There should be music.
The ghosts are here this evening. They want to talk. So who am I to tell them to go and be silent.
Today I thought much about my father and what he might think of how this all turned out. I thought about a girl I loved and where she might be now. How she smiled and the way we made the world disappear while standing in a supermarket. I thought of my little brother, how he was always there when we were kids and how I figured he always would be. My whole world is sort of spinning off and away, finding it’s trajectory far from me.
I wonder if this happens to everyone as they get older? Is what makes a man go silent and still?
But mostly I remember a few years back. Maybe more than I care to count. About this time of year. When I was “of no fixed address” and I was in a bad, bad way. I had pneumonia and an infection in my sinuses and throat. My stomach was bleeding and I was constantly vomiting. And no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t find a place to lay down and let the sickness take it’s course, kill or cure. And at the time I couldn’t have given a damn either way. I wound up being taken to the hospital by a Salvation Army officer. But the hospital gave me medication and turned me out. They didn’t want the likes of me hanging around. And I certainly wasn’t going to take an offer of shelter from the Sally Ann because I had drugs to do and death to taunt.
But the truth is I was exhausted. When I say this I mean truly exhausted. Not like I am at the end of a week at work or the way you might be after a tough day. I was shutting down and I had nothing in reserve. In no heroic way I would have gladly accepted dying.
And to make matters worse, my lying, conning and ripping and running had isolated me from everyone I knew. I was one sorry cowboy. My mule had taken off for the horizon and left me behind.
Somehow I discovered that if you kept your mouth shut, didn’t stick out too much and maybe talked to the priest or holy type that approached you in a polite and respectful way you could sit in most Catholic churches for as long as you’d like. Even take naps. Occasionally a priest would come out and even take pity on me and let come back into the kitchen and get some tea and a rest in a lounge.
Well one night I was sitting in the sanctuary of one of the older downtown churches and I noticed people coming in a praying and lighting candles after dropping coins in a little box affixed to the side of the candle racks. I knew a bit about faith and religious customs and figured they were asking for blessings, grace and indulgences.
In my weak and ill state I searched my pocket and found some change and decided I’d go over and light a candle too. Maybe I’d feel better about being there. And if I was lighting a candle anyway, why not add in a prayer and make it official.
I got up dropped in my change and then prayed and I said what amounts to this “Hey God, listen I figure you got no use for the likes of me. In fact I probably am nothing more than a lesson for others to learn from. One of those cautionary tales. Look out or you’ll wind up like that loser. Well anyhow I got nothing going for me. And I doubt I ever will. But maybe if you could just give me a break and get me out of this, maybe if you could forgive me for all the bad I’ve done. Well maybe that’d be okay. Just you know get me out of this deep dark place I’m in. Amen Goodbye and Farewell.”
I’d like to say the next day it happened. I found some glorious response. And all got better and better, day after day.
But the truth is it didn’t. It got worse. I nearly died. I got more lost. I ended up fucking up in ways that I couldn’t even imagine.
There was no miracle.
Eventually though I did get better. I did get out. I did find a way. And guess what?
I blew it again.
Somehow I would pull up and out each time only to fall back again. To make a mess, to hurt someone, to lose it all again. Leaving a trail of good intentions and bad decisions long behind me.
And so I got to where I sort of expect no matter how good it gets, it’ll all fall down once again. If you kick a dog every time you feed him he’ll come to expect it. He’ll take the kick just to eat. But he’ll go mean and squirrely and probably never be the type of dog anyone wants for a pet.
Call me that dog. I ain’t saying it is anyone’s fault but mine. I am my worst enemy.
But I think I am reaching a point where I wonder if maybe I blew it. Maybe I should have never lit that candle, never said that prayer. Or the thousand others after where I said I am sorry and asked for a little help. Maybe I messed up my exit plan. Why the hell would any God or man want to keep giving me the legs to stand up when he knows they’ll just go weak eventually?
I have lost more than I ever had. But I have had more than I ever deserved.
I have seen love like a great big sun in a world where many go through a whole life alone and lonely. Man I have awoken to the soft eyes of a woman beside me, I could see in them that I was perfect.
I have been places and done things only the strongest and bravest can go. And come back to tell the stories. I have contraband and mythology. I have a brilliant vocabulary to tell the stories with.
And my God! I have been there to hear the first cry of my little girl. To hold her with shaking hands and sob with absolute gratitude and joy. When so many never get that chance or never appreciate it.
There is beauty and gifts in the world. I have seen and received that most of the moving things around me never see because they’re just shallow ponds and no great currents there run. I have been struck weak by the beauty of art. Made small by the magnificence of nature and made wise by the words of those before me.
But here it is man. Here’s the small print.
I am here alone again. I am not even sure if this time I chose it or it was thrust upon me. And I am living a life I don’t want any part of anymore.
I’m looking for an out. To take back my prayer.
And I think maybe this is all some crazy self-indulgent crap. So I will just shut up now. I said my piece. Silence is better used.