Life in Words
Woman. Writer. dreamer. Leader.
My C-bomb happens over a single week in my favorite month of October. First comes the project closing, then the diagnosis, and then the final blow, a 4am call from my lover's secret lover.
Clearly the life I have known is over.... just gone. Every street looks unfamiliar. I'm in a slow-mo spray of the pieces of my old reality. I am Keanu Reeves in the Matrix bending backwards in half to avoid getting hit by the particles. I am reduced to a triangle inside a dodecahedron, the sacred geometry in which I take my only comfort. As witness to this deep anguish, I become intimate with rejection-speak. You know, the kind that pushes its agenda of fear of never being loved again. I am running along the edge of this war, waving my arms madly screaming, "Go ahead you bastards, take me".
Then I meet my guardian angel, Andy. Andy is an 8ft. black man with a wicked sense of humor. "What took you so long," I say. "I was waiting for you to ask for my help," he speaks like Barry White.
Slowly things come into focus, like the joy in a pie case in a midwest bakery. As bad as it is, there are these warm loving arms reaching out to me . They are strangers who are there to make sure I stay on the narrow path to the other side. Every minute of every day, I review the events leading up to this disaster, inner movies that showcase my mistakes, soundtrack featuring my angry voice, harmonized with repeating reasons. This poetry slam is written and directed by blamers and liars and me. When I'm sick of the endless loop, I simply say, "I am not going to die, am I, Andy?. You're going to make me do this again and again until I get it. It's cold and I have no hair and my skin feels funny all the time. Couldn't we just let me fade into the sunset?." He doesn't answer. He's not there to convince me or tell me what to do. He's just there to listen and reveal truth. It's infuriating.
But then the loved ones wake me up. They bring soup and flowers, stones and stories of the world I used to inhabit. I am stretched beyond the fire. I have become the ashes out of which the lioness appears. I think, "Thank God, at least SHE will not give up." One toe touches the other side of the chasm.
In July I wake up on the rocks of this moon, my home for 10 months. I am broke, naked and bald and there is chalk writing scribbled beneath my face. It says,"You must choose." Andy begins an angelic litany of 77 reasons to live. I choose two- unpredictable joy and pie.
I climb out of my bed, walk down the stairs, and open the refrigerator to begin again.
We were in Taos with the family after the shocking loss of our beloved Andrea, thirty-nine years old. She went to bed with a headache and never woke up. She left two young daughters, Indie, 3 and Bella, about to turn 12.
The whole family had driven caravan-style to Taos where I had rented a friend's mountain house for the Christmas holidays. I had arranged this trip months before, not imagining that it would be our house of mourning. We did not buy presents but made things and wrote songs and poems for each other. We were so sad but the glue of our family thickened that year.
Two weeks later I arrived home in Austin to find a voice message from Jean Pierre, " I know it's a terrible time, but you have been approved to be a part of the crew in New Orleans. You should consider going. It will be good for you." A famous eccentric game company owner has an elite invitation-only crew/party every Mardi Gras. The float is a full blown authentic pirate ship. The Saints would do their Super Bowl winning year parade in this ship. It was only two years after Katrina. There was need for a bigger party all around. The week's events would be held at a private hotel, all expenses paid for a week, five-star restaurants, costumes, you just had to get yourself there. I remember saying to myself, " Well, I do need to up my joy quotient."
The Joy Quotient, the formula by which joy is derived from a combination of things or events that would not normally result in joy. It's alchemy, transmutation, voodoo. Open yourself up to it and something is sure to happen, but you can never know what. The plane to New Orleans was 3 hours late leaving Austin. They got us to Houston where they announced that the storm had cause such a massive cancellation of flights, that there would be no seats getting to New Orleans for at least two days. Five complete strangers decided to take matters into their own hands. We headed down to the limo rental area discussing the pooling of funds as we walked. We each threw down $100 and we were off in a SUV Limo in less than an hour. The rains in Houston can be debilitating, for sure. But I was a native and I knew your best bet was to drive real fast out of there if you could beat the storm going in the opposite direction. The Limo driver followed our directions to drive on through the rains toward New Orleans. Our first stop around Port Arthur was a liquor store. The band of strangers each got their snacks and drinks and we drove east, Mardi Gras or bust! The young girls in the back seat were texting their weekend hook-ups while popping Ridalin. The guys in the front were downing their fifths of Jack Daniels as fast as they could swallow. I neither drank nor imbibed. I was slightly freaked out about the strangeness unfolding.
The driver wasn't taking shots so I relaxed a bit until I realized I had lost cell service somewhere around Orange, Texas. Maybe it was the storm but I never was able to connect by phone with anyone for the next 7 days. This time would be out of time itself like a dream. The Voodoo began.