Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Anniversary thwarted

So the anniversary came and went, but my account would not let me log in. Hmm... perhaps a sign?

No, not a sign at all :) My previous home account changed and was delayed. In addition to a nice meal and a bottle of wine, our anniversary generally meant Marcie and I would review the year.

All I have to go on is what she decided to give me in the last months we had. Basically, she foreshadowed a lot of what I have come to understand and live through.So, without further ado, a conversation for Marcie about all the things that she knew and I doubted.

Lessons To Remember:

You told me I was a tough nut to crack, and I believe you now. You meant people would misunderstand me, especially my ferocity and passion. You said I was stronger than most women could or would even try to handle, and I wanted to doubt you.

I see what you mean. I don't fall for simplistic manipulations, and I also don't let them go, but rather call them out. People prefer that others play the game. I promise I won't.

On the other hand, I have been a bit frosty lately. I am trying to soften, to be more open, to be less crystalline and to be accepting of the foolishness people indulge in. I am making progress in that way.

I made a lot of progress with someone who I knew was a tough nut herself. I learned what I could.

I move forward and am finding that the simple calculus you applied... that all people have potential in their minds, lives, and hearts, and in unequal amounts, has validity. I opened a heart. It will blossom. I opened my mind. It will not overcome my heart, though.

That is always what you worried about, that some person would wring me dry and leave me broken. You were right to worry, more to say so, and good to me in that you just offered your wisdom. But I think I know what has value, and I am stronger than that. I recognize my worth.

And if I open a heart or two that was closed, then we'll share that passing joy and sigh in my dreams when you come. On this anniversary, your gentleness and ferocity of spirit reminds me that to all there is a moment, be it glory or comeuppance.

But you remind me that, no matter the injury or the depth of someone's fall, there is redemption in love, and it must always be on offer.

Thank you for yours, my sweet.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Lessons in the Mansion of my Heart-Conclusion?

I woke into the dream and the warmth of her on my lap. She was listening but looking at me often and smiling. I didn't understand the whole thing at all, everything was in broken stutters and rapid clicking and syllables, all running together in bits I could discern then not.

For some reason, I decided to speak, "I don't think I understand," I said. "Could you repeat that more slowly?" I asked, looking at the last person to speak, a man who had a vaguely familiar face.

"The point is that we don't break down all the barriers we build up until we come here, because they don't come with us," he said. "So, we were discussing how barriers are built, and how much easier things are when they never are put in place."

I nodded, and he continued.

"Barriers are protection, and they keep us from feeling vulnerable, even when they are figurative," he said. "But barriers limit us, not just the world around us, so it's more of a weakness to have them than a strength."

Gary cut in at this point and I looked up at him. Marcie squeezed my hand... "Listen..."

"The main discussion is about the stuff outside your house, there, Frank," he said. You build the barrier, you don't just lose the contact with the people you want to lose it with, or the exposure to them, but a lot of other things never some to knock on your door."

I looked out through the weird window and the mountains beyond and saw piles of stone and wood, barbed wire and building materials. a small assemblage of vehicles, tractors and trucks, seemed to be parked close by.

"That would be one big wall, and a lot of barrier to get through or over," Gary said, continuing as I inspected the faraway scene. "We were just talking about how few fences you have, but how much of a maze your world is to navigate as is."

I nodded. I looked into Marcie's eyes, their blue brilliant and glowing a bit, as I was used to now in these dreams.

Marcie whispered, "Honey, if you build it up, you'll never tear it down, and someday it will just be you in a crumbling mansion, with no way to get out from behind it and grow." Somehow, silently, the class disappeared, and she was all that was left, and stroked my nape as she talked to me quietly, melodically.

I looked in her eyes and smiled, bit my lip, "Well, a lot of things keep landing on my doorstep that I don't want because the house is so open."

"You don't have to answer every time, and you don't have to ask people in past the foyer, and you don't have to let the ones you keep into the innermost part of your heart, you just have to keep making room when you need to, and let people wander around and out, if they want." she said.

I nodded and gulped, and she cupped my face, something only she ever really did in all my life. It had been so long since I felt it, I had almost forgotten that special touch. But it was so vibrant, real. I felt hot tears.

"Don't make a fortress out of your mansion, because I love that place the way it is, and so do you," she said. "Just keep it in mind, and keep your heart open. I know you'll get more joy out of being the wild and untamed man you should be than some crazy hermit in a castle."

I looked up and realized she meant more than just my thoughts to be less open, and that some of the other ideas I had in my life may be just as strong for barriers as a hard heart.

"Okay, I will wander but I won't isolate myself," I said. "But sometimes I am going to need to retreat. It's all way too much sometimes, and I am not my best when it is."

She nodded and smiled, "You know where our friends are, and you know who really loves you, so don't retreat, just go love them back a little."

The dream ended with a kiss, and my pillow and face were wet. It was 5:25 AM, so I stayed up and watched the sun rise over Mt. Helix. It was cold in the morning again, but I did not really feel it overmuch. When the ground was lit, I went home.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wonderful Morning

Seamus was too cold to not sleep all night between my legs, which is nice in its own way, and I woke with him mewing and cuddling tight. I remember him laying long between us, stretched out, on his back, paws stuck in the sheets while he kitty-snored, every night from fall to early spring.

I guess those cuddle nights are back!

I fully awoke and lit a candle I had saved for this year, smiled and felt the weight of the last few days slide off me and the great strength and assurance of that great love slide into me.

I don't miss you today, milady. I am grateful for you and the knowledge of who I am in myself and who I was in your eyes. Nothing, I believe, will shake that sense of goodness and approval.

And though nothing is ever unconditional, the conditions were just what we needed to feel that way :)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Remembering it all again

I remember this week two years ago, and it has been weighing on me again. Her shallow breaths, her little hopeful moments and the long periods of pain in between for us both, the visits from harried Hospice workers, all of it.

I do not know why my mind and heart return to that place so strongly and vividly as they do now, but I certainly feel the sadness and sense of being forlorn, punctuated by the little happy seconds of victory.

They were such small ones. Making a little mush of her pills with honey to ward off the bitterness, getting a drop or two of water or soup down her parched throat and seeing her look at me with recognition and love, not fear and confusion.

I remember watching her as the pain would fade after waiting for the morphine to kick in, trying to stay ahead of the agony for her. I remember feeling my own pain subside as her breath evened out.

Every four hours, the alarm would go off and I would administer her medication. Looking wearily at 11pm, 3am, 7am, work time.

I remember Barbara would come in and me reluctantly leaving to try and keep my work in order and rushing back every break to help and check on her, change her linens and diaper, and get back to work. The heaviness of it all that ground me down and made me short with people, all very vivid.

Two years ago today, I wrote "The vigil begins." The gurgling in her chest would turn out to be pneumonia. But we fought on, and if she could not make chitchat, she would at least love me with her eyes.

I miss her eyes now most. Fiery and kind, strong and vulnerable, and in the end pained but hopeful, a study in contrasts. More than a window to her soul, they were a window to my heart for her.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Lessons in The Mansion of my Heart-3

Preface: I have been trying to revisit this for the last week, but it did not return until last night. I stopped thinking about the dream and just slept, doing a little breathing exercise to relax and fall deeply asleep.

However, Marcie did pop into a dream I was having about a hike in Humboldt County.

I was wandering around the forest above Humboldt State with some long-lost Zendik pals and my old dog Spot, which was weird but comforting, and I essentially knew I was dreaming.

Nom said, "Fen, redhead alert!" and I followed his finger, seeing a flash of red hair and some blue disappearing over a hill in a clearing.

We hiked out of the redwoods and over the little rise and Marcie was there, picking a little white gardenia from what looked like a hedge of them.

"Hi, hon," she said. "Try to come home. I am going to put some of these gardenias in bowls of water and put them around the house, then I want to work on the fence."

I nodded and she hugged me, a cool, almost cold kiss on my neck no less nice for the fell of her against me, and she was gone."

"Dude, that was your wife?" Dawna asked.

"Yep, that was her," I said, beaming with pride.

"Well, we're heading up the mountain, maybe you should head home?" she said, and she winked and wiggled a bit.

I blushed in the ears. "Yes, maybe I should."

Spot barked and ran down the hill ahead of me. I chased him then jumped, and soon was floating down towards Arcata.

And I awoke.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A question answered by an older poet

Someone at an Irish bar asked me a few days ago where Marcie's grave was and if I visited. I said, "She visits me!" At her quizzical look, I explained Marcie's cremains were in the house and slowly being spread over the world.

When I see this lass again, which may be far in the future, I will share this poem I found, which itself is Irish:

Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there... I do not sleep.
I am the thousand winds that blow...
I am the diamond glints on snow...
I am the sunlight on ripened grain...
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you waken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of gentle birds in circling flight...
I am the soft star that shines at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry—
I am not there... I did not die...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Lessons in The Mansion of my Heart-2

I watched her sway around and put on her jewelry. She was always so simple in her tastes for it. Here, in the opulence of this place, she still wore simple earrings, with little blue stones hanging from hair-thin but brilliant golden threads.

She smiled at me in the mirror as I watched, then said, "You should get up and get ready, we are meeting some friends on the other side of campus."

I got up and seemed to know where I was going. I stepped into a walk-in closet, modest but well filled with clothes. Everything was white and touched by colors, from vivid blues to intricate patterns in small accents.

I reached into the clothes and a light, silky shirt with a small red looping embroidery seemed to just slide into my hand. I slipped it on, and noted the hanger held a pair of pants and even some boxers.

I slipped it all on. It was light but felt somehow strong. It was all loose enough for comfort but did not make me look big. I smiled at her and caught myself in the mirror. As young as she looked, I felt old.

"There's my handsome man," she said, kissing me on the lips and holding my cheeks with that stroking, gentle touch she always had. She tugged my goatee.

I slipped on some sandals as we headed to the door. Garfield accepted my pat on the head but then curled back up in his little velvet bed.

We walked through the mansion and I realized I was asleep in that strange space with her again. That dream space without dominion, where I could not control everything, but also was not forced to play a part I did not control.

It made me happy. I was with her. She squeezed my hand.

We passed doors with names on them and I smiled at them, felt an ache at others. She stopped and said, "Let's go see someone for a minute,"

"Oh, Francis, look at you," the young woman said as we walked in. "I sure have meissed you, son."

We hugged and I did not know her name, but I felt familiar and safe, and she talked for a while about me and my love for the pool as a child. We had never had a pool, but I had loved swimming.

I was about to ask a question but was interrupted as she took out a book. "Well, you two have someplace to be, and I will be right here whenever you want to visit. We don't take turns around here, you know."

I was almost confused but as we walked out I went to close the door and stopped, looking back in. "Bye, Grandmommy," I said.

"Goodbye, Francis," she said, seeming pleased I had figured it out.

We walked past a few rooms and one made me stop. It was someone special, someone I had cared for. I wondered if her room being there meant she had died. I sighed and Marcie touched my hand as I went to open it.

"She is in there, but you can't see her right now, because she can't see you, okay?"

I nodded. I opened the door and looked around. It was like a teenage girl's typical room, stuffed animals and posters, superimposed over the wood and finery of the house itself. The bed was made, and I felt a chill as I looked at the pictures on the wall.

"Let's go, sweetie," Marcie said, stroking my back.

We left the house through a side door. A clean, cement road with stone or tile lines in it stretched off into impossibly steep and beautiful mountains. I gasped at the deep blue and white clouds. I could see for thousands of miles,

"How far?" I asked.

"We should fly. We don't need to, but I know you like that," she said, kissing my cheek.

We were off. I followed her and she wove graceful, arcing swoops and turns through the strange mountains, which soon gave way to green valleys of trees and grass.

I recognized the campus. The University sprawled below in a some strange mix of antebellum and Greek architecture. Advanced modern touches like glass domes and green roofs with pools if shallow water were throughout.

We landed on a small balcony, and she gripped me in a hug as I floated tentatively down.

"I have one little surprise for you," she said. "Someone you always could learn from."

"Hey, Frank! What's hoppin?" a man said.

I looked into the room beyond. It was an impossibly well-appointed auditorium-style classroom. People I did niot recognize filled the seats. But I knew the man in front of the class.

"Professor Melton?" I asked, guessing his name despite his youthfulness,

"You betcha, man!" he said. "Take a seat! I think you'll enjoy our discussion."

I tried but woke before I made it to the chair.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Lessons in The Mansion of my Heart

So there we were, riding in a bus. We had done this often in our early years, but this was no ordinary commute. We were sitting in luxury, and everyone was chatting about their classes and plans for the week.

"Isn't this awesome?" Marcie asked, smiling and sipping her blue-tinted glass, recently filled with a Cosmo a man with a cart shook for her as her passed.

"It certainly is big, and it certainly seems expensive," I said.

"We already paid for it and it doesn't cost a thing!" she laughed, her victorious chuckle the same as always, the rise at the end making her sound as if she were getting away with something.

I nodded and sipped, and felt the bus slow a bit. It was almost silent, I noted, save for voices and music.

The bus intercom said in a gentle voice, "We have arrived and you may proceed to the exits for disembarkation. Personal belongings left on board will be returned to your domiciles. Greetings from the faculty and staff of the University."

We stepped off the bus onto a perfect blacktop, shaded by trees. People walked everywhere, pretty much dressed in white and with dashes of color. Marcie took my hand and tugged.

A group of people rode by on horseback. "Do you recognize that horse?" she asked excitedly, her mouth open a bit as she cocked her head.

I nodded and smiled. The horse my uncle Charley had at the ranch in La Posta, then raced in Tijuana to some success. People tied off and a light bell rang out.

"Let's go eat!" she said and pulled me along, running. Her hair was almost down to her butt, and was lustrous.

She had never looked healthier, if thinner and more toned, I thought. She was just radiating youth and health, and I basked in it.

She turned and kissed me on the lips. "Oh! That's very sweet of you to think," she said. "But save it for later. We're having the best roast ever."

I sat and soon two tunic-clad servers arrived. One served Marcie yet another Cosmo, putting a glass of water in front of me. The other placed plates of roast and rose potatos, asparagus and tomatoes before us.

I woke as I tried to take a bite. I stared at the plain white walls of my room, gulped and covered my head with a pillow. I was lucky, and soon fell asleep again, straight into the dream.

We were hurrying, "I am so glad you woke up," she said. "You were just out like a light. Get dressed, we have a class in like 10 minutes."

I felt the sense of urgency and dressed quickly, enjoying the slide of some light and smooth material over my shoulders as she put on makeup. A cat jumped in her lap, and I recognized him instantly.

"Garfield, please get down," she said.

He did, and he rubbed against my leg then sat leaning against it. I felt a tear in my eye. I had missed him these last 20 years, save for a fleeting dream of him in my 20s.

I stroked his long, grey tabby-pointed head and listened to his Siamese vocalizations. Marcie touched my shoulder and I looked up.

"Let's take him to class with us," she smiled. "He will be fine."

"Come on, Garfield!" she said and he trotted, then galloped past her as she opened the door.

We held hands again and walked along a richly appointed hallway to a staircase. He yowled from the floor below and chatted us up happily as we approached. The door opened and I began to step out with her but stopped at the message above the door.

"Some people have little cottages for hearts, and they never really have more than one person in them at any time," it read. "Mine is a mansion, and every wing grows with each person I come to love."

"Some people stay in the mansion and share in my celebrations, some wander out and back, and still others drift away forever," I said, remembering this conversation with a friend. "All of them have their own rooms, and some may leave them a mess, but inevitably they all have a place here."

I gulped and Marcie looked up at me, "I put it up a little while ago. I thought it was the best description of this place I would ever hear."

I looked around and realized where I was, looked at the pictures on the wall and a never-ending directory of faces and people, a reservation book of sorts. I looked to her and her gentle smile warmed me more.

"So you live in my heart?" I asked her. "And this is it?"

"This is just a part of it," she said. "And you live in your heart, too. That's why I stay here, and that's why I want to stay here. I want to see what you do with what I helped you build."

I kissed her on the forehead and held her tightly against me, and she stroked my back.

"Are we late?" I asked. "For class, I mean?"

"No," she said. "You're learning right now, and I think class is over for the night."

And before I could protest that it was still daylight, I woke again to the memory of her smell, Angel and cool, cosmopolitan-laced breath.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Almost Home..

So tonight on the way back from my friend Vince's in Phoenix, I nearly died. I hit a big rock in a pile of rubble and went a little on two wheels, steered and fishtailed, then oversteered and did a donut on highway 8, stopping barely in time.

But what happened in my head as it all was going on really is why this is here.

I just remember thinking as the car spun toward the edge of the Tecate Divide, "Oh, man... and I am almost home." One hour left on the road and I was going to fly off and down.

I was calm and everything was in slow motion. I accepted it, even as I tried every trick in the driving book to recover.

"I was almost home, this cannot be happening," I thought.

Then time caught up with perception and the world stopped with my car. I thought maybe I wasn't here any longer for a second, out of my body and looking at the great ravine outside my car window. Then I heard the crickets and the radio.

I was facing the wrong way and had lightly smacked my front driver's side fender against a boulder a bit as I had come to a stop. I looked for lights and slowly pulled around to face the right way.

I felt an urge and parked, then puked into the chasm almost as soon as I rounded my back fender. I stopped retching, the radio in my car static-babbling and the crickets chirping away in the high mountains.

I felt exhilarated and pondered the great mountains I loved all around me. The same mountains Marcie only loved when there was rain and greenness or snow to see. The ones she went to with me, "just because" when there wasn't any of those things to enjoy.

The exhilaration faded. I gulped and gathered my senses and thought of Seamus waiting for his meal. I washed my mouth with some mouthwash and lots of water, then drove down the mountain.

And even though I was thinking on an entirely different level in the rush of the near-accident, all I could think coming down the hill was that I was calm in the face of my assumed sure death not because I wanted to die, or because I was ready.

It was just that whatever happened, I was, at that moment, going to make it home.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

If You Ever Never Love Again

So you said you would never forgive me if I ever never loved again. I have, but not as wholly as I did you. There just wasn't time. But there was time for some joy and laughs and even travel, and some of it was so very satisfying.

I need you to trust me, baby. I am going to get there again someday. But for now, some of the blessings you gave me, I realize (in these times), will just sit like pearls before swine.

I don't know how to do this dance nowadays, because I have never failed to love. I still believe in it, still cultivate it, still love everyone I can. I just don't know if I should leave it all so very plainly on the table.

I appreciated your visit the other night, and you seem to know my unbreakable heart, unflinching loyalty and ever-questing spirit are all intact. But my sense of ethics in regards to them seems to want me to be more free. I hope that's okay with you.

Good night, baby. Come see me while I travel :)

And for you more physically present folks, a new post tomorrow.