Posts Tagged ‘Shadrach’

It’s Not Time

July 16, 2017

To write this blog yet.

But.

Well.

It wants to be written.

Even though I opened up my WordPress site and sat and stared at the blank screen and thought, I don’t have a thing to write about.

Denial.

I should fold my laundry and put it away.

I will wash my dinner dishes.

So instead of starting to write I got up and put my laundry away and I did the dishes.

I even pre-emptively filled the kettle for a cup of tea after I finish writing.

I know, hot tea, sounds excruciating to think about in July, but it’s July in San Francisco, I’m in bunny slippers and thought for a minute about turning on the heat.

It’s chilly here in July, unlike anywhere else.

Although there was some warmth in the city today after the fog lifted and I got out of the Outer Sunset, I even put on a little sunblock just in case.

Anyway.

I digress.

It was when I was filling my kettle that I realized that I was avoiding the elephant in the room.

Or the plum, as the case may be.

I bought a plum today.

A beautiful, gorgeous, fat black plum.

I’m not a big fan of plums.

I mean, they’re nice and all, but I wouldn’t typically choose to buy a plum, not really my thing.

A persimmon?

Get the fuck out of my way, I’m buying them all.

But a plum?

Nope.

But.

Ugh.

I usually buy one around this time of year.

And it’s not because it’s stone fruit time.

I want stone fruit I eat cherries.

I love cherries.

Or.

Yellow nectarines.

So good.

Not the white ones, only the yellow, and not peaches.

I know, what kind of monster am I?

I don’t like the texture of skin on a peach and the fruit is typically too soft for me, I know friends who would kill for a perfect peach.

Me?

Not so much.

But.

There I was at Gus’s Community Market on Harrison and 17th in front of the plums and I saw it and just reached for it.

My heart in my throat.

Tears prickling my eyes.

I picked out the biggest, prettiest plum in the pile.

I thought about him.

I wrote a story about it once upon a time, a children’s story, about sharing.

I called it “Shadrach and The Plum.”

It was about a little boy and how he shared his most precious treat, a big juicy sweet plum (insert some ee cummings here and an icebox please) with a little girl at school who had forgotten her lunch.

He sat down next to her with his brown paper bag and saw that she had nothing in front of her, her parents had sent her to school with no lunch, he thought to himself as he took the food out of his paper sack, “I’ll share my lunch but not the plum, plums are my favorite, she’s can’t have my plum.”

He asked her, “do you want some of my lunch?”

She nodded eagerly and pointed to what she wanted, “I want the plum.”

He didn’t say a word, he just handed it to her and ate his peanut butter sandwich and drank his milk.

I heard about her later when I read the story I had written to his family.

In hindsight I don’t know if it was the best idea, they were still grieving, it was their first Christmas without him and here I was some girl from San Francisco wearing flowers in her hair and her heart on her sleeve reading a story about lessons we learn from our friends.

Because.

Well.

Shadrach was like that.

He would give you what you needed without question.

I might get teased about it later, I might be razzed, but he always saw me so much clearer than I saw myself.

His death anniversary is coming up.

Sigh.

Ten years now.

And sometimes it still feels like I’m in that ICU at General holding his hand, or in my room on in that crazy old Victorian on Capp and 23rd, sobbing my heart out into a pillow as I prayed and prayed and prayed to God.

I knew better than to ask God to save Shadrach, I pretty much knew he was gone, I never said boo about it, I never tried to change anyone’s mind about their hopes and I certainly did not express any of my doubts about him waking up from the coma to his family, I just kept showing up and asking them what they needed, put I kept asking God to help me through it and the only way I knew how was to not focus on myself.

How can I be of service?

I was brought up that way, in my recovery community.

“How do I do this?”  I called a friend who had just lost a mentor, a man who had 43 years of recovery and who I also knew quite well, the past week.

“You show up and help his family and you ask ‘how may I be of service?’ and you help them that way, and that’s how you get through.  And through you will get.”

He told me how brave I was and how much he loved me and that I could hang in there.

I did.

And I do.

I still hang in there.

I still show up.

I saw that damn plum and almost cried, but as a reminder that I get to live today I bought it.

I did what I needed to do today and I went where I was supposed to go and when I saw someone in my community who was losing it over the recent loss of our young mutual friend tonight, well, I held her hand and I didn’t let her run out of the room.

I just held her and hugged her and hugged her more until she got all the sobs out.

“You don’t do this alone,” I told her, “don’t run out.”

“I can’t handle all this death, it’s too much,” she said and tried to break away again.

I hugged her some more and then I told her some stories.

I told her about losing my best friend to a scooter accident, my best friend who was sober, who was committed, who was about to run the SF Marathon.

The same marathon that is about to be run here on the 23rd of this month.

The signs just went up by the park and I thought of Shadrach, I thought of how beautiful he was when he was running and how strong and graceful.

I thought of the last thing that I said to him, the best gift the moment, that moment when you realize you have to say something or regret it for the rest of your life.

Although, of course, how could I know?

“Shadrach, I just have to tell you, if I never see you again you have to know how beautiful you are right now, you are just glowing,” I touched his arm.

He raised an eyebrow at me and was about to say something witty and cryptic and instead he smiled at me and hugged me to him.

That was the last thing I said to him.

Well.

It was the last thing that I said to him when he was still coherent and not brain-dead in a hospital bed for a week before his family pulled the plug.

I shared my story.

And.

I told her about another woman we both know and how she lost her best friend on the day of his one year sobriety birthday, how he was hit by a bus coming home from his anniversary party.

I mean.

Fuck.

I told her she didn’t have to do it alone and that she was strong enough to shoulder it and that she was lucky, lucky that she got to feel the depth of love she felt for this person who just died a few days ago, that she could be grateful for the time she got to know him.

I hugged her again.

I’m a hugger.

And.

Told her to call me and lean in.

It’s not easy grieving and sometimes I felt like the sadness of Shadrach’s passing would never leave me, but it did.

Well.

That’s also not true, but it lessened, or I got used to it I suppose.

Although seeing that big purple plum sitting on top of a Mason jar on my kitchen counter brought it all home.

I still miss my friend.

He taught me so much.

Not just how to love.

But.

More importantly, that I was lovable and worthy of love.

A lesson that took many years to sink in.

But in it did.

So.

Tonight.

I will raise my plum to my lips and taste the sweetness and let my fingers be sticky with gratitude and love and memory and honor my friend and all the gifts he gave me, so many years ago now.

All the love he planted in my heart that has grown and flourished and bloomed.

All the things.

All the love.

And.

Always.

The best.

The sweetest, coldest, juiciest plums for you.

Always.

 

 

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Kidnapped

July 5, 2017

In the best possible way.

My friend met me for yoga, it being a holiday we both had the day off from work.

It was fabulous to see him and I was very much looking forward to having a coffee with him afterward and catching up with him at Trouble Coffee, which is just down the block from my house.

“Let’s get out of the fog,” my friend said as we left the yoga studio, “let’s get coffee somewhere other than Trouble.”

I balked.

Wait.

What?

NO.

I have plans and schemes and designs and I’m in my yoga clothes, I need a shower and um, like, I have no fucking makeup on and am I going to be one of those people who goes and hangs out somewhere in their yoga gear?

NO!

Except, well, my friend had this twinkle in his eye.

“What do you mean?” I asked, skeptical, “it’s foggy everywhere in the city.”

“We leave the city,” he said simply, “my car’s right here.”

“I have to do some writing,” I said feebly, “I don’t have my wallet, I um, shit.”

He looked at me, “you can’t write in the sun?”

Well, fuck.

He had me there.

“Oh screw it, fine, let’s go get some sun,” I resigned, surrendered, went over to the winning side.

My friend didn’t clap with glee, but it was damn close.

I got a great big smile, the door unlocked, I threw my yoga mat in the car and climbed in.

“I don’t have a wallet with me, I don’t have makeup on,” I continued to protest, weakly, as I buckled my seat belt.

“Do you need to go put makeup on,” my friend said with a complete straight face.

“Oh fuck you,” I said, “let’s go, drive.”

“I got you covered, hello, that’s what credit cards are for,” he hopped in and we cruised out of the city and down the Great Highway and onto the 1.

“We’re going to Woodside,” he said and programmed the route.

I have no idea where Woodside is but having been kidnapped that made good sense, you’re not supposed to know where you’re being taken.

And it didn’t matter, I was in a car, the music was playing, my friend was grinning ear to ear and I was happy to see, that yes, indeed, the fog was lifting.

And then.

There was sun.

And it was good.

I mean.

REALLY fucking good.

So happy to get out of the fog for a little while.

We caught up and chatted and talked about his experience doing the Aids LifeCycle.

This past ride was his 9th ride.

He’s going to do one more and then probably move onto something else.

He’s doing a big ride in Toronto this year as well and that may be the next thing for him.

We reminisced about when I did the ride and how ill prepared I was.

First, I was on a borrowed bicycle, one that was way, way, way too big for me.

“Do you remember your first ride,” he laughed loudly, “you show up in cut off jeans and tights, with a huge messenger bag slung over your shoulder, I just shook my head.”

I joined him laughing, “and Converse, don’t forget, I was in Converse.”

God.

I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I decided to do the ride.

I do remember very distinctly, however, crying at the end of that first training ride, I had barely made it the five-mile ride and I was overwhelmed with it.

How the fuck was I going to ever ride 545 miles?

“You will,” he said, “you will, just one step at a time, one pedal at a time, you’ll do fine, you need better gear though,” and he steered me around the Sports Basement racks showing me what I was going to need.

I had no money.

But.

I had a fuck load of heart.

I scraped up money everywhere, I wore old shoes, SiDi clipless bicycle shoes that someone gave me, I got donated a kit from a friend, I bought goofy looking outfits because they were on sale.

I had sponsors from all over the city and the country.

I do not know how the hell I raised the money to ride, but I did.

I don’t know how the hell I did it, but one pedal revolution at a time I did it.

My friend was my mentor.

He got me out, he helped me, he cheered me on, he made up silly songs to get me up hills.

One day, not too soon after I had started doing the training rides he pointed up to this gigantic hill and said, “one day, and not too far from now, you’re going to ride up that hill.”

“What fucking hill?” I asked perplexed, I didn’t see any hills, I mean, I saw a mountain, but not a hill.

“That one there,” he said pointing at the big peak in the distance.

“What the fuck is that,” I asked, followed closely by, “no fucking way.”

“Mount Tam,” he said, “and yes you fucking will.”

He was right.

A few weeks later, maybe a month and a half, I was riding up that fucking hill.

It was a long ride, but I tell you what, my God, the view.

Great.

Out.

Doors.

So much of it, so much beauty, so much joy, so much fucking swearing.

Damn I swore a lot.

I did it though and I laughed with my friend as we talked about all my adventures and misadventures.

And I could feel it, I could feel it fucking stirring, in fact, the thoughts had been stirring for a while.

“I want to do it one more time,” I said over an amazing omelet at Buck’s of Woodside.

My friend just smiled and nodded.

And as soon as the words came out of my mouth I knew I was going to.

“Fuck!  I’m going to do it again!” I laughed and pushed aside my omelet and hugged my friend.

We both laughed like hyenas.

And I am sure as fuck that there is going to be a moment or fifteen when I wonder, what the fuck was I thinking.

But then.

I’ll remember all the beautiful people in my life who I ride for, those alive and those who have passed from Aids and HIV complicated illness.

Later today, after my friend had dropped me back at home, after stuffing me full of joy and omelet and sunshine and promises to help me get a good road bike, I met with my person up in Noe Valley at the Martha Brothers Coffee house on Church Street and Duncan.

I sat on a bench with this man whom I love so much, who I hold with such deep respect and without whom I would not be the woman I am today.

He told me about taking a recent tour through the Aids Grove in Golden Gate Park and how it was to be there and the people in his life and the memories and I took a big deep breath.

“Give me your hand,” I said, “I want to hold it while I tell you something, you’re probably going to be mad at me, but I think that after that passes, you’ll be pretty proud of me.”

He turned and looked at me and took my hand.

“I’m not going to be able to go to Barcelona with you in May because after I graduate from my Master’s program in Psychology I’ll be riding to LA, I’m going to do the AidsLifeCycle ride again,” I squeezed his hand.

I could tell he wanted to give me a lecture, and that did happen a little and we agreed I’d have to let something else go from my life, probably not going to Burning Man next year, but I’ll get to that later, I’m still going this year, but I could tell by the way he held my hand it was going to be ok.

“You are a miracle,” he said.

And I am.

I am also someone who wears my heart on my sleeve, who does things to experience things as much as possible, who dreams big, who goes for it, who loves so, so, so hard.

Because why else live if I’m not going to live it passionately?

Fuck life without passion.

I get to live.

My best friend died this month ten years ago and he’s much on my mind, I did the ride originally for him.

And this time.

Well.

I will do it for him and my person and all the people who I know in my community who still struggle.

But.

I will also be doing it for me.

Because I can.

Because I want to ride my bicycle.

I miss it.

And.

Um.

Ha.

My bicycle bum.

I miss that a lot too.

Heh.

Oh yeah.

It’s official too.

While I was typing this blog I also took a minute, pulled out my credit card and registered to ride.

That’s right bitches.

I am now officially registered for the Aids LifeCycle ride 2018.

Shit.

I better go buy a bike.

What the fuck have I done?

Ha.

Tired

June 23, 2017

And wide awake all at the same time.

There was a moment today when I just thought to myself, I am not going to make it through the day.

Not enough sleep.

Too many hours at work.

Client that needs to be seen after work.

Party for a friends studio opening.

And I was asked to come in earlier tomorrow to work.

I thought I was just going to pass out.

The little lady was close to taking a nap and I hazarded a distinct longing to put her down for a nap and cuddle with her and sneak in a nap myself.

But.

No such luck.

I also didn’t want to super caffeinate.

Although I came daringly close I did not succumb to the temptation and powered through the day.

My thoughts kept me company and I kept myself moving around the house a lot and kept telling myself that it was almost Friday.

It still was a long day.

But I made it through work and I got to my internship and I had a really good second session with a new client.

Two clients this week and I’ll be adding another client next week.

Slowly it builds.

I felt really good doing the session and decided that I could rally afterward and go sneak over to my friend’s open house studio opening.

I really wanted to have a grown up moment that was a social, even if it was just for a little snick of time.

I hadn’t any dinner so I knew that it would be short-lived and watching the fog roll in over Twin Peaks I was pretty assured that it would be a quick visit.

But it was good and I got to see an amazing work space and reconnect with Burning Man friends and talk a little about the event and when folks are going.

I haven’t found a ride yet and there was a moment when I thought, fuck it, wouldn’t it be nice to not stress and give up the ticket and spend the time here in the city with people I love and then I was like.

Um, no.

Hahahaha.

Sure, there are people who I want to see here, but the fact is if I don’t go to Burning Man I’d just be working anyhow, it’s not like vacation, although it completely is, but it’s outside of my time frame of paid vacation and I wouldn’t just take the week off without going.

Plus.

It’s the ten-year anniversary of my best friend’s death and he’s the reason why I went in the first place.

My heart, tender, feeling that loss, but not so achy as it’s been in the past, just tender, just there and I know there will be feelings that come up.

And there will be a conversation with him, somewhere in deep playa, out past the Temple where I am sure between the Temple and the mountain range my friend still resides, just a little part of him, I didn’t take all his ashes, but enough, enough to know he’s there and there are many places that I connect with the memory of him and also with the aliveness of him, the way I live my life a reflection of the gusto he went after life with.

I am sure he would be proud of me.

OH.

Hello.

There are the tears.

I knew you were around.

I watched the fog roll in over the top of Twin Peaks from the deck of my friends studio in the Mission and it was the same height and approximate distance from the hospital ICU, General, where my friend spent a week in a coma before the family pulled the plug and harvested his organs for donation.

There is always one strong memory for me, pressing my face against that window, my fevered brow, the hotness of my heart, the tears always on and off, more so off when I was at the hospital–it was only in the privacy of my own room in the dark as I prayed to God on my knees to get me through the experience that I would allow myself to cry–the coolness of the window and the dark, heaviness of the fog rolling in over Twin Peaks.

A blanket of sorrow and felted love thrown over the entirety of the city as though we all grieved the loss of my friend.

So.

Yeah.

I might be a little tired, but I’m not bailing on Burning Man.

Nope.

Sure.

I haven’t gotten a ride together yet, but that will happen and hopefully it won’t be as crazy as the ride up was last time.

I have gotten a couple of nibbles from my post on the ride share board, but nothing solid, it always comes together, I’m not too worried.

It’s more a matter, at this point, of getting a playa bike and finding time in between the comings and goings of my life to do some preparation.

I have people I am responsible to, my own recovery to attend to, and God damn it would be nice to get in a yoga class this weekend, but yeah,  a new playa bike and some sourcing of other items that are always nice to have and I’ll make some time, find some time, create some time, and do a little shopping when I can.

Side bar.

The mom just sent me a message about my work performance and told me that I really was “Mary Poppins sister!”

I’ll take it.

Anyway, this Mary Fucking Poppins, will be riding again under her parasol out on playa again this year and enjoying the hell out of not being a therapist in training, a student, or a nanny.

Just a girl.

Out on her bike.

Riding towards the painted calico mountains with secrets and love to share with an old friend.

“I finally was the ball, Shadrach, you’d be so fucking proud of me.”

No More Tattoos

February 20, 2017

There.

I mean.

I don’t know that I can say no more tattoos, tattoos I think will continue to happen, but.

No more tattoos there.

Specifically on my collar-bone.

Whoooee getting my touch up today was not intolerable, but I had some dread going back in, which is fairly unusual for me in getting work done.

Especially with something so small, but the location and the thinness of the skin over the collar-bone, really was, well not excruciating, but challenging for sure.

I have an idea for a tattoo I’d like to get next year but aside from that I have no other tattoo plans in sight.

In fact.

I was thinking that the one I get next year may be it for a good while.

Then again.

A lady can change her mind.

It’s just that I am not feeling the need for more ink.

Granted.

I’ll probably get to Paris in May and go to Abraxas and want a tattoo.

I do like me a tattoo as a souvenir of my travels.

I have two from Paris and one I got in New York.

The rest of my work has been gotten here in San Francisco.

I have had one primary artist.

Barnaby Williams.

He is currently at Tiger’s Blood in Alameda.

I first went to Barnaby when he was the owner of Mom’s in the Haight.

I had made an appointment to get a dragon tattoo from Barnaby.

I walked into the shop into a huge bear hug from the man and big mournful eyes.

“Hey,” he said quietly, “how ya doin’?”

I teared up.

“I’m ok, but um, I don’t want to do the dragon tattoo anymore,” I said, eyes blurred and starting to sniffle, “I want to get a memorial instead.”

He nodded.

Sat down and drew out the tattoo for me.

Two white French Tulips.

(Shadrach’s favorite flowers)

And the last line of the elegy that Dylan Thomas wrote for his father.

Until I die/He will not leave my side.

It was written in beautiful calligraphic script.

The flowers he outlined and used white ink on, white does not traditionally stick very well, but it seems to have weathered the test of time.

I have had the tattoo for 9.5 years and it still looks bright and fresh.

It was the biggest piece I had gotten up until that point.

The other two were small, a cover up on my left shoulder of my name in flames, a cover up that Barnaby later covered  up with a dragon, classic little known tattoo–the cover up of the cover up.

In the end, so far.

Barnaby has done two dragons on me, both left arm and right arm, and a beautiful pink Jackalope surrounded by French Marguerite daisies, my favorite flowers.

I have had work done as well.

By Ross K. Jones out of Idle Hand on Haight Street.

Although when I got tattooed by Ross he was out of a warehouse space in the SOMA before warehouse spaces in the SOMA were at a premium.

Ross tattooed my first set of stars.

Seven stars for seven years of sobriety.

To this day I can say that Ross has one of the gentlest approaches and best bedside manner of any tattoo artist I have had.

I have one tattoo from a guest Chinese tattoo artist at Abraxas in Paris when I was there last year at Christmas, his name was Bin and we “talked” via Google translator.

He did the Reve (pop a circumflex over the “e” in reve and you get “dream” in French) piece on my chest plate.

Despite the area being a thinner place of skin, he was fast, smooth, efficient, gentle, it was quite a bit less painful than I thought it was going to be.

Barnaby has done one star as well–he did number 10, which was a bit bigger than my other ones and I had him do an homage to Van Gough’s Starry Night painting, but I asked him to use yellow and pink in the tattoo (thereby balancing the pink of the other stars that I had and complementing the sky blue ones I have as well).

Danny Boy Smith, at Let it Bleed on Polk Street, has done two of my stars.

Number 11, which I had him do as a black star to homage David Bowie’s passing last year and also my 11th year in recovery.

And.

This current new star, star number 12.

Which is a soft pastel blue with black outline.

I like my tattoos.

They tell me a story.

They are beautiful art pieces.

I am connected to each in memorable ways and each has meaning to me.

They needn’t tell anyone’s story but my own.

I often forget I have them and will be startled occasionally when someone references them.

In Paris it was challenging, albeit not so much the last time I was there since it was winter, when I have shown off a lot of tattoos.

There are plenty of shops and plenty of people with tattoos in Paris, it’s become quite a bit more acceptable, but I have gotten some stares, tell you what.

Especially at the swimming pool or just walking the streets or going through the Metro stations.

I forget about them too, living in San Francisco.

It seems like everyone has one.

But some, well, some are better than others and I can tell the jail tats from the gang tats from the home-made gun tats and the sleeves of suddenly wealthy dot-com kids who made it big in the 90s to the hipster tattoos and throw back retro vintage Sailor Jerry tattoo art that is so popular today with the Millennials.

I was getting tattooed and pierced long before it was popular.

I don’t care about the time line on it, it’s just an observation.

I am grateful though, that I have had such great artists in my tattoo history.

I am proud of my ink.

Sometimes it is a mask to hide behind.

Sometimes it is a shield.

You cannot hurt me I have done the hurting already.

Sometimes it is art.

It is beauty.

The narrative of my recovery and the sheltering sky storms brewed up in my psyche.

Just another indelible way I wear my heart on my sleeve.

I’m serious.

Courtesy of Mat Moreno out of Three Kings Tattoo in Brooklyn.

I have a heart tattoo with cherry blossoms on my left inner arm.

Heh.

 

 

Topsy Turvy

July 31, 2016

I had a very crazy up and down day.

Although not much happened.

Just some crazy in my head due to some crazy time online.

Oof.

I am getting certification renewed through the American Red Cross for CPR/First Aid Adult, Children/Infants, and they don’t teach the class quite like they used to.

Part of the course is online and part is in the class room.

I had a lot of moments today when I really wished it was still all classroom time, despite not like spending four and a half hours at the Red Cross, it would have been faster than what I dealt with today.

The online course wasn’t difficult, but it was super time consuming and I’ve taken the course a number of times, this is either four or five, I get renewed every two to three years depending on how they are running the certification.

Anyway.

It took nearly four hours online.

Four hours online for me is crazy pants.

And I felt sucked out when I was done with it.

Not so much that the material was difficult, I mean, it’s a little bit like memorization, and it comes back, it’s just that the program took a long time to get through all the simulations.

It’s also weird to do it online.

I mean.

I’m not going to save anyone’s life by clicking down on the mouse pad to do CPR.

I think it’s a way for the organization to save time and or money and resources on teachers for the classes, but something is really lost in the translation.

And.

I still have to go to the Red Cross downtown tomorrow and finish up with a skills test.

Another two hours.

Sigh.

Ah well, it’s done after that and then I’ll be certified again.

This certification may be the last that I have to get, they last three years and I have high hopes to not be nannying in three years.

Although, it’s hard to tell, I’m not quite sure that I’ll be able to sustain cost of living in San Francisco on intern salary, I mean, I probably won’t but, ah, I get ahead of myself.

Which sometimes, all the time, happens.

Then again, sometimes I need to get a head of myself.

I realized that I am off to the school retreat a week from tomorrow and I have um, ha, not looked at all at the syllabus for the classes.

Oops.

Fuck me.

I was talking with a classmate tonight at a birthday party and realized that there was a book that I needed for one of the classes.

Shit.

I got home tonight after doing the deal and ordered it online right away.

Fingers crossed it will get to me before the retreat.

I hope to get it by mid-week and have time to read it before I head out to the retreat.

I read fast, thankfully, and this up coming week I’ll have a little bit of extra time off from work.

Although that time is quickly filling, I still have space for hanging out, doing the deal, going to the MOMA, which day, not quite sure yet, and coffee with folks here and there.

And yoga.

As much as I can get as once this week is up, it will be crazy town for Carmen.

But.

I am sort of into it.

Busy can be fun and it certainly makes the time go by quickly.

I do want to make sure that I am also enjoying quality time and friends and dating and all that jazz too.

A great big, balanced, full life.

It’s rather nice.

Life is rather nice.

Being alive that is.

Sometimes, just that, I remind myself is so very much.

But as I have been reminded so much this last week, sometimes life is fleeting.

And I must grab it and love it and hold on and run with it and be wild and free for I don’t know how much I have and it goes so fast.

I got a text message today that the podcast went up and it happens to be the anniversary of my best friend’s death nine years ago today and so much of what was brought up for me was regarding his influence on me and my life, especially when I was in early recovery.

All the things we confided in each other, all the phone calls and coffees and hanging out and going to do the deal and smoking when we both smoked, and not when we both quit, and that one time he got crazy with the kombucha, and the times he gave me shit, always in the most loving way, and the first time and only time we had a great big fight, because I was being too sensitive about something, and how he made up to me.

And.

Well.

So much.

But mostly that he believed in me and saw the best in me and he always thought I was going to be able to do anything and everything.

And.

How much he saw the things in me that I could not see for myself.

Especially how he saw the faith that I had in the moving forward, in the being taken care of, that I believed let him believe and vice versa.

He was and is still.

A gift.

So it was with great pleasure that I received that text today.

It’s his anniversary, what better way to say I love you then to share myself, my heart, my experience.

It’s not always pretty.

It certainly is not always tidy.

And.

Man.

Do I fall flat on my face sometimes.

But rather that then rolling over, not trying, not giving it my best shot.

I just get up and try again, maybe with a few tears, but I get up.

And now.

Listening to jazzy French music and thinking of white French tulips.

Thank you Shadrach.

I love you.

Oh.

And here.

If you’re interested, the link to The Creative High podcast that I was honored to be a part of.

There’s some back story and a poem at the end.

Enjoy.

And live.

Really live.

Don’t let your heart knock and not answer.

Tell him you love him.

Because you never know if you will see him again.

Sometimes the best things happen when we least expect, the things that fall out of my mouth when I stop guarding my heart.

“Shadrach,” I said, bashful and hot and a tremble with the terrible joy I felt seeing him (he was glowing, a flame, a fire, under the white harsh light of the church basement’s florescent lights–I could blame it on the running outside getting ready for the San Francisco marathon he fell one week short of running, or rather that he was just full of light, I think that more so than the former), “I just have to tell you that if I never see you again how very beautiful you are right now, I love you.”

He hugged me.

I still feel his arms around my shoulders.

And his imprint of love is still smashed on my heart.

Tell them you love them.

Oh.

Do.

Tell them.

Really.

Do.

Please.

 

 

Your Smile Could Melt Glass

April 12, 2016

He said, “you are so gentle and kind.”

And you, you my friend are high as a kite and married.

But hey.

Thanks, I do appreciate the compliment and I wished him a good night and I left Java Beach and came home and wrote a really big letter to my program director.

Because, you see, I had my heart a bit broken today and I am sure there are some of you that are going to roll your eyes, but fuck you and go read another blog.

I was at work today and granted, I was cranky, the reason I was there was to let in the housekeeper and she was an hour late.

Dudes.

I had to make some phone calls.

I got right with God.

And by the time she showed up I was happy and serene and getting myself settled in to do some homework, write that paper I have due for Madame Mildred Dubitzky.

Except it felt tremulous and awkward and my mind was too full from all the material we covered over the weekend.

So.

Some review reading and the process of knowing that often I sit down and don’t know what I am going to write and then I write the paper.

While in the midst of this I was poking around the academics page on my school site and then I saw it.

The dates for the fall semester.

Wait.

What?

Fuck.

NO!

No.

No.

Fuck me.

The first weekend of classes is Labor Day Weekend.

September, 4-6th.

What the fuck.

I’m at Burning Man.

I stared incredulous at the screen, Labor Day weekend, why would they do that?  The school didn’t last year and I made my plans last year knowing that.

I made the assumption, I know, I know, that it was going to be the same kind of schedule.

And yeah.

It was going to be tough and it was going to be wonky and I might lose some sleep, but I was going to go, I got a job, I got a ticket, I got a purpose.

And it’s my tenth year.

And though I don’t want to dwell on it because I will start crying again.

It’s the 10th year anniversary of Shadrach’s death and he was the reason I went in the first place.

I took his ashes, not all of them, but enough, a whisper, a soft remonstrance of a kiss on my forehead, prayers for happiness in the ether, the never ending spiral out of love that I know he swims in, that his joy and smile and love are still with me.

And.

Oh.

Fuck.

Ten years is a long time and a lot has happened and I have grown and it still hurts and I still miss him and I always, always, have a moment, just for him, just for me out in the deep playa and I will really miss it.

I was too upset to keep working on my paper.

I called my person.

I was told to contact the school.

I scoffed, I said I was going to accept it.

(Roll over)

I also said I was going to pray and just focus on today and doing the things I needed to do.

I called another one of my people and sobbed.

He told me to take a good, brisk walk, like big, and move.

I did that.

I told the housekeeper I was going out to run errands and I just strode like a woman on fire through the Mission.

I walked into a nail salon and got my nails done.

Black.

My mood was a little dark.

I took myself out to lunch afterwards and didn’t get on the phone, but I knew I was going to have to tell the family I had contracted to work for.

It was only going to be the right thing to do.

My heart hurt and I was still too tender to do that.

I got back to the house and made a cup of tea and the housekeeper was almost done.

She wrapped up, I took care of securing the house and I hopped on my scooter and headed to the Sunset.

First the Inner then, the Outer.

Pit stop at Dr. Kurtzbay to pick up my new progressives–re-lensed my green frames–and found a pair of sunglass frames I liked to get a prescription set.

Then from the 7th and Irving to 46th and Judah.

I dropped off my laptop and hopped back on the scooter.

I felt at a loss with what to do with myself.

I did some grocery shopping at SafeWay.

Then came home, put groceries away, looked at my homework and shelved it.

I just couldn’t do it.

I read for a while, non-school material, more of The Widow of One Year, by the fabulous John Irving.

Then I sat and meditated for awhile in the back yard, getting some sun on my face.

And after that.

Ha.

I took a nap.

I was so zapped.

I thought I slept a half hour.

I slept an hour and a half!

I made some dinner, and frankly, well, I couldn’t cook.

I knew I had to call the family I was supposed to work for.

I did.

Barely able to do it without breaking my voice.

Then I went and did the deal and I was of service and did my commitment and helped out a new lady and went to fellowship and after I shared with a woman who graduated from CIIS this past December.

“Oh CIIS empties out at Burning Man, you should see if they can change that, really contact someone,” she said while I listened.

A friend of mine in the cohort mentioned the same thing.

But aren’t I asking for the entire cohort to kowtow to my schedule?

Then I thought.

Fuck it.

Just take the action.

So.

I did.

Hey D_____-

I don’t believe we have ever met, but I am in the ICPW 2015 cohort, happy to be heading into my last month of my first year.  A little overwhelmed too!  But, over all super excited and grateful to be on the path.
That being said I was heartbroken to see that the first weekend of the ICPW 2016 fall semester is Labor Day weekend.  I work at Burning Man and was planning my travel there around school, and my assumption, my wrong, I know, that the dates would be similar for the first weekend of the second year–that is after Burning Man.
I know it’s an odd request, but it is a spiritual experience for me, part of my practice, my ten year anniversary of going as well as my best friends ten year anniversary of his death–I took his ashes to Temple my first year, and I have gone back every year since, holding many positions of service in the community.
I am sure that I am not the only student at CIIS that attends Burning Man and I am aware that there is a least one other in my cohort who was planning on going and has purchased tickets.
If there is any leeway, flexibility or other options for that weekend I would greatly appreciate your thoughts.  I am bereft.  I do understand if there is no recourse, I will forfeit my going to the event for my schooling, I have already notified my employers to look for another–however my position is extremely challenging to fill.  If, again, there is anything I can do, please let me know.
If not, I hope that for the future that the department may consider those of us who go to the event for their spiritual practice.  I have been sober 11 years and am also of service in the recovery community there.  In fact, if it hadn’t been for an experience at Burning Man two burns ago, I wouldn’t even be at CIIS–feel free to see my application essay, it’s all spelled out there.
Thank you again for your service as Program Coordinator, your efforts are noticed, if not always acknowledge directly.
Sincerely yours,
Carmen Martines
I have no idea what comes next.
But I tried.
I made an effort.
And for that I am grateful.
Fingers crossed.

Kickin’ It Into Gear

April 9, 2014

Fourth gear that is.

Yes, I got the scooter up to 40 mph.

Vroom, vroom indeed.

I also learned how to put gas into the tank today.

Guess how much it cost to fill her up?

$4.02.

Bwhahahahahahahaha.

Giggle.

Granted the tank was about a third full, so it will cost more to fill her up if the tank is empty.

But guess how much it gets per gallon?

Somewhere between 100-109 miles per gallon.

Dude.

Then there was this other thing that happened with it today.

I got my insurance taken care of.

I was referred to an agent by a friend who rides a scooter–also a Vespa–and I got the quote and a good driver discount from the agent of $154.36 for six months.

Six.

I am full on insured, licenced, registered and ready to rock and roll.

I still need loads of practice.

I still killed it once tonight.

But I am getting better.

I have to work on getting used to the brake on the right side of the scooter, which is on the floor of the Vespa and keep my foot more connected with it.

It’s not really comfortable to ride it that way, but I have to learn to let my foot hover over it.  I end up being a bit cramped up and sitting a little further back on the seat than I would like.

I was riding along really well, but my friend noticed that I was not engaging my rear brake fast enough.  So we pulled over by the DeYoung, how awesome to learn how to ride a scooter then by zipping around Golden Gate Park, and he showed me how to hover my foot over the brake more.

I got nervous about it and lost a little bit of the flow of the ride, but I will just keep practicing.

Practice, they say, makes perfect.

I practiced grinning a lot.

I am also going to go out again this week, Friday, with an old friend from back home who’s going to ride along with me on his Honda.

It really is exciting.

It is scary too.

Learning new stuff, not getting killed by large motor vehicles, or by flocks of bicycle racers whipping through Golden Gate Park in large groups doing training rides.

The cyclists were not gentle hearted riders training for the AidsLifeCycle Ride, no, they were serious cyclists, kitted out and riding hard, easily going 20-25 mph through the park.

I had to let them pass me at one point, I did not want to be in the midst of that.

I also crossed my first major intersection with lights.

“We’re going through,” my friend hollered at me, “you ready?”

“No!”

I said and went anyway.

Yeehaw.

God, though, the park, so pretty, even with the thick fingers of fog filing in through the trees.  It really is such a gorgeous spot and I do feel incredible getting to learn in it, not too much traffic, rolling hills, riding past the bison in the paddock, the trees and flowers and the lakes, so much beauty.

Then dropped down to La Playa and there’s the ocean.

It was amazing to pull back into my block and see myself get off the scooter, secure it, tuck away my gloves, lock my helmet to the seat and take a big, deep breath, as well as pocket a SFSG flyer.

What’s that?

San Francisco Scooter Girls.

That’s right.

My friend gave me their flyer.

They are having a 10 year anniversary party on May 10th at the San Francisco Motorcycle Club on Folsom Street–right where I took my motorcycle safety class room portion of the course–I might just have to go.

I typically have a commitment on Saturday nights, but maybe I will ride down from Noe Valley and peep into the club and meet some new folks.

I would love to be a part of the organization.

They provide support for women learning how to ride as well as organizing socials and rides.

How much freaking fun would that be?

Ride out with a bunch of girls and terrorize the mean streets of San Francisco.

I am in.

The party is a few weeks out and fingers crossed, I will be up to riding cross town by that point.

I am going to keep practicing in my hood and eventually, not this week, but maybe once next week, I think I am going to try riding into my job in Cole Valley.

I don’t think that I will be quite ready to tackle the job in the NOPA–lots of morning commute traffic–or the job in the Castro–huge hills.

But sooner rather than later, I will.

It’s just a matter of time and I don’t think it’s going to be nearly as long as my brain tells me it will.

There are also a few supplies I want to get for the scooter–some gloves, plastic mechanic’s gloves, to keep in the little side compartment, so when I fill up the tank I am not getting gas on my hands.  I have to pay attention to pumping it in, as well as needing to mix a little two-stroke motorcycle oil in with the gas when I fill the tank.

Then there’s the need for a better placed rear view mirror.

And last, but not least, a net that I can put over the rear seat so that I can haul groceries back on it.

Oh groceries.

I can go over to Rainbow again.

I can get more than a messenger bag full of groceries.

I look forward to this, I do.

I also am just enjoying the ride.

Having fun, being silly.

Yelling at my friend as we turned a corner of road, “Bwack! Bwack!”

Now, to anyone over hearing me, I sound like a lunatic.

But it’s an inside joke that we have had running now for over seven years.

He and I and my friend Shadrach had seen this crazy martial arts movie years back and it was so bad it was good.

I mean, so bad.

The main character at some point or other Shanghai’s a scooter and is riding it like a madman through the streets screaming out “Bwack! Bwack!” as the pedestrians fling themselves to the side of the road.

We all fell out of our seats laughing.

And you couldn’t have told me then where my life would be now, nor that I would have a scooter.

All the little things that add up to today, even when today is not that huge a deal, it was just an hour and a half with my friend cruising around the park.

But it was the culmination of time and teeny tiny baby steps toward getting on the Vespa at all.

The journey has been amazing.

Can’t wait to see where it goes next.

Be the Ball

August 20, 2013

Martines.

He said to me, a twinkle in his eye.

Damn that twinkle.

I was thinking about him today, heck, any time I am out at Burning Man I think about my friend.

Sort of goes with the territory when you bring someone’s ashes out to the Temple.

There is always a bit of him here with me and for that I am grateful and for that my heart breaks again and opens to allow in more love.

More love.

“Be the ball, Carmen,” Shadrach said to me, “not the dog, be the ball.”

“What the fuck are you talking about Shad?” I asked him, “I am not a dog!”

“No, you’re not, and me and all the gay boys are wondering when the straight guys are going to notice that you have gotten really fucking hot,” he smiled and poked me.

“You do not!” I howled, “tell me more.”

I mean, come on a girl always wants to hear that she is hot.

Probably every one on earth wants to hear that.

“Me and some of the guys were fellowshipping and someone mentioned how good you’ve been looking and why you were still on the market and somebody better get on that,” Shadrach said and reached for the latte in front of him, taking a slow sip to savor the story and tease it out a little longer.

“Stop it.” I said, but he knew I wanted to know more.

“But, Martines, you got to stop the chasing,” he concluded.  “You chase the wrong guys.”

I stopped wanting to hear any more.

“Shut up,” I said with just enough edge in my voice to let us both know he had touched a nerve.

But you know, even then, even now in hindsight, I knew, you know when you need to hear it from a friend what you are doing that is idiotic and doesn’t work and you keep doing it anyway and then you keep getting the same diabolically inadequate response.

And you want to change, and you love your friend, even though you just punched him in the arm, you got to listen to what he has to say.

“Ok,” I said, “what do I have to do?”

“Sit still, be the ball, let the dog come to you,” Shadrach said, “stop chasing, let yourself be chased.”

Maybe a few tears welled up, how did he see that so clearly and I couldn’t see it?

Maybe that is just how I am remembering it as I went and did some chasing last night and inadvertently a little today, although I was really aware of it today.

The tears welling up part, that is, I don’t think I cried when Shadrach told me that, in fact, I know I didn’t, I was rather fascinated by what he was saying and it was kind of novel.

This idea.

Sit still and let them come to you.

I have spent the last year running away, moving, going to Paris, running, running, running, and always chasing some illusive thing never letting myself sit still long enough to be known.

I was walking across the playa looking at the sky and I heard his voice, “be the ball, Martines, be the ball.”

I just about fell over.

I had forgotten that conversation, had not thought of the conversation, since, well, since we had it, and maybe a day or a week or two past that, but after that, nope, in the vault.

It literally came out of the blue.

I did not stop walking, I had a baby to take care of that I was heading towards, but I slowed just a bit to think that through.

I do chase.

I also know that I tend to chase after, wait for it, I know this is going to shock you, unavailable men.

I also come out to Burning Man every year with some expectations about meeting “him”.  Then I promptly chase “him” all around the playa.

I am so busy focusing on “him” that I don’t notice anything or anyone else.

And guess what?

Oh you already know.

He’s not interested.

“Ok, I hear you, Shad,” I said out loud, “I will sit still I will be the ball.”

Man, this is hard.

I have been programmed to chase after what I cannot have, it leaves me in an emotional state of deprivation that hollows me out and causes unneeded distress.

I am all that and a cup of broccoli cheese soup.

I am.

I don’t know where the soup reference came from, I should have said sparkler or something far more romantic, but you know, a good cup of soup can be pretty fucking awesome.

And I am awesome.

So, I hear you.

I do.

I may chase a little, it’s a hard habit to break, but I know when I do I will not feel right, and as my skin is so light here, the emotions so full and here and present, I cannot ignore them for long.

Not for long at all.

Tonight when I saw what I was doing I deliberately moved chairs and sat next to my girlfriend.  I held her hand and watched the stars swirl across the sky and lights magically float across the horizon of the playa where a troupe of people on bicycles were pedalling around the perimeter.

I was there for my friend and not for a guy and that feels better any how.

And I am here not to find a man, I am here to be of service.

The Universe has got it all planned out anyway.

I just need to be still to accept the gift.

No more forwarding mail addresses here.

I am at 8:45 & C.

Feel free to drop by, have a cup of tea and I will give you a hand massage and recite a poem for you.

I look forward to meeting you.

I am the ball.

There She Is!

April 25, 2013

He said to me, and busked both my cheeks.

“I thought you had already gone,” he said and pulled back to look at me with big brown eyes and a wry smile.

“Not yet,” I smiled back, “soon.”

I will miss this kissing of cheeks, somehow more sweet and familiar than just a hug, although I still do give a great hug.

There is an intimacy in the cheek busk, a letting in of a person to your vulnerable self, a letting down of guard.

At least for me.

I will miss much about Paris, the wonderful new friends, the robin’s egg blue brushed sky with the pillows of clouds, when it is sunny, which it was today.

Rain forecast for tomorrow and for the weekend, cooling back off, this false come hither, go yon Spring, turning fickle once more and chill.

I will not however, miss the crowds.

Tourist season is in full swing and I was in amongst it a few times today.  Down in the 4th–the Latin Quarter–a quick nip into the Marais, and a walk about the Seine through the bookseller stalls.  I had come into town from Vitry-Sur-Seine to wrap up some things at the house before I head out to Chambourcy for the weekend to housesit and walk Rusty the dog.

Or course it will be raining.

Oh well, at least it shouldn’t be snowing, like it did over Easter weekend.

A rainy walk through the woods is not necessarily a bad thing and the trees should be blooming and the grass will be green and the flowers will be pushing their bright faces out at me.

I was thinking of the white French tulips I saw today on the edge of the Marais in a small, hidden courtyard–the soft fluted petals flared out nodding heavy on the waxy green stems, the breeze rifled through and I felt his kiss on my forehead and knew he was with me in that moment.

I was thinking of Shadrach.

I was thinking he would be proud of me.

I breathed in the air and the sun and the warmth that ricocheted off the walls of the church in front of me and I said thank you to the Universe, to love, to being taken care of, to the host of people he introduced me to.

I looked at the tattoo I have on my arm in commemoration of him, “until I die, he will not leave my side,” the last line of the eulogy Dylan Thomas wrote for his father, underscored with sky blue ink and curled around the green stems of two white French tulips, and I compared the tulips to the flowers in front of me.

They were one and the same.

I never actually thought I would be in Paris looking at white French tulips and have my entire last 8 years flash before my eyes and the wash of gratitude that flushed over me was almost more than I could bear.  “Not yet,” I am not ready yet,” I remember thinking this once when another such feeling came over me, there is still too much for me to experience and to have, to learn, and to grow.

“You’re not going to relapse,” he said to me, “please, Martines, you are going to be around a long time to annoy the hell out of people who don’t have the kind of faith you have.”

“Shut up!” I said, despondent and annoyed, I wanted to have my pity party and he was not having any of it.

“Your faith,” he paused and looked at me over the top rim of his glasses, usually a twinkle, a sassy mischievous kind of glance, this time tempered with something akin to wonder, “frankly, lady, it scares me sometimes, you walk this razor’s edge of trust and you just keep going, it’s a little intimidating to the average bear.”

I pushed him, put I was pleased.

I do have a kind of faith, in showing up, mostly, that I still find to be a kind of miracle.

I showed up today, despite not wanting to leave the house.

Yes, the day was sunny and warm and bright and I could feel the call of the outdoors, but leaving would mean saying good-bye, to Paris, to people who I have just begun to get to know.  There is no begrudging ego in the way either, which is a relief, just that sad well of feelings that I will miss some of these faces I have just begun to know.  And there is the preparing to leave part that is always a little anxiety inducing.

They say, who they is, fuck if I know, but it feels right, that moving is the most stressful thing that a person can do.

I must handle stress damn well as I move a lot.

I would like to not actually have this stress for a bit.

I am, however, good at getting my shit together and bundling up the stray ends.

When I got over to 36 Rue Bellefond today, yes I managed to get my bottom out of Vitry-sur-Seine, onto the RER C train, transferring to Metro 10 at Gare d’Austerlitz, then again at Jussieu onto Line 7, I was only going to pop in and gather a few things that I needed to return to folks.  I thought I would sit down for a minute, have a cup of tea, heat up some lunch, and then be on my way.

But as I started to move about the house I realized that I could just pack it all up.

So, I did.

The only thing really left to do is break down my bike and put it in the bike box.

I was able to sort through my things, throwing out two pieces of clothing that had gotten shredded with frequent wear, an old pair of socks, and a few bits and pieces of collage art I had put up on the wall.

I put aside the outfit I will wear to the airport and I packed my suitcase full.  My life, once again, reduced down to a roll on suitcase and a messenger bag.

My life expanding into the ever-increasing cosmos of love.

I walked the streets of Paris today and took photographs and meandered in and out of shops on Ile Saint Louis, then over toward the Marais, where I saw the tulips, and then onto Hotel de Ville, where I saw the Couture Exhibit.  It was empty, everyone was outside enjoying the weather.  I looked at the gowns and the designers and I got fevered with fashion, I saw a Rochas from 1938 that made me swoon.

I went back out into the light and headed to the Metro, navigating my way through Chatelet and Les Halles without much thought, I knew where I was going and I circumnavigated the clumps of tourists peering at maps with stern scared looks on their faces.

I am not an old pro at Paris, but I know the city enough to get about, and as I strolled up the Champs Elysees and headed toward Rue Vacquerie, I remembered how overwhelmed I was when I first landed here and how scared I was.

Today, the fear, nibbled on my collarbones and tried to get me to stay put, but I have always learned that the majority of the work is to just show up.

Show up I did.

One more day in Paris.

Six Degrees of Shadrach

July 27, 2012

I really did not want to write about this tonight.

Sometimes I get frustrated with myself and think that I should be further along in the process.  Forgetting completely that the process is not linear and that it is a process.

I got a call from a very dear, very close, very loved friend last night right before doing my Wednesday night deal.

Her father committed suicide last night.

Baby, I am so sorry, I am so sorry for your loss, for your heartbreak, I just wanted to smother you and hold you and hug you and all I could do was say let me help, let me hold your hand, let me be there for you.

So, I am.

I am getting to be of service.

I will be house sitting for her and her husband while they travel toward the family and do what families do at times like this, gather, like wild geese at midnight, soughing with their cries of pain through the whistling midnight air high above the earth.

They got on an airplane this evening at 10 p.m. and headed to the East Coast.

I got done with work tonight, muffled, my heart aching for them, and rode my bike home.  I had an assignment to do, some sitting that had to be done.

Challenging at first to sit, to be still to let myself get into the rocking chair by the window and ignore the texts and the calls and the Facecrack updates and just be.

I pulled the book down from the shelf and looked over the first five proposals.  Had I left anything out, had I shared all that I had to share?  Was I setting my foundation with mortar or sand.

I left it all out on the kitchen counter in Noe Valley with Carolyn, my trusted advisor, and then went to work.  I did not have the time to take the hour before work.  I went in, told my GM I was taking a long lunch off site and when one o’clock rolled around I punched out and got in my friend’s car and drove with him up to the Castro.

My darling sweet girl, sitting in piles of photographs, packing, sifting, red tear-stained face, aching heart, oh, love, I feel your loss.

I got the keys to the house, the instructions on how to feed the fish, where to take the recycling, how to separate out the kitten from the big adult cat.  I got to hug my friend, I wish I could have just hugged her a little longer,  a little stronger, a little harder.

But I left her knowing that her house and her babies, because your kitties and your fish are your babies, don’t let any one tell you different, were going to be ok.

I will be up in the Castro for the next three weeks until they have taken care of all that has to be taken care of.

I pray that she remembers to take care of herself.

She is very much in my heart right now.

Very much.

I got a lift back down to the bike shop and frankly, I just quietly did my job.  I put a smile on my face and a polite wall up.  I just did not have a whole lot to give.  I did what I had to do and left right on the nose at seven p.m.

I rode home with the chill fog whirling around me.

I associate fog with death.

Five years ago when it would get to overwhelming at General I would walk to the window on the third floor of the ICU and I would watch the fog swirl down over Twin Peaks.

Shadrach lay quietly, a cathedral of love, in the locked doors behind me to the left.  I would turn off my phone and press my face against the window and feel that cold fog pressing over the hill and onto the hot red pain of tears streaking down my face and I would just try to breathe.

And here I am again.

Losing myself in the hollowed out hills of pain.

I have learned an awful lot about love since that time and loss.  Loss by the way is not loss, but an opportunity to make space for more love.

If I could just catch my breath.

If I could just sit.

Sometimes I would slide down onto the floor of the hospital corridor and lean into that window and if I had remembered to turn off the phone and there was a lull in the visiting hours I would have moments of serenity.

I did not know that was what it was.

It was either that or shock.

I was hollowed out.

I met Shannon on the AIDS ride training three years ago.  I did the AIDS ride for Shadrach.  She and I bonded, became friends, and now here I am taking care of the epicenter of her life while she goes to bury her father.

I met Jefferson at the Decompression party that Shadrach threw at his loft in the Dog Patch.  Jefferson was my wing man, my steady right hand, the arms I collapsed into when I could not hold the grief any longer.  Jefferson took me to Burning Man.  Jefferson is prodded me into doing the AIDS ride, where I met Shannon and her soon to be husband Alex.

Jefferson is now my boss and still my good friend.

I rode my bicycle past the gorgeous Annie, who I met five years ago, sitting behind me, in a dingy room in the Mission, weeping my eyes out over my friend laying in state.  She went to Burning Man, grew up, went back to school graduated, moved in with her boyfriend and only gets more lovely with time.

It really felt like that, he was lying in state.  He was with us for a week before they harvested him and spread his joy over the world.

David Allen.

John Ater.

ACK.

Shadrach introduced me to John Ater one dark and wonderous night at the corner of Castro and Market.

John Ater for whom I cannot ever express my love and gratitude enough for.  This gentle bear of a man who held me and let me sob on his shoulder, who took my abuse, and wiped away my tears, sometimes with a roll of paper towels.  Sometimes with the sleeve of his shirt.

John who taught me how the fuck to grow up and own my dreams.

John who gave me something I get to pass onto others–the gift of being loved and lovable and worthy of love.

Shadrach you gift giver you.

I sat for an hour.

Tears drifted down my face like the soft heart of sea salt fog and now the fog is not a death, but a balm, a separating and a love, a soothing embrace.

I recall a ride I took recently, we rushed over the hills up into Noe Valley and the fog, dense, wet, heavy, drifted in drowsy with sea salt and the pull of the moon high hiding behind the masses of clouds and vapor.

I was overwhelmed by the near invisibility and the fast rush of the cycle as it climbed the hills.  My heart in my mouth, I just closed my eyes and held on.  I was carried where I was supposed to go.

Church and Market.

And Elizabeth said to me, “Go write down those things that are easy for you to see the go(o)d in.”

My cat Uni purring

Fresh flowers in a mason jar

The smell of verbena

Clean sheets

My rocking chair (same chair I sat in tonight)

The smell of wood burning

Dancing

A really hot shower

Coffee

Hummingbirds when they are perched

Salt

The drive to Sky High Orchard through Devil’s Lake State Park.

The fog rolling over Twin Peaks minutes after sunset

Ice cubes

Cold water when I am thirsty

The way grass feels on my bare feet

The giraffe that winked at me at the Decompression party

The way Madeleine’s arms felt when she was five, heavy, sweet, wet from the pool, the whisper of her voice as she kissed my ear and said, “I love you.”

The sunset from the rock of Gibraltar when I was five

The low-lying mist burning off over the cornfields in the morning

Sitting by myself in the dark looking at the lights on the Christmas tree and that feeling that always comes over me

Finding shells on the black sand beach when I was four

Reading Watership Down for the first time

Arthur as a boy in T.H. White’s the Once and Future King

Lizz’s hugs

Singing to Storm when she was a baby

Talking with Alex on the phone

Not recognizing myself in the mirror.

Having dreams and knowing that as long as I stay sober I will be graced with love.

Shadrach kissing my forehead at Room to Grow and making me laugh

Last line of the first list, 10/21/05

Shannon I love you.  Shadrach I love you for all the amazing people who are in my life because of you–Wendy, Fred, Paine, David Allen, John Ater, Bradley Merle Smith, Tom Jarman, Matthew, Jayne, Jefferson, Claudia, Barnaby (thank you, I still get amazing compliments on my memorial tattoo), Grecia, Scott Hirsch, Robert Cameron, Mark Henry, Tricia, Jackie, Calvin, Kevin, Zefrey, Megan Miller, my God the list is so long and I can’t remember it all.

I just feel you all.  I feel you in the whisper of fog and the kiss of moisture on my forehead and I open my heart and thank God from the bottom of it for getting to know him better.

I have an arch way, a solid rising ring of love to walk beneath.  My mortar is set, my heart beating fresh alive, outside my rib cage burning with the divine and the salt of pain and loss which invigorates me and fills me up, renders me whole, despite feeling split asunder.

Thanking God from the bottom of my heart that I get to know him better.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Thank you.

 


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