Tag Archives: alone

Exiled from the Kingdom

My plan wasn’t to be homeless. It was to travel. It wasn’t a choice about not working. Not even a choice about not having money. It was a break. A pause I felt I needed. My life was on track. And in someways it was too on track.

Going through high school. Then into college. And thinking I knew who I was and wanted. Thinking I knew everything. But waking up one day and finding I wasn’t sure. In my imagination I would have taken a few months off, and went back to Bethany. But back with more security and knowledge. What happened instead was still my responsibility. It just wasn’t my first plan.

I think I spent the first night on the street before school ended. It wasn’t a cold night. But I was unsure. I camped with someone else in a spot by the river. In some ways it is clear in my memory. My first night outside. But, I am not sure how I slept.

After school was out one of the administrators was concerned. I told him my plan and he tried change my mind. Everyone tried to change my mind, my father, a homeless man I talked to and the college. The administrator offered to allow me to live on campus again. It would be the same as the previous summer. I would pay rent and live by college rules.

“I don’t want to live by your rules,” I told him. It was probably a poor choice of words. But I knew what I wanted was to find out what rules of life I found important. Finding my own rules meant leaving the safety of rules provided by the college.

An older student and friend had told me I could stay with him. It would have been short-term. I don’t think I spent one night at his place though. He lived on campus.

The first weekend after classes, I went downtown. I met some people. We all went up into the mountains. This was the first time I had met these people. And it struck me how open and accepting they were of me. I valued and wanted to be the same. But, I don’t know I have ever been able to be so open.

For a weekend we stayed in a cabin. We ate, we relaxed, we talked. It was a dark wet night when we went to the cabin. We got a little lost, and used lighters to find the path.

There was smoking of cigarettes. But I don’t recall any pot use. It was just a good weekend. My outlook on the world was already changing. It was a surprise to me such people existed. And I wanted to be one of those people. I still do.

When I went back to campus I stopped to visit my friend. I walked from his house across campus to my mailbox. Then I went to the cafeteria. Classes had just ended and people were still around. It felt like home for me still.

But security came and found me in the cafeteria. They told me I had to leave campus. Okay, I told them. But they informed me it was an immediate order and they had to escort me off the grounds. I felt like I was being kicked out of my home. It had been my home for two years. And most of my friends were at Bethany. It hurt. I felt like a bad person.

I felt alone. There was no concern about where I would go. I was just told I had to leave the campus. There was no concern about how I would get along. No concern for myself at all from the college. The told me I wasn’t allowed on campus, anymore. Which blocked me from seeing my friends. It blocked me from connecting with people who could have helped me.

Other than the one offer for me to stay during the summer. No one from the school ever offered to help me. I was dead to them. And it felt like it wouldn’t have made a difference. To say I felt alone is an under-statement. I felt betrayed. Angry, lost and confused. I could have gone home to my family. But they didn’t have anything to offer me. Besides my family broke up while I was in college.

The last night was so dark. It was wet. Alone I walked down the road. Bethany wasn’t just a school. It wasn’t just a home. It was a place I thought I was safe. But all of a sudden I was Adam and Eve leaving Eden. After leaving campus there was only three friends I ever saw again. James, my roommate Ben and Mike. Which is somewhat understandable. I didn’t have a phone, or address.

There was a student I met the next year. He was in Santa Cruz on a mission to serve the homeless. We became friends. He once told me how people on campus would sometimes talk about me. And he said once he challenged one them, “you don’t know him! Do you?” This student like me didn’t belong. The next year he transferred out.

Bethany was my choice because I connected to my youth pastor. The church had been important to me. It wasn’t easy for me to believe inside a box of dogmas. But, it gave me some sense of belonging. And holding on to the small feeling of family, took me to Bethany. After being kicked out, I have been to church less than five times.

Bethany took away my faith. I wanted to wade in the pool of life. And I got dumped into the deep end. There was no place for me in the world. There was no one for me in the world. The dark night, walking alone down the street was all I had left. And they didn’t care. No one really cared about what I went through.

What they cared about was I didn’t fit their mold. And as such I was to be exiled. Thrust into the cold unless I may tempt others like Satan tempted Eve. I was cast out of Heaven. Away from everything and everyone I knew. The only safety I had known for two years.

The first night I slept behind a bush. The sprinklers got my sleeping bag wet. It was like children sleeping in the backyard. But waking in the morning to find their home and family gone. It undermined my strength. And it undermined my faith in myself.

It is something I still feel bitter about today. And I don’t blame God. But churches aren’t comfortable. And later I met one of the most  beautiful women in my life. There seemed to be a potential for something real and special for us. But her faith was a problem for me. Because I didn’t think I could ever re-join the community of Christian faith. But more so, I worried the bitterness in my heart would darken hers. She was light. She was love. She was everything Jesus was talking about when he said, “all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.”

And I was just bitter in my heart. It has been years, I would like to think I have forgiven. But I am not sure.

The second night and the third nights got easier. My life moved on and I grew. But the real nights which set this all in motion were the night dark and wet with new friends looking for a cabin. And the night dark and wet all by myself, looking for the closest thing I could find to a safe place.

Car Problems

Here I am 16 years later. Sitting alone in a rented room. With a job in customer service which doesn’t pay enough. I am older, but nothing else has changed.

My finances are just as shoddy as they have been for years. I have no real savings to account for my life. No amount of money, no real items of value. Not even any close friendships. What have I done for 16 years, but tread water.

Today my car broke down and it makes me feel so helpless. It means more of a cost on my credit cards. A couple years ago I thought I could start to make progress. But now I am further in debt than ever. I hate having to work to pay debt. There is a part of myself which would love to drop it all and hit the road.

But I know my problems will be waiting for me when I stop. Only they will be worse for not having been tended during my absence. Why can’t I win the lotto and just pay off my debt. Oh yeah, I never play the lotto.

It isn’t the car problems. It is my life problems. As much as I like working at Walmart. I still think about quitting. It wouldn’t be easy. Most of all without another job which could support me. Even if I had to pick up and move. But moving itself is another cost. And I could afford to take the leap if I had confidence of where I would land.

There are many people I could see myself with right now. But most of all I see myself alone. And I am. In a deep way I feel like I am losing my ability to relate to people in a meaningful connection. For too long all my relationships have been perfectly surface images.

It is a down day for me for sure. But I have been feeling restless for a while now. I want this job to take me somewhere, I want to go somewhere. Or I want to go somewhere. Washington and Oregon hasn’t turned out to be the home I imagined it might be when I moved here. Maybe Salida. Maybe Arkansas. Maybe Utopia.

This morning before the car wouldn’t start I read an article about New York City. And it made me want to go back. I miss the subways. I miss Times Square. I miss the city in a way I don’t miss many places. The Turtle Pond. The Castle. The Williamsburg Bridge. And my car not starting could have been a sign. Go back to where you don’t need your car. But how would I live in the city. Where would I work? How would I pay rent? Would I be any better off at the end of the day?

Or would I still be me, with the same problems, in a different show.`

Maybe I should be brave and do something real. But at the same time I know I have many real things holding me down. And one persons act of bravery is another person’s act of stupidity. Take the Darwin Awards. Are they wrecklessly insane? or wrecklessly courageous?

Does it matter in the end if the results are the same? And the results of poor planning are rarely an improvement. At least they have not been so far for myself.

And I pick up and move to Tuscon, Arizona. The sunny desert. Except when it isn’t and it is cold. And I have no friends there, even less than here. And I start from the ground and I think life will be better. But then like moving here from Texas. Like when I moved to Texas from Nebraska. Or from Colorado to Nebraska. Life is the same. The problems are the same.

At least here I have a little more hope I can keep building towards a future where I won’t be so desperate. So broke. So alone. You can’t build anything when you are moving all the time. And I have been moving too much already. I want to rest. I want to sleep. I want to stop. I want to die.

How do you believe the world will end? In fire or ice? Will our universe start to collapse into a new big bang? Or extend itself too far, and all it’s energy be diluted. The universe frozen to death.

And maybe the lotto wouldn’t fix my problems. What would I really choose to do today if I had no debts from yesterday. It is almost too scary to think about, to ask. I would be free. Would I know what to do with so much freedom? Would I remain like an elephant in my chains? Would it make me feel any better about myself and my life. And how much longer until I was in debt again?

Write people tell me. You’re a great writer. I don’t care. I may be a good writer, but I am not Stephen King. I am not J.D. Robb. Not even J.K. Rowling. There is a difference between writing things people like to read and things people will pay money to read. And who pays money for books anymore?

I don’t doubt my skill. I doubt the world cares about my skill enough for them to value me and my life. And it isn’t the world’s job to care about me. It isn’t my friends or family’s job to care for me or about me. We are all doing out best afterall. And I am not the only one with problems. Not the only one broken by this life. Not the only one alone in this world. Not the only one.

Why have I created this world for myself? What could I be hoping to learn? And why have I not learned it yet. It is like the email I keep in my inbox for coding lessons. I want to learn SQL and make a database to create my own computer flash cards. But I also want to learn Spanish, and French. I would like to learn English better too.

Okay, I give up for today. It is time for bed. Maybe tomorrow will feel like a better day.

Friends

So high school friends.

The first friend in my memory is Larry. I am not sure how or where I met him. But we were friends for a short period. Then he started hanging out with my sister. But before, I recall going to his house. He had a Ouija Board. And he told me about crystals. Rub your hands together and you can feel the power of a crystal. I think the transition from him being my friend, to her friend was gradual.

Maybe they were friends. Maybe they were not friends. But for a while the neighbors were friendly. I know their son Charles was the first person I drank with in my life. He said it would be good to put some salt in the beer. And we didn’t drink much of the beer. I think we may have split it, and I didn’t finish. This was the only time in my life I think I have ever drank beer. As opposed to other alcohols, but I haven’t drank in years.

Some of the younger children on the street were my friends. At least in the first years of high school. Eric had a younger brother also named Chris. We would ride our bikes up and down the street. On the shoulders of the streets we had paths and jumps. Sometimes I would go to his house. He had a hammock in the back yard. And when we played games our balls would sometimes get stuck in the tree. And we would have to throw something to get it down. And then something to get what we threw down. And then sometimes even more. We had some silly dance contests, which I always won. I wasn’t the judge, but I think Eric looked up to me. The prize was just a cracker anyway.

On the other side from where Charles lived, another family moved in after we had been there a while. I remember when the house was being built. We would take our skates and roll around on the foundation. And once we went to the house and it was locked, but a note on the door directed us to the key. The older boy, about my age was not a friend. The younger boy spent time with us riding bikes. There was one time the three of use built a dam, and small lake on the creek behind Eric’s house. It didn’t last long, but it was a fun adventure.

It was late in my high school years when another boy moved in down the street. He wasn’t a close friend. But I did go to his house once. He told me how he melted his super-soaker by putting gasoline in it instead of water. He was kind of a bad boy, and he was friends with some girls who lived a street over. I remember hanging out at her house, she smoked in her room. She said her mother didn’t know because her mother also smoked. Her younger sister would float around too. They had a trampoline on which I recall jumping. She was younger, and the impression I got was she was easy. I thought she was sexy, but I was both too scared and respectful to try anything. But there was a short period where hanging out with these bad kids made me feel cool. I felt accepted in a way I had not felt before. But over time it faded and I got bored. It was trouble for the sake of trouble and I have never been into trouble.

There was a boy who was friends with Charles. I think they would go and smoke by the water tower after school. He would pick on my sometimes, and after one event he did so even more. But, somethings you learn to accept. There were no seats on the bus for me one day for the trip home. Well, except one and I tried not to sit there, but the driver yelled and told me to sit. It was next to Brandon. He made fun of my all the way home, and was a general pest. When we got to our stop, he got off with us. This wasn’t unusual, but he was walking in front of me, and he lived the other direction.

When the bus left, he turned around and walked back to me. Before I knew what was going on he hit me right in the throat. But, Charles and his friend anticipated the trouble. They ran across the street and gave Brandon a good beating. I recall hearing he had to get his front teeth wired straight. Then afterwards the boy who beat Brandon up would use it as an excuse to pick on me.

When I was in high school I knew almost everyone. This was in large part because I had gone to two of the three feeder schools. And I have always been a friendly person. Not the most popular, not the coolest, not the person everyone loves or hates. But generally accepted by most people. I stayed out of trouble.

There was a girl I had a crush on also. Once again I don’t recall her name. But I would walk home with her, and she lived on the opposite end of the subdivision. At her house, we would listen to Debbie Gibson. The other kids would sometimes make fun of us, saying we were dating. But we never were more than friends. I don’t think I knew what to do with girls when I was in high school. Maybe not even when I was in college. And even now.

In my youth group there was Jason and his brother. They were my friends. They came from a large family, invested in the church. The rest of the people in the church always felt like they placed themselves above me. I can’t say if this was just how I felt, or if it was also how they felt about me. But being young, and growing up isn’t easy for anyone.

Once I did some yard work for a man with A.I.D.S. He was dying, and you could tell. He would sit in his house, watch TV, and mute the commercials. I never knew much about him. But I did a terrible job at the yard work. When mowing I broke his irrigation. And when I mowed the front yard, I missed long lines where I didn’t overlap the mower right. In the end I don’t know how much he paid me. One time I used his car to go into town and get money. I think I pulled it out of his credit card instead of his checking account. Banking was not something I knew much about in high school. Add it to the list.

Then there was Jessie James. And like the name would suggest he should be a chapter to himself.

Thinking back, I knew a lot of people. There is something about me, I always know a lot of people. But none of them were close. In high school I wasn’t close to anyone. When my father once started drinking after having quit, I recall feeling I had no one to talk to about my problems. No one who understood me.

I have forgotten so many names. And writing this now I wonder where these people are now. I hope they are well, but I know many of them are not. Many of them were on the road to trouble when I knew them in high school. But I would hope friends like Eric and Little Chris (his brother) would be doing well. I believe Charles became a cop. And I hear Larry has been living in Berkeley. But I don’t talk to anyone from high school.

Just write

Today I am just going to write. Write about the wonder of rain at night. The beauty of the lights coming through the falling drops of water. And when it rains heavy, and it splashes on the dark pavement. The smell in the air, fresh and clean.

I remember in Nebraska sometimes the air would smell musty. It smelled good like soil. Real and rich.

Write about my bowl. Given to me by a beautiful artistic friend. She gave me two bowls and I have them both. But I broke one and had to glue it back together. I wish I could see her and talk to her. I feel like everywhere I go, I miss someone who is somewhere else. But she is here.

Now I want to write about people who aren’t here. The people I went to school with, the people I have loved and lost. The people with whom I grew up.

I had an editor once who taught me about not ending a sentence with, “with,” “to,”but,” ,”is or “or.” I don’t know the grammatical term right off the top of my head. Prepositions?

I am flossing gunk out of my teeth. For the last couple years I had the bad habit and playing with nail bitings in my mouth. So in an effort to stop I am learning to floss more.

Tonight I feel so tired. Not tired in the sense I need sleep, but I do. But tired in the feeling of wanting to rest for days. I want to clean, I want to read, I want to listen to music, I want to write, I want to do tarot. Life is so full of things which are pleasurable. And I spend so much time at work. But, I do enjoy my job.

I don’t want to write about my job. No, not tonight. Let me write about my kitty instead. It amazes me how long we have been together now.  I was thinking about how long it has been since I was in Berkeley. And I think it has been as long since I’ve been there, as it had been when I was there since my mother was in Berkeley. Odd isn’t it? It feels just like yesterday. And I think I can go back and things will be the same.

There is the park where I used to sit. I met the girl in the park. I got clothes from the free box and ate food. The park is still there, but it isn’t the same park. It isn’t my park, like it used to be when I was in Berkeley. It belongs to others.

When I was in Santa Cruz I recall meeting people who said they hadn’t been in town for years. Now if I go back I would be one of those people. I haven’t spent much time in Santa Cruz in at least 10 years. I miss Berkeley and I miss Santa Cruz. Can I pick up and go after all the things and people I miss? No.

My dear friend Karen lives in Sacramento. I miss her too. Though fate seemed to push us down different paths, I once had a little crush on her. Now of course I love her deeply, but it is different. I miss her.

And friends from Rainbow gatherings. I was thinking of a friend in Oakland. I don’t even remember her name, but I miss her too. And the girl I met in San Francisco and then in Pennsylvania. What was her name, she was amazing. Now I am writing myself into a hole. Feeling more and more lonely and depressed. I should stop. But what about Pam and Laura, Shaylyn. And the girl who told me about the Effins, and we learned about the children of the dandelion moon. I miss them all.

Oh, and my street sisters. I only remember one of their names. It was Sarah, like my real sisters name. I miss them and wonder where they are and what became of their lives. And I miss my real sister. I miss the popcorn girls. I will have to share their story later. And Da Da. What about the Pleiadian girl? How old is her child now? I think it could have been mine if I had sex with her the weekend we met. I think her name was Raven. I’ve always been in love and scared at the same time.

I even miss batty old Moon Cat in a way. The guy who used to get mad and beat himself in the balls. He was sick. But he was a good person. And the guy the police shot, Happy. He was also sick. The guy who took photos of me, and let me stay at his house a couple times. He could be dead by now. And Tony the odd older man who roamed downtown in his wheel chair.

Oh yes, Moon Raven. Though I doubt she is still Moon Raven. She had a baby, became a christian and moved to Kansas. I wish I could talk to her again. But I have lost her like I have lost almost everyone. People just come and go and you don’t get to hold on to any of them. Not for long.

Even if I could go back. None of them would be there, on the streets or in the towns. They used to be my homes. But now they are homes for other people. And my home is here for now. Here alone. With my cat.

I miss Kacey. I talked to her the other day. But she is so far away. And Rose is far away too, and even though she threatens to visit, I doubt she ever will. And Leigh, well I can’t talk about her. I miss Stephanie, she is such a success. I wish I could be more like Stephanie.

And I wish I could be more like Sage. We were together for such a short time. It would have been good if we could have been better friends. Yes, I really had a huge crush on her. She was smart. She was sexy. She had more strength than any single person I have met in my life. I want to talk to Sage and tell her how I feel about her, but I won’t.

I feel like a flower. But I am not opening up to life. I close down more and more every year. And I get further and further from more and more people in my life. One day I will live out in the middle of the desert. No one will know my name. They will find me and no one will know who I was, or know I am gone. I might not even know.

See, this is getting dark. This is what I didn’t write for so long. I am trying not to write everything into the same hole. The same dark corner.

I miss Yosemite. It was amazing. I miss the river growing up, and the land to roam and explore. I need to get out soon. But I am so tired and my time is so pressed for other obligations. I don’t always want to be this person, but I don’t know how to be someone else. I don’t want to be alone forever. But who am I before I am not me, but with someone else.

I miss you Mariah. No, it was Moriah – “god will provide.” We used to be so close. We used to share. And it has been almost 20 years. I will never see you again. This makes me sad. There are many people I will never see again, Leigh, Blue, many people with names I forget, Otter.

Oh sweet Otter. We drove from Boulder to Tuscon together. You were an angel. I was so in love with you I didn’t know what to do and I did nothing. Which got me no where. But for a moment I was your friend. And thinking of Tuscon, what about Erin. Lost as well, lost as well.

I’ve lost a part of myself in all the people I have cared about in my life. And you have no idea how many parts a person can lose and still go on with life.

In high school even. There was Heather, I always thought too good for me. And the other kids from the youth group. It is sad Jason isn’t with us at all anymore. I wonder the lives they are having, with kids. My roommate and my best friend from college. It would be fun to see both of them again, together. On a grand adventure. Or just something simple. I love them too.

Oh and Sarah. Yes another Sarah. From college. I know her on Facebook now. But even though I loved her then, everything is broken and far away now. I am broken and far away. There was the other girl in college. She was so hot, in her sweaters and tights. And she told me about learning gymnastics on the beach and messing up her knees. My niece did gymnastics, and I haven’t seen her in years. She can drive now.

I need to go so sleep. Good night. I started this all with talking about the rain. And how did I get to this point? The beauty of the rain is how it falls? Dar Williams. I have never met her, but I would like to meet her someday. But right now it is almost 2:30 a.m.

The Last Transition

From Ahawhnee we moved back to our great-aunt’s for the last time. It was just me and my sister.

What I remember most we had some friends. Where they came from and where they went I am unsure. But they would come to the property and play a game of hide and seek. We played it at night. It started off simple enough. But soon we learned how easy it was to hide in simple shadows. And to move in shadows.

Eventually we didn’t really hide so much as move around and try to avoid being caught. And we played it on much of the 13 acres. I have a clear memory of going down near the river. And my sister once encountered a pack of coyotes, which ran away.

But I still spent a good deal of time alone. This is when I took the long trip up the river and found the canyon. Maybe it wasn’t a canyon, but to us it was grand. On either side of the river was some high rocks. The river was narrow. And in some parts much deeper than near where we lived.

It was a period of transition. When I started school in Coarsegold I was popular. I hadn’t been back at the school since before my brother was born, in the second grade. Most of the students were new to me. Except the girl who broke my arm was still at the school.

Maybe I wasn’t popular. What does the word even mean? But I was the center of attention. At the time there was no difference in my mind. But looking back as an older and wiser person, there is a difference.

The other kids at school started talking me into doing embarrassing things for attention. Things I would rather no discuss in detail. But, I had no self-esteem. And I would do anything for the vague idea of acceptance or approval. Or just for attention good or bad. I wasn’t a very strong person. And I didn’t have much of a sense of myself, or my own self worth.

It was also the transition of puberty. Which created some touchy changes in my life.

Another memory from this time was of myself talking back to my great-aunt. She had told me something, I don’t even remember what she had said. But I wanted to feel like I had some power, and it was easy to be mean to her because I knew she wouldn’t respond.

At the time a TV show was popular. The show was Bosom Buddies. The theme song was defiant, and I wanted to be defiant so I told her:

“I don’t care what you say anymore, this is my life”

This is when I discovered Madonna and became a fan. I would sometimes find a Walkman and listen to the radio. It was pop music. Music which my great-aunt felt was evil. She told a story of the devil going to church. Someone asked the devil, why are you here where we worship God. His reply was they were worshiping him with their music.

And I walked away. She never mentioned it, and she probably understood me more than I did myself at the time. But, it was immature to say the least.

But it is a hard time isn’t it, becoming a non-child. But you still have years before you become an adult. You aren’t even a teenager.

It is during this time I think I first really started to feel alone the most. Not just alone in the singular sense of the word. But alone in the sense of not being understood. Alone in the feeling of people not being aware of me. My struggles, my general being.

This was the last school I attended, aside from going to high school. So my school memories of the time probably over lap with the next chapter. The last move we made was the next house.

There was a girl named Pepper. Yeah, who names their kid Pepper. But I thought she was hot. I wanted to get to know Pepper better, and I wrote her a note and I put pepper in the note. She never responded. Once I picked her some wild flowers. Other kids laughed, and one later pulled some weeds out of the ground and gave them to her. These things feel bad at the time. I don’t know how she felt about me. But we never even became friends. There were no friends in school.

This was also the time period when I was not chosen for a team sport. In PE the two popular kids would be the team captains. They would then choose players one at a time until everyone was on a team. But this time the count was odd. Neither team wanted me. Then they both said I should be on the other team. So I left. These things feel really bad a the time.

Of course it is just school. And the paid goes away over time. We grow up and we learn to value ourselves. We learn to understand the kids are wrong.

There was a girl who gave me a flower one day. I don’t recall her name. It stayed in a vase by my bed for a long time. Then someone else threw it away one day.

This was a short transition. We moved to Hilda’s at the start of summer and moved to our own house during my sixth grade year. The exciting factor was it was a house we owned. Well Mother was making payments to the bank.

 

I am who I am

Life is a network of influences. To the degree I am a sensitive person. To the degree I am an intuitive person, I point to my history. Life makes us who we are. It makes alcoholics hard to predict. It makes their children more aware. They need to learn to read moods to survive.

It is different for me. Everything in my life was to some degree chaotic. I estimate living in 9 places before the sixth grade. Sometimes living with my mother, sometimes my sister or Hilda. I don’t recall ever feeling like a child. But, I only have my own experience. I don’t know how other children feel. Or feel now as adults.

I can’t count how many people shaped who I am. Kids in school, teachers and relatives. Many of them were positive. Some were not positive. Kids at school called me names. And it wasn’t fun. But I think it gave me an openness and acceptance of others.

There was once a game in P.E. The two popular boys were the captains. One by one they picked their teams. I was the last one. Each team said they in fact didn’t want me. I just walked away. I’m not sure why they would be so mean.

I know I wanted acceptance from others. To be one of the cool kids. This is why I painted my nails with a marker. Later I did embarrassing things for attention. Kids can be mean, without being mean people. This acceptance is what should come from family.

In the sixth grade for a short period I was popular. Well, maybe unusual is a better word. I achieved a lot of attention and it felt good. Overtime it felt empty. Because it was empty. None of them really knew or cared about me. Over time I relied on myself.

I learned to rely on myself. Because I didn’t have anyone else. This meant I couldn’t depend on someone to help me adapt. I had to learn to accept changes. My intuition comes from these lessons. I learned to listen, be quiet and watch. Life has taught me to wait before action. It is often easier and smarter.

I also spent a lot of time alone. Alone walking and thinking about life. One time I decided to see how far I could walk up the river. I walked for what felt like hours. When I found a cool canyon I stopped. Coming back it got dark. I got scared. How would I find where I lived in the dark. We went to the river often. But not at night. I did make it home safe. I took my sister to the canyon soon after.

The property was 13 acres. Most of it was familiar to me. I had walked around it enough to know each piece well. I could find peace in my own head by walking in nature. Being out with the birds and trees and rocks. Just thinking.

Spending time alone is self-perpetuating in some ways. You get used to your own thoughts. And if you don’t share them people around you don’t understand. When you share a little, it feels easier to stay quiet. You know you understand yourself. And the people close to you are not as close anymore.

I interacted with adults a great deal as a child. More so than children. I didn’t try to be an adult. But I watched them and listened. And when I talked to them, it wasn’t as a child. Many relationships may have fine tuned my boundaries. But, the relationships I had were weak. I was the only person I was close to as a child.

All the relationships in my life felt the same. And maybe this is because the people around me were not constant.

People learn to want things in relationships. But as a child I think I didn’t expect much. Maybe this allowed me to be more aware of my world. By not expecting things from people I could see them in a different way. As I grew up I developed more of an emotional need. But I don’t recall one as a child.

Looking back as an adult, I can see how I kept problems to myself. When I had a health issue, I didn’t discuss it. For whatever reason, talking to an adult didn’t seem like the natural choice. I didn’t talk about my feelings. Even as I got older.

For years I didn’t understand missing people. They came and went. But missing is not accepting what is. They are not there. Then they are there. Missing is wanting what isn’t there to be there. I don’t think I ever wanted someone to be there who wasn’t. Again not looking at what isn’t there, helps see what is there.

I am a soft person. And the softness makes people comfortable. I don’t judge. Maybe I just always felt connected to people. I didn’t have the strong bond with a few people. And became more aware of weaker bonds. And the bonds of others too.

But acceptance of people is also a way of not being alone. You can’t afford to reject someone. Because you fear having no one. At times it felt like I lost people going through life. Maybe I felt like I lost my mother. Did I blame myself? She was there, but she wasn’t a mother.

When I got older I lost my sister. She was there but we drifted apart. And sometimes I feel like I even lost myself. Being friends with someone means supporting them. You encourage them and help them be who their best selves. In high school I focused on getting along. I just wanted to survive. I didn’t know how to support and encourage myself and my goals. So, I gave them up.

I’ve been a little lost ever since. If you have ever walked a trail in the dark. You know staying in the trail can be tricky. But if you take it slow, the trail will take you along. Once you lose the trail, you’re chances are slim. You can feel what is and isn’t the trail while on the trail. But without a reference you can’t feel the difference.

Losing people can  also be self-perpetuating. Relationships change as a part of growth. If you feel like a change is a loss, you may push away. Just a little push. But, one little push for one reason or another is often followed by another. Until, they are gone. Looking back this is what happened with my sister. Again there was a guilt I took on around the loss.

But you can’t go home again. And looking back I can see how home is what we both needed. We both coped. I took one path and she took another. My therapist pointed out she filled her life with people. I let them all go. All or nothing.

I always hated the question. Have you ever thought of killing yourself. For a long time I thought everyone had. I know I thought about it a lot. At times I am sure I wanted death. But something kept me alive. Keeps me alive.

When I drank the cleaner as a young child. I didn’t care about life. When I got lost it scared me. But at the same time I didn’t care. When I tried to overdose on sleep pills. Did I do it knowing it wouldn’t work because they were natural. Or did I do it hoping it would work anyway. And my life wasn’t particularly rough at the time.

We need people to get us out of our head. Sylvia Plath asked, is there no way out of the mind. The way out is relationships. And I still don’t know how.

Move to Fresno

When Ben was born, he had health problems. Not the least of which was his eyes. He was born with glaucoma. More common in older adults. He had a congenital version.

We moved to Fresno. Me, mother and Ben. It was a short move. But my sister only lived with us part of the time.

Fresno was the big city. I was still a country boy. In the five months we lived in Fresno, at five different time someone robbed our house. I lost several bikes. One off the front porch. Mother knew someone was stealing it because she saw the orange flag move through the window.

Someone even robbed the elderly lady who lived next door. Outside of my family she is the only person I remember. Her and Mother were friends.

She smoked a lot. Stayed up late watching television. Mother said being older she needed less sleep.

When not at home I wandered. Just like in the country. I took long walks, for miles. Alone on city streets, at least a couple times after dark.

But in Fresno is when my memories become clearer. At school I was one of the few white children. And had no friends. I spent my recess walking a line in the playground. A line painted in a spiral. When you got to the middle it led back out again. There was a round one and a square one. I walked these for hours. The other kids played marbles.

Two blocks from our house was a small market. We would buy candy there sometimes. Our favorite show was The Dukes of Hazard. I recall watching the show, and wanting to get candy from the store. Once I ran the two blocks and back during a commercial break.

When my sister was there we explored together. For a short period we had skateboards. Someone had given them to us for Christmas. Much to Mother’s dismay. We never rode them standing up. But until they disappeared we did have fun.

One day we went out and found a grape fruit. We were watching traffic drive by and thought it was a good idea to throw it at a car. We hit a car. Which stopped. The angry lady asked us where we lived. We were blocks from our house. We pointed the wrong direction. But her question was useless. She seemed to understand, and left with a huff.

We lived off Tulare. It was one of the streets we walked on a great deal. Once I walked downtown and found a fountain with its bottom covered in change. I fished some of it out. But in the end I didn’t keep any.

I followed Tulare the other way all to where it ended at Clovis Ave. Mother knew I spent much of my time wandering town. When I got a bike I would ride my bike around. I liked to ride in alleyways. A practice Mother tried to discourage. And I did once hit a car because I was riding in an alley and didn’t see it until too late. I fell of my bike, but the driver wasn’t upset. I wasn’t hurt.

I guess Mother had other concerns. My brother’s health was no doubt a stressful issue. Lost in my own world. There isn’t much in my memory of what happened to my brother, to Mother or even my sister.

In almost all my memories I am alone. The one I have with Mother was riding bikes. We went for a ride. I remember actually riding in traffic and it was so fun. A touch empowering. If not dangerous because it was getting dark.

I lived in Fresno for 5 months. It was more of a long visit. The city didn’t change who I was or who I was becoming. Growing up not far from Fresno, I had been there before. We used to hitch-hike with Mother from Coarsegold to Fresno. There was a gas station where we would buy frozen drinks and push-up ice creams in Fresno. We would stop before walking out to the highway to hitch-hike.

Fresno was much smaller in those days.

Even when I lived there it was bigger. The state put in a new freeway. It used to stress Hilda out to drive on. One of her brothers lived south of Fresno. Where he had a farm, I believe his name was David. We visited a couple times. Once we helped him pick grapes. Well as much as small children can.

David would not sell grapes to the wine companies. He also had a walnut tree in his yard. There is little I recall about him and his house. He and his wife were friendly. They had small yappy dogs.

Fresno wasn’t a place I enjoyed. Saying I didn’t like it would be strong. I simply didn’t care enough not to like the place. At this point in my life I had learned how to accept what was in my world. I felt alone when school started. But I adjusted, and didn’t have friends but was social.

For a short while grandpa lived with us. Again my memories of him are his being bitter. Locking a door and I didn’t even know it could lock. Maybe he had a rough life to be so hard. But I never knew him. I know Mother tried to be loving to him.

My grandfather and great-aunt were German. Family came over on the boat from Russia. They fit the emotionless image many of have Germans.

Mother has sisters. But I never saw them as a child. My first memory of them isn’t until I was an adult.

The crime and the city grew to be too much for Mother, and we moved after five months back to the mountains. Not Coarsegold, but the same area. To this day I still don’t feel comfortable in Fresno. Even much larger cities like New York seem friendlier. But it is just my impression.

Thinking back I don’t know how we made all these moves. We had no car. Mother didn’t learn how to drive until I was in the Fourth grade. Someone must of helped us. But who and why?

 

In the next chapter I need to take a step back.

Chapter 4

So Chapter 4 and I still am not in school. Is this going the be the slowest book ever?

We got some education in the years living with my great-aunt. First grade is when I started school. We had moved to Ahwahnee. Two miles down a dirt road. We lived with a rooster. And across from a nudist.

All day he sat and watched traffic on the road. He was friends with mother. Don’t ask, I don’t want to know. Sometimes he would give us a ride to the main road, or into town. But, I have memories of walking the two miles. At least once alone. There was a berry patch along the road. We would stop and pick berries.

The rooster attacked my sister once. Maybe this is why she didn’t want to live with us. Or maybe there were other reasons.

I remember more of what people told me about first grade. Other kids said I used to pee my pants in class. The school was a couple small buildings. I went to the Fourth grade and part of the fifth grade at the same school.

Math is something I remember. Not because it was hard. It was boring. Why go over and over the same numbers. But I did my homework. I cared about my education still.

Naturally there weren’t friends so far away from people. But I had my sister. One time we got in a dirt clog war. They burst like bombs when you throw them. Sometimes the dust is like smoke. We got pink eye.

We may not have lived at this house long. My memory of the time is so sparse. Memories of mother are even more so. The house was a mess. Life couldn’t have been easy for a single woman, alone, two kids. Not to mention living two miles from civilization with no car. We didn’t have a car until I was in the fourth grade.

Growing up mother would say she couldn’t afford new clothes because of us kids.

I know the next year, I was in the second grade at a new school. Living back in Coarsegold. Also we lived at my great aunt’s for a short time. This is when mother knew my little brother’s father.

Ahwahnee is a small town. Just a few buildings, a school, a bar and a post office. The town itself was about two miles down the paved road. Then two miles on the dirt road was our place. Why would someone think to live in such a place? With two kids? No car?

Whatever length of time we lived there, the next stop was my great aunt’s. We lived down in the trailer. My sister and I spent our time going to the river, often alone. There was a tractor on the property and small road to the river. Sometimes my great aunt’s friends gave us a tractor ride.

My sister once tried to get me to eat a puffball. Not something which seemed like a good idea at the time. The property now had a small eucalyptus grove. After the rain I would shake the trees. The scent in the air, the moisture as it fell from the leaves was wonderful.

This was the last time we lived in the trailer. To mother’s credit our housing improved as we grew. We started the second grade in a new house. But it will be a new chapter.

The area I grew up in is south of Yosemite. The core town is Oakhurst. North of which on highway 49 six miles was Ahwahnee. South of Oakhurst 11 miles on Highway 41 was Coarsegold. Students from all these towns went to the same high school.

The whole area was rural. Slightly racist. Conservative and religious country. The big event in Coarsegold was the rodeo. There was a lot of ranch land. Also many people worked in Fresno, an hour south on 41.

Taco Bell came to town while I was in high school. Soon after the first traffic signal. It was at the corner with the Talking Bear. A large plastic figure. When you pushed a button it spoke about bears. Of course all the real bears were gone.

Our family was never accepted in the community. Later a school secretary told our neighbors, “oh you live by the dump.” This isn’t the place to explore white flight. But the shoe fits. People didn’t understand us.

Maybe they felt like we children needed help. Sometimes they called CPS. Or Child Protective Services. Mother had a big job, with two and then three kids. Were we in danger? Not physic danger. We ate. We weren’t hit.

We did have friends. They were few. I can’t remember most names and faces. With one exception, they were not lasting.

We can view our lives through so many lenses. The people we know and knew. The places we are and were. The things we did and do. My life has been full of places and people and things. It feels a little like a drawer of mis-matched socks.

When I think of you…

When I think of you I feel guilty. I treat you poorly. There is a bitter part of myself which wants to be mean to you, and is often and persistently.

When I think of you I feel lonely. I miss you. I miss the river, the walks, the French, the food, the house, the cats, the reading, the talking, the being friends. I miss you like I miss food. I miss you like I miss the things from my childhood. I miss you like a home, though I’ve never had one. I miss you and I miss you often and persistently.

When I think of you I feel bad for being a jerk. I ignore you calls. I don’t call you back. At times I think you should just give up on being my friend. I wouldn’t be surprised if one day you did. Or maybe you already have. I am a jerk because I feel so many things, and the relationship you seem to want isn’t deep enough to express them. But I am a jerk, because I choose to be. And I don’t know why but I choose to be a jerk often and persistently.

When I think of you I feel like your better off without my Melrose Place drama in your life. I wonder if it isn’t better for both of us to not engage in the emotional turmoil we seem to get sucked into when we connect. And when we don’t connect, but only talk I feel like I am bleeding in the street and everyone is driving by, without stopping. I feel like I hurt you more though contact, than through my absence. I doubt you need a friend like me, I doubt that often and persistently.

When I think of you, I think I still love you. You’re like a part of me, you feel so close. Even when we haven’t spoken for so long, I feel like I could call you and it wouldn’t matter. But it does. I love you because you make me want to be a better person. I just love you for who you are, and who I want to be with you. It isn’t just the Ayn Rand books, it isn’t just a shared love of learning. It is more and more than all the words I could write. It is your sap I love. I really love you often and persistently.

When I think of you I feel like a failure. No, not in terms of our relationship – for which I have to much hope for still to feel like a failure. No, my life. I feel like I want to have a career, to be a person you could be proud to know. The person you thought I was when we were in college together. The person you thought I was when we were together. A person who doesn’t live in a cheap rented room, alone with a cat. A person who doesn’t have a low-pay job, he could have done without the college degree for which he isn’t paying his loans. A person who can and does pay his loans. I want to be John Galt, so you could be my love. I feel like a failure when I don’t think of you too though. I feel like a failure often and persistently.

When I think of you I worry about you. I guess I worry about your career, but you are smarter than I – even though I once said different. I worry about your health. I feel like Forest Gump who would drop everything to run to you and care for Jenny in her illness. I want you to be well. I don’t want to worry about your health. I feel like a bad friend because I don’t know if you are well. Even if you wanted me to, I wouldn’t even know to come to you. In a silly way, I worry about your relationships – just because I there is still a part of me confident enough to believe no one loves you as much as I. When I think of you I worry about you, I worry about you often and persistently.

There are so many things which make me think of you. The cat. Bunny. Some days just the news itself makes me think of you. So many things I see on Facebook. Politics. Donald Trump. Listening to the CDs you gave me (of which I have cloned). I think of you at night, I think of you at work. I think of you in this world which is haunted by you. When I feel alone I think of you the most. When I think of you I feel alone the most. I think of you often and persistently.

Can you see why I don’t try to connect with you more? Where are my sleeping pills? Where is bunny? I need some ice cream and sleep right now.

Olympia

I went back to Olympia.

It was the first time I have been there since I left you in your bed.

The sun was burning down out of the sky, like an Albert Camus novel and I was the stranger. I looked for your place, the old place where we were together. And where I left you in your bed.

But the old place is gone, the place where you lived. The place where we loved, is gone.

The whole city was haunted by you. I could see you on every corner. I heard your thoughts regarding the signs in the windows. You were always so intelligent, and witty.

I went back because I haven’t been there in years. I wanted to take photos of the places I knew. It is a part of me, the time you and I were close in the small town. It will always be a part of me, and today it is a part of me I miss.

The pictures of the capitol building, the park, the lake and the streets all made me think of you. It all made me think of you. And as I drove home I listened to the mix CD of your songs.

Even those places where we never went together were haunted by you. The spring in town where I spent time waiting for the bus. On the final lonely dark and cold night we were together.  And then apart.

My mother was on her way to help me move to California. I moved to Portland the first time because you once told me you hated Portland. Now I wonder where I would be today if you hadn’t said those words. For the second time, I had almost moved closer to you.

I am back in Portland. But I wouldn’t be if it weren’t for the people I met the first time I moved here. And the second time I moved here is when the wound was the deepest for us. The last time. I went to see you in Olympia after you invited me to visit.

But I stayed too long.

You weren’t happy to have me there so long. You weren’t happy for me to visit you at your school job. You weren’t happy. I walked out that night after you told me you didn’t care if I spent the night or not. I wanted more than anything to be close, and warm and with you one more night. The smell of you.

But I left because I also wanted more than anything not to be leaving the relationship on a note of apathy on your part. I was so tired of your not caring. At the end of the day, it wasn’t enough. Maybe you did care, and for some reason you just couldn’t tell me. I know there were things I didn’t know how or couldn’t tell you. I loved you so much, words failed me. Everything failed me. Sometimes I feel like I failed us.

Where are you now? Hawaii, San Diego or maybe Washington DC. Where would we be if that night was not the last night?

Remember the baby? The one we almost had. You said you did the dance for joy when you found out it was not to be born. My father was happy I wouldn’t be tied to you. But I am tied to you with the fabled red string. Because I once loved you deeply, and I still do, across time and space. Of course time and space are real and love changes.

You introduced me to Leonard Cohen, and he is the one who said. “True love leaves no traces, if you and I are one, it is lost in our embraces, like stars against the sun.”

What we had was never accurately described. I wonder if the fact your mother once called me your “boyfriend” was a factor in your ending things. I never understood why you went through your mood swings. You said one time a boy had left you, and after drinking your mom found you crying and yelling in the driveway. I wanted to hug you, I wanted to go back in time and hug you. I wanted to hug all the pain so many people caused you away. Maybe because like me, so much of the pain in your life was a result of the actions of people who should have known better. People you should have been able to trust to love you and care for you. We were both lost you and I. And I still am.

I went back to Olympia, because it was a place. A moment in time. A memory of not feeling either so alone, or so lost in the world. Every day I feel like the people in my life are further and further away. But it is my fault. And I am more and more alone, lost and emotionally confused. Although I can’t recapture the past, I can taste the memory.