved him more as a friend than I ever could have as a lover. And that was far more dangerous than some man in snakeskin boots. So I stepped far to the side. And we just slipped away.
A while back I happened across the wonderful Garrison Elliott [also known as Bert], who knew Doc well. Upon hearing from me, Bert very graciously sent me everything he had of Doc on recording, including his own music. Not only am I pleased to become acquainted with the talented and kind Bert, but I will always be grateful to him for giving me a part of Doc that will never die. He cannot know what a gift he gave me.
When I received those tracks, it took me a while to play them. I guess I knew I would be with the “real” Darryl again, even if only in spirit. And since I never got to say goodbye, I wasn’t sure if I was ready.
The music made me cry. I was totally unprepared. I didn’t know I cared that much, or that I would know the sound of him so quickly, like he was in the room with me. I listened for a long time, cried, laughed, and clapped my hands. I even heard him talking in a bantering intro, and I cracked up like I always did. He was something else, and that’s when I really remembered why I’d liked him so much in the first place.
Bert thought so much of Doc’s playing, he salvaged original tracks by Doc on steel from the ‘80’s, and has given us the simply beautiful “Rainy Day Serenade” to which Bert gave his perfect and restrained vocal. In my opinion, it is a stunning tribute to the subtlety and passion Doc was capable of. This is not the firestorm of picking I remember and know, but the song is a quiet beauty.
“I want to leave something behind when I go.
So they’ll know I was here.” Darryl really did say those words. And yes, the second part always came out funny, I don’t know why. Even though you knew he meant it. And he did.
Thank you Bert.
“Darryl was deep as the sea.”-Garrison Elliott
I began writing this a few years ago. Before the time I began to say I was stuck and couldn’t write, that I had something to say and couldn’t say it, couldn’t string my thoughts together, and far before the time of just not having time to write.
I could not finish it.
The truth is, I didn’t know what the ending was. The “ending” was something I didn’t know, and didn’t wish to face, and was an ending much more difficult to deal with than the simple ending of a relationship. That had been easy. I walked away. While I didn’t really know that he was gone, I didn’t need to have an end.
The real ending came from Bert. He had what Doc left behind, so we’d know he was here. The ending is that he’s still here after all. He left his music with us, and our memories. He was The Doctor, after all.
Rest in peace, Darryl.
Till death do us part.
But what if one parts before then?
Do you die, so you can make it right? So you don’t have to break a vow?
Life goes on—that’s the brutal fact you just can never get around, not alive anyway. It did for me, no matter how long I grieved. It went on around me, while I felt dead. I wanted to be dead. Still, it went on.
I lived, and found out one can’t live and not be alive. Least I can’t. So, I began to live, tired of dying.
I didn’t replace you. I found a new life, a new love. Something more than what I was missing, and finally I didn’t miss it anymore. I didn’t miss you. I didn’t want what I’d had.
What I had missed was what I’d thought we’d had, cruelly ripped away from me with a scar put in it’s place. A scar everyone could see. A scar of ugly self hate, slow to heal at all, festering with the delusion that I was deserving of the abuse you gave. But what we really had was just a chapter in a story—your story, made up along the way to fit your needs. Your needs, disguised as ours. You lied about that more than anything else, and you lied about almost everything.
You left me with a sawed off stump, my amputated ego hanging by shreds of aching skin.
In the words of an old song we’ve both heard, “I Wouldn’t Treat a Dog” the way you treated me.
The magnitude of raw hurt I felt for years may have made it difficult for me to trust again, to really love and give myself to anyone. But it didn’t mean I wouldn’t, eventually. I did.
Till death do us part.
But you see, that died; I died, who you were to me died. I grieved, died, lost another chunk of myself here and there as time went on—the old rotting illusion of our marriage would shrivel and fall away, just drop off in chunks whenever I least expected. New little deaths, over and over. And by the time they finally all fell off I was so sick of the disease of them that I wanted them to go, even while it was still painful to let them go. And it usually was. Pieces of my identity went along. My belief system went along. My hope went along. And my ability to fall in love went along as well. So I imagined.
But know something here; I wasn’t really dead. Only pieces and parts of me, the pieces that you could still touch, the pieces you’d told me were me. Well, they’re not me.
I’ve spent some time backtracking, walking parallels of paths I took after you left me broken and bleeding. I didn’t set out to follow these old times, more they came to me, and called me out. Only after the fact can I see that they did so because I was finally ready to give all of myself to someone. It was necessary to see where I’d been since you changed how I saw love. And it was shocking how many wrong turns I made just trying to distance myself from what happened. Just trying to heal.
I visited those old spaces, places, loves, and found quickly that whatever stray parts of me were still laying about lost fit handily in a basket, nothing more than I could carry, although the basket seemed really large at the time. Later when I picked up the basket, it felt small and looked hardly a thing to hold so much woe, yet it was the same basket. And it was easily set down.
Finally one day all those stray, misshapen, fallen apart pieces, they were all gone. The little basket was just empty. I felt naked, and surprisingly light. Uncertain, too young to be the age that I am, I stepped up to my life. And love was waiting for me. I didn’t know I was waiting for it too. Sometimes we have to die a little, in order to really live. Life goes on. Life begins anew.
There are blank spots. Certainly I don’t remember everything. The memories I do have are sometimes murky, shadowed. And some are sharp as broken glass. The sharpest ones I live with, like I lived with the sliver of Coke bottle near my wrist for so many years; not visible, not painful, but just “there” where it shouldn’t be. Considering trying to get out.
One day, so many years a part of me, the sliver decided to leave my body, or at least begin to. Now that might have been a little painful. There was some swelling, and eventually, a bit of a point emerged. I think it freaked me out more than anything. Glass put there by an event so very long past, and now so unreal, I could not get comfortable with the hard evidence of what might otherwise seem easy to deny, or at least ignore, and pretend to forget.
The time came when the sliver protuded enough that it had to come out. I was able to extract it with tweezers, still imagining it might be something besides what it was. Glass. Glass that could only be there by the force that put it there.
The sliver was long, sharp, and clean as a whistle. I had perfect vision then and took a good long look at it. I marveled at the way it had suvived in my flesh in one piece for so many years, and at it’s size. Just huge. It was really impressive. I turned it over several times, pondered it’s origin, and then saved it somewhere now long lost to me. I know eventually I disposed of it. I knew it would be too ironic to find it poked into myself again by forgetting where I’d hidden it. Just because I needed to look at it for a while, didn’t mean I had a wish to hang onto it. So away it went.
A quart sized Coca Cola bottle; they used to make them that way; all glass, and heavy. The bottoms were thick.
I never saw it coming, and don’t remember raising my hand to my head to protect it, and yet I did just that. The part of my hand injured showed such. It didn’t happen some other way. But I never saw it and I never felt a thing. And then again, maybe the memory is just gone or never was there at all. Shock can make things that way.
Another sliver has considered now moving, perhaps is even ready for the tweezers. For all I know it has just passed clean out of me, I don’t really know. But for so long it was “just there”. If I ever spoke of it I did in monotone, matter of fact. I would at least register the look on another’s face and note either horror or disbelief and occasional simple confusion. I learned to say nothing. I suppose not everyone shrugs off the news that someone they know has survived a terror, and most don’t want to know. For most people, it’s only interesting in the movies.
I don’t remember everything. The memories I do have are sometimes murky, shadowed. And some are sharp as broken glass. The sharpest ones I live with, like I lived with the sliver. Not painful, just “there”. The murky ones, they’re the ones that bring the shadows. I didn’t think they had slivers, until now. I can’t see them when they come out, “long, sharp, and clean as a whistle.” But I feel them moving, emerging. Why does it sometimes take so long? When I no longer need to remember, why is it time now? Truly, I am okay. I don’t care if I ever remember more, and don’t really want to. If a sliver is fine where it is, why try to dig it out? I put myself through all that long ago, and finally understood that it’s okay if I can’t remember, it’s ok to live with a sliver. If the sliver’s a problem, it will let you know…and may just emerge on it’s own when it’s ready.
After all this time, I guess another piece of glass must leave me.
Posted in Musings, Prose, tagged addiction, Beauty, Broken Spirit, Darkness, Death, Dope, forgiveness, heartache, heartbreak, Hope, Loss, Love, memories, Peace, Sorrow on October 21, 2009 | 10 Comments »
I found some pictures. Pictures of you.
Not the you I once knew. Gone now, the mass of black curls. Gone, the sharp cheekbones women whispered about, the slanted green eyes that pierced so much they frightened people. Gone now the tiny frame of muscle that had lifted me high and twirled with such frenzy as to become blur. Not there, I looked for it; the small, silent cat who walked on padded paws, claws pulled in.
Jess, I remember. Lithe and compact, deceptively strong, the kind they say you should watch out for. He could land on his feet and turn on you faster than you could regroup. That was evidenced to me more than once. It wasn’t rare to see some big dumb oaf try to take him on. Usually it was because of the eyes, and his size, but also because of me. Just because he was with me and some big guy thought it should’ve been him.
Big-guy could have never kept up with me. In fact, I would have left him wondering what had just happened to him. We both knew that.
Now that I think of it, I guess since then I probably gave that guy a try or two. You can probably guess the outcome.
I’m sorry, I was talking about you like you weren’t in the room. But in a way, I guess maybe you’re not, are you? I’m still having a time putting it all together. You are the same guy, after all. And then, you aren’t.
I am not the one you knew either.
It’s been a long time.
I think maybe what’s happened is this simple: You grew up. That makes sense. I guess I did too. Certainly, I’ve come at least as far as you.
It’s not that I myself look much different. No, I really don’t think I do. I might look better, even though I have laugh lines now. But I’ve replaced myself.
I didn’t do it all at once, and it was never intentional. Just eventually, enough of that old me died, and someone new settled in. I never knew it would be that way.
I tried to hang on to who I was and who we were and what we said. What we did. And one day, I just couldn’t find you anymore. I never really knew what happened, or couldn’t remember. More and more, a glass and a needle had made the shape of us into something I couldn’t see. But something I couldn’t leave either.
Finally, I let someone else do it for me, for us. He slid in like a snake, slithering into the space you left. He struck with something you couldn’t fight, a venom with no antidote. He helped me turn on you, away from you. It didn’t take long for me to see what I had done. What he had done. There was no undoing it, but I had to tell you. And I still don’t think the end came there.
I would’ve died. Without you, I would’ve died. You saved me but you couldn’t stop the seizures.
Before it happened, I remember us being inside. I’m standing in the barred doorway smoking, and someone’s yelling at me to get away from the door. “Don’t get too close to the bars.” Hands are reaching in to grab my lit cigarette. And voices are passing and lingering, calling to me with proposals and curses, insane whispers rustling and fading on, smells, Mota. In the pitch black, a sudden awareness of a body and a pair of eyes so close I can feel heat, see blinking. This time a hand reaching in, offering smoke.
I take another hit of cognac from the singer’s bottle, for courage. I’ll be outside soon. It’s cold. We finally head out together.
At first, it’s just like pins and needles. It starts in my feet and moves upwards, and I stand still looking at myself, trying to see something. You’re hissing at me now to walk, reminding me where we are, but my feet don’t do what I tell them. I look at your face but the picture is in pieces. Triangles and slivers, broken glass.
I know my head explodes. I hear a loud “pop”, when the pins and needles get that far up. When I hear it, the kaleidoscope vision I’ve had just before, vanishes. With that “pop”. And then there’s dark.
I hear screaming, a wailing, that builds and rises. A horrible sound and one I hope I never hear again. Absolute terror and agony in it, a person being skinned alive. I hear it from far away, and I strain to tell it’s source, and I can’t see a thing but blackness.
I’m trying so hard to fight my way out of the black. I can still hear everything, and you’re screaming my name. All my will is given to it, but I can’t help it. Just black. The blackest black I’ve ever known. Where do you think I am? I’m serious, do you know? Because I don’t. I’m gone, but trapped, still here. I am blind and I am dead, but still aware of me. Still hearing you scream at me. Still registering the impact when you start slapping me, but too dead to feel. In truth, it’s a worse pain that any other pain I’ve ever felt—that much I register. Dead, but alive. Afterwards, I will dream for years that I am dead. Dead, but aware. That’s where I am, I can’t come back, I can’t help you. I can’t do anything.
The people that see me when you bring me in think I’m out of it. And I am. By this time I’m not even twitching; I am silent, unresponsive, unfeeling, “unconscious”. I hear them say it. But I hear every word they say, every word you say. All these years later, I will still feel Erin’s hands on my face, over and over stroking, her voice the only peace like a song “It’s going to be all right—It’s going to be all right.” She says my name, over and again, tells me she is right here, right here, right here. The only one who seems to understand—I can still HEAR.
How does she know where I am? She knows. No one else does.
But you save me. You get me to her. You yell my name so many times I don’t fly off with those screams I hear, those screams that are really mine.
Erin knows about this place. She must hear the voices in my head that tell me not to listen, not to listen to her, that try to keep me with them. She never stops saying my name, never stops touching me, never gives up. I know it, know she is holding on, showing me a light I can’t see or really feel, but she keeps the tether of it wrapped around my soul.
God. Erin. I wish she knew. She was the one who saved us both that night.
I can’t tell the rest of the story now. I thought I could. But it turns out I’m not brave enough after all. You have your story, and I have mine, but you don’t know the rest of mine. If I could get through it without crying, without looking for the scar…
Maybe it’s better if I leave it that way. I know I can always fast forward. That’s easier.
I see you in pictures. One, I keep only in my head. No one else can see it.
You’re sitting on a kitchen chair out my back door playing slide on an old Les Paul. Tipping the chair back, rocking it. You’ve just had a haircut—the only one I ever saw you with. Your wild curls look tame. Like they might even stay that way.
We’ve never said a word before, least not that I can remember. But I hear what you’re playing and I can’t help it and I give you that look. And too much passes between us then and I can’t take it back. And you just say “How eloquent you are.” And you are playing slide again. But now it’s only for me.
I had another one; I kept it for years ‘til someone made me throw it away. It was you, again with the Les Paul, but it had nothing to do with me. I just liked the picture. My friends liked it; they thought you were someone I didn’t recognize; a rock star, maybe. They’d always ask who you were, and I’d just shrug. I liked it because I could see blue on you.
There’s more. The last place I knew about without me in it. A box, and my shaking hand on the cover and lifting, before I can say not to. And there it is, all of it. And I know you’re serious, because this is not the outfit of a dabbler. And I know you know I know. And I watch you walk like a ghost out the door for your appointment. I know what we’ve lost is never coming back.
There are several missing pages. I don’t know where those shots went, but I never have seen them anyway. I just leave them blank. The one I find next is someone else again.
And I ask him, “Are you happy?”
Then “Do you love her?” And you are silent for too long.
“ I never want to have again what I had with you. The kind of love that makes you DO what you would never do, under any other circumstances.”
And I know just what you mean.
You are comfortable, you tell me so. And it’s all right if we just sit holding each other all night, and if we cry for who we were because it’s all we’ll ever have of it now.
And then I found these others. Not mine at all, they’re just out there and I saw them.
They really do have not a thing to do with me, just like that other picture. Someone I don’t know; yet I’d know you anywhere.
Age has found us all, if we’ve survived. And you wear the weight of your soul in your eyes, in your flesh. Just as I do. It’s shocking, really, to see the scars. No, they’re not ugly. I know about them, anyway. Like you know about mine. All the same, we forget.
And I ask, “Are you happy?” and I can’t hear an answer. But you look comfortable, and so I tell you so. You reply by holding your guitar, the same as always.
And I ask, “Do you regret anything?” And you are silent again, but I think I see you smile.
It’s good to see you.
Posted in Poetry, tagged addiction, Age, Beauty, Broken Spirit, Darkness, Dope, dreams, heartache, heartbreak, Hope, Loneliness, Love, memories, memory, Mirror, Personal Journey, Pictures, Poem, poems, Poetry, redemption, Reflection, Solace, Sorrow, Soul, Youth on October 17, 2009 | 7 Comments »
I stumbled onto you
A picture, no less
In fact there were three
Grinning in one
Head thrown back
New to me
Black shades the next
Like an arrow
At her heart
But the last
The soul heavy tired eyes
I remember these
For so young
The one thing I never got
When I wrote this
The lines etch now
Just like yours
And I wonder why
I never thought it
The one thing I never wanted
Those lines sketched
Just like my own
I took them with me, you know
When I left
Maps to my life
A mess of dreams
Songs we laid down
You gave to me
We rolled them in our sleeves
Maybe I stole them
If you say so
I’ll believe it
What kind of heart would be mine
If I covered all the soft spots now
With a stronger love
Built of more serviceable
And I could guarantee
It would no longer fail
I tumbled into her
A picture, no less
More than three
I grinned in one
My head thrown back
New even to me
Black shades the next
A needle aimed
Like an arrow
At my heart
But the last
The soul heavy tired eyes
You resemble these
So old then
For so young
So young were we
Posted in Musings, Prose, tagged Acceptance, Age, boundaries, Broken Spirit, Choices, Conforming, Control, Darkness, Defiance, dreams, Family, fear, heartache, heartbreak, Hope, Individuality, Innocense, Learning, Love, memories, Mistakes, pain, Personal Journey, PTSD, Rebellion, Reflection, Regret, Scars, Soul, Tattoos, Teenagers, Thoughts on August 24, 2009 | 5 Comments »
When you’re a teenager, you think you know everything. You also think you are indestructible.
I look at kids that age, and I see children. But once in a while, I see one who also reminds me of me. A certain squint in one eye, a stance, a way of breathing. Not willing to wait, be held back; accept what she is told; that it’s for her own good, that she doesn’t know what’s good for her, that really, she knows nothing yet at all. Something about them, these individuals, these upstarts, calls me and makes me want to look away even while I am looking in, into them, into myself.
Who speaks to them? Do they have a net? Someone who will remind them of what’s important, of what must be held onto, even while they let them fall? A someone who plants a seed of meaning that might grow when there is solid ground once again?
Or is there a someone who rages at their impudence, their rush to taste all that waves at them from life? Who tells them always that they are out of step, that there will be Hell to pay; that they disappoint and embarrass with their refusal to just be children when they are already miles across the line from any “just”?
You can’t hold back the tide. Everybody knows that. Yet still, we have all tried to, somewhere.
When that damn breaks, it breaks. It just will. Go. Where it will.
I like the idea of a breakwater, maybe. A way left still for the water to go around. A buffer, not a bubble. Bubbles break. Then, they are no help at all.
Most people believe that if they are not controlling their children, they are doing them a disservice, being irresponsible. They think that whenever a child goes astray, the parents must not have controlled them very well, but often, the opposite is true. It is in that controlling that one such as I was ceases to hear anything at all that might be useful. She begins to know only that everything she wants is wrong, bad, and forbidden. At this point, who is she willing to be? If she is a strong willed one, she tries to put her will to conforming. Of course she fails. She never was a conformist, and it is not the trait that made her “good”. That was simply her own natural desire to please.
Now there is rebellion. Rejection. The only restoring of herself she knows so far—the move away from all restraints.
This child believes that she will die if confined. The only real strengths she has so far wither under the bindings of familial care, so it is with a kind of survival instinct that she separates herself.
I think of individuals, who in their quest for explanation, blame, or exemption, have made the statement that I chose everything I encountered.
At the risk of splitting hairs, I must qualify this. Ultimately, perhaps we even choose who we come into this world as. Some say we do. But it’s like telling a person they have chosen to have Cancer—another thing some actually believe.
What’s the point? All that matters is whatever choices come before us everyday. I was given new choices. I took them. Some lose their choices, along the way.
What else matters to me now is this—in trying so hard to keep something the same, in protecting those we love from all their own choices, instead of protecting in ways we really can, we do them a disservice, and ourselves as well.
We forget to honor in them their ability to discern, or even allow that ability to ever develop. Soon, choices are so much less about what is wanted or needed, but about just having a choice at all.
I myself clung to that; just having any ability to choose anything. Even if my choice was what my poison would be, even if my choice was who or what would control me, it seemed better than obedience to something I didn’t believe in at all. If I had to be untrue to myself, let me be the one who chose how.
Was this a mistake? Surely I paid an awful price for my choices. I had no idea, at the time, how long term the effects would be on me. Long after this chapter was far, far away, I would know the dents on my soul that I could never push out. My form is forever shaped by the things I’ve seen and known, and I have wished them undone so many times. I have wished for my innocence back, and grieved the losses that came from allying myself with powers that nearly destroyed me.
So I’ve had to ask myself, who would I be, had I chosen differently? Would I have found an easier way to move through society? Would I have come from my youth unscathed and unscarred by things most people are sheltered from in their young years? Would I have grown up not missing parts of my heart and soul?
Would I have learned to become the conformist I fought so hard against being? Perhaps life would have been easier, softer, and years later I would have paid with a simple and boring mid-life crisis instead of posttraumatic stress disorder. Perhaps when age caught up to me I would have been happy to have played safe.
I really don’t know. Regret is rather useless at this point. As one friend is fond of saying, “It is what it is.” Or, as my mother puts it, “You can’t unscramble the egg.” Well put.
When I see her now with that squint in one eye, I know there’s not much I can say about this. If there is, I’ve never figured out what it is. But my reaction is always the same; I’m drawn to her like I am to my own reflection the first time I see part of my life newly reflected in my face. You know, those feelings and events that take up residence there but sometimes take years or decades to move in. It has indeed taken decades for me to realize I am looking at me when I see her, that one with the defiant stance, the stare, the breath raging just beneath the calm of the skin.
What can I tell her? What would she listen to, remember, when the walls tumble down and she only needs to choose something herself, by herself, for herself?
I admire the delicate artistry of her new tattoo, chosen for great personal meaning and beauty, a symbol of her individuality and feminine strength. This is no peer pressure tattoo, but completely original, a collaboration between tattoo artist and herself, one of a kind.
The placement of the tattoo is significant, and affords concealment. Like carrying a secret talisman for life; one she can choose to share or not, but does not wear to the world. I can appreciate her choice to express herself with something so beautiful, yet so personal.
I make her tell me all her makeup tips, for I can see already that she has a talent for doing things her own way; ways that work better than the ways “they” say to do things.
I ask her, as I do each time, if she’s written anything lately.
I don’t encourage her to run off, like she is wont to do. I just ask her what she hopes to find. I talk about what it’s like to come home, what it really means to any person, “coming home”.
I ask her about her dreams; ask her what she would ultimately like to be doing, down to the last detail. I ask her about time; what time is it in her life? What would she like to have happen in the next year or two or three to give her the choices she craves? I know that for her, right now, it’s all about the right to choose for herself.
Mostly, I just listen, because I can. She is not my daughter. She is not my blood. I’m not compelled by duty to make her “shape up”.
She is just one of those kids I look at and I know, she’s not “just” a kid.
She is like water, unstoppable, flowing where she will. I don’t want to dam her up. I can’t. I don’t want to fill her up with fear, daring her to fail. And of course, I am afraid she will. We all have to fall down.
I want to be there when she scabs both knees. Girls like us always scab them both, because we run way too fast. For the sheer fun of it, for the chase, for the escape, for the momentum we can’t stop sometimes. I want to be there to tell her the scars will soften.
I tell her I like that she is herself, and not like everyone else. I don’t want to see her spirit broken, all though I can see where it might break one day; she will not settle for safety either. She will go places she ought to stay away from, just to know she went, just to taste her freedom.
I want to be there when she comes home, wherever she finds that home to be. When she does find it, she’ll know it, for herself and by herself, and she won’t wonder if someone else has made it up.
After a while she’ll lose her squint, but one eye will always seem to be a bit more open than the other, and she will have a crooked smile.
She will look and see and talk and smile with the side that is herself, and the side the world wants, so it can see her, hear her. And she will smile a lot. And when I see her, we will share our crooked smiles and say, “Hey, it’s good you’re home”.
Posted in Lyrics, Poetry, tagged Broken, Broken Spirit, Darkness, Depression, Emptiness, fear, heartache, heartbreak, Heartless, Insomnia, Loss, memories, Nightmares, pain, Phobia, poems, Poetry, PTSD, Regret, shadows, Soul, terror, Trauma, Ugly on August 4, 2009 | 3 Comments »
Darkness falls on
Holes in me
Let me in
Let me be
Tells me ugly
Holes in me
Part of me
Posted in Lyrics, Poetry, tagged Beauty, Broken Spirit, Endings, forgiveness, Grief, heartache, heartbreak, Hope, Journey, Loss, Love, memories, Mountain Songs, Mountains, Personal Journey, poems, Poetry, Ruby Mountains, Secrecy, Secrets, Sorrow, Soul Searching, Winter on August 2, 2009 | 8 Comments »
Lay your mantle on my back
When I’m leaving
Yes I’m leaving
Will you point me down the path
Ruby hold me
Tell me your sorrows
Drop your tears along the road
When I’m leaving
And I’m leaving
Light a candle for us both
Keep your secrets from me still
When I’m leaving
You know I’m leaving
Keep what I have left you with
Posted in Musings, Prose, tagged addiction, Beauty, betrayal, Broken Spirit, Darkness, Desire, Dogs, Driving, forgiveness, Green Eyes, heartache, heartbreak, Longing, Love, memories, memory, Passion, Personal Journey, Pickup Trucks, redemption, Reflection, Secrets, Soul, Thoughts on July 15, 2009 | 4 Comments »
A smoky golden eye. Green flashes sidelong, blazing. Shocks of bright blonde flying forward, and curls of chocolate tumble from under straw. Like clouds under sun. A warning: things are not always just what they seem. Are they?
Ensconced in shiny black, nestled in leather, giving it the gas. A satisfied purring powers down the highway with a soft growl; it knows the way home.
It’s a real hot day. A/C cranked to 60 and fan full blast with every vent pointed straight at a body part; even the back seat ducts angle for an armpit. Feels good, like drinking ice water too fast, for the brainfreeze. Gooseflesh, at 98 deg. outside.
Still, she leaves the windows down and reaches up, opening the sunroof. Yeah, the best of both worlds, and she don’t care if it defeats the purpose.
Noise, wind, scorching sun. Waves of hot and cold air weave together.
The phone rings and she ignores it. A bill collector, or someone complaining about someone…what was there to say?
Life was like this feeling once.
Roaring rushing heat and wind through a fast moving truck; this moment, just this moment she’ll forget there was ever any other. Life is good, and maybe it was always this easy.
Doesn’t matter that she’s almost forgotten, doesn’t even want to remember, days on days of walking with her toes in the sand.
Hot, so hot you willingly run into ice cold water and throw yourself at its mercy. Again and again. Just to walk, lay, play in the scorching sun until driven to enter the sea once more. Crashing, tumbling waves spraying brine and separating hair into snakes, seahorses, braids, all painted and bleached with streaks of summer and salt. Warmed to the core, never really cold at all. It gets in your flesh, that warmth, just like cold does into your bones.
She almost doesn’t remember that it’s so much like being on a bike, one that rattles your pelvis and your soul while it takes you through the wind. A hot day, but wrapped in leather to the bite of that wind. Just you and that wind and that rattle of bones and soul.
She’s almost forgotten the kind of hot and cold this is like, almost another lifetime.
A smoky golden eye. Green flashes sidelong, blazing. Flying hair. A deeper growl, a faster powering on the highway, a chase. Instinctively, reflexively, forgotten yes but still ingrained, the survivor that she is takes the grip. And there is a warrior girl at the wheel with sticks and stones in her mouth and at her feet, and her hands are ready for anything.
A voice calling, yelling, and it is for her. Relief comes when it is no stranger who follows, no random menace. And then that moment comes where the brains eye knows it recognizes before it knows what or who it sees and it brings a smile, a welcome and a nod and an open hand. And before that hand closes to a fist it already knows it’s mistake and that it fell asleep at it’s post, but there’s nothing now to do but maybe stop smiling, or smile anyway. But between the gas and the brake she is kicking herself, one foot kicking the other foot, each one and both at fault because one didn’t use the gas more, the other didn’t stop and turn left. Damn. And after all, there is nothing more to do but just smile, and just drive. She remembers who she used to be, who she isn’t. She remembers the rattle, and the mark on her soul.
Along side, keeping pace, a large brown dog hangs as far as he can from the back of a Jeep, and stares intently at her. What does he know. And why is he staring? And his driver smiles ear to ear and shouts “I saw you.”
She smiles, doesn’t smile, looks forward.
“You’re still beautiful.”
The dog appears to lean further from the Jeep, peer closer at her, as though wanting to say something too. And just before she leaves off the gas to be left behind, the driver throws his voice into the wind;
“I always did love a beautiful girl in a truck.”