Sunday, February 10, 2008

To a friend far away

I am not sure that I had the energy to host you, as I am barely 4 weeks from my surgery. I should have gone out to the North Shore alone and laid on the couch or in the sun building my strength back up. Instead, I tried to host someone who I had seen twice in many years, and allowed what was probably the wrong timing for her to see a region still struggling with the overwhelming catastrophe that it has yet to recover from. My home is still broken, and I guess I see now that I am also a bit broken still.

Yes, it is my home; I hold that dearly as I lost everything I owned in the federal flood and lost friends and neighbors through death, madness and self imposed exile from this place, so I can only accept that I am here because I am meant to be here.
My home because it occurred to me only very, very recently that the only family that I have known from childhood (besides my never-far-from-me Buckeye sister and her lovely boy) is the Southern side of my family, since the rest of my paternal Northern family is scattered and unknown to me since puberty or thereabouts and cares nothing about that loss. That Southern family gave me a place that I have always loved dearly and somehow felt ingrained in, even though I actually spent formative years in Ohio. I love Ohio and always enjoy the visit back, but it is a visit every time, rather than a future home.

I am angry with anyone who comes to see this sad yet hopeful place and misses it. Angry that people come here and talk about spiritual things but miss the air filled with fresh mourning.
It occurs to me that I have always mourned well; I think of many, many friends who have died and they often cross my path in regular daytime, not just at midnight of low ebbs.
Robin Haddad, Chip, Jacob, Nancy, my mother's dear Bill Wall, amazing Helen, of course, Rick-Roger always-so many more crowd my waking hours visiting with me, and I will say their name and think that's all they want, for someone to remember.
Well, that's also New Orleans special gift to America; that it remembers. It remembers people, old ways, pain, fun, whatever has passed and thankfully this old place has the space and grace to do that, I say.

So my anger at your not being present (because that's what it was as far as I could see, you had really never left Denver at all) not appreciating the pain it still causes me-and therefore my friends and family and maybe even those dead friends of mine-to see people come and not know what was taken from us and not to get ANGRY on our behalf when you are here. Not to be able to remember because how can you remember if you weren't here?
Angry because we here know really now how special this land is and you came and spent a lot of your time at a computer screen or on a mobile phone while I wanted to show you a piece of its special-ness, something I tried to do even with less energy available than I have operated with in my entire life.

And anger is only one piece of it; the other piece is how my friends react to seeing my own fragility that comes from living in a half world.
Yes, I am embarrassed about STILL being in a F.E.M.A. trailer- did you not pick up on that?
but I cannot dwell in shame-I guess literally and figuratively. I must see the logic in finding the right structure to build and to build it when it is right and not when speculation drives the price so high that I laugh when I hear how much rent, or home construction is post levee break.
So, a kind word on my trailer life would have been well received and might have buoyed my spirits for a few more months.

And finally, maybe I realize I cannot offer much support to others outside of this tragic, once-in-a-generation situation right now and old friends need to know why that is and do something along the lines of what my young friend Lydia did when she visited (this place she will probably call home again); She said something I took to be dismissive, I rebuked her sharply, verbally and turned away. There was uncomfortable, tense quiet for a few moments and then an arm around my neck and her "Didn't mean it, still love you" hippie girl answer, and the frankness and openness to change what I needed her to change meant she was here for the right reasons and adding to our healing rather than interfering with it.

Is this a ridiculous letter? It is to those who live in an un-Reconstructing world, but for those of us suffering because of pain/loss to us (and others) and to this beautiful place or with a fight still in front of us, it is not.
I hope you are still the person who was present enough to let your mother leave this world the way you did, because we need that sense of calm and awareness (presence) now more than ever.
If, instead the world you live in (in America) is so consuming and fascinating or painful for you to ever leave it, then I say, good luck to you (really) and thanks for the friendship many years ago and let me focus on my work here without interruption until it is done.
And maybe then I'll look you up in your place and be there for you again.


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