Old Black Water

“I’m an alcoholic. Sometimes I’m tempted to have a drink. — But I never do.”

Dreams are weird. Terribly hard to describe. Maybe easier to make a movie to depict them — or a work of art.

Dali ~ The Persistence of Memory

Dali ~ The Persistence of Memory

Movies. She watches far too many of them but they are her way of staying sane — of feeling like she has company — of reminiscing feelings.

Not that reminiscing is a good thing, mind, but seems necessary at this time.

This time she is departed from loved ones — dogs, cats and most all of the people — family or considered family. It isn’t really loneliness. It is missing. Missing Mom’s house to go to and yard to play in while Mom cooks in the window above where she is playing. Missing sissy’s porch to sit on — of having a chat with her. Missing clipping Little Red’s fur coat with scissors and loving her the whole time. Not really missing picking up poop inside the house from Gertie’s accidents, but missing it just the same and Gertie’s sweet blind eyes. Missing seeing Tom at Safeway or at her front gate. Missing arguing with him or sharing agreement on topics of interest over a cup of senior coffee at Wendy’s.

They are all gone as are many of the people around town who have aged out and gone on too — people she had cleaned house or mended clothes for.

The little town is starting to feel too small. The City is starting to behave in ways she is fairly unhappy with. Maybe she is just noticing it because there is so little else to distract her.

She and Tom had talked about pooling resources and moving to New Mexico and whenever he was out on one of his vagabond trips he was assessing the culture and climate of wherever he was with her in mind. She had told him to look for an old abandoned motel with property that she could work on and they could convert to be a bed and breakfast or alternative housing unit. He had thought that might be a feasible idea — one that would be able to keep them still separated enough but meet each of their individual needs as well.

She knows in her heart that he would likely have abandoned her with the project and continued his vagabond habit but it was something that they could talk about and dream of and a way for them to consider not completely separating as he tried to find a way to leave her same town that he had long ago found way too small for his liking.

Tom is gone in the real sense now, and she has invested 16 years into trying to carve out her style of living. Though it seems to be going backwards, it is likely going full speed ahead. Even growing tomatoes has been a challenge, but such is the cycle of life. She had put out poisoned straw by mistake and things might simply be recovering from that. How can she leave it in such a state?

In her little carved out life, she has abandoned many things — TV, a washing machine, flushing her toilet, driving too much. She used to drive all the time whenever she needed to clear the cobwebs of her mind or sort them out. It wasn’t uncommon for her, back in the day, to set out on a driving expedition that would last for hours — maybe to Julian and back just to go and come. Julian was an even smaller town than where she is now but in her mind it had been huge. It had all the things she had dreamed of at one time, including a boy.

The Little Gardener

Image from the book, The Little Gardener ~ Emily Hughes

That boy liked horses and trouble and ended up marrying “a wonderful English girl”, who liked horses too, that he’d met while stationed in England. He’d been trying to survive the Air Force without being discharged dishonorably. Somehow the English girl must have factored into that survival.

He’d come home between getting out and getting the English girl moved with her horses from England to his little town. “You never know what might happen in that time.” he’d written in the blue letter.

She’d traveled out to visit him in the in-between time of horses and marriage and before she left he said, “If I thought you might commit suicide, I won’t marry her.”

She cried all the way home, listening to The Doobie Brothers, Black Water.

“Old black water, keep on rollin'”

She was affected for years whenever she heard that song. But she wasn’t going to commit suicide and she wasn’t going to lie either. That couldn’t have turned out good.

Years and years she’d make that round, that trek to Julian and back. Often she wouldn’t even stop — just drive through and back home. Once in awhile, she’d get out and walk around — trying to grasp the feelings of why it had all seemed like so much.

“Why had she done that?” she wondered. She figured it was a reminder of her own ability to survive in spite of loving a place or thing or boy. All those years ago, driving home crying, wondering how she’d survive, but she had.

Now to reminisce, because Julian is too far away in space and time, and because she doesn’t drive too much or have TV, she watches movies on DVD. Lately she found one with Tommy Lee Jones and hadn’t heard of it but figured if he was in it, it must be good and it was. Good enough anyway. Good enough to help her remember things she’d thought or thinks she’d like to have had or still have in her little, small town life.

In The Electric Mist, Tommy plays a non-drinking alcoholic detective. He apparently has been married to the same woman for years and has had a happy life with her — things she wishes she’d had or could have.

In the movie, Tommy is given a glass of iced tea that he doesn’t know is laced with LSD. He has hallucinations much like dreams that can’t be explained. The hallucinations correlate to events happening in his investigation, kind of leading him in a sense. Levon Helm plays in it too and he is another one of those people she misses that have gone on except in her mind or in a movie.

Her dreams lead her too. What are dreams except for the mind’s way of coping with or correlating life’s awake events?

Movies can be very much like dreaming. Movies suffice to bridge spaces left by boys who married girls with horses and the newer ones who fail to follow through or are yet to come. They help manifest the feelings of old of how the dream was schemed and attempted to be mapped and of a course that may still be able to be kept, with or without a boy. Of course, all the while waiting she hasn’t really been waiting.

Today on her walk she thought and thought like always. When she started out from home, it seemed so far away to the finish line, like so much drudgery.

We start out life that way, thinking things are so far away — like Christmas as a child, waiting for the next time Santa comes. Before we know it, we’re out of high school and upset about a boy who married an English girl. Suddenly we’re retired and walking up the last leg of a two-mile trek around a small town we feel stuck in and that boy divorced that girl in a few short years and who knows what he’s doing now.

She had been walking with her head down, watching her feet like in a trance when suddenly she looked up. It was the last little leg and up a steep hill. It was so gorgeous. The wild shrubs were gleaming, some with flowers already, in the back light of the Sun. The sky was crystal clear and blue as blue can be. The air was crisp, just right. She’d been looking at her old sneakers and the crummy old concrete beneath them all the while she could have been looking at the beauty before her. Of course she hadn’t been looking at her feet all along — but trying to get that last leg done and finally home, she had forced herself to focus in a methodical, mechanical way. It was starting to feel like drudgery.

Wishing life away.

She kept thinking about that movie and how Tommy’s character quit drinking and stayed sober. His friend, on the other hand had continued to drink and spent his life in misery. Being drunk is just another way of wishing life away.

Now when she checks out at the grocery, while everyone behind her is fidgeting and grumbling and wondering why the manager doesn’t put more cashiers in their stations so they can hurry off to somewhere, she tells the cashier, “No hurry, no worry.” She can see that they are stressed. “How is your day going so far?”

All too often one will say, “Oh, thank God it’s almost over!” She remembers feeling that way and of wishing time would pass and she could leave to be herself and not some robot drudging along.

“Why did you try to start a business when your house was bought and paid for?” her friend asked lately. The friend who spent over 30 years in the same County job, most of it drinking or drunk.

“I wanted to be Me.” she answered. Her friend still couldn’t get it. “Yeah, but your house was bought and paid for.”

“My payment is way less than your rent.” she reminds. “And a landlord can’t force me out or increase the rent. He can’t tell me not to have pets or dig in the yard. I can paint my walls any color I want and the interest is deductible.”

“Yeah, but your house was bought and paid for.” she imagines her friend is still thinking.

She doesn’t often wonder about that boy from Julian — as important as he was. She does sometimes wonder how she pulled herself away, as much as she wanted to stay. It was simply that her intuition was stronger than the inebriation and self-preservation had taken over.

“Old Black Water”, drunk on love she would remember it as. Puppy love.

She’s glad that she didn’t get more of her father’s drinking genes but got a healthier dose of the sober ones of her mother. “Do people have a choice on getting drunk or staying sober?” Her father didn’t seem to.

Dreams, movies, memories, are they means of escape or a way to keep on rollin’?  Seems it depends on the user. “Mississippi moon, won’t you keep on shinin’ on me?” She’ll keep using that memory for healing. That boy, he was a good thing. He was her first lesson in being strong.

That’s why she had liked to drive to Julian. It was a way of remembering strength. Digging in the dirt of her mother’s yard is just a movie in her mind now, it is a reminder of the days of planning and scheming to have a yard of her own and of how strong she had been to get there and comforting to remember the support her mother gave along the way.

“The only things in this life that you really regret are the risks you didn’t take.” ~ Grumpy Old Men — it puts her to sleep at night –comfort and wisdom to sleep on. They are old friends preserved on film.

She guesses that she could put on the movie her mother left of her and her sisters’ growing years, but she thinks that would likely end in tears.

“Yeah, keep on shinin’ your light
Gonna make everything
Pretty mama, gonna make everything all right
And I ain’t got no worries
‘Cause I ain’t in no hurry at all”

Julian boy

Is that boy still alive she wonders…?




Time Slips Away

As part of the #FromNowOn pledging that I am doing and in the interest of “practicing writing” as committed, I have taken the advice of my long ago teacher and have been sitting here all day writing, not just two hours. I hated everything and came to realize that maybe this isn’t my purpose. I ended up with two or three drafts that may end up in virtual trash and finally this, which is mostly in the style he had us do on our first day of class – just write whatever comes in our minds, that I shall publish…

It was just yesterday that I was a little girl. Suddenly I am old.

me and my sibs

Who has time for sleeping? We will sleep for far too long as it is, but sleep now we must or we would die far sooner. I have a hard time getting to sleep and then a hard time getting up because I waited too long and think too much about dying.

Getting older it is hard not to think about the end that is coming and who knows when. I go to sleep thinking about it and wake up in a panic that I do get quickly over. I would like to think that I will live to be one hundred – one hundred and forty like a turtle would be even better. How lucky is the turtle to have been given that longevity by the creator. But the turtle is even more vulnerable to humans than even humans so, lucky is the one it seems that can live that long or longer. If we could keep from doing harm to ourselves we might not have to worry so much about what others may do.

It is hard to imagine living much longer, feeling as achy as I do. I keep trying to prevent it by eating righter and walking. I try to stay happy but I’m an introvert so I live mostly in my head and it is hard for others to live there with me and that makes me sad. Not depressed, but I wake each morning and wish I’d been built a different way…a way that would like another bothering me to cook or clean or who would get upset that I live in such a mess; either that or someone who could stand me as I am.

I want to do what I want and cleaning isn’t one of the things I want to do. I can clean with the best of them and my clients are always significantly pleased when I leave after having rushed through cleaning their homes from top to bottom so that I can get back to mine as quickly as possible to get back into my head or the garden where my head often goes and where those things can seem to live in my mind as well. At least they don’t object much if I leave them alone and don’t dust or shake them. They do seem to like to be washed and I do that for them with great ease and pleasure or wait for the rain to do it for me.

beautiful Alida

I miss my sister. I thought she would be with me to the end. She had so many problems. Her mind didn’t work even as good as mine does but she said right before she left that she felt like she had lived a wonderful life. That was hard for me to imagine knowing how much anguish she sustained – but she had been quite a celebrity of sorts, a big fish in a little pond so to speak and had lived as she pleased. She was a beauty and she had that pheromone thing going on where men couldn’t resist her. From the time of kindergarten, boys were tripping over themselves to get near her. If you saw her in the neighborhood as a child there would be a string of fellers with her or chasing after her. I, on the other hand, could scarcely find even a single girl to friend me. For the most part I seemed to like it that way. Later boys would find me, but only rarely and mostly because they happened to live in their brains too and could appreciate that thing about me.

We spend our whole lives and then suddenly we are old. As a child the future looks like forever. At this time it looks like any day could be the last and that scares me intensely. I guess if I had children, and I suppose that is why people think they want to have children, I might be better able to get out of myself and the end might not seem so near because I wouldn’t be thinking about it constantly.

One of my favorite movies and one I go to sleep with often is Grumpy Old Men. I like it because they are close to my age and good things are still happening to them and they still have reason to go on. It’s about friends who live their whole lives together, mad or not. It’s about Christmas and children and their children’s children and history and love and holidays. There are cats and dogs and flowers. There are meals shared and drinking together. There are Slippery’s Bar and Grill and Chuck’s Bait Shop for drinks, coffee or a chat. They talk about the best way of dying and agree that Chuck was a “lucky bastard” to “die in his sleep” and I agree too but I’m not ready.

“We’re having a heatwave, a tropical heatwave…”

What’s the point of living so long if you are worried about it ending all the time?

I think the secret is in having a partner so I shall make it a ‘from now on’ pledge to figure out how to have a partner.

“…The temperature’s rising, it isn’t surprising,
She certainly can can-can
She started a heatwave by letting her seat wave,
In such a way that the customers say
That she certainly can can-can..”

Maybe it is really about finding your purpose and I just haven’t really found my purpose yet. I guess when my aches have gone away I will know that I have found my purpose. Until then, cheers to turtles for having figured it all out.

Ain’t it funny how time slips away.