Saturday, September 25, 2010
In the Spirit of Susan- on the Street Where I Live
So she says, "I need to tell you about last week when I had both a butterfly and a dragonfly on my finger in the same day. They were both trapped in my house at different points, and I freed them.
I need to tell you about dreaming of a sugarlaced lemon tree so glorious that gazing up into it was like eating the sun."
Yes, yes, yes- tell me about these things. I need to know. I can't stand the ordinary anymore. I can't stand my life anymore. Write. You write. Come back. Sensual, delightful Susan. I'm listening. Go on...
"I need to tell you about the lessons bats have been trying to teach me about surrender and rebirth, about echolocation, in which bats navigate in the dark by using their voices to create sounds that reverberate off objects - the ability to see with the ears, to hear with the voice. Because by telling you, I have a greater chance of really learning the lessons, internalizing and integrating them. I too hear with my voice. I learn by teaching."
Susan concludes- "And now, just by writing all this, I feel lighter, happier, inspired, free. It occurs to me that this post follows a similar structure to some of the biblical psalms that start out with a lament and end with praise because by writing the lament the psalmist has seen the joy again.
Now I see that the writing I haven't been doing had hardened around me like ice, that scraps of light left unshared leave me cold, and once that happens, I have to write into the cold to break through it.
The fire must be tended or it dies out. The fire must be fed, and for me that means writing it."
She's very brave. Braver than me. I write about those things practical in nature- or I had, mostly. Business. As usual.
Now that he's gone, I see there's so much I'd stuff. Push down. Not say. Inappropriate. Scandalous. So what? What have I got to lose anymore, exactly? Nothing. That's what.
This is where I live.
The house is old. How old I do not know. Perhaps from the late '40s. Early '50s.
How many Christmases? How many excited parents, brothers, sisters, cousins, lovers have rung the bell here on that day; arms loaded with gifts- and turkey and pumpkin and cinnamon floating sweetly from the kitchen on chill December air? I can not tell.
Deaths. Disappointments. Birthdays. Anniversaries. Love. It all happened right here- sometimes at night I feel their ghosts, and sometimes when I'm standing on the porch in mid afternoon. I think of them. They don't know me, but I know them.
The old woman has lived sixty years here- across the street and two doors down, a tidy red brick home- a pristine grey Crown Victoria- warns me after I say, "Well, I'm not afraid."
"Now honey, you need to be afraid. Don't talk to them. Crack houses you know. Mmm. Yes."
So tells me of her son's orphanage in west Texas, or was it east? "I don't tithe to my church. No. I give my money to the children because I know that that money is going into starving little mouths. Mmmm."
The white picket fence that wraps forlornly around the drive is missing two boards.
I'll fix that. Yeah. Someday I'm going to pick up those two boards and fix that.
The trees form a melancholy arch over the same rock drive when it rains- and when it snows, as it sometimes snows in Texas, looks just like a picture from my book as a child- "The Snow Queen".
Pigeons congregate on the high telephone wires in the backyard- looking down on our affairs here in a rather judgemental fashion if you ask me.
Yeah? Well guess what? I hear in New York City they call you "rats with wings" so what do you think of that?
Yellow jackets built a lively, threatening nest above the door of the detached garage, permanently swung open- glass broken- I didn't do it, it was HIS fault! Why are you always blaming me? God! So defends the indignant nine year old. What are we going to do about the bees? I don't know what to do about the bees. I have enough to worry about without worrying about these damn bees. Wait. Let me worry about the bees.
El Mariachi Terry's Super Macado is the grocery store. What does "macado" mean? Does it mean "stinky"? Because it certainly is. Oddly, I don't mind. The salsa music blasting from invisible stereos strategically placed all over the store make me happy and lift my downcast spirits- I dance in the isles when no one's looking. Sometimes I dance when they are. Afterall, I know how to salsa.
We fight about racial issues.
"Put those ugly ass light up jelly shoes BACK!" she yells at me.
"Why? We are hispanics now, we like this sort of thing."
"Can you go back to your school and tell them that we do not speak spanish in this house, that you are only half hispanic and you don't know a word of it, and not to send letters home written in only Spanish?"
But the school compromises. One side of the marquee is in Spanish, and the other, English. Yet on Friday I only counted three white kids in the cafeteria as I ate with Tito. I don't believe they need to bother, do you?
"So Eliot", she sarcastically says to my Yorkie, "Welcome to the barrio. Your little "prince" dish doesn't fit in here quite so much now, does it?"
The physics mathematician lives catty corner to us in a white frame house, sturdy on it's high concrete foundation. He will give the kids a dollar if they can correctly solve a math problem.
Word is he had a big fight with his girlfriend. Doors lock. She's screaming in her bra and panties. Father comes to collect her in the middle of the night.
He tells me, "I was putting so much time into that relationship, I couldn't get anything else done."
"A broken relationship is better than a broken marriage," I say. He doesn't know I know about the bra and panties.
"Yes! Yes, that's so true! Would you like to get together for a drink?"
I would. But I don't want to be outside in my bra and panties so I'm going to watch myself.
The recycle guy comes by every other week, Mondays, in his big green truck.
Oh no! I've forgotten to put out our container! We have to recycle. Otherwise the regular trash is going to fill up far too fast and breed maggots. Charming.
I rush outside in my genuine diamond tiara.
"As you can clearly see- I am the queen. Could you please back up and collect my bin?"
"Oh, I can see that! Is it your birthday?"
He freezes. He smiles. He doesn't know what to say back.
She's crazy. That's what she is, she's crazy.
Well of course I'm fucking crazy. You would be too if you just had the week I had.
I throw myself down on the kitchen floor, crying inconsolably. I think of Amy Winehouse- i cry for you on the kitchen floor- i told ya i was trouble- you know i'm no good.
Can't eat. Can't sleep. Can't function. Gripping fear. It's gone. It's back.
Take a walk. That's what you need to do.
But damn it!
I run and scream.
The boys down the street in the Mexican gang; colors and tatoos, walk past me.
Obviously I'm trying out maneuver that stupid ass bee, that lives in that stupid ass bush.
"BEE!" I exclaim to them.
(See, the recycle guy thinks I'm crazy but I'd rather you guys not think so.)
"Shit." they say.
"No shit." I say back.
What? I can hang. I've got some swagger of my own, you know. I can out salsa and out merengue and out cha-cha and out samba all of you, so don't try me. I knew who Daddy Yankee was before you did, I'd bet. I might look white but I ain't. Gasolina!
I'm mad at everybody. Them. The bee. At myself for always chosing badly.
The police visit their house with a high degree of frequency because they sniff, I hear, some sort of inhalants that can freeze their lungs. Now I feel sorry for them that I was angry. I feel sorry for them that they are probably going to die because they don't know better. Maybe I should have a talk with them.
I didn't know he was over. I stepped out of the bath into the hallway in my towel. He's there. I'm there. Awkard. The neighbor next door. They let him in. I didn't.
Let me tell you. Sexy. Darling. Buff. We talk about camping and the best sleeping bags- yes I like Coleman- do you? And what can we do about those bees in the backyard?
He lingers. I linger.
Okay. Let me get this straight. So now you want to sleep with neighbor? Can you be anymore cliche?
Besides, I started smoking three weeks ago and that's probably enough damage to close the month out with. Yeah. I know. But he's really cute. He admirably beat a crystal meth addiction- and when I run out of cigarettes I can not go next door to ask, because they guy doesn't smoke! See what a rat you are? He doesn't even smoke and you do.
I tell Alex at the Quick Pak Wine and Beer store that I fully intend to quit on October first.
"Oh? How long you've been smoking?", he inquires in his cute accent.
"Why you start?"
"Stress? I lost mother, father, five family members in an accident. I no smoke."
"Oh my goodness. I'm so sorry to hear that. You're makin' me look bad, Alex."
This remains my favorite. The morning. Black coffee. Back porch. Deep blue autumn sky- light up. Aaaah. That's better. Man. This is great. I love to smoke. It's so enjoyable, I see now why people do it. Leave the president alone. He's running the country for crap sake. If he needs to smoke to think more clearly, than by god let him do it!
I'm in an official minority. I will defend my rights. I will vote against your stupid smoking ban. Well, have you tried it? What do you know?
But I must quit in October like I said I would, or otherwise I will only be a liar. What am I going to tell Alex? He lost his family, you wretch, and he doesn't smoke.
Maybe I'll sleep with the neighbor.