Aside 25 Feb

SUBJECT: Well, now I’m really worried

November 9, 2008

YOU: I mean, with less than 24 hours before I start, what if I didn’t get the right keyboard? I mean, that could really make the difference between a mediocre and a great script, you know? I alternate that with telling myself “you haven’t done a script for a long time so it’s okay if this one is lousy. It’s just to get back in the swing of writing. Right?” Either way, I’m spending a lot more time worrying about writing than I’m likely to spend writing when it comes right down to it

Have a good day. Not because I’m telling you to but because you CHOOSE to. That is self-empowering, see? And that’s beautiful. Or, in the timeless wisdom of your people, “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.”

Love you, little mama. 

ME: Well thank God for overnight shipping – if you DO have the wrong keyboard, you can always get a new one FAST. Stop worrying and just write, already. You’re a really, really, REALLY good writer. Even the stuff you’ve written and think is crap – which is everything you’ve written – is good. Or, as my people say: “Snap out of it!” Imagine me smacking your face here…you like that, don’t you? : )

When do you head out to Boulder ?(hippie)

Have a good day? You can’t make me. You’re not my boss.

YOU: Going to Boulder on Friday. Writing Wednesday and Thursday. Guess which I’m most looking forward to.

Or – in the words of that romantic troubadour, Garth Brooks:

“Last time I saw her it was getting colder

But that was years ago.

Last I heard she had moved to Boulder.

Where she is now I don’t know.”

Hmmmm– not exactly sure where that came from. I think I should probably be a little embarrassed, at least.

ME: Don’t bother… I’m embarrassed enough for both of us.

YOU: LOL. You know, in Boulder I’ll have LOTS of time for phone calls.

ME: Yummm.xo

You had a breakthrough on that trip to Boulder – the first bit of meaningful conversation with your mother you could recall since your brother died from AIDS complications and she had that breakdown as you cleaned out his EastVillage apartment together. Since your own death I’ve thought of going to his old neighborhood, hopeful that I might find comfort in the simple act of retracing your footsteps of 20 years ago, the path you took back and forth as you carried his belongings from his apartment to your old Cadillac. Any physical evidence of you having been there would be long gone, of course, bathed in spit and urine then washed by street cleaners and weather; worn by the steps that followed yours and covered by new layers of concrete and cobblestone. But still…could I feel you there? Kidding…I know that’s crazy, of course (and I’ve forgotten the cross street…Houston and…?)

G’s death was a major event in your life; the death of the only person you’d ever truly loved up to that point. That was 1992…I was a junior in high school, wrapped up in cheering and dating this soccer player and you were a hundred miles away from me, cleaning out your dead brother’s apartment and having a mad affair with meth. I was probably picking out which cut-off jeans to wear to a kegger bonfire as your mother’s jaw was dropping – much to your delight – at the discovery that your brother’s partner was black. On that day we were such different people in such totally different orbits – it’s hard to believe that just five years later we’d collide…and stick.

But…Boulder…your breakthrough. You and your mother had gone out to enjoy an evening of dinner theater with some of her friends (Boulder dinner theater with people who like Marge sounded awfully painful to me before you’d even told me what happened) and as you were proudly bragging about your granddaughters, good ol’ Marge felt it necessary to stop you mid-sentence and clarify for everyone that these were not your biological grandchildren – that they were technically your wife’s grandchildren, but isn’t your devotion just adorable?? You were hurt and embarrassed and, for once, instead of shutting down you got angry. There was a blowout which led to your mother admitting that she avoided you in your first year of life. She said her difficult pregnancy (what a pest you were from the beginning!) and the injuries she sustained during your birth, as well as your own very poor newborn health had prevented her from bonding with you. I think she was under the impression that she made up for it in later years, but I know you don’t share her sentiment. You don’t have memory of that early neglect, but you do recall the day when she walked in on you – just 12 years old and diagnosed with juvenile diabetes the year before – sitting on the floor of your room with drug paraphernalia spread out around you, intent on a temporary escape from the bleak reality of that mobile home and your newly dead father. She stopped in her tracks, frozen for just a moment, before slowly backing out of the room. “She probably hoped I’d just die already,” you told me, a grimace paralyzing your face and then a vacant appearance in your eyes. You’d gone somewhere else and it was unlike you to lay yourself so bare. I knew you wouldn’t want anyone – even me – to see you like this and I found myself looking away.

“Some sort of lingering attachment disorder, I think, K,” you’d say in those rare moments you felt obligated to explain yourself. “I want you, but I can’t bring myself to have you completely. I can’t risk it. Couldn’t take it….” Your voice would trail off. I was eager to let you off the hook and I’d stand there tracing circles in the sand with my toes, as your shoulders shook silently. And you wept. I’d resist the urge to hold onto you in those moments, knowing that what you truly needed was to remain untouched and so I’d look away. I made this allowance for you – I would never have tolerated such wishy-washy bullshit from any other man, but giving you your space and my silence in those moments was like the insulin you’d been injecting for 30 years. You depended upon it and I, like I always did for you, delivered.

Your mother’s revelation about your first year of life was true validation for you; finally real evidence that your fears of connecting –  your need to flee – the way you’d drop out of disagreements, relationships, lives…this wasn’t a product of your own poor character. This didn’t boil down to simple cowardice. You really had a problem. And after Boulder you took great comfort in the idea that you just couldn’t help it.

If you were here right now you’d see my eyes rolling and you’d hear my skeptical laugh. Then we’d share “that look” – a dare, really. That look exchanged periodically; the most marked feature of a cycle I’d never bothered to count. The look in which you dared me to question this further than you allowed – to call you on your shit – and my look in return, almost a glare with pupils darting in flashes left to right and back again as if I were literally reading you. My stomach would flutter, my pulse would race, and I swear in those moments my brow would moisten as I felt the words forming on my tongue which, if unleashed, would kick all of this right off the mother fucking cliff.

But I always held my tongue. I always looked away. And I did it always for you.


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