Monday, June 28, 2010



This took courage.  Not the photo, but putting my house, my home, on the market.  Putting a dollar value on my home, asking someone to buy this precious place from me.  The last seven weeks have been quite a ride, a ride just like the one I took with my friend in Las Vegas years ago.  That ride? That was a roller coaster to the nth degree and the photo they offered us when we stumbled off the train and kissed the ground with the joy and relief of still being alive captured forever the what was I thinking terror on our faces. 

I have lived here for nine years.  Please put your roots down while your old man is still alive, my father had implored.  I'm not sure I want to stay in Houston, Dad.  I had responded.  You're almost forty years old, your roots are already here. True. 

With that, my mother and I searched high and low for what would be my home.  At the time, she was one of Houston's top real estate agents, something I benefitted from immensely.  She pointed out what was right and also wrong with this house or that; her sense of reality grounding my sense of dreamy.  Together, we found the right place for me to put my roots.  It was new and perfect.  I easily imagined myself here, my life here.  Mom explained all the good points of the house, an entryway, good closet space, the half bath being where the living space is, etc.  I had stars in my eyes; she had the familiar satisfaction of a job well done.

That was nine years ago.  Oh, the times I've had within these walls the past nine years. Six weeks into my new home, Tropical storm Allison hit Houston, and she hit us hard.  Two friends lost their home; they were devastated.  I flew to San Diego for my best friend's wedding and left them a message from the airport:  Move in with me while you rebuild.  What's the point of owning a home if I cannot offer my friends a place to stay when they are in need? They moved in. Sometimes it was a challeng but overall we had a blast.  Three of us, three labradors and two cats.  We went through 9/11 together, re-discovered White Russians together, and I'll always fondly remember some of their silly antics. They were the first of several roommates here and there over the years.  There was a co-worker, my niece, my nephew, a respondant to an ad, and another friend from work. 

I've hung Christmas lights at my doorway, decorated trees in the window, hung seasonal wreaths on the front door.  I've opened the door to my father, led him inside, sat across from him in my living room and discussed serious issues.  I've cooked and served dinner for my mother, and I've welcomed colleagues for a Christmas party.  I've popped my share of champagne corks here and danced to Darius Rucker, in a glide across the livingroom floor.  I've celebrated within these walls and I've been devastated within these walls. These walls have absorbed the grief of my parents' deaths, the screaming, collapsing devastion of losing the two most important people in my life.  These walls have absorbed love, laughter, relationships, loss.

This house, it has held my life for the past nine years.  But now, I have outgrown this friendly home of mine.  I need better space arrangement but less space.  I need to stop paying for the two storage units I have and I want to put those contents into my life.  I want Cheyenne to have fewer stairs to climb and more yard to roam. 

Deciding to sell this house and buy another was easy for me but when the changes began to take place, when all the framed art and photos came down from the walls, when the cabinets were emptied and the furniture covered so that the interior could be painted from top to bottom, I cried and cried because I knew this house would never be the same again, would never be put back together again.  As much as I wanted the change, actually taking the initial steps was gut-wrenching for me.  I told myself over and over again that the memories belong to me, not the background, not the walls.  And I realized that it was the changes in me that I was reacting to, prompted by the upcoming change in address. 

When I moved in here, both my parents were alive, my family was in tact.  When I moved in here, I had many lessons ahead of me, lessons that have taught me so much about myself, my strengths, my faith and my faults.  I hadn't yet stumbled my way through tremendous loss or grief, hadn't yet learned I could survive my biggest fears of losing my parents and my job.  I hadn't yet acted like my father by planting trees and through the years proudly watching them grow to tower over me and provide me with shade.  I hadn't yet watched the seasons change through daily walks in a neighborhood that was my very own.  I hadn't yet discovered how truly strong I am, or how generosity comes from the heart and hands.  I hadn't yet learned that letting go can be the biggest gift of love that I could give. 

Soon, I will bundle up all those lessons and memories and move to a new house that will become a home.  I'll unwrap precious photos and with them memories.  I'll fill that house with myself and my life with lessons and celebrations, love and no doubt some sadness along the way.  I'll plant a tree for my father, and watch it grow.  And on accasion, I will drive by this house and pause a moment, admire the two trees and recall the day I planted them.  I'll wistfully shake my head and wonder at the passage of time, and I will smile.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Yesterday, my friend had the blues.  So I brought her some flowers.  And she smiled.


Friday, June 18, 2010

A little bit of this, a little bit of that and, oh yeah, THIS

A few things I do not like:
  • When someone says they will call you right back, and they do not.
  • When it's time to go to bed and I cannot sleep because I cannot shut down my mind, and it's not as if I can't order myself to go to sleep.
  • Consequently, being tired all day because I couldn't sleep the night before.
  • How I've let my car turn into a junk drawer as of late:  notepads, pens, measuring tape, two books, various bits of mail and paperwork are all over the front and back seats.
  • Making big decisions by myself (I know, I know, grow up already).
 A few things I do like:
  • The opening notes of "Kashmir."
  • My friend Kelly's laughter.
  • Mantles.
  • The clicking sound of Cheyenne's nails on hardwood floors.
  • Handwritten letters.
Lastly, something that is currently making me very, very happy:  Yesterday, my offer was accepted on this house.  It's my dream home.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Reminder ~ Some good advice


Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

~ Max Ehrmann

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Warning signs

The first of June marked the beginning of hurricane season.  But for me, the season is not marked by the calendar, it's marked by the person.


Yes, my Personal Hurricane has blown into town again.  As usual, my world has most delightfully been left upside down.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Just like a carnival opening up

Saturday evening, I watched the movie, Longtime Companion.  I hadn't watched the movie since it was first was released in 1989.  It tore me to shreds back then, and for very good reason.  I was losing dear friends to AIDS.  It was different then, no miracle drugs, no rushed-through research to trials. When I first heard about AIDS, I was in college, sitting in the the living room of my tiny rented apartment in a crumbling building that I chose for its character.  My friends and I passed around my issue of TIME Magazine, the cover story about the mysterious gay cancer.  It was such a mystery then.  I was convinced the disease was airborne, from the fog pushed out onto dance floors.  My friend David, in highschool at the time, countered that it might be from Poppers.

David is gone now, and not from Poppers.

Watching the movie again reminded me of those I lost to AIDS, those who would be here today if they hadn't been there before we were able to learn so much.  The movie reminded me of the hospital stays, the prayers, the hand holding and the excruciating deaths.  It reminded me of those I've lost to AIDS, and to those gone to cancer, to tragedy, to death too loud, too quiet, too criminal. 

Of all that were taken too soon, too young.

I watched the movie on my stomach, legs stretched out behind me, bent up at my knees and crossed at my ankles, my head held in my hands. It's a childhood position of comfort and with it comes security, but I cried so hard the tears ran down my arms. 

It's grueling to lose friends.  In my life, it's the worst part of every birthday. I hate outgrowing my friends long gone, my friends who were robbed of their lives, robbed of aging, of freckles and wrinkles, of wistful sunsets and forgettable regrets, of smiles and hugs and sorrow, of love, and sweet kisses.  Of laughter, so much laugher.  It's grueling to surpass their age, or to discover the music, the songs I know would have brought my friend to his or her feet and begging me, pulling me, to dance with me, dance with me!

Grief is often in the music for me.  My friends live on in songs, in notes, crescendos, lyrics.  Sheets of music now with tiny rakes along the notes across my heart.

I miss Michael.  I miss Hezekiah.  I miss Bruce.  I miss Lisa.  I miss Rusty.  I miss Creth.  I miss David.  I miss Shelly.  I miss Bryan.  I miss Randy.  I miss Maria. 

I miss my heart before it knew loss.

At the end of the movie, three of the characters stand on a beach looking towards the sand dunes, dreaming of seeing their lost friends again, alive and joyful.  A crowd of their and other's lost loved ones appears laughing and running across a bridge to join them on the beach in celebration and reunions, of life.  Old friends, dead and alive, meeting on the beach, hugging, holding.  It's an impossible scene, an emotionally ripping scene, one we have all imagined at one time or another. 

Can you imagine it? Meeting your friends again, those whose lives were ripped away from them at too young an age, those whose deaths painted you in the colors of grief no one can describe, and they are all alive again and you're laughing and hugging and crying... you are joyful?

I think that's heaven.

I just want to be there, if they ever do find a cure.

Can you imagine what it would be like?

Like the end of World War II.

At the beginning of the fantasy, a song rolls up from the distance, quietly at first, as the laughter and voices and the reunions are heard, then increasing in volume as the voices are fading and the camera angle widens.  It's an incredibly haunting and also beautiful and promising song. 

The song is by Zane Campbell.  A link to the scene mentioned above is provided at the end of these lyrics.

When I cleaned out your room
I painted the walls to cover any memories
But still it seemed like you were hovering over
Still out there keeping an eye on me

Yeah I never really was able to tell you
That's why I'm telling you now that you can't hear
It's not gonna be the same around here without you
And I'm holding back a flood behind one tear

And we'll go down to the post-mortem bar
And catch up on the years that have passed between us
And we'll tell our stories
Do you remember when the world was just like a carnival opening up

I never thought that I would ever see the day
And I don't wanna believe it's true
You were supposed to always be there
And a part of me has died with you

And we'll go down to the post-mortem bar
And catch up on the years that have passed between us
And we'll tell our stories
Do you remember when the world was just like a carnival opening up

If I could have one more day with you the way it used to be
All the things I should've said would pour out of me

I took a walk I didn't know which way I was goin'
But somehow or other I ended up here where
We said we'd meet again and I guess I was hopin'
But the place had been closed down a while
It was all dark in there

And we'll go down to the post-mortem bar
And catch up on the years that have passed between us
And we'll tell our stories
Do you remember when the world was just like a carnival opening up

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

About the masthead

I have a friend who is struggling with this day, this date, because it marks her 45th birthday. She doesn't like being 45.  In her mind, she believed she'd be somewhere else than where she is now, somewhere different, somewhere easier.  And so her birthday was less happy and more a reminder that she is not where she thought she'd be at this age

I struggle with that kind of thinking because the alternative is so obvious, no matter how hard the front lines are.  Suffering the calendar has never been me.  I may dread turning the pages when the calendar reveals a painful date, but when the pages turn, I get on with it and I live it.  Living in the present is challenging, and at times painful, but it's the constant reminder that we are alive and able to choose to the best of our ability what we want our tomorrow to be. 

I look at today's date and I'm glancing across the calendar and I'm saying to the world, Bring it on, give me the best you got.

I'm not sure why, and I'm sure it can't be broken down to a single reason, but inside I'm shining. I have my feet in the present and my eyes on the future, in a way that I don't fear.  It's not dreams I'm putting forth, it's work.  Today I'm saying to the future, Give me your hand, because you and I, we're going to dance very well together.

Let the band begin.