Thursday, September 1, 2011

stream of consciousness

This is not about red and blue; it’s about clarity.

The visualization I had today on my therapist’s brown couch seemed easy enough to dissect. Fear represented in flashing red and blue lights, like a siren, an emergency, something requiring immediate attention, an urgent response. Therapy changes my brain chemistry, she tells me. It changes hers too.

I don’t want to write about this. Aren’t I more creative than this? These simple symbols? Red for anger. Blue for sadness. Black for the nothingness of avoidance. But, then again, why would I want a hard-to-decipher visualization? Don’t I want to get there, to the bottom of this all? Isn’t that the point? What is the point? Is there a point? Does there need to be a point, always need to be a point? Why do I think I need to understand everything? Why can’t I let some things lie on the floor? And why so many questions? Are questions good or maddening? Neither? Both? All of the above?

That’s why it was easy to look at those flowers. They were purely beautiful. Instant joy. It’s not about conflict; it’s about the petals. It’s not about confusion; it’s about stems. It’s not about answers; it’s about roots.

Sometimes you need to rip off band-aids then take yourself out for ice cream. How do we care for all parts of ourselves? How do we care for any? How can compassion and criticism share the same bowl on the table? When we get out of our head, where do we go? Into our bodies? Into the world? Then it’s just our head in our head. It has to be less squishy.

I want to be awake and dreaming. I want absurd images to pass over me, and I want to trust that I’m not crazy. Judgments, if you don’t mind, I’d like you to swirl into the wind, become gentle whooshes in the blue and white soft sky. Just curl off and away. I want to train myself to leave me alone. I don’t need this kind of protection. I need Lady Gaga songs and the mint green creaminess of avocados. I need impromptu rides on the merry-go-round, bowling dates, sesame candies, new jeans, stationary, conversations with my cousin. Clarity. I’m ready for the lights to go up, the fog to be lifted. I’m ready to embark. Or, I guess, I’m ready to continue.

Friday, August 12, 2011

creatures of the deep

They seemed like they’d been together for decades strictly by the way they moved. A certainty each felt for the other. Age had set in, in the way that it does, not always kindly. Metabolism changes, age spots, sagging skin, creases and folds, thick eye wear, and expensive hearing devices had become a part of their looks now, the types of things to even be chronicled by their granddaughter in her charming drawings that found their home magnetized to the refrigerator door. Pop-Pop would be drawn in blue, giant circular spectacles taking over his ovular face and an even more giant circular belly. Mee-Maw in lavender would sport the glasses too and the chair she found herself bound to now.

She remembered the time her husband and she had gone on vacation to San Francisco, just three years after the chair had become her legs. She remembered going to that seafood restaurant in the Wharf. The one recommended to them by their concierge at the Holiday Inn Express. The one with big window views of the boat-dotted bay. The one with the blue mermaid statue out front. Another legless creature, she had thought, getting by.

She remembered the flush that came to her cheeks for the amount of space that darn wheelchair took up in the crowded restaurant and how the young waiters in their crisp button downs and bowties had to carefully maneuver behind her with their big trays of chowder.

“I want to sit in the chair,” she had whispered to him, and he hadn’t put up a fight. Getting her into it, they both knew, would be some trouble, but he arranged himself behind her, knees bent slightly, holding on at once to the wheelchair and the wooden seat that would stick out less from the table.

She was sure people were watching her, thinking was it really worth it? All this trouble for this woman to abandon her chair for one meal, for no more than two hours, only to have to return to it. But she was determined now, and she could feel her determination rise up, and be caught by the man who she could remember being young with. It was at that moment when she was picturing them as they used to be, long-haired and smooth-skinned that the dining chair came out from under the weight of her. Her body went down too, landing with a decided thud on the restaurant floor.

The silence that came next was broken quickly by a sound simultaneously uttered. The standing-up man and the on-the-floor woman. The old, fat couple with deteriorating bodies let out a wave of hysteria, so certain and clear. Their laughter floated up and flooded the room, tears of delight streamed down their plump cheeks and reminded them of everything worthy of remembering.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

giving thanks

I remember my first encounter with a gay person. I was seven years old, and I was wearing a white blouse with puffy sleeves and plastic cherry red heart buttons down the front tucked into a red skirt with white tights and patent leather Mary Janes. I had picked out the outfit myself and was very pleased. It was Thanksgiving at my rich Aunt Susan’s house. She’s the type of woman who has Thanksgiving catered. Our mashed potatoes lacked the essential lumps of my mother’s homemade ones. At some point during my stay at the kids’ table, some very brown gravy found its way onto my very white shirt, and between the non-lumpy taters and the new stain, all hell kind of broke loose for me.

I remember crying in the bathroom as a rotating wheel of my aunt’s snobby, smelly, brooch-wearing friends peeked in at me and my frantic mother who was simultaneously trying to calm me down and rid my bright white of the brownish gray blob on my lapel.

Then, as if from a dream, there appeared in the doorway a handsome man with hair like a prince and shoes as shiny as mine.

“May I?” he asked.

My mother turned to me, and I nodded, transfixed with the man’s soft brown eyes. He dabbed the stain with his club soda then spoke to another man behind him.

“Brian,” he said. “Please could you grab my bag?”

“I’m Mark,” he told me. “And I love your outfit.”

When Brian returned, Mark procured a tiny tube, which, like a magic potion, immediately returned my shirt and me to our former glories.

I spent the rest of the evening with Mark and Brian. They made space for me in between them at the grown-up table for dessert. They sat with me on the couch in the non-football room, and asked me questions about myself. Mark told me he was a hair stylist and Brian was a doctor. He told me, between the two of them, they were prepared for any type of emergency.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

three in the car

We’re in the car- the three of us, the original family.

The newbie’s in the car behind us, and he wants to race. He pulls up beside my father’s Accord, and the two men with identical builds and matching smiles meet eyes in playful competition before my brother’s blue Prius whizzes by us and my own chariot follows suit. An unexpected slowdown on the mildly busy road forces my brother to slam on his brakes and my father to force a quick stop behind him nearly rubbing noses with his alerted brake lights, a loud horn from an unrelated vehicle accessorizing the scene.

My mother is furious.

“Do you want to kill us?”

She would give the right-of-way to a worm.

“I was just having a little fun.”

“You’re going to kill us all with your little fun.”

This is the same conversation they’ve had for thirty years. It always ends the same way. The exasperated sighs, eyes rolled to the sun roof, but the tiny twinge of a smile nearly unnoticeable at the corners of their mouths- a smile of familiarity- perhaps of roles played out: the constant jokester being scolded? Or relief? In the tiny glimpses of smile, they speak their language to the other. I watch my father reach over and squeeze my mother’s knee. I watch her pat my father’s hand. I think about us all dying- swirling away in Technicolor. If he killed us all, I think, picturing us three like candy bits in a Cuisinart beater, our colors circling round and round, our toppling into each other, I think that would be alright.

Because for this thing that has to happen to us. Seperately. One at a time so that we have to watch. So that the loss of our three-ness can reverberate off of pictureless walls and pour over us like gravy and smell like freshly fallen petals, well, that seems harder. Natural, maybe, but harder.

Friday, May 27, 2011

edgar and brandon

Love is this, thought Edgar, touching the curve of his lover’s back. He could see through skin, through bone, through blood. Brandon was more than his blood cells. Edgar had loved him this way for years; that part wasn’t new. He took in the wholeness of Brandon’s stretched out body. He always slept this way: sprawled. So that if Edgar got into bed after him, he would have to slide in sideways and gently move an extended arm draped over Edgar’s side of the bed. He would always keep the arm, always place it on him or around him. Brandon always looked sexy while he was asleep. Edgar remembered other lovers looking boyish or angelic or vaguely like his father while sleeping, but Brandon always looked muscled and soft and honeyed. He always made Edgar feel wide-eyed at his natural beauty. Edgar wondered when it would be that he would look over and see it happening, when he would see a disease take over that place on the bed where Brandon had been. When it would hurt too much to touch him. Or be touched by him. He wondered which image would stay with him after it was all over: the healthy one he’d had for nine years or the impending one, he was both too afraid to picture and obsessed with at the same time. How could he live for today while simultaneously preparing for tomorrow?

Brandon’s body moved rhythmically with his breath, and Edgar watched it. His lean torso rising and falling, the gentle waxing and waning. Edgar thought about everything that made up a person. He thought about quiet things until he, too, fell asleep.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

so thankful

I am thankful today and everyday for so many things.

All the people in my life who inspire, encourage, challenge, and support me. And those same people who also can really crack me up. Friends, family, and the fine and beautiful line where those labels bleed into one another and the relationship seems to stretch into something not easily described or categorized.

I am also thankful for:
-plane tickets
-hot showers
-Ghiradelli chocolate caramel squares
-songs that are not that funny unless you listen to them with someone else
-the delicate cracking of the spine of a brand new book
-the unexpected
-the "ting ting" sound of spoons and coffee cups in the morning
-finding money in the washing machine, crisp and downy fresh
-tiny triumphs
-this day

Happy Thanksgiving 2010!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

wings, a story

It was during the discussion over linens that she decided she couldn’t go through with it. The head caterer had folded, unfolded, and refolded napkins three different ways and was now staring plainly at Liz, expecting her to illicit some type of affirmative response, but nothing came. Wavering a little, the red-haired man, dressed perpetually as a penguin, released the neat creases once more with a quick shake and, with his fast fingers began skillfully building some type of three dimensional bird that would perch atop the table like a hairless piece of taxidermy.

“The problem with folding the napkins this way,” he said, fussing with the corners of the birds’ tucked wings, “is the height. You’ll already have the floral arrangements as centerpieces, and you certainly won’t want to upstage them with the napkins. In my experience, simple is best concerning this detail. If you want, we could discuss napkin rings- I have a few very tasteful options I think you might like.”

The fact that Liz had contributed no thoughts to the triple diagonal fold vs. the square-shaped collection of creases didn’t seem to faze the bow-tied man; perhaps he had had success reading brides-to-be in the past, but this particular one didn’t want to be one anymore, and it wasn’t about the flowers, the food, the dress, the dj, the hall, the minister, the in-laws, or even the expense. It wasn’t about the napkins, either, though she couldn’t help but to stare at them, wildly it would seem, her eyes as big as the wingspan on the upright origami-ed non-descript flying thing.

She wanted wings. Even if they wouldn’t take her anywhere. Even if they could get wet and stained and lose their magic, she wanted them, for a little while. Just to touch, to reach her hand around her body, stretch behind her back. Even if she couldn’t see them and would never use them, she just wanted to know they were there.