“No doubt,” you say, “that I prefer fantasy to reality. The lovers I adore are distant, physically and emotionally circumscribed by intimate unavailability. I love married or gay men or women most.”
I nod in agreement.
“I require so much space. Who is it that needs so much that is not there? Possibility is my lover, potential my partner. Otherwise, people bore as much as they excite. Those poles–like hot and cold, boredom and excitement–exist elsewhere too, you know, some other place and circumstance like thunder storms and endless sunny days, or the laughter and terror of loving daughters.”
I nod again and consider how I love my own.
1. Dying of cancer
2. A refugee
3. Mourning the loss of a loved one
5. Incapacitated by illness or loss of limb
10. Living in a war-torn country
11. In danger of losing the safety of shelter
15. Sensorily impaired
16. Born to the hordes of un- and under-privileged
17. Devoid of wonder
18. Unable to experience beauty
19. Unable to create or feel
20. Under threat of destruction by weather, natural disaster, aliens, calamity or death by natural causes.
…and so, I have already won the lottery.
Soccer squeezed the last drop of child connectedness present in me since birth, the longing to be with children, entertain them, love them, nourish and teach them, whether they were mine or others’. Soccer helped me prolong that self-nourishment, extract and exercise every morsel of that longing up til and beyond the passing of my children through the soccer loop.
My youngest is a year or two away from concluding that endless year in year out schedule of life around soccer, that sharing of time that we all could communicate and commune through the participation in it. As the end nears, a clear cut picture of its termination in view, coinciding with the embrittling of my bones and calcification of my mind, enervation of my drive and lust, I see that soccer was my destination and destruction, a pattern of life that breaks along with reputation, image, doplegangers self-created. I build a monument to my image and then swung a sledge hammer at it in my sleep walking state. Only, now I select the salvageable pieces and so limp along until the chosen pieces re-integrate, grow like regenerating brain tendrils to form the new old me.
Her reading skills caught up with the other students by the end of second grade, and I was fully indoctrinated in the volunteer life. I first volunteered as the room mom for her classroom admittedly to watch over her–hover. Unwittingly, I also signed up to be the art teacher for her class, though I thought I was signing up to teach about the art masters via books in a program titled, Meet the Masters. Turns out I signed up for is a program where an art teacher came five times a year to teach parents how to teach an art lesson.
When I found out during the orientation meeting that it was me doing and teaching art to second graders, I freaked out. Approaching the parent volunteer presiding over the orientation for all of the art volunteers, I uncomfortably sought my release: “Excuse me, but I thought this was something else. I am not an artist. I cannot do art, but I can help out in some other way.” She, a no-nonsense, thin, long-haired blond, small-framed woman only a few years my junior donning serious glasses and a South African accent replied gently but firmly, “Well, you certainly can do better than a 7 year old no matter how bad you think you are. Just try it. If you really can’t do it, we will replace you.” She pinned me. What other excuse or protest could I make? However, I consoled myself with the silent sulky retort, “I damn well sure can do worse than a 7 year old. Just watch me” as I grabbed my instruction sheets and left.
It turns out the workshops were therapeutic–an hour of focused forms and colors–even if I had to shame-facedly compare my art to the parents who clearly had art backgrounds or natural talent. Some were artists by trade or passion. My art was better, by a hair, than most of the 7 year olds, though some were clearly far more talented.
Had I been able to choose what I did, which cases I would take, I might have loved the practice of law much more. There is a vast ocean of practice areas open to an attorney to use his or her honed skills of critical reasoning and legal knowledge from court room performer/litigator to public sector or non-profit donor to pure researcher/writer mole. I would have loved to have remained that last one.
When I first started earning money in law, I was a law clerk attending law school. At the first law office to hire me, I performed menial tasks like putting files together and collating large swaths of information for big cases into color coordinated indexes. My first case to organize was a personal injury case involving a young man, a big electric company worker, who fell into a transformer encasement and got electrocuted losing a foot, a hand and his penis.
The medical records, depositions of experts and parties, as well as the research was an enormous mass of paper that needed parsing, indexing and cross-referencing. That was my first job, and it was terribly trying as I only knew lovely painful struggles with the word before that as a literature student. This was dry, boring and taxing for the medical and legal terminology so foreign to me. Moreover, procedure is so much of the law. Knowing procedures that change daily everywhere from office to office, inside an office, among the various court clerk’s offices, courtrooms, and other attorney’s offices is an ongoing re-training: one of the reasons the practice of law is a practice. There is no way to ever get it nailed once and for all.
After meeting other friendly youths, I somehow found myself enticed and then enclosed by the friendly conversation about spirituality and God. They spoke of all Gods being one, and led me to a classroom where an older man, maybe in his 30s, taught a class of one, me, the evidence supporting the coming of Christ by an infallible timeline.
I sat for a good ten or fifteen minutes until the sudden thought struck through the morass of sweet, thick confusion my mind became, like drowning in syrup: “Holy shit, I think I am being indoctrinated.”
Then a panic swept over me. How was I to leave this uncomfortable scene without a complete bolting for the door. “Could I just get up and walk out while he spoke?” I did not think I could. These people were not rude, but clearly they were trying to enfold me.
I did manage finally to politely but insistently–and it took insistence–tell them I needed to leave. They were followers of Sun Myung Moon, leader of the Unification Church, informally his followers known as Moonies. One of my lonely teen claims to fame is having been kidnapped–almost–by the Moonies on my 17th birthday.
Find the cost of freedom
Buried in the ground
Mother Earth will swallow you
Lay your body down. CSNY
Randy would not be the first or the last gay man I fell for. I never pieced together the hitchhiking he did from work instead of taking the bus, and the expressed hopes to pick up someone “interesting.” I’m guessing now that he got paid on the side for his lovely looks: from delicate hands to his big style and classy flare. Anyone else with more exposure might have known, but no one in my town growing up was gay–except my sister’s best friend and the drama department at school, to my knowledge. It was the late 70s and no one was gay–openly. I just never suspected that men could be anything but interested in me as a female, someone to stick a dick into at the very least. My worldview was small, provincial, like the state I grew up in despite its savvy sensationalized reputation world wide to the contrary, no doubt based on one city, a small piece of real estate relative to the entirety of the state with its miles of farmland and country roads.
It was after these first 6 months or so on my own, working, going to school, quitting school and trying to make a life nearly on my own, a lonely pursuit of angst-filled growth and delirious abandon, when I concluded that I wished my parents would have reigned me in more, made the effort; my limitations were few and the responsibility of that freedom was overwhelmingly burdensome. I was lonely, and my life felt like one huge scary spin of outright disregard for my own safety–even to a 17 year old alley cat on a crash course to world wise self-sufficiency.
The acid days
But before Fred was Randy and the first frozen yogurt store. Randy and I laughed and played well together, so naturally we partied together after work. One time we tripped all night on Hollywood Boulevard. We rode a bus there from work in Century City, swallowing the tiny tabs on the way, but then got separated after de-busing. I don’t recall much of the night other than walking up and down a strip between Hollywood and Vine and the three blocks north and south from Vine, back and forth, stopping each time I came to the open doors to this plush hotel with a sprawling carpet of captivating geometric design, loud and colorful squares and diamonds in endless interchange and contiguity, looming hugely before me in my psychedelic state so as to paralyze my feet and mind into staring just long enough to prick my consciousness that I was being obvious. It seems that I was often in that state throughout my youth: trying to maintain some semblance of normalcy, working hard to blend into the safety of anonymity, working my incognito frame of drug or fantasy addled mind behind a shield of placid indifference that an indecipherably bland, disinterested face shows in the ordinary wading through human streams of passing feet, chests and faces.
At Venice Beach, I met the strolling acoustic guitar players, Steve Gibson and his accompaniment Kenny, who called sneakers tenny runners. They sang Dead songs and other tunes I knew, mostly soft folk songs I enjoyed while stoned, The Beatles’ Norwegian Wood and Loggins and Messina baby songs. I followed those two every weekend and ended up naked with Steve on some grass strip embankment edging a public park. Steve, blonde haired curly lead, was the heart throb, but my fondest memory of the two belongs to Tennyrunner Kenny. I somehow found myself in a bathtub naked with Kenny, the shorter, straight haired less confident but sweeter one. He was always high on whites and shaking a bit, shaky handed, but we had the most pleasant bath, I remember, giggling and playing footsie. So sweet and filled with I-don’t-dare-but-I-really-want-to tension teasing the vaporous heat emitted from the bath water. Those two moved on pretty quickly in my life and memory.
And then there was the day I met Heather on the beach and smoked a joint with Heads she had just met. I showed up late to the gathering and did not know anyone. The joint I learned too late was laced with Angel Dust, and I recall liking neither the lack of warning nor the distortion it produced, as if I were seeing through the wrong end of binoculars. The warped vision disturbed me; I had a hard time maintaining my composure. That may have been the last time I saw Heather. She disappeared. Presumed dead. Thirty-eight years later theories still circulate about murder, escape, serial killers and marriage.
He was out of his mind stoned when he lured me into his bed after pounding drums at ear splitting decibels in his dark, stuffy room for way too long for anyone’s interest but his own or another drummer’s, not mine, and I don’t even know how good he played. It hurt, I bled, and it was over. He seemed proud and then disinterested. It didn’t last long–the act– nor the relationship and I felt like shit about the whole unlovely experience.
“I don’t understand. Why did you let yourself go there?”
I was 14, homeless in my heart, thoughtless and living some dream I doodled on a piece of paper during math class. I was dis-embodied, my life sidling the edge to the left and my body flanking the right. What does a 14 year old know about the rest of your life and sweet-tongued, scrupleless scumbags? I wanted to grow up and be in love.