I’m going to tell you a story that is special to me, but I’m going to tell it in parts over time. I think like any good story, there is both a linear progression as the character evolves, but also a sense of spiraling, of nonlinear events out of time, of snapshots that defy chronology…These are moments that are imbued with meaning and have emerged through the falling rain of other moments to feel central in my life. At least, that’s how it has felt to me, and that’s how I want to share it with you.
This is the story eventually of when my heart opened up. I’ve told some friends this story, because it’s kind of a part of my personal mythology, but I think I’m going to be sharing some stories that I haven’t told before. Some will be embarrassing for simple reasons, others embarrassing a little for me because they represent a way I used to think, a thought pattern or habit or way of being that I have shed, or am working to shed. But the places we’ve been aren’t always pretty when looked at from that perspective, I couldn’t or wouldn’t change any of it. Some of these stories are simple hurts, like when my grandfather died, or when an important relationship ended, some are moments of freedom, like riding on the back of a motorcycle down from the mountains in Thailand with the rain spitting in my face and an unknown driver who was deaf. My friend Calvin West once called these exploding heart moments, whether they are joyful or sad.
It felt right to begin with the one I wrote when Calvin called for exploding heart moments. I don’t think he ever published them, but I kept mine. If you like this storytelling, please post me your moments and stories too, together we’ll be a tapestry. Here is the first segment, again, in no particular order. 🙂
I wrote this November 18th, 2005 about my birthday a few weeks previous:
mid-way through the west intersection of delaware and walnut st.
My grandfather died in May two days before I came home from school.
Two days before he had gone into the hospital we had spoken on the telephone because my grandmother has, as she always does, wondered aloud what I was doing, and if they could call me, but was talking herself out of it in the way that old people do when they think that they are obsolete, or at least not interesting to any one else other than themselves anymore.
The way she tells me, my grandfather was sitting in his chair, with his Bacardi rum ball cap on, and said, “You always say that, why don’t you call her?” They did, and we talked for awhile, on speakerphone, as usual, because it’s their favorite feature on the telephone and probably their favorite invention in general. All they could talk about was when I was going to be home. And then I went to take a bath in a cold room lit by candles. That was the last time I spoke to him, he was dead about a week and a half later, pneumonia and eventually, heart attack.
In his memory, and in her unending generosity, my grandmother decided that she would pay for me to live by myself while I was doing my last year in school so I wouldn’t have to work. By the way, I have worked since I was 13, so this will be the first time for me to be in school and not working.
SO… I have a beautiful little studio on Walnut street, I have all these amazing friends who are talented and brilliant, I have work to do, I have life to love, I have 23 to be, I have days to walk around the streets, I have laundry to do in a laundromat, I have bottles of wine to drink, I have books to read, baths to take and people to appreciate, men to lavish attention on and vibrators to vibrate. I had been doing laundry and picking up my dry cleaning, and was about half way home when I ran into Bryan, an old friend of mine from San Diego, a person who I have been very close to but who doesn’t keep friends, and who always leaves me feeling a little rejected.
He helps me carry my laundry home, tells me he likes my hair and he likes my apartment, and that he has to go can he have sean’s number okay-gotta-go-see-you later. It is bittersweet, so I leave.
I am off to buy myself a birthday present because god damn it someone has to do it, and I grab my mail on the way out. Oh, how sweet! a birthday card from Grandma, it’s one of those:
And you wonder why we can’t stop bragging about you?
cards, you know one of those cards that grandma’s think are cool and witty.. and then handwritten was
“We love you-Grandma (+Grandpa)”
She always continued to include him. First without parenthesis like she did when he was alive, then gradually with parenthesis, and now only occasionally with his name.
I looked up as I was coming into the crosswalk. There was a breeze, it was starting to sprinkle a little, the clouds were resting on the evergreens on the hills to my left, and I was suddenly filled with it, an overwhelming sense of fear of understanding of resignation of embracing, the sounds of the sun spinning from my first sweat, deep in the pit of stomach, filling my toes, coming out the top of my head-an understanding, like I just reminded myself of my own truth
always have to remind myself of, but it actually comes over you like a chill, your whole body feels…..
and I almost stopped and just watched the clouds on the mountains and listened to the cars and watched the drips on the sidewalk,
but that would have ruined it, fucked it up for sure, I HAD to keep going and not look back. I wanted to keep going. I had to walk back into my life. I needed to go catch the bus and get myself a birthday present. You can’t take it with you or make it last longer, you can’t hold on you have to let go, you just keep moving forward,
joy or sorrow? I would say they were the same right then, for me thats what makes it explode, the fusion.