Monthly Archives: July 2014

Presence

My ghosts have been near to me again. A word, a song, a book… and they whisper again in my ear, inviting me to remember, to let them back in for a moment or two.

Someone near to me lost her brother this week. Drugs. It seems it is all too often drugs when it is someone gone too young. I saw her yesterday, young and sad and scared. I hugged her and invited her out for tea and told her I was willing to be a shoulder when she needed it. And grieved again my own sister, lost to me, though likely still alive, judging from the collections notices we still get in her name.

I indulged today and played hooky from Faire in order to hit reset, to take a break. Velah and Mr Awesome and the kids could go, and I’m sure will be full of stories when they return for dinner tonight. I drove into the city, to walk anonymous on the sunny streets and browse the dusty stacks at Powell’s books.

My ghosts followed me, though. A copy of “The Ghost in the Closet”, a book I bought at about age 14, and I think, my introduction to lesbian fiction. Back when it was just the “Gay Studies” section of Powell’s, and they kept it in the green room. The thrill of reading about Jackie, the butch Black cop with her bulging biceps, and the distant hope that someday, I’d find a funny lady with short hair and a take-charge manner.

Funny, isn’t it, how I became that lady, instead of finding one to date…

In the manga section, a copy of a book that Wash really wanted me to read. Several titles, in fact. When everything fell apart, he was trying to turn me into his anime buddy. And I was left with the niggling sense of something missing, something not quite healed, like when you have a cut and it is better and the scab has fallen off but the new skin is still sensitive and tight and doesn’t quite fit over the old hole correctly, yet.

The memories come, fast and strong, the current of them sweeping me into the past. My mother went to Powell’s, once, maybe twice. She took my sister and myself there, and Steph bought several Stephen King books; I forget what, if anything, I got. And in the same room as King’s multitudes of stories is another prolific author, Philip K Dick, and I recall how much a former lover wanted me to love his books, just like he does. “I’m really into Dick!” he proclaimed once, and I dissolved right there, in bed with him. He looked confused for a moment before he laughed along with me.

I think all of us have our ghosts that live in the corners of bookstores and thrift shops, little things that remind us of where we came from and who we used to be. Who knows why they brush our shoulders when they do, why the make their presence known at some times rather than others.

I’m just glad that sometimes, they do. Because sometimes, it’s really lovely to visit with those people we loved and the selves we used to be. Sometimes, it’s nice to have the reminder of where we came from, and where we don’t want to return.

Sometimes, it’s just nice to feel once again the presence of a person we loved and lost, and to feel for a brief moment, the warmth of their soul near our own.

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Lost girl

She hadn’t been doing well. I could tell this, even though I got a terse, “I’m fine…” The couple of times I asked.

Once, she asked to leave the sales floor for an unscheduled break, clutching her stomach. She’d just worked with an eccentric customer, an aging hippy wearing John Lennon glasses and a tie-dye shirt.

I knew, without her telling me, what was going on. But I didn’t want to push, for all that I wanted to be there, knowing that to get it out of her system would help the most.

I asked again, after the store was closed, no threat of customers or phone calls interrupting a conversation.

“I’m fine.”

Clink, clank, the rattle of money being counted into a till. The smell of one dollar bills and fresh printed paper from the nightly numbers.

I turned to my other register, closed it out, and handed her the till to verify the funds. Tears rolled down her face. And like a rainstorm, the words poured out.

I asked if she needed a hug, and held her there for a moment, while she loosed the demons inside.

That customer reminded her of her dad.

I was her, once. I lost my father young… 20, like her. And I remember being 24 and missing him terribly. A customer would remind me of him, or I’d smell Brut aftershave in the grocery store. And I’d feel like I was punched, hard, in the gut. My breath would leave me and I’d lose him all over again. I remember an older coworker who had lost her father young, telling me it would get better, hurt less, fade with time. And I remember thinking I didn’t want it to fade. That I didn’t want him to be a memory, because he is a person.

And now, years later, I come up against September 10th and I can’t remember why it should feel significant. Then, something will remind me of flying from San Diego. My layover in San Francisco and reading my bible and desperately praying that he would live long enough for me to see him one more time. Of my brand new in-laws driving me from the airport in Portland to my childhood home. Of the hospital bed that held the shell of the fiery, fierce man who raised me.

And now, I have more years of memories without him than I have with him. And he feels, a little, like a character in a book that I read a long time ago. I have to work hard to conjure up his face, although, oddly, I can remember his scent in an instant. Cheap beer and Brut, and a metallic overlay from all the coins and keys he carried in his pockets.

That’s what she was afraid of. That her dad would become just a memory, no longer a real person. And I assured her that as long as she had his memories, she carried him with her always. But I couldn’t tell her the awful truth… That someday, all she would have is his essence, the feeling of someone she used to know well, like a well-loved character in a book.

I couldn’t break her heart again, not as her tears dried and she gripped my hand and looked, achingly, like a lost little girl.

So I brought out that time-worn cliche and simply told her it would all be ok. That it would get easier, eventually.

Because it’s a cliche for a reason. It’s true, sort of.

And it was what she needed to hear.


A quick check in

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Seems I always go back to the ocean….

Mr Awesome and I celebrated our anniversary last weekend in the Oregon coast. It’s been fifteen amazing years. Our son is almost as tall as me now, and the way our daughter is growing, she will be taller than me someday, too. I suppose it’s my lot in life, to be the small one in my family.

Things are going well. We had a lovely fourth, and it’s nice to be getting into the summer routine again. I’m making a promise to myself to both work out and write every weekday. Those are both things that make me feel better to do regularly, but that are also hard to find the motivation to do. Weekends will be free days, time for family adventures in the Gorge or at the water park.

I like who I am when I exercise and eat well. The chronic pain is less prominent and easier to deal with, and I don’t get as fatigued. I am also less prone to bad depression and snap out of depressed episodes easier and more quickly.

I’ll be blogging still, hopefully once a week but sometimes a Iittle less or more, depending on mood. I want to get back into the story I started last summer… I feel good when I play with words. I like getting them out of my head and hope that other people find value in them, too.

Still no new partners on the horizon… Plenty of people I’d be interested in, but that won’t work for one reason or another. And I’m ok with that, for the most part.

I hope all is well for all of you… Thanks as always, For reading.


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