Saturday, October 18, 2014

Your name

I dream I lose you in a crowd. I try to keep up but you are walking too fast. I see the back of your head in the distance, then notice all around me things likely to have caused you to veer off in an unpredictable direction. I open my mouth to call out to you but I don't remember your name.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Believe it.

The man who just got on the bus is really drunk. Wasted. Trashed. Plus, you can't trust him. He's bad news. 
I know this not because he's stumbling and slurring but because he's yelling that he's drunk, wasted, trashed; that we shouldn't trust him, that he's bad news. 
You should pay close attention to what people choose to tell you about themselves, because it's usually true. Right?

Friday, October 10, 2014

No one loses to cancer

(This article was originally published in The Daily Beast.)

"You are the only person I've called" he says. “I have cancer".

I knew right then I would lose him. But I didn’t know I would lose him like I have, in installments. I was not prepared for the staggered, ruthless falling apart of one of the people I love most in the world.

The man with prodigious memory became forgetful. I don't mean he didn't know where he left his glasses. I mean he'd be angry for the fact we had not talked in weeks when in fact we had spoken that morning. He was always idiosyncratic but became contradictory, confessing he did not want to fight , did not want chemo; then scheduling appointments, then not showing up for them. He, never easy but frequently reasonable, became unwilling to adhere to any order by any doctor, refusing, for example, to take the antibiotics prescribed after a life-threatening surgery.

The man I knew as the most charismatic influencer became insatiably lonely. My superhero became afraid. Not just of death. Of life, of leaving his house, afraid of the dark. I could hear him pacing straight through the night. Ambition, diminished, gave way to restlessness. He lost all evidence of inner peace.

The strongest, frankly dictatorial authority figure I have known would look at me blankly, unable to make even simple decisions. "Tell me what to do" he would say to the person he once instructed. "I don't know what to do".

"I have trouble imagining what the world will be like without me" he told me one day. "I don't want to live in that world" I replied. I meant it.

I looked at him while he was sleeping - a ghost of him, see-through almost - and began to cry, I hoped quietly. He opened his eyes and held my hand with his so very frail one, veins showing blue through his skin. I saw a faint, sweet glimmer of the ferocious protector he once was. "Don't worry" he patted me. "This is nothing. I will recover".
A few days later I overheard someone say a person they knew had "lost the battle" against cancer.

Lost? How can you lose after so many years well lived, after spending yourself every day in your endeavors, after being so impossible, after forging relationships with people you will come to count on, after reading so many books, after making your mark in so many different unsuspected places, after so much success, so much failure, after being such an active participant in this thing we call life?

That’s when it hit me. Our vernacular is all wrong. I resent how cancer is represented. Just because something kills you cannot possibly mean it defeats you. If that were true, we would all - masters and poets and liars and sinners and dancers and writers and heroes - be destined in the end to be losers.

I believe that my human is a winner who will one day go, triumphant, to his own secular heaven, where he will survey the newspaper over freshly pressed coffee, eat delicious food, sip the best scotch, partake in really good sex, jog on a long beach, and spend a lot of time watching over the people he loved and left here, including me.

And cancer, deceiver, pretender, coward; it cannot even subsist without the vibrant people it depends on. It will end up shriveled up, dried up, dead; rolled up in dirty gauze and tossed into a wastebasket, quickly forgotten.

So suck it cancer. No one here will ever lose to you.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Longer than you've been alive

Boyfriend was in his teens, just starting to drive.
One afternoon a man in his mid sixties aggressively cut him off.
"Whoa!" Boyfriend said, "watch where you're going!"
"I have been driving longer than you've been alive" the man replied. "YOU watch where I'm going".

Friday, October 3, 2014

Multiple conversations

I'm on the bus and six different people are talking loudly into their phones she was late for school again the truth is we are both confused I don't know if I will make the meeting it's a real scorcher today serve it on slices of sweet potato would it be wrong to dress up as the Ebola virus for Halloween