Filtering by Tag: love

under construction: IN CARE OF

I’d rather write than rake. 

I’d rather brainstorm about post-apocalyptic jazz landscapes and crumbling hotels that turn into arboretums, but my backyard’s overgrown, and needs tending.

My personality avoids the mundane responsibilities of caring for my space — laundry, dishes, lawn maintenance. I’m more inclined to write a sonnet than sweep the living room. “Anyone can do these tasks,” I reason. “Only I can think about time-traveling tweens, talking planets and made-up colors.”

This is why I wind up doing dishes at 6 in the morning, or laundry at 11 at night — because it is always the last thing on my mind, never on purpose, always begrudgingly.

But here I am, mid-way through the backyard, and the mower’s stopped again, and I’m positive it’s not the battery. Once more, I don’t know what I’m doing. 

I remove the starter key and lift up the mower to diagnose the problem. It’s been so long since I’ve cleaned the lawnmower that a skin of yard waste, composed of wet grass and dirt, is plastered to its underside. I use the most available tool — my car keys in my pocket — and scrape away at the grass. It comes off in scabs, and after its cleaning, the mower’s cutting noticeably improves.

* * *

The scraping of the lawnmower’s undercarriage (yuck) reminds me of the wallpaper I scraped off two of the living room walls when I first moved into the house. I went to Home Depot — the first of one-hundred and eighteen trips (so far) — and told the first employee I saw about the wallpaper.

“Oh,” she said, smiling, knowing I was in for a treat.
“Yeah, so I need to know…”
“How?”
“Yeah.”

She nodded, taking me under her wing. “C’mon.” She gave me the PSP solution, and what looked like an older computer mouse with a spiked gyro ball on the bottom.

“Score the wallpaper with this,” referring to the mouse, “then spray the solution on it. That’ll reactivate the adhesive and pull the paper away from the wall. Then,” handing me a scraper, “you scrape.”

The process really is as simple as it sounds — and it’s also a pain. It takes forever, especially if you’re like me, who struggles to do one thing and one thing only for a long period of time. I’d scrape a section, then set it down and move to something else — some lights I was replacing, cabinets that needed cleaning, etc. I’d scrape another section, then work on a video I was editing, or a piece I was writing. 

It took me several days — way longer than was necessary. One of the days, I was sitting on a bucket, and the Comcast guy was in the other corner of the room, setting up Internet. He looked over at what I was doing. “That looks terrible,” he said.

“It’s not that bad,” I said. And I meant it — the wall-paper scraping put me in that front living room for a prolonged amount of time, and during that time, I tried to pray. Sometimes it was prayer against carpal tunnel, other times prayer for friends and family. When I was really on point, it was prayer for the room. Scraping was, in a strange way, a kind of spiritual discipline.

Before I reaped, I had to first learn how to sow. 

Before anything else, I had to clean the place. I had to scrape the walls to prepare them for painting. I prayed for the conversations to come, for the people who’d stay in the house, for the place of imagination and tenderness I hoped it would become.

* * *

Work on the house has been slower than I’d like to admit, but I’m here, and the house is still here, and there’s still work to be done. I hesitate working on the house because I don’t know what I’m doing, but that’s not to say I can’t learn. That’s not to say I won’t make mistakes, but that’s not to say I can’t give to something good.

I can put good work into a good thing.  
I can scrape wallpaper and grass clippings. 
I can care for a place and, by extension, care for myself.

porcelaing

     Sometimes, the world — specifically, climate change — scares the hell out of me, and I feel like hiding.
     Sometimes, the world — specifically, climate change, Donald Trump’s impending presidency and the threat of nuclear war — scares the hell and the ever-loving shit out of me, and I feel like hiding and burying myself alive.
     Sometimes, the world — specifically, climate change, Donald Trump’s presidency, the threat of nuclear war, plane travel, the web of responsibilities associated with home ownership, my near-crippling negative self-view, my dissatisfaction with the eat-drink-be-happy-but-if-you’re-not-happy-here’s-netflix-and-that-should-do-the-trick-until-tomorrow idea of living, my near-constant Eeyore-cloud-heart-steering belief that we’ve broken the world and that I broke myself along with it, and no one, myself included, is ever going to be fucking okie-dokie, a-okay, right-as-rain regardless of how hard anyone tries— all of that scares the hell and the ever-loving shit and the absolute fucking life out of me, and I feel like hiding and burying myself alive and wishing I could give back every breath I ever-ever-ever took.
     Sometimes I am so scared of everything being so much bigger and faster than I am that I feel like the only logical response is freezing and letting everything else pass me. 
     Sometimes I’m so scared I’m PETRIFIED.
     But you know what helps?
     Cereal.

+ TWO +

     Yeah, I mean, the kid’s stuff — Frosted Flakes, Cocoa Puffs, Honey Nut Cheerios, etc. Cereal makes me feel better, because it’s sweet and delicious and it reminds me of a time where none of the things that scared me dominated my thought process. It makes me think of a time where one of my best friends and I split a whole box of cereal over the course of an afternoon. We talked and laughed and ate cereal, and that was as complicated as the day got.
     It’s a defense mechanism, a comfort food, and emotional concealment.
     But sometimes, the wolves are bigger and badder and huffier and puffier than any castle of cereal I could make. Sometimes the wolves cross the moat without any problem and tear a hole in the cereal walls, and Tony the Tiger hurries back with a report, raving to me that “They’re Grrrrrrowling at the door!! They’re going to break in any second! Wwwwwwwwwhat do we do?!”
     And then I’m gone, hiding again. 
     Deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole. 

+ THREE +

     Writing — storytelling — aches and dreams shared with a community — a campfire. 
     It’s what I always go back to — it’s been my love language for decades now. There’re journals filled with stories, stories I haven’t shared. A library of caged birds. And why?
     Because of the wolves, that’s why. 
     The wolves are the ones who piss on the campfires and swallow the birds. If I let the birds go, the wolves will devour them, and they’ll put out the fire, and I won’t have anywhere to go. I won’t have anything to say.
     I love to write, and I love storytelling, and I know storytelling’s in my marrow — but I’m afraid.
     Why?
     Because it feels like the world needs storytelling like it needs a hole in the head — because it actually HAS a hole in the head, and it needs a medic, and it needs a top-flight surgical team to put it back together. It needs higher walls and more skilled sharpshooters. It needs antidotes to the viruses spread by the enemy, and then it needs viruses that the other side doesn’t have antidotes for yet, and it needs something loud and snarling and foaming at the mouth.
     Because it feels like the only thing the world needs is more wolves.

+ FOUR +

     And then Padre shows up. “Hey,” He says.
     “Oh, hi.”
     “Bad day?”
     “Yeah.”
     “Sorry about that.”
     “Thanks.”
     “Might I suggest something?”
     “Sure.”
     “Read the Psalms.”
     “Excuse me?”
     “Read the Psalms. It’s the one after Job.”
     “Who do I read them to?”
     “Yourself. In time, the Wolves.”
     “Why?”
     “Wolves love Psalms. Didn’t anyone tell you that?”
     “No. Why should I read them to myself?”
     “Because I know.”
     “Know what?”
     “That feeling in the back of your jaw — the feeling like your mouth wants to wire itself shut, lock the door and throw away the key. Because I know every thing you think of saying feels incomplete and off-target and late-to-the-party. Because I know you’re afraid to address the world — your neighbor — your reflection — because you think your words have to be the skeleton key that unlocks all the sorrow and vitriol of this age. All of that’s very admirable.”
     “Thank you." 
     “And it’s also profoundly, utterly foolish.”
     “…Yes.”
     The Almighty crouches low, His eyes meet mine. “Dom. I know it feels like your love is insignificant.”
     “…Yeah.”
     “I know it feels like you need to be a medic, or a sharpshooter, or a wolf.”
    “…Yeah.”
     “But you don’t.” He wipes a fallen tear from my eye. “You’re not a medic, and you’re not a sharpshooter, and you’re not a wolf. You’re Dom. And that’s because I made you like Dom. I made you Dom-shaped, with that Dom-laugh and that Dom-smell. I made you to look like Dominic. To sound like Dominic. To breathe and weep and dance and laugh and love and hope like Dominic.”
     “And,” He adds, “I did it on purpose.”    
     I nod. Another tear. “That’s what scares me the most, Padre — that you knew exactly what you were doing when you made me. I feel it in my chest.”
     “Yeah?”
     “Yeah — that forest fire — that burning bush, that lion’s den — that heart of mine — you put it there. You were sloppy.”
     He smiles. “How so?”
     “If the cops dust my heart they’ll find your fingerprints all over the place.”
     He nods. “Guilty as charged.” 
     “I forgive you.”
     He kisses my forehead. “Ditto.”

+ FIVE +

O Lord, you have searched me
and you know me.

You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O Lord.

Do I Believe in Love?

Let me tell you the story of Right Hand, Left Hand. It’s a tale of good and evil. 

Hate: It was with this hand that Cane iced his brother. 

Love: These five fingers, they go straight to the soul of man. 

The Right Hand: The Hand of Love. 

The Story of Life is this: Static. One hand is always fighting the other hand, and the left hand is kicking much ass. I mean, it looks like the right hand, Love, is finished… 

But hold on! Stop the presses! The right hand is coming back! Yeah, he got the left hand on the ropes, now, that’s right. Yea! Boom! It’s a devastating right and Hate is hurt, he’s down. Ooh! Ooh! Left-Hand Hate KO’d by Love. 

If I love you, I love you. But if I hate you…

— Radio Raheem, from “Do The Right Thing” (1989) writ/dir by Spike Lee

II

Do I believe in Love today? 

To believe in Love — to open my doors and say ‘Today I Love and am Loved,’ simultaneously giving the world opportunity to accept or reject me and my handsome heart — is not a singular act, but a daily, action-by-action orientation. Today I believe in Love, and today I choose to Love.  

Because I can believe in Love, but I can also believe in Hate, and added to such belief, is the opinion that Hate is stronger than Love. Hate is more profitable and more accessible than Love, I might say. 

Hate doesn't weigh as much, doesn't cost as much. Hate doesn't charge extra when you travel, and it fits through all doorways. Hate doesn't ask questions, and doesn't require you to listen. 

Hate is more understandable than Love and affords me more armor than Love, more shields and more reasons with which to defend myself. Hate assures me of rightness, and righteousness.  

Love, though — Love be that heart in full bloom, that blessed open door without conditions — the only condition being that the door stay open. 

III

How do I summon Love from barren soil? 
Christ have mercy.
How do I be still in the pupil of the beast and show Love?
Christ have mercy.
How do I take in venom, bitter fruit and waste — and conjure that ribbon — that melody — that blaze — that mysterious and wondrous Love?
Christ have mercy.

We are flame, and we are flesh. 
The spirit is willing, amen and amen, and the spirit is weak, amen and amen. 
Help me Father, to speak like the rock — break me and bring forth water.
Ayúdame, Padre, to burn and yet not be consumed.
Help me, Lord, to die and be born anew.