Archive for July, 2012

I was sitting in the bathroom when the sound of arguing caught my ear.

And instantly, strangely, I was transported back to all those times growing up. I wondered if it was Mom and Charlie, but the weird part about it was another thought immediately struck me – I’ve never heard my Mom and Charlie raise their voices.

In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen them really argue.

I mean, of course they do. They must disagree about adult stuff sometimes, or about things the kids do. They have to. But somehow, I guess it never spills into other things. And maybe that’s the way parenting and marriage are supposed to be – it’s just the strangest thing to me.

I guess I’ve touched on stuff about my dad in these posts. He left home when I was about fourteen, and it’s been a long and interesting road since then. Through anger and anguish, lots of tears and even some fighting. But ultimately, and finally, so much of it has been about growth and discovery.

I didn’t grow up in the sort of house where anger was a healthy emotion. It’s part of the reason I’m not very good at expressing it now. In fact, I used to describe it as a “stunted emotion” of sorts. So the idea of a calmly mediated house has always confused me a bit. I was so used to absolute silence of ear-splitting volume – and of course, as children, we all believe our reality is the sole reality.

I’d like to turn this into a longer piece about my parents, but this isn’t exactly the best time. We’ll just leave it at the fact that there’s some court-related in my family (and the idea that some things, really, can remain private) and save it for a rainy date. Before Day 365, I promise, but not for another month or so. I wouldn’t want to mess anything up for anybody.

It turned out my TV was just on a little too loud. Mom and Charlie were fine, because they’re in love. And even if you fight sometimes (which I’m fairly sure they don’t), you can still be in love. That’s been the weirdest lesson for me to learn about relationships, but so it goes.

Like my vision, I sometimes try to minimize all the hurt and anger and confusion of those younger – ugly years. But it’s always the moments I least expect that remind me what I came from.

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I remember laying on the bench in the cool heat of the night.

Telling stories, talking shit, looking at the stars.

The stars – I forgot you could look at them for so long, that they could swell up so far away from the city lights.

When I stayed in the Grand Canyon two years ago I remember looking up and wondering who had taken their brush across the night sky and painted so many cracks in the ceiling. It seemed like some beautiful glass had broken into a million pieces, like someone had dumped the ashes of some great sun across the canvas, a billion tiny lights echoing the eons of dead stars.

And of course, the inevitable, wondering if you could see them too. If the stars glint the same way from whatever window you are watching them. If it’s possible we were looking at the same ones.

If it’s possible to realize how small we are. How we’re the last second on the 24 hour clock of the universe. The single pencil-point on the map. How everything breaks down from the largest planet to the sailing comet to the deepest ocean to the hills and cliffs and trees and bodies. That amongst everything else, all of the people and more importantly all of the earth, two people can be looking at the same star.

How sublime.

“Why in the night sky are the lights hung?”

– Robin Pecknold, Blue Spotted Tail, 2011

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I just felt like that question was banging down my door all summer.

Here I am, done with my Kurt Vonnegut work (which probably deserves its own post) and still wondering if I made the benefit of a summer. And of course, what a silly question. Nothing in life can assure you that the heart you’re wearing is really gold. Nothing, really, all guesswork. All checking and ugly and flecks of paint you thought were goldenrod.

And even if I’m going out tomorrow, or went out tonight, or finished the internship today – I’m still thinking… oh, didn’t read enough.

And I didn’t. And I want to. And every time I think I haven’t done enough I remember that day I woke up after having talked all night and felt – really – tangibly different. Like less of a boy. Like someone who finally started to line his body with experiences. Like someone who wanted to use his mouth.

So, yes, I have met the benefit of my summer. And I have more to do, and more to think about, and everything will find its own way home. Because you can’t bottle lightning.

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I don’t know that anybody has ever called me out of the blue to hear my voice.

And we are all voices, alone, so much as we are bodies or hearts or souls. Sometimes the only thing we have to connect two spirits is a voice – the harmony and waves of time spent together.

Anyway, to keep it simple, I was so surprised and heartened. To think that a part of my body could mean so much to someone – that life could be so extraordinary.

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I suppose, was that during all the time there were still two hearts linked inextricably across space. Like tin cans in communication, or clothes strung up on a beautiful tight-rope, there was always a sense of danger, and excitement, and wanting.

And when the day itself was long, as they all are, the two of them had an extra heart to listen to. Stories to enjoy, and dreams to imagine, and something beyond the something of the self.

It amazed him that there could be so many secrets in one world, or that he could discover such a profound sentiment. Amongst everything else, it even seemed like the days were different. His breath was different. He could always imagine the second set of eyes. And sometimes, even, that there was another body beside him. A sort of phantom wanting.

All of this to say that it made the day easier. It made the hours simpler, drawing time into a simple, resolute line. The before them, and the after them. The time for working, and the time for dreaming. The ghost of something real was always hovering in the distance – always threatening to become a body worth loving.

And he could deal with it. I could, I mean, learn to live that way. I never really believed the chest had room in its cage for a second heart, but then I’d never wanted to make space before. To occupy it, shape it, make all of the chaos into something beautiful and remember that beauty is usually chaos re-wound.

It’s strange to feel another body so far away. Strange and real.

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I read somewhere recently that good art should make you want to live your life in a different way.

Perhaps that’s one of the answers for what good art should be – certainly, I agree with the sentiment.

And again, talking with a dear artist friend of mine over lunch, I told her this – you can’t always choose to make the art which makes you comfortable.

And that old poem – I don’t feel like writing today – and writing, of course, because you find your own ugliness between the syllables.

I watched a film about war today. A film about war, and forgiveness, and exile, and perhaps the spirit. About transformation and disguise, and that most profound truth – that pretending to be something can transform you into that thing.

It was beautiful. But what struck me even more about it was that it made me want to make my own statement about war. About the ugliness of hurt, and the profound sadness in destroying your brother. My stories, it seems, have always been so intimately linked with love – with boys and girls and boys – that I was so struck to find I wanted to say something about that most global of truths – something that is so close (but far) to my own life.

If I am remembered at all, it will be for love. I know this, believe it, live it. But I like to think – like the cycling of the body into the divine – that all our passions feed from the heart to the universe. Every passion echoes.

I suppose I wondered, and maybe even began to believe, that good art should unlock a dormant passion, an exposed belief. It needn’t change you – just remind you.

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Perhaps the most important things in our lives are the ones deepest buried in the snow. In our bodies, our arms, our promises. We’re afraid they’re not nice, that they’ll change our looks – our eyes – even as we’re transformed.

The beauty is all of the things we don’t know. It’s finding someone to teach you the way, who wants to let you in. It’s the look in their eye, the tone of the voice, the things they want you to know in secret.

Lust is confidence. It’s only for us. It’s segmented, the body splitting time and piece. It’s all of us poured into each other.

It’s the magic of change. The finding of the words that don’t even make sense in our language. The beauty of connection – carried away in a tongue nobody else would recognize.

It’s beds. And underwear. Perfume. The ache of waiting. The hush of noise. The melt of bodies. I couldn’t even tell you, or imagine how we do without, but the body given – the touch received.

How could you go back after a face like that? How can anyone unmake a kiss?

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