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.

Good On Paper

Day before yesterday, she took a drive down an old country road to try to clear some cobwebs in her mind. Things had gotten murky in the onslaught of an emotional deluge. A completely unexpected one. Out of the blue.

The road was lined with giant cottonwood trees, beautiful and majestic, works of art even. They were delightful and steadfast, anchored well to the ground, their leaves fluttering and seeming dainty for such massive structures.

The sky was gorgeous, clear and sunny. There were no cars on the road. It was only about seven miles or so one way and when she got to where she was going, she took an adjacent road to course a path that she was familiar with and that would evoke the feelings she was on the hunt for. She was full of emotions, but they were muddled and she needed to order them in some fashion that they wouldn’t upend her. She couldn’t put her finger on what was setting such disease.

Days of old, she could count on her sister to help, but her sister was gone now except for in memory. Sometimes it helped to drive by where she had been and where they had been together.

her sister's abode

Touch. Is it to feel the pressure of another person’s skin on yours. Can words touch. Can one touch without touching?

It was an aching feeling that she was having. Something had touched her deep inside, like a bug had gotten in. She wanted to reach for his hand, but his hand was in her mind or twelve hundred miles away.

What was this aching feeling of wanting words to manifest in structures other than sentences, off of the pages they were on? Why did words suddenly not seem like enough? There were so few of them, but also so many and they had all been crammed in the space of the blink of an eye.

She now wanted them to be not only good on paper but alive in a more profound and concrete way.

There had been a bunch of words written, but they could just as easily have been words that she had written in a story. This was what was so unnerving, that she could have written the words as answers to herself, perfect responses to questions that she had or things that she was thinking; but she hadn’t written them, he had.

He sounded so very good on paper and they had each contributed to causing this to escalate. “Damn the torpedoes!”, he had said. And she had let them be damned, at least for a little while, even though something was nagging at her dreadfully. She was expecting shoes to drop and it wouldn’t be long before he said, “…obviously the odds are long that things, even as they’ve developed, will ever get off the ground.” And then right after that, in the same letter, “Being able to sit next to you, talk for hours, hold hands, laugh, look into your eyes, be comfortably “in love”, and let aging natures take their course from there are thoughts that wake me up in the middle of the night. But all of that is because of what goes on between your ears.”

Damn those torpedoes. It was time to back away.  There were little dogs involved.

Would more words quell the aching. It didn’t seem so. It seemed that the words were behaving badly by this time.

The symptom was of lovesickness. Why was she aching with lovesickness?

Lovesickness refers to an informal affliction that describes negative feelings associated with ongoing relationships, or the absence of a loved one. It can manifest as physical as well as mental symptoms.”

Time to start the analysis, the diagnosis, as was her method of rebounding from a slight or mental concussion. It was time to try to heal.

What was she loving? What was negative about it? How was it absent?

She was loving a bunch of words. Oh sure, there was someone putting the words to paper, so to speak. Was it a figment of her imagination?

Yes, she would decide to think of it that way; something she had conjured. It was in a dream or a story she was making up in her mind. The whole thing certainly didn’t seem to be of any more use than that. Fodder for a story. It couldn’t become really real.

It was different than the dreams of late that were waking her up at night. Dreams of terrorists shooting her in the head and of her continuing to walk long enough to conquer those who were there to kill her. She had stared the gun in the face as it shot at her and hit, going through her brain and she could feel her essence leaving, but she had managed to keep going until the last of the lot was down on the ground before her. And she managed all the killing with her hands and no weapons. Her sister was somewhere in the periphery as usual. Dreams can’t be explained. But all of the dreams she was having along with this other wonderful paper dream were of a nature of surviving long enough to conquer or quell those who would try to or accidentally do her harm.

Would she survive all the wonderful words on virtual paper that had suddenly spelt a dream out on them? Perhaps not. Time would tell. Certainly. At any rate, passion had been awakened anew. That damn feeling of being touched deep down inside had arrived again, unexpectedly and profoundly. After so very long away, it was a lot, a lot unnerving. She couldn’t quite remember how to survive it.

A day alone on holiday might do the trick. Just in the nick of time, Thanksgiving. Everyone else with others or someone. She didn’t mind being alone, not one bit. She didn’t mind being with others or another either; but this time, it would be alone and likely just what she needed.

Real love is not a search to combat loneliness. Real love is to transform loneliness into aloneness, to help the other. If you love a person, you help that person experience the completeness of aloneness. You don’t try to fill them up and complete them by your presence. You want them to not be in need of you.

When a person is totally free, then out of that freedom, sharing is possible. You give, not as a need, not as a bargain, but because you are overflowing with love.

aloneness vs loneliness

It seems to be the consensus of experts that the best way to overcome lovesickness is to stay busy.

Busy it would be. Busy creating. Busy putting more words on paper but this time to herself, for herself, to heal herself.

It had come upon them suddenly. He said he felt the same. It wasn’t supposed to go that way. They were supposed to be friends like she and Tom had been. That was what he liked so much about her and all she had thought she would want from him too.

7. Are you tempted to say, “I love you”?

“I can say this without reservation: I want you to be as happy as possible ALWAYS even if, sadly, I were in no way part of it.
I HAVE to start my day, Circe!!!!!”
The fair-locked goddess Circe was bathing in the ocean, along with the water nymphs, when Poseidon, the Olympian god of the sea, felt her magic touch and her beauty. He fell in love with Circe and took her as his lover.

The fair-locked goddess Circe was bathing in the ocean, along with the water nymphs, when Poseidon, the Olympian god of the sea, felt her magic touch and her beauty. He fell in love with Circe and took her as his lover.

We can’t seem to help who we ‘fall in love’ with and it usually happens accidentally. We see ourselves in the other perhaps the same way Narcissis saw love in his own reflection often failing the same as he and Echo.

Words and reflections, like a magic act; smoke and mirrors. Was that all it was?

One day Juno was seeking her husband, who, she had reason to fear, was amusing himself among the nymphs. Echo by her talk contrived to detain the goddess till the nymphs made their escape. When Juno discovered it, she passed sentence upon Echo in these words: “You shall forfeit the use of that tongue with which you have cheated me, except for that one purpose you are so fond of—reply. You shall still have the last word, but no power to speak first.”

This nymph saw Narcissus, a beautiful youth, as he pursued the chase upon the mountains. She loved him and followed his footsteps. O how she longed to address him in the softest accents, and win him to converse! but it was not in her power.

Echo and Narcissus (John William Waterhouse, 1903, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool)

Echo and Narcissus (John William Waterhouse, 1903, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool)

Something was in the way.

Distance, timing, fear. Two little dogs.

It wasn’t physical distance any longer that was between them. She had backed away, gone back into her shell. Things he had started to say, attitudes she could feel he was developing pushed her away.  She could see that he was blaming her. Trouble was, she was free, he was not. Once she fully realized this, she knew that what had been was all that there could ever be.

If you don’t intend to fall in love, another person’s status is of no nevermind. When you accidentally do, it matters greatly. Time to back away. There is no where to go. She would not be any kind of mistress, not that he was asking.

He had called her Circe. Circe was a sorceress; some say a ‘good witch’. Did he think that she had put a spell on him? Was he falling in love? Could he? Was he free to?

It isn’t fair to blame a man, even if he’s married or otherwise engaged. They can’t help falling anymore that the other can. It can happen accidentally, free or not.

She didn’t blame him. She was simply sorry. Sorry for the circumstances and grateful at the same time for him honoring her distance. Sorry that this time, another time, it wouldn’t be more than good on paper. On paper, they were perfect it seemed. That could be good enough. It would have to be.

“Will love ever come again?” She didn’t know, but she was happy to have been reminded that there could be someone so deep and thoughtful, so smart and clever, someone that could challenge her, someone that wanted to look and look deeply at her and want to know her.  Seems that is mostly what everyone wants, to know and to be known. That was the closest she’d ever come to perfection. That was encouraging and even enough to match The Bridges of Madison County kind of loving..

a brief affair that is never sordid but instead one of two soul mates who have met too late.”

bridges of madison county