To be Continued

 

She slipped into the Mystic on the morning of St Valentines day. I lost my words.

A hard coarse vegetation formed a skin around me. I had a pain that could not be expelled. Because the pain had no direct name or reason. It was more than the death of my friend, my lover, my mermaid. It was the death of an era. The who of I was, to the after of what remained.

wp-1489370416933.jpg

In a complicated love triangle worthy of a Shakespearen treatment or a Maury Povich episode we had twisted ourselves into an eternal knot. Each of us loving each other at a separate time and on a few occasions, all together. Then three became two and The Queen left The King of the River, so that he might love the other SHE, who bore sea glass eyes, raspberry lips and a need to reside by the calm.

Sepia toned years before I had stood at an altar with his child inside of me, in a wedding dress with all of our hometown to see. I survived him leaving me there, I survived all the losses that came after. I forgave every hurt, every bruise on my soul because he was my River King since the time when I couldnt speak.  He gave me a family. He gave me a legend. He gave me undying love. He ran barefoot with me in the mist of a New Orleans morning and kissed me where the sidewalk ends. He fought my battles, my demons and my temper.

img_20170312_185529.jpg

He was the kind of man who burned t0o bright.

They started with me. On a birthday many years ago, Kiks shyly kissed me. IN the most erotic n loving of gifts, coupled with so much merry laughter we all three became one. He and I had been together as lovers off and on for ages. But as she seared my skin with her touch she won his heart. The man who could remain faithful to no one, fell completely and irrevocably.

He waited years for her. Refusing to be with anyone for longer than a dalliance. His heart kept chaste for her. It used to burn. It used to hurt like slicing glass. It was messy and storied. But we, we were t0o much alike. Two shafts of light. Two children of the river. What made us inseparable in the end was what kept us apart. We had a damage inside that drove us and the reality, was that we needed a calm. A solid. We romanticized normal and swore how we would be, when we grew to know better.

The darkness ate him in the grey time of my life. And the man who always was… was no more. I came home. I saw Kiks and in her there was a spark of him. A continuation of that love. A personification in his children… I drowned my demons, I opened my heart like he taught me to when I was wee. I stood the regal brave Queen and let nothing deter me, nothing. I ran that river now for the memory of all the love we had shared.

There is nothing like the death of a piece of your identity. Age feels heavier, My body misshapen with it, grief clouds my actions like clogged arteries. It’s in a way, as if I don’t know me anymore. The me after them.

Today, after weeks of unending rain, the sun shone. The mountains glistened under a Maxfield Parrish sky. Top down with me driving, Sully and I drove the river of where my home is now and my shell cracked. We bought fresh Dungeness crab and local beer. We bought Hydrangeas plants like we grew up with in the South. We kissed in the foyer and wound up naked and entwined on the rug. We were two flawed and aged people who could only see the beauty in each other that remains.  As we danced n cooked in our kitchen, there was a feeling of calm, of normal.

wp-1489374939507.jpg

A picture came thru from my Monsignor, then one from Teddy of my Lie n Die team, then from Beau my child’s father via his sister, then Kyle-Kevin’s brother… All different angles and distances… Yet all showing the same thing. My Son playing the saxophone on the bank of the very River I ran, when I was Queen to my King. In our Hometown… the symbolic baton was passed.

Because he has known me for near 20 years, Sully put his arms around me as we sat out on the deck watching the sun go. He pet my hair back from my face and said…..

“There are new rivers to run and you will always, always be the Queen of them.”

I am not young anymore, I am in the middle. I may have a child’s glee but I have a woman’s past. I may not be beautiful but my face has character. My heart has room. My body has passion. My soul has so so so many stories.  I am grateful for the fortune of all the loves I have had. That I survived the losses n knocks. I could have had less and I always had more.

They are here. In the mist that lingers at dawn. In the budding green of the new spring. In the lingering cold that caps the mountain. They are beneath my skin, forever enshrined in the unfinished and unfinal portion of my heart. They are the bones of my story. They are and will forever be…. to continued.

img_20170312_201621.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Superman Shirts

img_20170207_223100.jpg

I was sitting with Kiks tonight.

The door cracked open and little Dutch peeked in, catching me crying. Hesitantly he walked over to me, climbing up in to my lap as Murphy the borrow dog pushed in behind him. Ever so quietly he said “Pippa is it time for the superman shirts?”

My heart burst into a thousand shatters. I hated myself for every mistake I have ever made. I hated Kevin for dying. I hate life for always hurting.  Hate, anger, rage boiled up giving me strength… “Yes baby, it is.” I stood up holding him, his arms going tight around my neck. We quietly went back to his room where I opened the bottom drawer of his dresser. Neatly folded inside, 14 different Superman tshirts. I pulled his pajama top off of his string-bean body and helped him put on the one he chose. He smoothed the emblem over his chest and looked at me… Fat tears and woobly lips.  I raised my hand palms out, he matched mine.. as his father had done when I was 8 and his father 12. I got you I said. I got you he replied. Then we folded fingers in holding hands.  His face was so like his fathers I felt unhinged. We went over to the big chair, I wrapped a blanket around us as the dog settled at ur feet.

I explained again how his mama was, that in the next days they would have to give her special medicine to help her not hurt. N that she would have to sleep more and one day.. very gently she would go and float like the red balloons we release into the sky and go be with his daddy forevermore. But that Superman shirts were going to help him… They would give him strength when he didn’t have it. Give him bravery when he was afraid. And soothe him when he was sad…One every day for 14 days then start over… Because Superman is a hero…

He held me so tightly. Tell me a story about my Mama he whispered…….. then I faltered, so upset because he always asks for stories about his father. I pet his beautiful face and began a story of his mother and father.  About the big giant oak tree his daddy picked to ask  his mama to be his wife, how his daddy was so in love with her. And how happy I was that the two people I loved most has found shelter in each other. I told him stories of how fierce his mama was… All the places we had been together so that his mama could fix and heal. I told him that his mama was my hero.  and since she was my hero that meant that he, Dutch, was my little superhero…His eyelids faltered so I managed to get him in his bed. The old wise borrow dog shuffled over to lay directly against his bed.

I went back in to check on Kiks as Doc brought in the equipment. In the morning we would rent the rest of the medical gear as needed, Id managed to sidestep Hospice and call on the favors of aide workers and Orgs near me.  Id managed to scrape together money and hands to help… Because thats what I do.  That’s my strength. I went into a drugged sleep not accepting the words No or Can’t.

It is the afternoon after last night and I sit here… medical machines and paraphernalia have transformed this room. Despite scented candles burning there is that hospital smell. My girl is asleep. SO frail on her way to ethereal.  I look at the wedding dress hanging on a hook and her wish tree, filled with written leaves of love. I look at the framed photos of all the moments that have come to pass. When Monsignor was here, I had him pray with me over Kevin’s prayer cards and my sacred rosary… Because I am always game for a miracle of time or fairy-tale of comfort…. And I realized somewhat angrily that I am utterly ill equipped for what is to come. No more grand gestures to give her strength…  no more pleas or promises fulfilled. I’ve outdone myself straight out of a job. Her children have a father in Nick, her now husband. They have a transitional home, they have new future where they will be surrounded by Kevin’s family and have Nick as well. They have God-Parents. They have so much love and my beautiful girl, with her seaglass eyes and rasberry lips is safe and ever so loved here in the grip of all of us.  In trip after trip, top down, wind in our hair we took the mountain on. I have every hope wish and worry recorded in my book. She picked all of the music she wanted to leave behind. She screamed into the wind… She begged, she wept the kind of tears that have altered me. I controlled every moment as best I could. Memory making, giving her grand vistas, showing her dreams were hers for the taking yet.

AND so much love bloomed …She fell in love with the medic from our lie and die team. A man who we jokingly called the meanest man in the world became the kind of moral, fierce warrior that holds babies with ease, has a deep well of patience & humanity. He is his best self now. The children and Kik’s love broke the stone and drew out the man from within. IN the loving of her, many long strained relationships from a lot of us healed. None of us is perfect. But Kiks comes pretty damn close. She used to say I was the heart and the anger heat and she was the calm and methodical. Between us we shaped glass. We tempered the sights of destruction with an ability to see past it. We succeeded where others didnt because our team…each member, uniquely flawed and blessed. So I sit here about to go and hunt down a Superman doll to buy, as Dutch has a lost look in his eyes as he quietly plays with a castle book on the floor of his mamas room. Eva wouldn’t eat her breakfast and fussed during lunch. And I wonder does she sense it a  year?

I am trying so hard to make these nexts days.. or maybe weeks, not filled with sadness. But I am running out of magic. I dont have the right words, I used them all. I miss my man. I miss my son. I miss my parents. I am so scared I envy the magic of Superman shirts.

I almost didn’t write this. But I keep saying the wrong words in the wrong way because I am utterly lost and angry.

 

 

 

 

Dawn

I stayed up all night.. making lanterns to light a path..

… a wish tree full of hearts  for the guest to write on. I finished her bridal comb to attach to her veil. I went over my lists… I yawned and stretched, hit the hallway and suddenly Nick was coming down the stairs.. Kiks needed me. She has been losing sight all of the sudden combined with a muddled head feeling.. as if she was wrapped in cotton wool n drowning.. she describes it….it causes her to panic to the point where she can’t breathe well.


I climbed into bed with her… I petted her face. I held her head. I gripped her hands… I told her breathe… I took my  rosery and put it at her fingertips so she could feel the beads… I waited as her breathing slowed..her raspberry red lips curled. Her beautiful sea glass eyes found my love as it emanated and she breathed even, easier. I took lotion and began to rub her hands gently … we just were, tears in our eyes watching each other silently.

I fought alot of fights these weeks past… I took alot of shit because of who I am… the truth of who my people are. I had a longtime friend not stand by me as they should have. Persons mocked my bisexuality.. my fierce passion…. my loyalty.. my poetry of failure . My acceptance of deep Catholic faith, although I no longer believe. My service via peace corps and aide work, NGO. My family’s sacrifice… my face and body. My honor. My words and my tears for this exquisite lover of mine who lays dying as I write this.its been a really long time since I had to fight anymore.

I fed the trolls. I poked the bullies. I explained myself when there was no need-This is what I was told. Chastised like a child. 

I WAS 8 years old. I have told this story in parts. I was 8 years fucking old. I was beaten and revoltingly assaulted in what was a hate crime at 8 by other older kids. BECAUSE I WAS SMALL. BECAUSE  I HAD A HISPANIC LAST NAME. BECAUSE I HAD A WALNUT COMPLECTION.BECAUSE MY MOTHER WAS SELF MADE AND DIFFERENT. BECAUSE IT WAS A IGNORANCE, BIGOTRY… I was hospitalized.. I stopped speaking completely…They told my Mama it was shock.

 My mother was pregnant with what would have been my half-sibling, she lost it in her unending grief.  it WASN’T just a beating at the hands of children. It went further with long lasting echos. In my silent voiced self I swallowed that as my fault. My Grandparents came to stay a long while… everything changed. Until my Grams took to me to me what I call a Baby priest. It’s a young priest with training wheels.

He taught me bravery. He gave me a haven. He introduced me to the nuns at my new school. Where they didn’t care that I didn’t speak or have a Spanish name. They didn’t care that I was undersized n shy. THE Nuns integrated me into normalcy… THEY taught me the true meaning of acceptance… to see neither color…religion or wealth. TO just be a child of God, no difference.   It was a year that shaped the rest of my life, no matter how I shoved it down.

Kiks is afraid of the world she leaves her children behind in. Can you blame her? It’s 2017 and I am still being called a faggot. TRUMP is the president. Women’s bodies r being governed. Race and religion are being singled out in A WAY THAT NOT EVEN 9/11 STIRRED UP.  The hate reeks like sweat. 

Friends of mine in the military fighting each other with vicious words.. when they fight for the same fucking country. I feel altered. I feel angry. I feel misunderstood. I feel forgotten by a democracy that I carried in my heart as a calling card. 

I used to depart.. every ride to everywhere we dropped…. Hello my name is …… this is my team…this our gear.. we r here to help. Where do u need us?  We were a symbol of hope. A goddamn signal.. beacon…that they were heard, human and worthy. NOW America, my country is becoming more than a joke, its becomeing a bully.My love for this woman, a Dr… who’s only mission in life was to heal/care those who had no voice.. is a mockery.

I will not stand down. I will not shut up. I will not be easy. I WILL not calm. I WILL NOT hide my love, my sexuality, I will not stop being  the product of the many nations that make me up. I WILL NOT STOP CRYING.

YOU WILL NOT SHAME ME. YOU WILL NOT SILENCE ME. I will yell, I will fight.Even and if, I am the only one shouting…. I’ll shout louder.

Kiks was my lover and she is still my friend. And I fight for her. And the 8yr old me,  all the others… who have fought the dim of the shade. 

MY girl, my Sunday best, my friend, my Doc. My Kiks. MY LU😢….My child’s godmother. MY RASPBERRY LIPPED temptress. The sense in my world. THE one who always held the other hand that Rusty didn’t hold. Who made me into the person that gets up and rises at my weakest times… No, I will not bow. I will fight. I will fight, always. 

NONE LIKE US AND None like us.




And in the end

img_20160808_153309.jpg

I was laying here with my man trying to relax into sleep via a silly movie… Tomorrow the last remaining members of my lie and die team fly in from points away.The band is getting back together for one last concert run. For the last, most likely time that Kiks will be able to be Kiks..

I lay twisting the blanket around my finger.. My guy’s big hand in my curls stroking my head. My phone buzzes with a call. I pop up.. strangely jarred from the life around me.. It’s Billy, my recently former boss. Hey I answer slightly groggy.

“You did it Red, fucking clever bitch you. He signed it….Fucking signed it!!” Came a tear clogged male Billy voice over the wire…..My heart stopped. I swear it did. I actually stopped breathing.Then as if jolted by electricity I popped up an started dancing around the room….. Back an forth in emotions, from laughter, victory and tears….Hugging Sully, pushing the phone into Sully’s hands so Billy could tell him…Racing up the stairs and busting in on Kiks and Nick.. Crying…. Laughing…

My Boss’s Organization begins again in late Jan of 2017,BUT WITH… A new partner on board. A man after my own heart. Cynical but with a porridge soul. A man who believes money and time comes with a toll to humankind. Welcome to the jungle, u blessed bastard,  I want to say…..

Sometimes I get so lost in whats happened to me these past few years that I forget who I fought so fuckin hard to be. The sacrifice I made the loved ones in my life suffer thru, so that I could walk in the light of what I felt was needed of me. Of what was just. Not like others couldn’t do my job or be me… But just maybe… I am unique. One of a kind. Maybe this is my true calling. Maybe I just get to say and own.. I am good at what I do as a ball busting bitch.

In this past year, I feel like I am bragging when I try and explain the things my Lie and Die aide team accomplished. People not in the life, either get it or call me a bleeding heart… But not many understand the service aspect. That it comes before your children. Your mate. Your life… even now, I have struggled with Sully’s dedication in his new org. He has struggled with my wanting to immerse myself in the international aspect of Billy’s org which caused me to have a wake up time of 3:30 am and the having to go back to old haunts of my aide {cant say the name} work days.. maybe best left behind. But it is honestly where I find my bliss. My true state of what y’all call zen.

I thought alot about the why and whats of how people enter work in the charity or aide industry as I have been writing this proposal- that was accepted tonight at a dinner meeting…I eschewed formal business language and legal in the end. I spoke from what I believed was the collective heart of Billy’s people and anyone who was ever 19 to 49 and signs onto aide work thinking they will always be forever young…

11025129_1597404200490666_4613180128722168418_n

We lost more than we should have. Not a damn one of us came out ok. Half of my crew is dead and we are all in our forties. But we created the kind of children atheist pray for. We saw vistas and shifting sands. We are artists in our deeds. We are lovers who love harder. We dare those who tell us to stand down. We are stars who shine for each other. We are stupid stubborn. We are so pure even in our failings. We dream the dream in the middle of the chaos and destruction. We saw where the nails held the board, where fresh water streamed from. What shot might save a life. We bent and bowed with each twist and turn of our evocation. WE faced mass dead, orphans without a system, disease, ignorance distrust. Religion.War. Natural disaster. Female circumcision. So many medical conditions it boggles.  Shunning and starvation of albino children.and that was just the start of journey….That was just my 30s

We made it thru lice, ticks, ricks, rats, mice, snakes, elephants storming, rotgut… dengue fever, malaria, typhoid, food poisoning, rape, mers,  dysteria.. then moved on to so many CDC issues with our disaster international call outs that we were HOT. A tag long wished for in a different meaning.. LOL.

I have my group, but there are thousands of us. In every area of aide. N thats what I believe in. The big picture. Every venue of Hope. Sully laughed tonight with such joy as he said… Inside your head is such a choir, baby. He is right. I believe I am one person with a vision, with a mission and if I tell another and they tell another.. If we all come together in a cacophony of voices and tones we become a choir of change.  I have seen it in practice.

So yes. I wrote a business proposal in theory.

and yes…. I am a charming fucking git-But I also am stubborn and tenacious.I don’t normally burn business bridges… I keep in touch. I help when called on. I hold favors like a check in my work. And I never hide who I am.

I hesitated on my way upstairs tonight…there was such a huge fight between Kiks and Nick her end of life lover earlier..

She is scared shitless. She is dying and it is happening without mercy or dignity.  She and I tried to drive to the top of the mountain this early AM and the ice was so slick it was dangerous. I should have and normally I would have pushed on. But I felt an abundance of caution. These kids have her for only so long and my beautiful boy waits patiently for his mama as well.It just seemed wrong and yet she so wanted to reach seeing the peak of Mt Hood again.

dscn0156

This life, this calling we have in ur blood.. well it demands such crazy things to remind us that we are relevant.. That we are in our minds at least.. The young. The worthy. The strong.

But what we forget that in the end…Is…. It makes us legendary.  for just a few.

SO I will carry with me the internal light of all my gone, the fading light of those leaving and the every present heartbeats of those who stand by….Up to the mountain tomorrow. and for all of my day afterwards…

 

 

 

 

 

 

I. WON’T. LET. GO.

img_20161215_004143.jpg

I had a moment today that will remember itself to me… forever more.

My Man and I had gone Xmas shopping after a contentious week. We have a houseful and are expecting a house busting for the holiday… We’d been out most of the day coming back from the pout above to a place of angels singing….and now caught in the snow & ice coming home… In his big truck… heat blowing… snow blasting…music rumbling…. we talked as the traffic crawled…

img_20161215_004350.jpg

 

I slowly found my voice…FINALLY!!! I began to speak of my insecurities, with a lot of humor I pointed out the differences between us. I counted the lost and past. Bastard man growing into viking splendor as he ages… While I just feel old and dimly lit.  We spoke of the family we make. The losses we will incur… The future we need to plan and all the children and people involved….It was heavy yet reads well. Like the point in the book where the story begin to show a plot.

Two children of the south in their middle life… at the top of their Country.. in a winter storm… We were naked but for our clothing… He admitted that the make up sex between us lately had him hard at inappropriate times. He spoke of crying in the shower after Kik’s son asked the story of why his late father called me Pippa. He talked about marriage… Aide work in far flung places. He spoke of my son and the places that might take us..of my anger and self hatred. Of his ego and his brief affair.

wp-1481791162705.jpg

We pulled up into the parking lot of the market… He cupped my face as the snow rang down upon the windshield and said mad as I make him… I am the fire he has searched his whole life for.. That fire burns as much as it warms.

For a chick like me.. Those are very healing words….

The exfoliation of our souls seemed to work magic on Sully. He was a complete fool in the market. Flirty.. so funny I nearly had a wee. Just naughty.. He decided he was homesick so he was going to deep fry a turkey outside… We grocery shopped and fought the icy roads …

Pulling up in the drive.. Watching the fellas pour out of our house… seeing Dutch twitch the curtains as Murphy the borrow dog’s head poked up. I was reminded that its what we make it. I slipped out into the icy cold and formed a giant fat snowball…

As he was lugging bags in.. SPLAT right in the shoulder blades. His beautiful blonde grey hair feeling the frost leftovers. Like a true warrior .. he lowered the bags and advanced… grinning ear to ear, lobbing snow grenade after grenade.. we chased and ran. until he tackled me in the snow.. full of wet sexy kisses.

wp-1481789119207.jpgwp-1481789137507.jpg

Larry the cable guy overtook my urbane man as he and the fellas drank beer in a freezing garage and fried turkey. It gave Kiks and I fits of giggles..

After dinner.. children asleep… house warm.. we all sat drinking port….  I stood up grabbed Eric’s guitar and said y’all I know.. I know I am without eloquence these days. I retreat. I cry. I go utterly silent. It’s not the situation. Its not anyone. Its me. I looked smack at Kiks and I shrugged and I just said it. That life seems inconceivable without her. That to have her so back in my life as we were for so long felt so right. The rage. The helplessness I feel. My fear at what life looked like after she leaves us. That I feel and have always felt like an orphan. That they have been my family. That they taught me to seek family in my familiars instead of my blood.

We all got tear ridden. The dog even seemed sad. Sullys rich voice quietly said.. Play it Boots.

SO I did. Looking at her… at all of them…. and thinking of all who are not sitting in my home. I sang this song in the style of these young girls. With a promise. With intent.

Its funny when I finished. Kiks looked at me and said.. There she is… Thats my girl .. None like us and None like us.

We passed the next hour quietly singing together…..Because Music is the greatest healing.

I said my goodnights and went into the bedroom.. opened my much hinted at gift Sully had left for me.. stripped and slipped it on… I walked around the floor in it.. twirling and moving… then I laid down to wait for him, played with my phone taking pics..

wp-1481787288736.jpg

He came in.. tipsy and heated… beautiful and strong… he sat next to me as I was propped up on pillows and placed his hand on my stomach. The devil was in his eyes and cupid in his mouth.  He petted my wild hair and sipped his drink…. and whispered… sing it again.

and so I did.

and so I found me again.

img_20161214_233407.jpg

 

 

Pippa

wp-1481477539923.jpg

As I made breakfast for Kik’s children today… Dutch sat at the island in his usual perch… a million questions…a heart full of wonder…his face the living echo of his father.

I set heart shaped chocolate chip pancakes in front of the children…

Dutch: “Why did daddy name you Pippa?”

My breath caught, lightening struck my heart.. and just like that I could see Kevin and I. One small red head in plaits a larger boy sitting next to me his face a mask of frustration as we held a well loved book… No way I could tell that story. The story I hold in the most sacred place of reserve.  I opened my mouth to speak and no words came out. My eyes caught Kiks. She pulled up a stool next to the children and gently told them…

“As you know…Pippa and your father grew up together. ……”

Her voice paused as she looked up at me. I nodded. As she told the story my mind floated back…

You see when I met Kevin he had Dyslexia… He was a math savant and had a wicked good memory but.. He had the sort of tutor at our Catholic school who had zero understanding of what pride means to a boy who had come from his circumstances. He’d had a massive argument with his mother and Uncle before the Christmas Holidays and had sworn to quit school at 12. He had the very basic of reading skills and it pained him deeply to read outloud. The school was threatening to hold him back a year despite his other high grades. He was ashamed and shame was never an emotion Kevin did well. My mother as a successful self employed woman was run ragged during Christmas. So Kev’s mama often looked after me. That Christmas season Kevin was at his most hateful and surliest. In my innocence.. I brought my favorite book to him, Pippi Longstocking. I remember he was sat on the bottom bunk. His brother’s stereo was on and he was beating out the beat with a set of drumsticks on the wooden rail.  His little sister Shannon and I crowded him and asked him to read it to us… His face went beat red. “Get lost you two” he spat out… I wasn’t used to being chased away by him. I was his pet and his sister was the treasured baby sibling. I hesitated as we stood up and he threw the drumsticks, yelling at us to get out…

img_20161211_102715.jpg

It affected me more than it should have.. But I had a complex childhood. I raced outside without a coat or shoes.. in stocking feet i crawled thru and hid in the bushes outside. I sat there reading aloud to myself until I heard the leaves move as Shannon pushed in next to me. “Mama sent me to get you..” she said and my eyes went full of tears….Not even for Kevin’s mama would I come out of the bushes. Shannon crawled back out.. Minutes later.. There was my Cajun King parting the branches and plucking me out and dusting me off. … I went quiet as he tried to make it all right. He took my little 9 year old hand and led me inside. His Mama made Swiss Miss Cocoa with tiny marshmallows. He took my book in his hand and haltingly began.. He faltered painfully with words that were so easy to me. I sensed his frustration and shame.. With one little girl on each side of him he struggled thru…we would help him with words. His oldest brother Kyle came home in the middle of this and watched us without Kevs notice. He then told Kevin that he should read the story at Christmas.. that it would make his Mama proud… Kevin said nothing. The day progressed. That evening as Kevin walked me home. He tweeked my pigtail and told me to bring the book again tomorrow… Bye Kevin I shouted after him my hand waving… Bye Pippa he shouted back with a cheeky smile… I paused inside the front door watching the wind ruffle his hair..my nine year old heart falling in love for the first time ever.

He practiced the book until he memorized it. That Christmas eve he read it outloud to astounded silence and his mother’s tears. Later in the day I raced to their house after returning from my Grandparents.. I remember his Mama pulling me in close as if I was one of hers and saying teasingly Merry Christmas Pippi… Eyes locked with Kevin, I said no.. It Pippa. He calls me Pippa.

I watched Kiks retell this tale… I watched my friends watch her. I watch her children and I felt tears gather again. Its 34 years later and I can still remember ever nuance of that Christmas. It was the first Christmas that I knew Kevin’s family, having met them the spring before. That house of love. Those people. That boy who became The King of the River. I wish I could honor them and their story with more adornment then these simple words.

Instead I will just repeat the last words I ever read from Kevin hand. An often repeated quote.

” I am the sea and nobody owns me.”

wp-1481483192027.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

Josephine

img_20161104_025406.jpg

She is dying, my biscuits didn’t rise, his eyes more than wandered. My divorce petition came back again. I mean that’s a full day worth in the south….

I like dresses, I like men who open doors. I will steal a sip of your drink. I will step on ur feet to kiss u because I am so short.

I work a job n half, take care of a houseful, tweet incessantly, talk on the phone EVERY SINGLE DAY , multiple..with my kid and……. breathe. Walking the dog, paperwork and cooking are a given it seems….I’ll starch ur undies with lavender, fuck u like a porn star and smile shyly from the jukebox…..or so I thought. Apparently…Laughs with trills.. I am lackin.

+You make it look easy+  the Cajuns newly landed relatives….exclaim as I dive into the pantry with tears and vodka….

I bitch as an excuse for other pain. I am meant for big houses full of people, babies and little sleep, seriously. I make it funny. I teach little people the wrong songs, I fall asleep on my Boss’s couch and babble a lot. I love hard. I listen. I wear socks.

You might ask yourself, how did I know…..

A satellite phone is a funny thing….it has a slide off button. Look at me showing off again.. ALL those years as a REAL BOSS IN THE FIELD. Little me… EDUCATED ME. CONNECTED ME.

Snort…waxed balls me. Bite your palm Bitch.

Yea.

Josephine

That’s what everyone calls it when I rabbit.

I was 20 something ahem*ish and a cough….I had a almost degree, Europe, one fiancee down, a best friend…..and a big pile of hurt. I heard a song by Pearl Jam and a rumor about Mexico then I inherited money. It happened very quickly. IN like days…comical….And… I dont hesitate.

I fled.

I have written about some form of this in vague terms and loving words everywhere I have ever been..including this very blog. He was the happiest time of my life. He owned a Hot Air Balloon company. He trained me as a pilot. He had a daughter my age and a son.  He was 20 ++ish years my elder. I still remember the first time. It was my birthday… I was scared shitless as we rose from the ground and my friends waved smiling,FROM THE GROUND.

He put his single big hand around my eyes, I startled, he said just wait…

No movement passed…I thought we were a bit above ground….In my ear, he said as gently as you would to a child…….”Happy Birthday Josephine”.. slowly unfolding his hand….Until I die… I will remember the view… We hovered  above the mountains…

I remember I gasped.. then reached out over the basket into the sky and began to cry.

It was an adventure junkie losing her cherry with the best kind of man at the helm.The Germans in the basket began….We all sat at breakfast after. He reached out and moved a curl from my blushing face. He said well Josie, hows your eggs? I threw a tip on the table and pointed to the blonde German woman across from me….ALL cotton swamp and young pissed off woman… I uttered *that’s Josephine!*

I wound up his lover. His long time friend. Almost his wife. And he never stopped calling me Josephine. His eyes would light up as he called me………………. I tell you I have never known this kind of happy again. We were stupid happy. The kind of happy that comes with an UNTIL sticker…..a year I had a year.

His ex was dying, Mother of his kids. Partner in his first ever dream to fly. I still remember  our last night, as I sing song sang to him……If you cant love me… Just turn out the lights and call me Josephine.

I let him go with a kiss and all of my love. He put me on a plane…..

Only to run into me years later…In New Orleans

When I was a fully grown woman….

and all he heard from my guys… OMG…. Its the man who made Josephine

So you understand this next bit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LEAVES…. 

Driving back from the market, the trees in all the glory of triumphant color…My Son chattering to me from too far away… via hands free. Emotions conflicting as my soul waxed and waned.
I pulled in, market bags full I trudged into the kitchen. It was quiet and chilly. The side door to the deck was ajar. Standing on the edge of the deck, Kiks stood watching the wind gust thru the trees. My breath caught sharply and I looked around to see who had gasped…I gulped trying to control my emotions as I watched her small frail thin shoulders shake as she cried.

Steeling myself, I wiped my eyes and walked outside. She turned, her sweet nose pink, her luminous eyes pained. She opened the blanket and I pressed in hugging her like a child would to me.  Two small women fighting the invisible battle… I guess some things never change…

“I am so scared”… she sobbed. I hugged tighter, mind racing for assurances. Finding none, I took her head in my hands, looked in her eyes and told her…”Me to… But its coming to the time where we have to be brave. We have to be warriors, Kik. Because life is stealing and we have to protect what time is left. Let me all the way in…Let me fight this with you. Your my girl, you will always be my girl. My only girl.”

She nodded, silent. So I walked us inside. She sat at the island while I put the groceries away. She seemed chilled and vacant, so I medicated the good Dr.

Two obnoxious shot glasses and a bottle of premium tequila. I poured..Shots up no wheels.

I winked and said.. “None like us and none like us… Take it to the limit”

I started washing veg and asked where everyone was…..

“I stole him and I have lived with that guilt all of these years.” She interrupted pouring herself another shot….

Color me fucking shocked as hell…She was speaking of my from childhood best friend, former lover and her now deceased husband.

“Well thats stupid,” I replied… “you were the best woman for the job…and you loved him in a way he needed. IN a way I could never master.”

What she said next struck that sad dark place where I hide my deepest hurts.

“That is because you were both the same. To hurt, to wild…The King and Queen of the river, he called you both. But he loved you madly, deeply until the very end.”

Anger poured out of me unchecked as I bit out that he had a funny way of showing it….

She looked at me resigned and nodded.”We abandoned you when you needed us and you have taken his and I ‘s children and my dying self in. I cant help but wonder where you find it in you, because I know its not in the name of God or whats right. I DON’T KNOW WHAT DO WITH IT!”

I thought I could JUST  drink a 2nd shot. I thought I could be the same chick I have always been. I thought I could white knuckle thru. I failed.

“That Nov, I nearly lost my life in  Haiti, I got engaged and quit my career. I got pregnant near the same time you did. I lost the baby. My man fucked two women and got both pregnant in some fabulous act of soap opera Gold.. I lost my career, home, my man, fucking everything. I came to you and asked for shelter and you said no. SO when Andy wooed me months later with the promise of love, safety and a shelter in the storm I took it.. irretrievably fucking up my psyche forever. I loved both of you without question or bounds. YOU TWO MADE the choice to turn me away out of fear.. But I never EVER turned my back on either one of you after….. because I never stopped loving either of you.” I begin crying. ” Why are you here? Why do I care? How about I never stopped caring. How about that I loved Kev since I was just a few years older than your 4 year old son. How about you are the first woman I was ever with and have been my friend for decades? YOU LEFT ME. I never left you. And I wont ever.”

I made her cry… who the fuck makes a dying woman cry.

I grabbed my keys and ran out the door.

Down the street cutting blocks over as the leaves rained down on me and the wind cooled my tears. I slashed lipstick across my lips, opened the door and slid into my Local bartenders smile. He is a really cool beard on the list of I woulds. “You Ok?” he asked..

I wiped under my eyes thinking spider mascara.. He laughed and reached forward and plucked a small leaf from my windswept curls….I began to breath. I drank a beer, I thought. I distracted myself.. An hour later… a text

Kiks: I told them to leave you alone, but Sully is pacing. Please come home.

Me: I never begrudged you Kevin’s love.

Kiks: I know and I could never understand or truly believe that. Who is capable of that?

Me: I am. I loved him so much I let go. All I ever wanted was for him to find what he felt once with Bess. You were his do-over. He was more to me than a lover, or a husband or a friend. He was a large piece of my soul. As are you. It seemed maybe right that the two people I’d loved most would love each other.

Kiks: Why have you loved me so much and so faithfully all these years? You know me like few do, what is it, that is even worth loving after what I did to you?

I sent her a picture.

Me:You are this yellow tree. Different in a sea of green. All of my life I found solace in trees. And you have been a tree. On the shores, mud roads and crevices of this world, you were there. A moral compass. A vault. A Dr.  You saw the best and worst of me. You heard my confessions and made me sin. You helped me accept all of the parts of me that made me falter.
Kiks: What kind of tree am I?

Me: You are a unique tree. Lithe limbs, rare wood, and leaves that reflect the emotions of mother nature.  But now I watch the wind, which I cant control, strip those beautiful leaves.. Day by fucking day. As I watch you sway, I wish for sunny days and I recognize that one day I wont have leaves to preserve anymore. That fucking kills me. SO lets let the past exactly there…in the past and focus on what remains.

Kiks: I love you

Me:Ditto

Kiks: Nick is pouting about dinner and threatening pizza

Me: On my way.

I walked back. Stopping every now and then to gather memories.. When I arrived home, the house shown with light. I let myself in, and hung up my coat with bulging pockets…. walking into the kitchen.. I turned with a bittersweet smile…I had left behind a trail of leaves…. Faithfully.

 

 

Cotton Whispers

The first minutes of his birthday started with a fight after the fight… A mix of opinion, a trace of arrogance peppered with heat and the kind of love that it takes forever to suss out. It’s that ole familiarity that bartenders who have known their customers decades have.. Resigned affection and a bit of laughter.

His body broad and strong, as the tears fell, I leaned into him. Like a small child that dances on the feet of an older boy, I let him guide us through the complex sonata.  What was meant to be a wild and dirty tumble became gilded. The kind of love athletics that fosters the deep rumblings of I’ll never forget, but its hard to recall.

Tears were kissed away, violins sang from the speakers to us… We, the last two of our Louisiana bandits. We had meant to be in our hometown for his birthday. Things happen.  It was 1 am. We fell asleep to the ghostly strings of New Orleans.

I awoke to0 early and made grillades and grits, cafe au lait and lost bread. For my Jesuit boy in exile’s birthday morning, nothing less would do. On a tray with a paper magnolia I served what amounted to home on a plate. To wash it down, an Abita beer, that I sold my soul to procure.

It is the softness of the light, the comfort of carnal knowledge.  The fear of losing what seems so hard to hang onto. It shook me today. I have become the embodiment of the refugee’s sigh. I miss the senses of home. The Patios. The river’s brine at dawn. Fresh french bread from McKenzie’s bakery, a ride out to the lake before you make groceries at Dorignacs. I miss the call of my neighbors, the days when things were grand. I miss the music makers. The tin hats and champagne dawns. I miss the swamp of our youth and New Iberia,where my grandfathers people made their share. I miss knowing someplace better than you ever knew anything. Landmarks that never changed. Men that loved you and women that understood you. You can only lose home so many times before you become lost.

We made our way through his birthday… Accepting our future in a swank Portland steakhouse.  Our natural New Orleans nature bubbling forth until smiling waiters danced attendance and fellow diners at the bar became pals. It was the kind of night that gets recorded in green ink in the diaries of my years. After the meal, the crinkly wrapping paper ripped to reveal….his favorite book, first edition and a personal signature to him.  Of all the things I could quest for my bookworm this was the very prize, he sighed out to me with love…

On the card inside I ascribed a quote that holds my belief in Sully and all of my lie and die team.

“The real gladiators of the world are so humble in their origins and unremarkable in appearance that when we stand next store to them in a grocery-store line, we never guess how brightly their souls can burn in the dark”

(You are and will always be my superhero)

                                       XX Boots

The night passed in a whir…..safely deposited back in our home, we found waiting up, Tippy, Kiks & Nick n James and of course, Murphy the borrow dog. Drinks were poured, cake was cut and always as if by rote… the music played.

Tippy spoke up first to Kiks..”In time , do you want your children to know about YOUR family? DO you want them to know about the ins and out of Kev’s? Do you want them to know who you loved… Women and men? Your career n Kevs uh… livelihood ? We have settled everything else except……. except what you want us to remember to them…”

Before she could answer.. before we could inhale the gulp of shock. Sully was up and across the room. Nick stood, tripping as Sul swept the thin frame that is Kiks into his arms.  His blonde head finding solace against her neck. He shook, heaving sobs like the giant in fairytales.  Words rushed, all he couldn’t articulate before. IN a twisted knot of tears, anguish and forever friend I watched them.. waiting to feel possessive, excluded, threatened, lost, left behind, loved less.

Instead I felt pride. The kind of gut busting want to shout it out with middle fingers blazing. THESE_ THESE ARE MY FUCKING PEOPLE. My kin, my brethren, my lie n die.

They make me whole.

There was a whole damned lot of caterwauling n cryin snotty snotting from all of us. Then nectar of Bacchanalians was passed.None like us and None like us cheered.

A little unsteady we all found our way to our respective bedrooms. The door closed. My man sighed. The complexities of our lives fell silent. He unzipped my dress. I unbuttoned his shirt and the clock passed up 12. A birthday gone. A man a year older. A story readies itself to be told. And in our way, with memories and cotton whispers we found our way back home. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Return

11406982_1640084622889290_7289468086963887652_n

There is a Japanese proverb…Kishi Kaisei.

It means- waking from death and returning to life. I learned it in my time in Japan after the Tsunami.  I think its apt for my struggle. I died a death in the UK and have struggled to return to full battery.  Being in the presence of a new upcoming ending fills me with an almost heroin like addiction, to feel, taste, see, hear.. experience. I find myself unfurling my petals anxious to feel alive.  My emotions hover at the surface waiting. I want to be a hive of activity all the time. I refuse to pick a strength or a direction, instead I dart from here to there to away and back.

I battled my man then wore him down with baby soft kisses and breasts & bits pressed into his big strong body. I promised to obey if he promised to give me a chance…. A chance to fly many kites. To wear many hats. To be make our lives even busier. If I am honest, I am hiding in chaos. But it makes me burn bright.  It makes me smile and be able to withstand the dozens of moments a day when something so heart breathtakingly poignant robs me of the ability to breathe.

I learned how to ask  for help from him in a new way and he made me want to yield to him in a way I always fought. When he ripped off my towel right after my bath tonight and had me so possessively.. with a fierce hunger that excited me.. all of the nicks n burns on my self worth sort of retreated. As he laughed with deep satisfaction and tossed me around the bed.. stalking me with his lips… Goldie Hawn from work, seemed inconsequential. I am his Sugar Boots. The Maverick to his Goose.

At a auction again today,we laughed with the intimacy of two people who have known each other near 20 years. Yet when he whispered filthy sexual teases in my ear between bidding lots, we were brand new lovers. Butterflies hummed in my stomach. I had goosebumps and blushed cheeks. He held me against his chest at times, one hand absently tugging my curls. I felt so delicate against him. So adored.  This gets lost sometimes in the everyday, no matter how often I feel it at night in his bed. There is something to be said for moments in the light. As if they are rubber-stamped AUTHENTIC….

Kiks was taken out tonight to a fancy restaurant with a beautiful view of Portland. Her end of days lover wore a suit and she wore a blue dress that made my eyes yearn. Sully has left me here in his bed, with promises of more heat and tousled sheets. More swears and pleases. Kisses and bites. Smacks and pulled hair… before he holds me against him, as if someone would steal me, until we slumber.

dscn0076

On Friday, this weeks company leaves and over the weekend the next round arrives. Making sure that she never feels alone. That nothing is left unsaid. Leaving us with cherished memories and her piece of mind. Right now… The men that LOVE our exquisite friend are on the deck staining the hope chests that I stripped. Next week it will be time to start filling them. Once for each child. For the day that comes when they are ready to wake from the memory of the deaths of their parents and return to living… All that they left behind will be waiting.

I used to say I just wanted peace. A house with windows that opened and animals. A man to love me and be my friend. A garden to grow, a path to walk. Enough money to eat and drink. Friends to fill my table.  But most of all the enduring presence of my beloved son. The pain of my experiences has altered me dramatically in the past few weeks. I keenly know my path. I have honed in on what I want. What I need to accomplish. So that in the end, whenever that end may be.. The only regret I have is the ride is over.

dscn0156

all photos my own