I have been meaning to write.
Only it’s been such a chore, what with life, and death and all. It was the beginning of a new year when we last spoke and since then I have seen and I have heard and I have felt- holy smokes, have I felt. Somehow I managed to swim to the other side of that turbulent, stinking sea of heartbreak and now consider myself all the more human for having done so. As it turns out, life goes on, despite what we might think while in the thick of it. I quit my job, that job I never told you about in the first place because I never considered it worth mentioning, only now I realize that monotony is sort of beautiful and integral in our understandings of each other’s lives. Social media has become the portal through which we research one another, and such creates this construct in which we are viewing others’ lives through this blurred kaleidoscope of bullshit.
Scroll through my social media feed, and you will see that I make weird art, have a dog, spend a lot of time on airplanes, eat elaborate breakfasts and have an affinity for clowns, yellow flowers, taxidermied (google says this is a word- I am skeptical, but it needs to be for now) polar bears, antique coin-operated toy machines and squashed pennies. These are basically the components of my life- I travel around the world dressed like a tattooed librarian, slow dancing with strangers in the street, eating decadent breakfasts and surrounding myself with music and beauty and magic. I must be utterly interesting.
This is true every once in awhile. The rest of the time I am floating amidst the slow current all things tragically mundane. In a week’s time I will probably cry in traffic at least twice. I will accidentally curse in front of a small child and receive a scornful glance from a neighboring adult. I will act a fool, develop a stutter and lose control over the volume of my own voice in the presence of someone, just because I find them to be, attractive or interesting. I literally stumble and injure myself while walking on flat ground (I am currently still in recovery, after a week’s time, from falling down and spraining my ankle). At least once I will both forget to take off my makeup before I go to bed at night and then forget to look in the mirror before I go out into the world. At least a dozen times I will say something completely stupid, knowing how stupid it sounds before it comes out of my face but I won’t be able to stop it in time. Countless times I will do my best and it won’t be good enough. Life can be pretty confusing and overwhelming, after all. Thank goodness for the little things.
So I quit my job, I suppose in search of more decadent breakfasts and yellow flowers, and, you know, romance and adventure and all of the standard things that one dreams about. And I found those things.
There is a lake in Berlin at the end of one of the train line. On one of its beaches locals are sunbathing naked. On another, families are sitting on picnic blankets. The women are wearing wide brimmed hats and everyone is pink from the sun. The water is cool and clean, and if you swim out far enough there is a patch of wild blackberry bushes reaching their branches out and over into the lake. You reach up to pick one, sample its juicy tartness, and then immediately gather as many as you can into your hands before floating around the cool water, snacking on fresh blackberries and wondering if this is heaven.
*c/w for the faint of heart and exceptionally human: In the following short paragraphs there is a rather abrupt (which is how it happens in real-time, too, it turns out) mention of illness and death.
When I returned to New Orleans, I received word that I would have to find a new place to live. The community events I had been hosting at the “Spaghetti House” (formally the Spaghetti Speakeasy Listening Room and Library of Art and Wooden Chairs, as it were) were decidedly too well-attended and the landlady saw the home better fit as an air-bnb. So it goes.
A few weeks later I received a phone call with word that my dad, back in Georgia where I had spent much of my summer, had been escorted from his own birthday bbq dinner to the emergency room and that the doctors had found a series of spots in his brain which would days later be diagnosed as stage four melanoma. On my dad’s 65th birthday he was diagnosed with brain cancer and told he would have 6 months to live. He didn’t make it that long.
I could write an entire book about the four months I spent as an impromptu caretaker. I won’t; not here, fret not, but it is a rich soup of stories and feelings and life lessons. Some stories would surely the little hairs on the back of your neck stand on end while other anecdotes are downright funny and endearing. My dad was a character, and that’s the best thing to be.
So as I was saying, I’ve been meaning to write, only it’s been such a chore, what with life and death and all. Vulnerability is one of my greatest fears; then again I heard somewhere that it is butterfly season, and so I am beginning to scratch my way to the surface of this cocoon.