Finally. Mind-spin has slowed. The pool water warms to above many tepid degrees. Swimming is now for night, for the silent shriek of stars. They say we are approaching the Milky Way, and it's at night that this I can most feel. I feel tepid. I've been on auto-pilot in many no-fly zones for months.
It's a time to crawl back to my blog, crawl back to my inner stance and inner self, to that quiet and private, ironically human-connecting place called "home," which means the house on California Drive, behind stucco walls, shouldering a wild sunflower garden that I planted and nurture myself, resting on the large-tiled, cool floors on a woolen blanket I got at Warner's Hot Spring Ranch last winter....going within, going within, air conditioning clicking on and off, complete stillness. Reflecting, reflecting, processing, staggering inwardly, meditating, slowing....it...down...
Days here, now, are heat and sun blinded.
Fourth of July. How I wish you were here. Fireworks. That sums it up, about the two of us, me, and my absent shadow-twin. Thank you for downloading all of the music of Pink Floyd on my PC....how I listen to it now. My first album, bought in a giddy, I-just-got-paid-from-my-first-job-at-Victorville-McDonald's shopping spree:
Dark Side of the Moon.
Dad's headphones, the diamond-needled stereo, the 70's vintage swivel orange chair. Head back. Stoned by that music, beyond immaculate. Still. Something you and I shared. So I could be 16 again, and 47, and 25, and everything beyond, before and in between. Me and You. And the Doors. Of course. Blake, my favorite poet. How I loved turning you on, to the Gates of Heaven and Hell. The Songs of Innocence and Experience. You had a brilliant mind for knowledge and words. Break on Through. You Did.
And here I am. I broke on through. Through what, and to where? Oh, dark desert bed-room. I own a three bedroom house, and my office is the darkest room of all. Where I write, where I work, where I try to keep piles of work and poetry and writing manuscripts neat. Happy pictures of me. With Tarah. When we were so naive.
Back to our Holiday Weather. It's much cooler than it would normally be. We're at 103, instead of 113, without humidity. Still. This is our shut-in season. Where others elsewhere are coming alive, agitating about, the desert is in reverse time. Tourists are mostly gone (except for a few here to enjoy cheap, summer hotel rates at fine resorts)...the wicker blinds in my office are mostly down, and the deep blue sari I've stretched behind them keeps the sun from heating my time.
So, this summertime. In the low desert. I now have two MP3's, filled with tunes.
You can only really see and breathe and inhabit fully when the long afternoon finally smalls itself down into shadows. The mind begins to gel. So it's rather brave I'm writing this at 2:21 pm. I see that the moment I look down. And get this. That is the date of Philip's birth. He'd smile to see the synchronicity of that. We were both intensively into Jungian mythopoetics and philosophy...Ah. Now, the computer screen says 2:22. And that is the number of Phil's cemetery plot, his final resting place, at Olivewood Cemetery in Riverside. Number 222. Somehow, this is all cosmic, and this is all soothing, and this is all good. I have to brush away a few tears. Grief does not know anything familiar. Grief has its own agenda. It's my constant accomplice now, and sometimes it is benevolent and at other times it's a sword that pins me down. Today, I am glad I'm writing. Finally, after months of difficulty articulating. Who, what or where I am.
This is no coincidence, our ancestors might say.
And this is to know: that I am not in the same degree I was before. My life, my psyche, my self, are light years deeper and richer and exponentially lifted beyond anything I thought I was at the beginning of 2010. I am a Tiger. A water Tiger. and this is my year. I am also a Scorpio, and everything is amazing, deep, butterfly-dancing, migrations of old and singing of new songs. Could I call this a crossroads? Life has been a wild game of ping-pong, soccer, basketball. I soothe into rhythms that are familiar to my athletic sensibility, my poetic flow....but this is the wildest mesh of games I've ever been in. Is this a field, or is it a court? Am I on a table that's suddenly getting smashed up? Tennis is familiar, really my game, but I don't play now because, well, I bought racquets for two, and one person is gone.
This is a time to read the words of elders. To listen to wisdom. To sit deep in Palm Canyon, at water's edge. To let waterfalls curl out of tangled words. To rest in a park, in a grove of London Planetrees, studying mushrooms that have sprouted from an absent spot where a tree has died, or been taken out, and not replaced, from a perfect, linear arrangement of rare and fragile, imported sycamores. The whole story is here.
Perhaps, more accurately, I'm experiencing a great and deep and widening and narrowing circling in, circling in, rounding about, and returning to some familiar home. Same bones, different angles and curves; trails I've walked but never before knew...like this. Great triumphs and life-thrust events: Tarah's wedding, Mom & Dad's 50th anniversary, not-common family visits from those I've been close to and in many ways lost touch in life's rush: my cousin Shari and her four beautiful children who I deeply love; my cousin Beth who was/is like a sister to me (together, in San Bernardino and the desert, we grew up, until she got married at 18 and moved away...to Texas!), and her two teenage boys; and the terrible shock and sorrow of my psychic soulmate and lover and best friend Phil's suicide death in early April, in a remote area called the Badlands, which is rather invisibly lodged between Moreno Valley/Calimesa and the beautiful citrus towns of Redlands and Loma Linda. A place of ancient, old California Oak trees in tall grasses, tucked into rolling hills. A place most people have never known, or will quickly forget. But. Not Me. It's not far from a modern-day freeway rest-stop where a band of Native Americans died in the southern California smallpox epidemic of 1863 which, like all fevered epidemics, breaks forth out of sky, and soil, and breath, and rages through the softest smiles, breaking out in death, only to suddenly depart, the wounded left in shock. It may have been the infected blankets. No one has said. Few even know this happened. Somehow, I do. How it happened. Yeah. That's for the authorities. Why? Approach that one on foot, whatever you do.
"I wish my life could go back to where it was before April 9th."
That is the first thing I wrote in the now-gathering stacks of big yellow notepads where I've been journaling intensively, the moment I found out about Phil's death. In a horrible way. By calling a number on a notecard left on my door, when I arrived home from Berkeley at mid-day on April 11th - feeling sad, disappointed Phil's car was gone, and disturbed by the horrible nightmares I'd had on Friday night, and the fact that I was unable to reach him by phone - the number of the Cabazon police. Who were pretty fucking abrupt in how they told me. Why are THEY even in San Timoteo Canyon? How do they know? It had to have been an accident. It was, the dull voice on the other end told me, most certainly not. Fuck you. I may have said. Every story ends the way it is supposed to be. Except for this one.
To hear that, some stranger's voice telling me my loved one was long-dead, over the goddamned phone, and proceed to grill me like the inquisition..... instinctively, I reached for a clean yellow journal and a pen. All I could do was start writing. And then, begin to sob. And grab the phone to start making what were undoubtedly madwoman, hysterical calls. That journal, and two subsequent ones, have been through so much in the past three months I've had to duct-tape the tablets together. Phone numbers, emails for friends of Phil's who I met in the most unlikely get together of a young man's funeral, he was a widely popular guy, and his family, and the private investigator, and more. How can I keep this all straight? I'm in hypertext. Non-Linear Land. And Water. And Sky. End on End within. This is the end, my friend.
It's July 4th, and I've been floating on auto pilot for the past three months. One reading and lecture and friend outreach and event and crushing afternoon or evening and class to teach and family event to class to reading to event....for three months. And now, time has come to land. I'm landing, and I'm not sure about this at all. I want my life back. But I'm 12 weeks down the road, in this odd little, metaphorical unplanned "pregnancy" that has me in chokehold, no turning back. Certainly, some great thing will be born of this. For now, I'm carrying the baby and the bathwater, which is increasingly heavy, and warm, and isolating, and not sure how to bear this new body of mine, how to balance in heaven or on earth, where to place my feet, and what to do with my heart.
The missing plane-tree. Where I instinctively sat. And cried. It will take time for those of us remaining in the beauty of grass and trees to grow around where you are so suddenly not. For now, a few mushrooms, and butterflies, and puffs of cigarette smoke. A season of long, drawn breathing. Summer. Is Here. Like it or not. The colors, the raging light. Mixed in with the pulling in. To avoid Heatstroke. The soothing, quiet beauty of desert summer nights, the deep end of the pool.