Thursday, June 27, 2013

Seven Hills

Did you know I have a brother? Well, I do have a brother, and he's moving to Seattle. He flew my mother and me up there last week. It was a small family reunion. The first night, we had the freshest nectarines and a white wine that pretended to be champagne. My brother and mother salivate for the sweeter stuff. We sat on beds and uncovered the rocks in our family history, the ones we'd been stepping on for years. Good and bad but all ours. Under some of them, snakes. Under others, diamonds. We posed for a picture in the airport. Now I know we're all related. We share a nose.

A brief word on the men in Seattle. My eyes never went hungry. Let's just say. My brother took me to a gay bar. (Did you know my brother is also gay? He is.) I sometimes forget how handsy gay guys can be en masse. At this bar I was touched and groped and caressed and hugged. All in passing. Only once did I see the face of the guy grabbing my waist. I approved. Smiled. Drank something that was intended to taste like Froot Loops. It did taste like Froot Loops.

I recognized one of the go-go boys from "the Internet." He's in pictures, you see. A stranger pressured me to tip this go-go boy. The stranger said, "This is his job. Give him some money." I'd tried to pay my bus fare earlier, but my brother told me to save my money for souvenirs. I was trying to decide whether or not tipping a go-go boy counted as a souvenir. Yes, I decided, but the go-go boy was gone. Soon after, so were we.

We walked back to our hotel in the rain and talked about our different coming out experiences. I learned what happened when I didn't come out to my brother. Other people told him. One youth minister sat him down to tell him how hellish and wrong I was for being gay. If I'm getting the timeline right, that was probably the same year I met Josh, the man I've been with for over nine years now. Not a competition, but that's longer than some of the marriages in my family.

Another night in Seattle I ran around with Molly Laich. You know her. She's responsible for the second half of this VIDEO. We've only been in the same physical space twice. Whiskey is our mutual friend. We sat in the bendable accordion section of a bus and hugged each other over Roger Ebert. Maybe cried. I slept on her couch. Watched her backyard chickens peck the ground in the morning. Avoided goodbye by leaving quietly and Googling my way to the bus.

And my mother. I hadn't seen her in over a year. Since the funeral of her mother. We were crossing the street on the way back from Pike Place, and a homeless man asked us for money. My mother stopped in the middle of the crosswalk as the light was about to change, touched the man's arm and said, "What do you need, sweetie?" My mother gave the man some money. The kindness in my mother's voice undid me. No annoyance. No patronizing. Simple compassion.

Later, my mother and I misunderstood each other and had words. We sat in silence by the water. I looked at my mother and saw myself. Except for the kindness. It's there for her as a force. A constant consideration. A choice she made somewhere along the line to balance out the darkness inherent in our family. If it's there for me, I don't know what it looks like.

Probably it looks like pie.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Terrible Lizards

June, huh? I've gotten to wear shorts, wanted to wear shorts, for the first time since 2009 or 10. On Facebook, my grandmother asked me where the pounds went. Come home and she'll feed me. She's in the country with the rest of my family at the big reunion. They've found a lake closer to the ancestral home. I made the call. Sorry I can't be there, but. One of my cousins jokingly accused me of faking my online presence. "That's not what you look like." Well, that's what I look like now.

I haven't seen my family in the flesh in a while. That's too bad. I'll see my mother and brother in Seattle next week. The last time I saw them was a funeral. Then my car lost the last of its lives. I decided not to replace it. I live an almost moneyless existence. Someone at Josh's work paid me for pies, and Josh told her to make the check out to him because he didn't think I had a checking account. I do. Still, there's so little money in it I understand his confusion.

But we like our life. It's exactly the life we want right now. I know my family worries. Maybe it's because I approach 30 and my list of accomplishments is short but pleasant. I wrote a book. It was published. I'm writing another book. I keep a house up. I bake a pie that turns a party prayerful. I've raised a snake from a snip of string to a garden hose. I'm as good as married and have been for nine years. In short, I'm happy. I'm content.

There's a tree out front with white flowers, and when the summer heats up, the flowers fall dead on the lawn. That charms me. It feels very Japanese to see our lawn that way. But only for a day. Then the flowers turn brown and come in on our shoes. Our floors are dotted. Spiders. The flowers look like flattened spiders. I'm fooled every time. This isn't Australia. The spiders don't get that big here. I've never peeled up a dead spider like it was a wet scab. These flowers, though. They stick.

I take it back about the spiders. There are tarantulas. I mean, not in Kansas City, but in America. So we've got big spiders, too. I heard there are some that eat birds. I wonder if they find poultry as disappointing as I do. For one, I will never understand turkey. I guess it feeds a crowd, and that's why it's an enduring tradition. There are wild turkeys near the airport. From a distance they always scare me into thinking they're something else. Dinosaurs, if I'm honest. We know now that dinosaurs and birds are more or less the same animal just at different times. The ostrich, above all others, is dangerous and efficient. A single kick and you're dead. Lots of organisms naturally work that way. But we had to invent the gun and justify its lasting presence by giving it fetish reverence. I doubt a rattlesnake gets dreamy about its own venom. There's no telling, though. I'm not a rattlesnake.

A friend is here for another month. She's been here before and will be here again. Our house can handle it. The library alone could trap a person. We added more shelves this week. There is now a wall of books separating the dining room and the living room. Formidable. I get the feeling I'm eating dinner in a used bookstore. In fact, some of these books still have price stickers on them. A few of them are wrapped in plastic, our own version of keeping the furniture pristine.

Josh is a good literary steward. There's an angel in a comic I'm reading, and his pet project is to collect all the written word of humankind. I sometimes wonder if that's the endgame here. Josh has admitted his ideal superpower would be immortality. All the time in the universe.

I have stuff HERE and HERE.

On the way home from the grocery yesterday, an older man and woman passed us. The woman said, "What time's the party?" The man looked over into our grocery bags. "Those are just groceries," he said. "Nothing fun."