Monday, August 24, 2009

A story for you

Okay... Ever have one of those moments where you just suddenly start creating and you can't stop? Writing, singing, composing, building, whatever. This just happened to me here. This is an inspired story but I'm not going to say what inspired it. As you will see, it's not finished. But hopefully some day, it will be... and hopefully it will have a happy ending.


What? Why are you looking at me like that? I see you looking at all the dents in my body, the dirt on my wheels, the torn-up upholstery, the broken tail-light. Yeah, I see you noticing it all. I supposed you want my story, eh? Fine.

I was beautiful once. A brand new candy-apple red mustang convertible. All the other cars sat on the lot staring at me with envy. I was beautiful, fast, and powerful. I was in the prime of my life! One day, I met my owner-to-be. Oh he was good-looking and I knew he'd look good riding around with his hands on my steering wheel. I could tell, just by looking at him, that he knew exactly how to handle me too. He would take me to all the rights places where I would get fawned over and treated like a celebrity! Boy was I ever right!

We went everywhere together. He took me to work where I sat outside and mocked all his co-workers' cars. He took me to parties with his friends and introduced me all around. Everyone loved me. We went to the beach and even to a red-carpet event. We had a blast together.

He took good care of me to start with. Regular checkups and oil changes. Bought me new wheels, even sprung for an upgrade or two. But he didn't always pay attention to everything. Like when my brakes went out the first time. Sure, I squealed about it for a while first. But he had other things to think about... or so he said. He would rub my dash and say, "I know, baby. I just gotta take care of other things right now like the rent and groceries. Times are tough and I'm doin' good to keep you gassed up and your oil changed! But I promise it won't be like this forever." And he was right.

I remember when my brakes gave out. I just couldn't take it anymore and snapped. Next thing you know, BAM! we were in an accident. My side still hurts from just thinking about it. I felt bad about it. But there was nothing I could do about it! My owner, boy was he pissed! He starting screaming and yelling. He even kicked me a couple of times!

Things got steadily worse. He took me in to get me fixed up, but I could tell he wasn't happy about it. His mood and manners were completely different after that. We weren't the happy couple any more. It was almost a chore for him after that. When we would go for a tune-up or for an oil-change, he would bitch about how much I was costing him instead of being happy that we were still together.

More things began to happen. My electronics for the convertible top gave out in a rain-storm. Vandals ripped holes in my seats. It was "one thing after another" as he would say. I said it too, but it never seemed to matter. He couldn't get it out of his head.

One day he drove off with a friend of his in another car. When he came back, he was driving another car! This one was DEFINITELY not me. It was younger than me... but not as flashy, not as sporty and not as good as me... and we both knew it. My owner called it his "daily driver" car. Said he needed something to drive back and forth to work that was reliable. He said that this was so he could wait and spend more time and money on me without me getting any worse for the wear. I was skeptical about it, though. He never had any problems with driving me around before. Why wouldn't he just spend that time with me instead?

Time went by. He kept looking at me longingly, with love and regret in his eyes, but then he would just go off with that younger, uglier, so-not-me car. Every time he would look at me, I'd get a small thrill that maybe today was the day. Maybe today would be the day he would say, "Okay, let's go and get all that taken care of." I kept hoping and waiting.

Finally, one day, he came out to the garage. I looked at him dejectedly, expecting him to give me pat on the head again and go right out to that whore in the drive-way. But he didn't! He had MY key in his hands! He opened my door and sat down. I can't tell you how wonderful that felt... but there was something different this time. He had a paper in his hands. I couldn't tell what it was but it wasn't something he was happy about.

We took off. Headed back out onto the open road again! I was a bit rusty and so I coughed and sputtered a bit... but I was determined to make this work.. if he was really going to make this happen this time! I was so ready to see everything that was broken finally get fixed. Even the smallest thing would keep me going! As we were driving, I saw the repair shop up ahead and my heart skipped a beat. But then we drove past it! I tried to tell him that we missed our turn, but he wasn't listening.

Finally, we came to our destination. It was the first place we met. There I was, broken, ugly, worn-out... staring at all these other cars that were brand new and shiny. Suddenly I knew why we were here. It was over. He was getting ready to turn me in and drive away with a newer car... just like before. But this time, he'd still have his "daily-driver" car... and they would get all the benefits that I was supposed to have! I felt betrayed! I was heart-sick. I was ANGRY! What did I do to deserve this?!

He went inside and came out with a young man who worked there. He began inspecting me. I didn't like the way he looked at me. I knew he was just looking to see what he could get out of me. He had no respect for me at all. He popped my hood, checked everything there and then wrote down ALL of my faults on his clip-board. When he was done, he pulled out a calculator and quickly told my owner what I was worth. A mere fraction of what he paid for me.

My owner's face fell. He was hoping for more, I guess. It wasn't pretty. I didn't care. I had had enough lies by this point. While we were there, I popped one of my own springs. It scared them both... and the man with the clipboard told my owner a lower number. I felt good and smug. If this was how he was going to treat me, after all this time, fine.

But then something happened. Just as my owner was about to hand my key over to that pimply-faced kid with the calculator, he stopped. He had been distracted by something. It was the man who sold me to him in the first place. He came over and asked how we were doing. My owner began to tell him the story of our life together... as if it were a eulogy for me. As he talked about the places we had been and the fun we had had together, his eyes lit up like they did when those times were real. I could tell he was moved... but it was obvious that his mind was made up.

My owner finished his story and the man who sold me looked at him and said, "Seems a shame to get rid of something that means so much to you. This ol' gal has treated you the best she could, but no-body's perfect and nothin' lasts forever except the love we have in our hearts. When that goes, we truly are dead."

I'm not sure what happened next, or why... but my owner put my key back in his pocket. He thanked them both and he got back in me and left the lot. On the way back, he stopped at the repair shop. This was too much! After all that drama, NOW he decides to make things right? Why? So he could get a better price for me?! Now it was MY turn to be unhappy. I wasn't about to make this easy. There was more wrong than he could possibly know and I was going to make this expensive. If he didn't want me, I didn't want to be his either.

When we got home, he rubbed my dash again and said, "I'm going to make this right, no matter what it takes." Whatever. I didn't care. He was simply letting someone else change his mind *AGAIN* and I wasn't going to have any of it this time.

The repair bills started to stack up. He couldn't afford all that had to be done and maintain his lifestyle. I knew it was just a matter of time before we were back at the car lot. He was driving me a lot more, and I was falling apart a lot more. Every time something fell apart, we were back at the repair shop. I was so angry I didn't even notice that he wasn't paying any attention to that other car he had. I started to feel bad for it. It wasn't expecting any of this. This made me even more angry! I couldn't see straight I was so angry. Not only had he screwed me up, but now he was doing the same thing to another!

So I stopped working altogether, completely. He took me to every repair shop and no-one was able to figure out what the problem was. He even started tinkering with me himself, but couldn't find the problem. He didn't know I was intentionally making it hard for him to find. It was going to take a miracle to get me going again. It hurt, believe me. All I ever wanted was to have the good ole' days back again. But it got so screwed up! As much as I wanted for things to be the way they were, I couldn't do that at the price of the other car. I just couldn't do it. I said "Fine, he wins." For months I just sat there, gathering dust. It seemed like an eternity. But at least the other car was getting what it needed. I took heart in knowing that I averted that loss.

This was when my owner did a miraculous thing. Beyond what I ever expected. He woke up early and pushed me outside. He washed me, cleaned me up and did the same for the other car. Just as he was finishing up, a man showed up at the house with his son. They began looking at us, the other car and I. My owner was talking up the other car... singing it's praises up one side and down the other. Telling them how happy he was with it and how good of a daily driver car it had been. I was ambivalent. I just sat there hoping a bird would come and shit on me... or better yet shit on him.

The young man was looking hard at me. I recognized that look. It was the same look I saw in my owner all those years ago. Then when he couldn't stand it anymore he asked my owner, "Well, how much for your other car?"

I thought, well, here it comes. Finally after all this time... freedom! My owner said to the boy, "Young man, she's not for sale. You see, she's been with me for a long time. We've been through many good times and bad times together. I made a promise to her a long time ago and I intend to keep that promise."

The boy was upset, but he looked like he understood. It was the first kind words I'd heard from him in a long time. I didn't know what to make of it. The older man looked over the other car and was pleased. He gave my owner some money and he handed them the key to the other car. They left together, leaving me alone with my owner in the front lawn.

He pushed me back into the garage, turned the lights out and said, "See you tomorrow."

The next day, my owner brought home a part for me. As he began to work he said, "This is for you. It's all I have left and it's everything I have. I hope this works, because I miss you. But if it doesn't, I'll take the bus, ride a bike or carpool with someone else if I have to. I'll keep saving money and keep trying things until I replace every part, if necessary. I spent a lot of time and energy doing other things and not enough time taking care of you. I'm sorry, my friend."

My friend. Those words struck me. He had never called me that before. I was his baby, he was my owner. We knew our places. If I didn't run right, it was my fault because I was imperfect. He could fix anything with money and time. I was to serve him. But during the best of our times together, it never felt like I was property. We moved together as one. We completed each other. We were friends during those times without saying it.

He put the key in the chamber and turned it. I sputtered and coughed and whined... but all the while my mind was reeling over those two words. Suddenly I forgot to be mad. Suddenly I forgot about everything and I started up! It was short-lived... but it was a start! The joy in my owner's heart was apparent on his face. He tried once more and got me to start up and stay running, if only a little. He could tell there was still lots to be done, but at least there was hope.

Since then, we've been taking it day-by-day. I tell him what's wrong, he tells me what he can do and keeps to his promises. I may not look like much, but it doesn't matter to my owner... my friend. Together, we're putting the pieces back together... until the day we're racing down the road again in search of adventure. Regardless of what we've done to each other, we're working together now. And that's the way it will stay.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Reasons and Excuses

I got a message today from an old friend that explained why she was being so distant. It was because of the other people I hang out with. Oddly enough, she hasn't been around me for months now and therefore has no clue exactly who I hang out with, when or why.

Don't get me wrong here, I'm not putting her down. I love and miss her VERY much. What I'm distressed about is the way we make excuses and provide reasons for what we do, who we love, etc. There's the element of guilt in there. People feel guilty for doing something or not doing something and then try to make up excuses for why they did or didn't do what they did or didn't do. Why? Obviously they wanted/didn't want to do what they did/didn't do. (is this getting confusing to you too? good... then let's just assume that not doing something is still doing something (even if it's something else) and stick to the "do" verb.)

Just say you didn't want to call. Just say you didn't want to write. Just say you had somewhere else you wanted to be. It's quicker. It's easier. It's honest. The more you try to "make it easier" the worse it gets when the truth finally comes out. You know what you want to do. You know where you want to be. You know who you want to hang out with. It's simple. Be honest and save us all some time, energy, pain, hurt feelings... DRAMA.

The situation I'm talking about has, of course, escalated and has once again dragged me away from what I should be doing... which is working. Obviously, if something like that can drag me away from working... and I'm complaining about it... the answer is pretty simple. I'm not happy where I'm at. If I were, nothing would drag me away from my happiness. No amount of drama could entice me into it's trap.


It's simple.

Be Kind. Rewind.

Think about it.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Life Copies: 10 cents.

In the past two years, six people that I have known personally have died, ranging from 19 years old to over 80 years old. On Saturday, it happened again.

My best friend in college, Eric Clem, died from a fatal heart attack in his home sometime between Friday and Saturday. His mother found him the next morning. I had traveled to Daytona Beach to go fishing with a friend who lives there. I had already caught one fish and was well into suppressing the demons that fight for my emotional state when I got the call.

Eric was the first one to have any success at breaking apart the shell I had created around myself. He taught me how to swear. I remember the conversation vividly as we walked across the campus grounds at Anderson University (also the International Camp Ground for the Church of God ministries).

Eric: "You wouldn't say shit with a mouth full of it! You'd say", in a muffled voice as if filled with excrement, "'Poo Poo!! I gaht poopoo ihn mah mawf!'"
Me: "So? What's the big deal?"
Eric: "So just say it! Say fuck just once."
Me: "No! Why should I?"
Eric: "Just say it!"
. (lots more protesting and antagonizing which eventually lead to)
Me: "Fine! FUCK!"
Eric: "See, now didn't that feel good?"
Me: "Actually, it did."

Eric was the only one of my friends from Indiana that I told about my desire to transition. He didn't understand, exactly... begged me to just accept being gay and that it was okay... but I wasn't ready for that level of understanding yet. I told him about it shortly before I left for Florida... 17 years ago.

Since then, I've been home a few times. The last time I saw Eric was last year when I went to see my brother David who was dying from esophageal cancer. Eric never changed himself or his love for his friends and family. He figured himself out a long time ago, and stuck with it. I loved him for it. I miss my friend terribly. But I am happy that he did not have to suffer a long battle with heart disease, too.

I've been spending a lot of time (almost 40 years now) trying to figure myself out. There were a few times when I thought I had it figured out... only to find out that I was wrong... and then only again to find out that I was wrong about being wrong.

I've been called a chameleon, a changeling, a copy-cat, a fake, all kinds of things... simply because I'm looking to find that which truly represents me; one simple persona that completely embodies me. I'm trying to be an individual in a world that both shuns and adores them. Yeah... I've been looking for my pigeon hole.
Then I realized that I was trying too hard to be an individual and forgot to "just be."

ALL this crap swims around in my head all the time, believe it or not... and it gets tiring. But I have stumbled onto a beautiful truth about myself that makes perfect sense. I am the individual already. All the things I have "tried on" and been labeled a copy-cat for, ARE part of me. I have never stopped being myself, not ever.

Part of Eric lives within me now. Not in a creepy kinda parasite way, and certainly not in an offspring way (which is creepier than the parasite idea). The best of him, the parts that made me laugh and smile, continue to live in me to make others laugh and smile. How can I be sad for that? How can I allow myself to feel hated when I know now that part of my role is to continue to spread his love to others?

Perhaps there's not much "originality" in me. If that is the case, I accept it and embrace it. I will not complain to my creator that I was not created like everyone else. For in that, I have achieved my own individuality.

Miss you Eric... Mirab, with Sails Unfurled.

Love Always,

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

No possessions, damnit.

I have a confession to make. I've been trying to buy love and friendship. It's true. It's not a happy thing for me to relate, but it's true. And it IS a happy thing to get off my chest, finally. I've either been truly blessed to have people in my life that would continue to hang around with me even though I've tried to buy them... or I'm being made a laughing stock since everyone else but me realized that the object of my desire was simply not something that can be bought... and the fact that I wasn't getting that was beyond humorous to those watching... it was preverse and frightening.

Sometimes I lean toward the former idea. It makes me feel a little better about those people. More often, though, I lean toward the latter idea... since someone who really cared for me wouldn't let me keep doing what I was doing... unless they knew I needed to see it for myself, no matter what the cost.

I woke up this morning and suddenly realized that I've NEVER been in that situation myself. I have never felt like someone was trying to own me, buy me, make me love them through gifts and offerings. I've never known what that's like. Apparently I'm not worth the price... no surprise there, eh? Why would someone want to spend that kind of time, money and effort on a self-centered bitch who doesn't really know how to give for the sake of giving? We only try to buy the things we WANT, not the things we don't want (unless that will get us what we want by proxy).

It's truly insidious! And it's nothing that I want to be a part of anymore! I don't care if my "perceived value" is low, anymore. Maybe I'm the diamond in the rough but even if I am, I still don't care. I understand why I love the movies and the TV shows that depict good people going through great odds to do the right thing and the shit-storm of life's events that occur in the process. It's because I've never had that experience myself. I've never been that guy. I've always been "that guy."

Understand, I'm not trying to beat myself up here or say that I am worthless. I am, but I'm not. It's confusing to try to explain. The funny thing is that this potential appears to be in ALL of us. Some of us are just better at seeing it, fighting it and dealing with it than others. You can lead the horse to water, but you can't make it drink. I just didn't realize I was the horse.

I am ready for the test, now. I know it's coming... and I don't know when it's coming or what form it will take. But I'm ready for it, finally. Keep praying though, because although my eyes are open, if it can happen once, it can happen again. The more I keep that in my head, the less prevalent it is to happen. Once we can see the demon, it keeps it's distance because we know it's there... but take our eyes off it long enough, it'll attack again.