Sunday, March 16, 2008

Looking Down at Up's Reflection

We all met at El Charro’s Restaurant tonight for my mom’s annual would be ‘birthday’ dinner, were she still alive and eating. We had reservations for twenty at six-thirty. But first, let me back track, everyone met at Saturday’s Palm Sunday / Vatican appointed Saint Patrick’s Day mass where my mom’s name was to be mentioned in the memorial part of the service. Everyone but me, that is; I went straight to the bar at El Charro’s, at 5:30, and waited for everyone else to arrive after the mass. My mom was not a church-goer. She was the most spiritual, non-judgmental, loving, witty being I have ever known. But, she was not a cemetery visitor, a wreath layer, a church-goer, a mourner type. She was alive. She had experienced too much pain, sorrow and sadness in her life to waste anymore living hours revisiting those ghosts. She would have been sitting at that bar – and she was - with me having a green beer. So I, her dependable teenage rebel child who heard her devilishly inviting whispers in my ear and I sheepishly complied, skipped the church part (even though I am probably the most religious, dogmatic, ritualistic person I know) and went straight to the bar, her framed photo in my purse, and asked for whatever Saint Patrick’s Day drink the bartender had to offer. My mom was there with me. I had no doubt.

There was a guy next to me. I say ‘guy’ because he was probably in his late twenties. He was a man. And, he was a guy . . . the guy next to me at the bar. I told him I skipped out on church. He told me he skipped out on work. Cheers. I was waiting for my ‘party.’ He was waiting for his carry-out. We both watched the high school basketball game on the bar television. It really didn’t surprise me that one of the teams playing was Detroit Pershing High: my mom and dad’s alma mater. And, it really didn’t surprise me that the guy worked for a company that took over the old building that once housed the company my dad worked for, right down the street. I passed it on the way in, looked for the water tower I remembered as a child and had flash backs of driving my dad to work in the station wagon so I could use the car for the day. This is my home town. It’s not like I never come here, but it felt so far away and foreign to me today. There were a few more ‘coincidences’ that matter only to me. I knew my mom was with me. I knew I did right by listening to my heart and not giving in into the familial pressures - as invisible as they are; as real as they seem - nor the figments of fragmented guilt over my own civil disobedience.

I had two drinks before my family arrived.

I was trying hard, with all the strength I could gather, to have a good day; but I wasn’t. I was trying to keep my smile steady while my eyes welled up and I curled my toes into the floor hoping the pain of doing so would stop my overwhelming need to burst into tears.

“What’s wrong?”

“Is something bothering you?”

“You seem upset?”

Questions were coming in. I had no answers; only lies.

“Nothing. I’m fine”

I figured I could play the game too. I could pretend. I could ‘put my happy face on’ and get through the night. I gave it a shot, for the sake of the kids and my dad. But for the rest of them, well . . .

“What’s wrong?” With me? Me, the one who wanted to bow out if they were to start singing “Happy Birthday” to the lighted candle shaped like a little birthday cake that my aunt, my mom’s only living relative, brought. My discomfort annoyed them. My reaction insulted them. We didn’t sing. Thank God. My mom is dead! Dead. If I celebrate anything it will be the day she got to leave this craziness. Even the church celebrates the saints on the day they left this world for the better world.

What’s wrong with me? Hmmmmmmm? I don't have to think long on that one: I am without a job. I have been unemployed for longer than I choose to acknowledge. Despite putting resumes out every day, I have not found work. I am broke. I have liquidated all of my assets. I have canceled all of my policies. I’ve been without medical care and dental care for a year. I have no house. I have no food. Well, not much food. I have no money. I have no job. I have no peanut butter. I have no mother. I have no husband. I have no jelly. I have nobody. I am, for the most part, alone. I am alone (but not lonely) and moneyless (but not penniless) and foodless (but not starving) and houseless (but not homeless) . . . and for today, on this day, I am sad . . . but not suicidal. I am standing at the edge of the cliff looking down at up's reflection. I am not good enough to be a willing and able participant in this world; and I am not bad enough to be seen in my robes spun of desperation, fear and humility. Speaking of humility: it is a great thing, an honorable state - but when the robes come off and all that is visible is a scary looking ribcage holding the heart captive; that's when humility feels more like shame. And that is what I felt when being asked what is wrong with me and I clutched my robe tighter than ever before.

I am also in the midst of a powerful process; I am transitioning into the next phase of my womanhood – of my life – and I am doing it alone. Solo. Solo no one can hear me . . . an inside joke of my mom’s. I have no female elders left to hold my hand and guide my through this process – this long, dark tunnel of mystery. This winding, rolling, uphill path. This upheaval of pocketed and locketed emotions. This unraveling of memories – reel by reel. This exhuming of skeletal pain until only the marrow is holding me up.

“What is wrong with me?” ME?

I had another drink, a Jack and Coke; my mother’s drink. I didn’t eat. My stomach was knotted. I felt my mother. She was with me. And unfortunately, her pain was with me. But I’m not as good at covering it up as she was in her Jackie Kennedy fashion. I felt her pain. I felt my pain – and then I felt the pain of not wanting to charge a five dollar cheese enchilada.

“Lindy, you’re not eating?”

“Do you want some of mine; I can’t eat all of this?”

“Here’s part of a chicken burrito if you want it.”

Could I sink any smaller in my chair? Could I Alice my way into Wonderland oblivion?

I don’t know how I did it. I didn’t plan my escape at all. But, somehow, I found myself in my car and I was turning the key and I was backing out of the parking spot and I was approaching the exit of the lot and I was on the main road. I was gone. And I knew I’d have hell to pay for leaving without the formal goodbyes. And I knew no hell could be worse then my staying in the condition I was in. I knew some things, after all. I wasn’t that crazy.

I exited I-94 at Cadieux. There was some garbage strewn along the road. I turned right onto Harper and a couple of people ran across the street in front of me. I quickly slowed down so as not to hit them. That was real to me. This street is real to me. That litter is real to me. Those people running across the street in traffic was real to me.

I’m almost home. This is Detroit. I’m safe now.


Alexys Fairfield said...

Hi Lindy,
I love the photo in the post. And I really love the post - the tender nuances - the memories flooding through - the setting - the feeling of disconnection - the trepidation - the story of your heart. I like the way you conveyed your feelings. You spoke about many things that you don't have, but you overlooked what you do have - - a real talent for writing. I know at times, we all feel that we don't have anything, but when we step back we can see all the gifts inside. The gifts that are overlooked - the gift of gratitude.

I am happy that I got a chance to drop by today.

Have an inspiring week and stay positive.

Blessings my friend.

Pythia3 said...

Hi Alexys,

Thank you for you generous comment and complement.

I really am grateful for so much! I do know that I have many things . . . gifts, love, family, friends, health and so much more.

When I write and I am in a zone and the muse takes over and the process begins - the words take on a life of their own and like an arrow; they have a direct path of intent. While writing this piece, that path was me, me, me, I want, I want, I want, I don't have, I don't have, I don't have.

Tomorrow, another muse may tap into another zone and everything will be so sweet that a calorie warning will have to be footnoted.

Thanks, again.

Blessings to you, too :)

bella said...

What tremendous writing.
I really felt as if I was there, with you, seeing and hearing and feeling into this moment in time.
I am struck by how attuned you are to yourself, your awareness of who you are and what you long for. It is truly lovely. Not necessarily always pleasant or easy, but a gift in its own way.
To let ourselves just be where we are,welcoming it all as guests, this is indeed the way of the warrior.
Courage and tender quiet to you today.

Maithri said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maithri said...

You write in such a deeply affecting way...

Theres an old saying by James Allan... which says "circumstances dont make a man. They reveal him".

Somewhere in your words, I can feel YOU, the warrior of light, being revealed,

Sending you my love and whispers of hope,


Pythia3 said...

Bella, thank you for your beautiful comment - and you are absolutely correct when you wrote:

" truly lovely. Not necessarily always pleasant or easy..."

I'm sure you know from your experience that the spiritual warrior path is demanding, constant...never ending...but yes, so lovely and rewarding. It is the only path that is real to me - the only one that makes 'sense.'


Pythia3 said...

"circumstances don't make a man. They reveal him".

Maithri, thank you for this reminder - so very true.

We are constantly being revealed - THAT is the true reality - the authentic reality.

Thank you for seeing my light:)

Sending you healing thoughts to pass on.........................

singleton said...

Good Lord, girl....
If the bartender had been here, I would have had to order a green beer, too....and I wouldn't have been able to lift my eyes from your words long enough to show him my thanks,
he would have just had to know....
A thousand thoughts,
a thousand words,
none of them big enough to tell you.....
but I remember these words,
when I traveled in likened spirit,
in well worn shoes....
"An army of one".....
And you, my friend, have it going on.....

"I believe....."

I used to chant those words over and over and over again. So many times, I questioned what it was I believed in, but I kept saying it, still do....And then I realised what it was....

I believe in hope.....

Wishing you peace~love my friend
(And Alice's been talking to me lately, too....strange....)

Pythia3 said...

Dearest sister singleton...oh, that Alice...that tunnel...that tea cup of mischief and always inviting me in...and then deeper in...and then deeper yet...until the only light I see is the light in front - the light on the other side.
I do love Alice.
"An army of one..." the being of a spiritual warrior. Yes, the only real way for me.
At times, I do miss trading army boots with the others, and helping each other tuck our hair under our caps...but it was at those times - when I was admiring my comrades new boots - that the enemy attacked. I now know that I must keep my eyes open and my back to the front at all times...dancing the dance.
...hope...encompasses it, patience and lends courage, dignity and is light in is tomorrow in the uncertain heals our yesterdays today...HOPE shows us the love to overcome all that is not love.
You are so right about HOPE.
Thanks for your abundant words and powerful thoughts.
Love and peace.

Pythia3 said...

On another note:
Thank you, again, Singleton, you have re-inspired my Wonderland curiosities and have me looking to my left at Alice...the parallel paths.
See you down the rabbit-hole:)