Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A friend once endowed me with his earthly possessions. I meant to keep them for him, but after a few years I realized he had a place to live again, and didn't seem to want any of it any more. It wasn't completely up to me, I was still with my ex and the only thing he was sentimental about was stuff he'd made himself. Now, my ex, he's been dead for 8 years and I still have way more of the stuff he'd made himself than I can count. When I moved back in, after his death, I threw a lot away, not a lot, just some of the bigger, less successful paintings. They took up way too much space. A whole room. I rescued the ones I liked; had to drag some back from the street when Jesse came back from school and started carving out his apartment from the body of the loft. But it was all his father had, you know. For the kids. Kid. I should have had more of them so I'd never have to stop using the plural.

 It's mostly paintings, he made thousands of them. And pottery.  Not much of it is useful exactly. The ceramics--he was learning the form while teaching it to seniors or was it kids? At a summer camp when he was young. There are some esthetically pleasant pieces. I don't know what my son will want with any of it, but that's not up to me. I suspect he may throw it all away when I leave town. That would be sad, and not because I have any real attachment to the works. Sad because it's what his dad would have hated most, and he still loves his dad. And I never hated the man enough to hate what he made. Or lie that it wasn't any good. 

I'm up late tonight, or rather woke up really early-- midnight. I have no sleep schedule lately. I'm lucky I'm working from home. I'm here trying not to have a long, heartfelt conversation with my son because I think it would probably come out badly. What's the right way to tell your only remaining child that you will die if anything happens to him? I want to say that I want him to feel fulfilled in life, to pursue things he cares about; but it's all just a way of saying I'm terrified of losing him. I want his life to seduce him into staying alive so I can stay alive.  Isn't that what it means, to be happy? Content? I prefer fulfilled. It sounds more valuable, and rare, and rewarding.  I want him to be glad he's alive.  Because that means he won't take stupid risks, or be depressed, or sit on his ass doing nothing. But you can't tell people this kind of thing.
So I try to shut up and be positive. He's too old to have his mom even hinting around at how to live his life. He's too much like me to listen, anyway. 

I ran into that friend, many years later, out in the East Village. He recognized me, but I didn't recognize him at first. It was the Jamaican accent when he called my name that made me see his face as him and not some random Village guy. He'd aged so heavily since the day he left his boxes at the loft. He was wearing layers of lighter clothes to keep warm, none of them particularly clean. His hair was shot with gray and straggly. The edges of his eyes had started to yellow.  When he talked I could see how long his teeth had grown and I fretted for him, but it wasn't really my place to ask. He told me he'd gotten a subsidized apartment, "just saving it for my daughter Aiana. That's all I care about. That she has a good place to live when she comes back." I hugged him then for the last time. I never saw him again. 

Now here I am, saving it for my son.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Ready to cross that fine line...

Only the young believe that you have to experience the lows to appreciate the highs in life. It's not my experience. Maybe the personal lows that exist mostly in your own mind, maybe the naturally paced lows of losing a parent or leaving school, or even divorce. But the real lows in life that are wrenched from your soul and leave scars? What on earth subverts that? I used to hope people didn't know what I meant about things like this. Now, I'd rather more people understood exactly how miserable life is, really, under all the Disney bunting. Because if you understand that, you will not be so quick to visit your sick, miserable need to prettify life with easy lies that destroy the lives of other people who made the mistake of being victims even once. Those lies that make you feel good about your (stupid by definition) world view -- because if you have a world view, it's stupid, trust me. Or don't take my word for it. Wait until your ridiculous suppositions and assumptions leave you open to a good side-winding punch in the gut. Then dress that mess up and dance in it. Fucker. Oh, I'm sorry, did I hurt your feelings? Sorry. Sorry sorry sorry. It's better if I let life hurt them for you, I suppose. You've been warned. Be offended at me, but remember, life is still out there.

And notice I didn't say death, exactly. Life and death are the same thing. Do you see that yet? There is no life without death. You will either lose everything and everyone before you die, or lose it all afterward. You think life is all good and death is bad; but you're wrong. Do you think abusive husbands have two sides, because they don't. The "good" side is the mask that leaves you vulnerable to the bad. I shouldn't even use those childhood terms, good and bad. Life is what causes you to die. Love is what causes you to suffer. The Buddhists won't tell you this directly. But they don't deny it. They just narrow the definition of love until all it means is a form of desire. I want my son. I want my mother. I want to live. It is desire that causes suffering. You must desire to live in order to stay alive. Suffering is life. But that's not what they tell you. No one enjoys life more than the sadist or the serial killer. Like children their world is about pleasure in life, in the suffering (that is, the life)  of other people. Why do you doubt me? You know people who enjoy watching you suffer, and who feel better about themselves when your life turns to shit. You may not admit that you know this about them, but that doesn't make their victory over you any less pleasant to them. And yes, the sadists and serial killers and children in grown bodies are lying to themselves. They are subject to every misery you encounter, with even fewer tools than you to survive them. They get theirs, you see. You may not enjoy that, though. You may wish that on no one, not even your worst enemy. Not even on yourself.

If you don't know what I mean, just wait. It's waiting for you, just like it waited for her.