When I started sharing the things I write, I had a lot to say. I would write four or seven or nine pieces a day, and at least three times a week I was discovering new parts of myself.
I haven’t been writing as much since my sister died.
I’ve been contemplating the balance of life. My sister was so many things to me, and so many parts of my memory are wrapped around her. In a lot of ways I worshiped her, as boys worship their mother. She was the protector, the teacher, the nurturing presence in my life.
In a lot of ways I was angry at her, I still am. She had so much that others never get and she threw it away. She was capable of so much more than she did. She killed a lot of dreams, mostly her own.
I saw her as a unicorn. Magical, impossible to capture, perfect.
I was blind to the way she saw herself.
There are lots of differing opinions about self-image. Some say that the way one perceives their self is irrelevant, some say it’s everything.
I say that self-image can be heaven or hell, and it can change at any time.
My sister was horribly abused and it twisted her life. My sister was wonderfully gifted and it was beautiful.
She was a unicorn. She also had flaws.
I married the love of my life. It was not easy, it wasn’t fated. I had to make it happen, she had to make it happen. We spent a long time apart before we were lucky enough to get it right.
We each turned down other opportunities, we each tried other paths. We had lives apart and we have histories, separately.
My wife is a unicorn. I am a unicorn.
We have flaws. We have magic. We have damage. We have healing. We are devoted to our WE. We are human and we have wandering minds… We’ve both held fantasies that bring jealousy, territorialism into play.
Balance in life doesn’t mean equality, justice, it doesn’t mean everything works out for everyone.
Balance is the eye of the storm. All of life rages, all of life has pain or healing. All of humanity has the capability to be awful or amazing.
I had some of the best parts of my sister.
I saw some of the worst parts of her.
I have most of the best parts of my wife.
She has most of the best parts of me.
What I have come to realize, about my sister, my wife, myself, all of the pieces of glorious magical humanity that live in my view, is that unicorns shit.
Magical, perfect fairytale beings, out there making miracles, shitting just like other animals.
Worship as you will, see the magic.
Understand that flaws are present in every person. Don’t just say that you accept the flaws. Understand. Know that you have magic and you have flaws.
My sister is dead, my wife is a person, I am a jerk sometimes.
Balance is the eye of the storm, and remembering the wind.
When I walked through the door, I saw her. I was briefly angry at my mother for having her there. I was 22 years old and I didn’t want to deal with a bullshit set-up.
When I saw her, my anger left. I became nervous, and the next three seconds stretched into forever.
Her eyes met mine. I panicked.
I looked at my sister.
My sister saw me panicking, glanced at Jennifer, then smiled at me and nodded ever so slightly.
My panic dissolved, courage flooded my mind, and I
Reached up and pulled my hair out of the ponytail I was wearing, and I could almost hear Jennifer’s thoughts as I looked back at her after shaking my hair loose
Oh damn, he’s sexy, oh shit his hair is beautiful, haha, he is trying to attract me, oh my God, he likes me, ooh I can deal with this boy
She looked back at me and licked/bit her lower lip briefly, and I knew
That she knew what I was doing
And the three seconds were over, and I knew
That I couldn’t kill myself, as I had planned.
On the second day,
We went to Denny’s and my mother fell. She was hurt so we went to Monterey Community Hospital.
My sister took my mother in, and Jennifer and I sat. We talked about things, but really,
We were sitting and staring at each other’s mouths.
We walked around the hospital grounds and she told me that it was easier to walk and talk, her therapist used to walk with her along this path while they talked.
Back at the car, we sat again and as she spoke with nervous energy, I was building courage to kiss her beautiful lips, watching her form words was mesmerising, and I was about to lean in,
When I saw my mother and sister walking to the car.
That night, January 13, 2001, after everyone had gone to sleep, I was on the floor asleep and I had a nightmare.
I woke up and saw Jennifer sleeping a few feet away.
The light was coming through the window and fell perfectly on her lips.
I stared for about 20 seconds and she looked at me
I can feel you looking at me
I felt all of the chances I had not taken, every cell in my body urging me forward, I went to her
She watched me
I leaned over her and
lips so soft met mine
her body eagerly pressed up against me
her hands grabbed the back of my neck
And I realized…
I’m already lost.
The sunlight through the clear stone was warm. The cub moved the stone side-to-side and watched the light change color. Red, yellow, green, blue, the cub lay on his side and pushed the stone with his paws.
As the light turned yellow again, the cub heard something from above. Looking up into the trees around him, he spotted the falcon from the willow tree sitting on a branch high above the forest floor. The falcon watched him, unmoving.
Their eyes locked and the cub felt something pass through his body, warmth spreading from his chest to his legs. Time seemed to stand still as the wolf and falcon gazed at each other.
Pain shot through the wolf cub’s paw and his eyes darted quickly down. The clear stone had light shining through it, and where the light fell on some fallen pine needles, a bright red burst of heat was growing.
Jumping back, the wolf cub watched in horror as the flame consumed the needles and started reaching up the nearby tree. The heat grew intense, billowing out from the flame and leaping up the tree trunk.
One burning tree became two, then three. The fire seemed angry, lashing out at all of the world.
The wolf cub ran.
The fire chased.
Reaching his pack’s den, the cub started howling and barking at his family.
“Go! We must go!”
His packmates looked at him as though he were mad and started yipping at him.
“Why?” “What happened?” “What’s wrong?”
“What did you do?”
The last question was growled from the throat of his sire. A huge black and grey wolf, the pack leader stood a few paces away, hackles raised.
“What did you do?”
The cub shrunk away, fearful of his sire’s anger. He had seen many times his sire challenged by other wolves, and every time the challengers had limped away bleeding, or died.
“Fire,” the cub whined. “It comes.”
Sniffing the air, the pack leader stared the cub down. “What part of this do you own?”
“The clear stone, it let’s light through, and-”
A sharp growl cut off the rest of his words, and the pack leader leapt toward the cub. Bowling him over with a shoulder thrust, the great Wolf leaned in close and snapped his massive jaws at the young wolf.
“Your fault. You, with your games. You have never been what you should be. This ends, now.”
Lunging toward the young wolf’s throat, jaws gaping, the big wolf was surprised by the younger wolf’s shoulder in his chest. A fierce push set the bigger wolf back on his heels, and the two started circling each other.
“So, the pup wants to play,” the older beast spoke with derision. “Come at me, then, pup.”
Feinting toward the young wolf’s face, then snapping at his flank, the big jaws ripped a gash along the young wolf’s side.
Falling back, then quickly jumping toward his sire, the cub bit down hard on the big wolf’s front leg. Blood filled his mouth as he shook his head, and he heard a cracking noise as the leg broke in his jaws.
As he let go, the bigger wolf turned and closed his jaws on the young wolf’s neck, just behind his shoulders.
A sharp scream filled the air then, and a grey blur from the sky became the falcon, swooping down and burying her talons in the great wolf’s eyes. As she pulled away the older wolf snapped his jaws up at her, and found purchase in her leg. Stabbing with her beak, the falcon ripped the great wolf’s face open as she flew out of reach.
Wounded grievously and blinded, the great wolf snarled and snapped his jaws aimlessly, hopping in a circle with his broken leg lifted.
The young cub closed quickly, sinking his jaws into the soft throat of the old wolf. Clamping down and shaking, the cub tasted his sire’s life passing through his jaws.
Motionless on the ground, the great wolf died with a small whimper, and the young wolf backed away.
Looking around, he spotted the falcon on a branch above. Bleeding from her leg, she looked down at the blood-covered wolf. She gathered her strength and leapt into the air with a short squawk.
The smell of smoke and the crackling of flames consuming the forest got the cub moving. With a final glance at his deceased sire, he raced after the falcon, through the forest.
You are Curiosity
Seven moons had passed since the cub found the strange tree-thing in the clearing. He had grown strong, almost as big as his sire. Learning to hunt had made him fast and agile.
However, the cub had a tendency toward being distracted easily. His sire and packmates were often displeased by the cub’s flights of fancy.
Your first duty is to your pack, his sire would tell him. Chasing butterflies won’t fill your belly, or your pack’s.
Roaming far away from the pack’s den, the cub had found many things that he did not understand. A half day’s walk from the den the cub found a great expanse of sparkling rocks and water that stretched forever.
For hours the cub would walk through the rocks, listening to the murmur of the water as it caressed the stones. Each rock was different, an array of colors and shapes unlike anything to be found in the forest. Gray birds flew over the rocks and landed at the edge of the water. The cub would chase them into the air, then run away as they screeched at him and dived at his heels, swooping down where he had been. The cub thought it great fun to see the surprise in the bird’s eyes when he would stop and snap his jaws at them. The squawking and sudden changes of direction filled his heart with mischievous joy.
At the end of the sparkling rocks a huge stone sat, with a giant willow tree growing over the top. The cub would sit under its low-hanging branches and stare through the leaves, for some reason the place filled him with peace and a small sadness.
On this day the cub crept quietly under the canopy of willow branches and heard a soft crooning sound. Looking up, the cub saw a falcon sitting alone in the highest branches. The bird stepped side-to-side and made the soft sound with eyes closed.
A small chuff escaped the cub’s throat, and the falcon’s eyes opened quickly. Staring down at the cub for a moment, the falcon slowly extended her wings. A small shake off her beak startled the cub back on his heels, then the falcon leapt into the air and flew away.
The cub watched the graceful flight, feeling a deep sense of envy for the effortless way the falcon swept through the sky.
To be so free…
The cub stayed under the willow tree until sunset, hoping the falcon would return. As the sun dropped into the water he started for home. As he reached the edge of the sparkling rocks a glint of light caught his eye. Sitting half-buried in the sand under the rocks was a stone unlike any the cub had seen. Gripping with his teeth, the cub pulled the strange stone up then dropped it on the ground. Perfectly clear except for a small mark on the center, the stone caught the light from the setting sun and made colors dance on the other side.
The cub picked his treasure up and started running for the forest. His sire and packmates would not understand, but the cub had to see what else this light-stone could do with light.
At the edge of the forest, the cub paused and looked back at the willow tree. He saw the falcon flying over the branches, seemingly looking towards the forest.
I wonder if she can see me…
One of these days, I’ll look back at right now and remember how I got through.
It’s happened before, it stands to reason that it’ll happen again.
One day all of the sleepless nights will seem like a distant memory, a fantasy I created to pass the time.
“Close your eyes…
I didn’t mean forever!”
(What Dreams May Come)
Some day, this period will seem like ancient history, the Greeks with bronze tools, the Romans with togas and debauchery and deception.
Some day I will sit at her side while she dies, or she will sit at mine while I go, and whichever way it happens we will remember all of the times we have rescued each other. We will remember the troubles, a little. We will remember the triumphs, a lot.
Some day our difficulties will make us feel stronger.
Once upon a time I thought I would be alone and unloved forever. Today I know better, that I have lives in my hands, I have hearts in my mind. I know today what I could not, then.
Some day I will have the answers that I lack today. The stress and trouble I feel right now will feel as unnecessary as the loneliness I used to live in.
Some day I will have the hugs and smiles that wait for me, across oceans and continents I have a family of real emotion, spread across the world. They know who they are and I know that they dream of that someday, the same as I do,
Some day my life will end on this plane and I will be remembered as things I almost was.
Some day I will think more about what I have done than what I will yet do.
When things change, as they often will, it is imperative to keep cool and analyze the change before freaking out.
I’ve heard it said that ignorance is bliss, and I can’t speak to that directly, but I have first-hand knowledge that paying attention to details is a real motherfucker. It’s hard to be happy while being aware of how hot dogs are made, and why people smile when they meet someone the first time, once a person studies just a bit the secrets that nobody wants to know come tumbling out, and encounters become exercises in control…
Will I be able to act like I don’t know what’s happening? Should I?
As a child it was a matter of self-protection, when my mother was in a bad mood it was good to know before she spoke, before she came near, it was a good idea to steer clear of the frustration about to be released on the heads, shoulders, knees and toes of the little ones, she used to say she was put on this earth to be a mother, and I learned at a very young age not to argue with her, no matter how badly I wanted to, no matter how sound my argument.
My first girlfriend, I remember her eyes, I remember the way she looked at me the first time we met. I also remember noticing the day when she pulled away too fast, the day she looked away when I saw her, I knew she was breaking up with me two days before it happened, so when it happened, I was already crying when she told me that she didn’t want to hurt me, but it was too late and I never spoke to her again, I never saw her again.
I could hear it in my sister’s voice when she called to tell me that our grandmother was dead, passed, gone so fast, I could hear it in her voice when she said hello on the phone but it shook me to the bones and I made her say the words, I had to be sure I heard because life is here and then it’s gone for the ones that die, but nobody ever tells you, I don’t know why nobody ever told me that they would die every single day as long as I’m here, that each person I love would forever be wrapped in my fear because death doesn’t care who’s precious to me, death doesn’t ask who I’d like to lose, which one I’d choose, it’s not ever discussed in family settings.
Life is change, and that’s impossible to deny, life will change and change and you can go with the changes and try to keep up or get left behind.
When I notice the difference between yesterday and today, you can tell me I’ve imagined it, but I haven’t. I was watching you then and I’m watching now, I have the notes in my mind of what has happened behind, the back story is not a secret to me. I saw how it happened. I felt it and I feel the changes in you, and I’m not going to pretend that I don’t, because I’m not eight years old, and you’re not my mother holding a plastic coat hanger or a spatula, you’re not my fourteen-year-old girlfriend, you’re not dead. We’re here, right now, and I can feel you changing. I’m not telling you not to change, I’m only letting you know that I won’t stand silently, waiting for you to tell me the bad news. I know the bad news. It’s written in my heart.