In my life there have only been 3 men and one deity that I loved with a 100% of my heart.
My Grandaddy, Monsignor, God and Kevin.
My Grandaddy used to peel apples for me with the peel all in one coil as we sat under the pecan tree with his faithful Collie/German Shepard mix. He would always start our chats with….you know you’re my favorite grandchild but that’s between us and then give me a deep throated southern cackle and a wink. I’d always ask why and he would say because you need someone to love you most and that’s what I’m gonna do. Then we would go on to the most treasured talks of my life. Wide ranging from nature to his life growing up in New Iberia on a plantation.. the hijinks of his ten brothers n sisters. How to plant a garden, how to bait a hook. We would bird watch or sometimes just in silence as he brushed his dog. He instilled in me a deep passionate love of nature, gardens, animals and trees. He was the kindest most accepting man I have ever had the fortune to have adore me. Amusingly, he also had a legendary stubborn temper, my legacy. Hah.
I looked like no one in my family and it troubled me so deeply that one memory from when around when I was 7 and hearing gossip from my braying ass of an aunt who was whispering about me to my Gram. My Granddaddy caught me eavesdropping and took my hand n off we went to his brothers house… around a table famous in our family, picture albums were pulled out. His warm hand stroked my hair as he said I looked just like my grams youngest sister and his dear departed mother. He said I carried the past in my strange coloring and his daughters took to gossiping because they were jealous. Everything I have ever been that was good or just, began with my Granddaddy.
When I was 8 because of my last name and coloring and rampant racism in the good ole south, I was the victim of a vicious n particularly brutal hate crime. Besides surgery n cast for my little broken bones the incident took my voice. I went mute. The shock and brutality of it all caused my mother to lose her pregnancy. My grandparents came to stay. My mother became a stranger and I became a shadow. For reasons I have never understood, because there were many other schools better suited…My deeply Catholic Gram took me to the huge Catholic Church three blocks from our house. They were desperate to enroll me back into school but I didn’t speak… as my Gram spoke to the head “God” folks I sat on a step outside twirling a leaf. A baby priest fresh from seminary n God duties broke off from where they all stood talking about me. He walked over to me and knelt down. He had the most open compassionate handsome face. He smiled wide but his eyes were sad as he pulled a piece of string from his pocket and asked me if I could do a cats cradle? I shook my head no and he said “realllllly” in deep pretend shock. He sat on the ground in front of me and begun to twist the string until the pattern was made. He showed me again and again and helped me try it. When finally I made a very sad attempt at one he congratulated me as if I had just performed a miracle. A small giggle escaped me and carried in the wind to my Gram and the God folks who were still discussing me. They all turned shocked n I remember my Gram having trouble w her composure. The baby priest took my hand and walked me around the large courtyard. Pointing to play areas and schoolrooms, the reading tree and the church itself. I was enrolled in that school and Monsignor, then a baby priest and a nun who was my third grade teacher took a great interest in me. He watched me play alone during recess, he watched me in after care. He told me stories of scripture n nature, n things to make me smile but he spoke a lot to me about God’s everyday miracles. In that church n school I fell in love with Monsignor and with God and all of his traditions. It felt nice to have consistent in a world of chaos. He told me until I could say my thoughts out loud, I could whisper them in my head to God, because he was always listening.
In my class a plucky mischievous angel nicknamed Ruffin decided I was going to be her best friend. She didn’t care that I couldn’t speak or that no one liked me. She sat next to me everywhere. Played with me on the playground and after school…..then the day came, when God, Monsignor, Ruffin all came together in their introduction of Kevin one of her older brothers. I will never until I step off this mortal coil forget meeting him for the first time. I thought I knew what love was. I loved my family and Monsignor and God and Ruffin. But from his very first smile, his very first hey there little bit….I fell head over heels forever in love with Kev. I can’t explain what that family of Cajuns did for me. The nickname, the love, the acceptance.
And one day, voice rusty from disuse, I spoke. It was a situation, I was upset and Kevin had pressed my little hand flat against his and he said I got you, ok. I pressed my hand fiercely back into his and said I got you to.
Many many things happen to us as we grew. Ruffin died from childhood leukemia. My family changed. My life was very complicated but his family was my haven. All the brothers looked out for me . His mama was mine and his stepfather told me once that my presence after Ruffin died was what kept his wife going. My mother and his became very close friends as different as they were. Kevin was the wild one, the troubled child. He was dyslexic but a true math savant. He chaffed at rules, yet had the manners of a line toeing southern gentleman,deeply religious and and a absolute sinner. He was my protector, my confidante, my first kiss, He was a man when he was still a boy, while was I was still a little girl at 17. So at literally just as I turned 17, I pledged my undying love on the same dock as our first kiss, under the cypress tree at his family’s camp in the Atchafalaya basin, there was a mix of fire smoke n brine in the air. As I watched the Spanish moss sway In the wind I confessed my love. He gently turned me down. Always a hardhead I kept at it thru that spring. Boldly saying to him in the car one night as he picked me up from work that I wanted to give him my virginity. He dismissed me by saying he didn’t fuck little girls. His storied past in New Orleans is a thing I both love and hate. He was such a character, larger then life. The King of the River….Noted for his scrapes and the company he kept. I went out that next week and found myself a boyfriend. But that’s another story for another day. I didn’t lose my virginity until I was 19 and it was to that same boy who I started dating at 17. But my first real lover was Kev. We went back and forth. Lovers to friends. We even fell in love with a set of friends, Bess and Bobby. We traveled The UK and much of France together. Upon return, Spring I discovered was a season that stole. In a accident that killed Bess, Bobby and another we both went wild with grief. I was used to Kev coming home to Louisiana and fleeing. This time we both left, separately . We came back different. He came back dangerous and I came back bitter. We were so young. Over a bottle of bourbon we had a fight that ended in near violent sex. It was like the hate within us was warring with the love. A child was conceived. A few months passed. A ring was bought. A society wedding was ill advised but planned by my mother. Monsignor would officiate. And the King and Queen of the river would finally rule united under one name.
The day came, the biggest church in Nola packed, a pouf dress, lord almighty a real meringue of tulle…..that hid my well showing belly. It was a spectacle. It was a true event. I have never felt so beautiful as I did that day. So feminine and worthy. My stepdad blotting his tears as they adjusted my full veil. My rosary and bouquet. I was gonna marry the love of my life who owned a 100% of my heart. I was ready, scandalous as this wedding was given the circumstances and man involved… this was blessed by God himself by a perfect Nola weather day. Then a thing happened. Kyle his oldest brother was suddenly in front of me. One hand gripping my stepfathers shoulder the other holding my hand. He began to speak but was pushed out of the way by Monsignor. Monsignor took me aside, away from all of who were crowded into the entrance ready to march down that flower festooned aisle.
Monsignor is a very noble man. He has very expressive eyes and he speaks plainly. There would be no marriage. Kevin could not marry me and had left with one of his brothers. He loved me, but not enough. He wasn’t ready. His heart still loved Bessie. Once again I was mute. Then the torrent of hurt that exploded out of me came in gasping screams. I threw the rosary, I flung the flowers I ripped at veil. I literally screamed in agony as I tore my wedding dress. Monsignor picked me up n held me like a child in his arms as my Sicilian stepfather who truly had murder in his eyes tried to calm my mother. My Godfather and Kyle made the announcement to the church. I was as shamed in big small town as u can get. Kevs best friend took me to their place, I was virtually catatonic. I stayed there for four days, his best friend read me Peter Pan spoon fed me apple sauce and sprite and tried to get me out of my tattered wedding dress. On the four day I went into labor finally ruining that dress and I gave birth to our child months too early.
On the day after Monsignor came to the hospital, I informed him that I know longer believed in God. That when I had a whole new life planned. I announced I was going to devote my life to aide work but become as much of a whore as didn’t kill me. I told him I would out wild Kevin. I would be on the tip of every gossips tongue in this bastard city. I would live my life my way and never ever marry. Monsignor let me rage. He held my hand so tightly in both of his. He told me God would always wait for me. And that he, as my priest and friend would never abandon me. He swore to me. He said until his death he would be available to me. That I could count on him. To return to his counsel whenever I needed guidance or safety or acceptance. He has never once broken that promise.
But I went buck fuckin wild. As soon as I healed up I began an affair with a legendary Nola musician and he was just the first. I regretted nothing. I joined this and did that, I traveled the world. I loved n left and was left and loved. I never stopped loving Kevin. I even forgave him. LOL My mother never did. We became closer friends then we had ever been before. He had to live with what he made me into, I had to live with I wasn’t enough for him. I had a threesome with him and Kiks, on my birthday years later. He carried a torch for Kiks for years and years before she agreed to marry him. She was pregnant w Dutch… I have a million stories about the king of the river… a million adventures we had. But it was him that taught me to always leave 10% of my heart untouched.
Because it’s that 10% that keeps u breathing in case of an ending. I love everyone in my life with that clause.
10% you can’t have.
In the last words he ever wrote me before his death he said we were so alike, so broken in the same places. We never would have made it.
Yes, we would have. Because I knew him like no one did. And he didn’t have to hide his ugly darkness w me, or his flaws, or his fears. I knew his story. I knew his secrets. I knew his tell. His scars, his dreams and his insecurities.
I make a good friend and a good lover because I don’t care the wrongs you have done, the mistakes u have made, the flaws u retain, the shape u take, the way you love , the sex u are. I am loyal because three men and one deity made me that way. But you only get 90% of me. And that 10% is a wild card every day of my life.