Thursday, August 24, 2017

talking walls

The first time BC and I truly met was on the sidewalk half way between our house's but on his side of the street.  I was eating pears out of a can with a fork.  Wearing real Levis, you know 501 button fly jeans, a rolling stones t-shirt, and a black eye.  Most likely I was barefoot.

He was walking away from an argument he and his then wife were having.  Rolling a smoke wearing a scowl.  The weight of his world right there in the blue of his eyes. 

Of course as neighbors we knew each other, or we thought we did.  But there on the sidewalk we walked up to each other neither of us prepared to encounter the other.  Both of us walking in our opposite directions and suddenly meeting face to face.

"Is my kid at your house?" I asked him.  He answered an unsure yes.  Told me my son had come by to get his bike fix.  He left unasked the obvious elephant; doesn't he have a dad to do that?  I would guess at that point he already knew what most of the street knew- the man I was married to was what is often called a functional alcoholic (FA).  That means he was an alcoholic who went to work everyday.

BC told me he had helped my son and as far as he knew the boy was riding with his friends in the alley that ran along the side of BC's house.  Then he stopped wallowing in his cloud of angry and looked at me.

He opened his mouth his hand beginning to point to my face when his wife stepped out of the house and called his name.  He turned to see her.  I slipped my sunglasses down and stepped out into the street I walked wide around him before he could ask me how I had gotten that black eye. 

We have never talked about it except to mention the canned pears and how odd he found that. 

Months later in the middle of the same street but this time right in front of my house BC would hand me the first beer I had had in over 2 years.  I had stopped drinking to help heal an ulcer.  One can only imagine how I got an ulcer while going to school, raising 2 kids with an increasingly unpredictable FA, and working fulltime. 

We were playing street soccer and he opened it and handed it to me before anyone could tell him I didn't drink.

Being who I am I took it and drank it. To this day it is the best beer I have ever had.

And months after his wife left him we would meet again on the sidewalk and he would tell me that he was in love in with me. 

15 years later both of our houses on that street belong to total strangers and the last of our ties there have faded. BC drives past Hollywood Ave and sees something beautiful that he built- the little blue house. 

And look way down the street towards my house & I see sickness.  I raised a family there.  I sent kids off to their first day at school and they all learned to ride their bikes on that street. 

I learned to drive a stick shift.  I returned to college.  I took call with the Surgeons.  I left for graveyard shifts in the ER. I stumbled home from nights on the Burn Unit and the SICU.

I started and I stopped drinking there and then I started again.  I was scared and I was hurting.  Then I found love- twice.  I let it go the first time but the second time I held on. 

I even brought 2 babies home from the hospital; one at one house with one man and one to another. 

My sister spent her last few months alive there.  The people who left her to die alone lived there in the house beside BC's.  Then they moved away. 

I wrote my first novel there.  I lost a baby there.  I found my love for running on those streets.  I called poison control 3 times; twice for the same kid.  I called 9-1-1 only once.  

I was a refugee and BC was a worn out warrior.  Together we met, fell in love, and moved away.  Resettled on the valley floor.  We started over again.

Somethings are exactly the same about us as they were in that first real moment together.  We stand in the middle between his way and mine, but on his side of the street.  He carries anger but he walks above it.  I carry damage that I still try to hide. 

But alone with all those hours while he and Beach were away for the total eclipse I was able to unpack some of them.  Get a look at what I have been carrying around.  It's a lot of shit. 

I explained it to BC that it's like 2 soundtracks running at the same time and I can hear both of them clearly.  I can also tell which one I want to follow and which I need to leave behind.

No one simply walks away from a past like mine, I have said that a hundred times trying to explain or maybe even justify my decision to keep carrying the weight with me.  But I have reached a point like I did with my sister's death that my want of something for myself out weights my fear of letting go. 

Letting go means there will never be justice but there might be peace... like the stillness that fell across the ground when the sun slipped behind the moon.

No one simply walks away.

No matter what man I walk beside he will be the man I am with in my dreams.  It alarms men to learn this but I have known for so long it does not seem strange or startling to me in the least.  My mind is trapped beside him even though my heart has long since freed itself.  I know it is the reason I seek the shelter of men to stand behind like a child playing hide-and-seek in the forest.  I moved from tree to tree looking for someone’s shadow strong enough to eclipse the Devil’s sun.

~prologue to Burning Down the Sun, mlb

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

bed sheets of paper

chasing the sun

The Alturas Lake Camping Crew: Fisher, Beach, BC, and Land.  These were are eclipse chasers.  BC and Beach drove up from Utah. Land drove in from Montana. They met up with Fisher who was already at Smiley Creek, Idaho.  Fish is up there working for the 2nd summer in a row. 
All these pics are off the iPhone.  I had Beach send me her favorite.  What I love about that is we get to see the trip 100% from her point of view. 
 You can see what matters the most to her.  In these photos I can see how much she adores her older brother and how much she loves her dad.  While they were gone I had a vast stretch of silence to think in.  I had moments of coming face to face with my past.  What I know is BC and I have done something really right here- with her, with us, with them.
 Late last night I was on the phone with Conner when there was a knock at my front door.  I asked him to stay on the phone with me while I checked it out.  I crept down the stairs.  Through the glass of the front door was the most perfect picture: Beach and BC standing on the front porch.  Locked out and wanting back in, they had drove home a day early.
I wish I could have seen Land.  I would love to get to walk beside him again. All I can hope is that this trip reminds him of the other possibilities out there.  I know the math is complex.  To meet up it would require 2 people with commitment issue, 2 people who question the stability of BC's master plans, to both be brave & ditch our jobs at the same time.  This weekend's win went to Land.
 This crazy crew watched the total eclipse from the zone of totality together.
While I watched moon shadows dance like aspen leaves in the wind on the stones of the fire pit in our yard.  For the first half I sat on the phone with Sarah each of us bathing in our own view of the strange light.  The second half of the eclipse, I spent in my own silence.
 Life is about choices.  Life is about experiences. 
What I missed and what I gained this weekend should equal out in the end. 
 After their late night surprise-mom-return, after the remains of the cooler was put away, and after they both showered we laid down in our bed together.  This is us, Beach between us, all legs and sharp points.
After she left from her own bed BC pulled me in tight. 
He held me in a way he hasn't in long time. 
 Holding onto me as if he thought we would never see each other again. As if he was seeing me through the light of a past sun.  As if he believed in me in a way he had forgotten to do a long time ago. I wonder what part Land had to play in that.
 The difference between chasing the moon and the sun is,
when you chase the sun you catch it.

"Sometimes I look a the Moon, and I imagine that those darker spots are caverns, cities, islands, and the places that shine are those where the sea catches the light of the sun like the glass of a mirror..." ~Umberto Eco