Monday, February 1, 2016

Things I love, at the corner, dreaming, something beautiful, the Old Golden Land, I’m on the way, Beanie!

At the corner of Market and Church

Once again, some of the photos will have nothing to do with the text. I was thinking, what photos would I like to look at in a year or five years?
I love (or like a lot)… babies, puppies, flowers (especially fragrant ones), parents being sweet to their child, pretty women, baking bread, San Francisco… At first I thought I would make an inclusive list, but stopped at what is here. Of course there are people, but I already write about them a lot (Leslie, David, John, Jeff, others). I love each one of you, named here or not.
There was a woman on the cold January downtown corner near First Presbyterian. She had that skinny, jittery look of methamphetamine, complete with gurning around an unlit cigarette hanging out of her mouth. A man walked to the corner. He had tardive dyskinesia with tongue thrusting and grimacing (surely from too much Prolixin or Stelazine or whatever drug). I saw him give the woman a light with all the smoothness of a man in a tuxedo in some kind of old-time upscale night club.
Sourdough with currants, pecans, cinnamon

Yesterday I was listening to Neil Young singing about a dream his wife had - "It’s a dream, only a dream, and it's fading now..." and I felt my own meaning to the words and was so so sad to think that maybe all this with Leslie was a dream. Now I think, if it was all a dream, what a dream! 
My friend continues to waste away. A couple of days ago, I said to her husband, When I first started coming here, I think I was very helpful. Now… I’m seeing something beautiful (and so sad).
Something beautiful like with only a couple of exceptions, every time I come in, her husband is lying on the bed with her, massaging her legs, cradling her, wiping her lips, loving her.
Something beautiful like seeing him sitting against some pillows and her (she couldn’t weigh more than about 60 pounds now) propped up and leaning into his embrace.
Something beautiful like it’s all so clean, no smells, no tv, the altar moved from place to place depending on which way she’s lying (oh, so small now) on the bed… this is sacred space.
Something beautiful like love and faithfulness as real and palpable as the walls of this room I’m writing in right now.
Something beautiful like her husband and her mother touching her in ways I know are to memorize the feel of her.
She was born in hell (Cambodia 1975) – and her mother kept her alive through the Khmer Rouge years and across the border and across America and 39 years later here they both are on this bed in a room overlooking a playground.
Speaking of vision quests, I recited/sang this to her yesterday:
Keep on walking where the angel showed
(All will be One, all will be One)
Traveling where the angels trod
Over in the old golden land

In the golden book of the golden game
The golden angel wrote my name

When the deal goes down I’ll put on my crown
Over in the old golden land

I won’t need to kiss you when we’re there
(All will be One, all will be One)
I won’t need to miss you when we’re there
Over in the old golden land

We’ll understand it better in the sweet bye and bye
(All will be One, all will be One)
You won’t need to worry and you won’t have to cry
Over in the old golden land.
(Robin Williamson)
Sourdough with currants, pecans, cinnamon

After I left their apartment yesterday afternoon, I went on to Baylor emergency for the abdominal pain that’s bothered me for about a week. Trying for a couple of days to decide if I should go. Then I asked myself, what would I say to someone in my situation? It’s a no-brainer: Go. I went. I have acute pancreatitis. Haha, I’m glad I went! Liquid diet for a few days, then small, low fat meals, no alcohol (no prob – I quit that 40+ years ago), those kinds of things. Way better than cancer of the pancreas!
Actually, I didn’t completely give alcohol up. A few years ago walking along a street in Saigon, Leslie saw a sign saying, Beer – 10,000 dong (about $.50). Let’s go in, she said. From then on, that became an evening ritual for us… in Saigon, Hanoi, Hue, Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Hong Kong, San Francisco, Dallas. Good times. 
Lying in the room, waiting for sonogram results, thinking, it was just a day ago that I was thinking about pancreatic cancer. And that now there is some chance I may have it (and relief that I didn't). Sometimes Leslie and I would call one another Beanie or Cecil. Lying in the ED room, looking into the distance, looking toward the Old Golden Land, and I’m smiling and thinking, “I’m on the way, Beanie!”
In the garden

I may be a one-woman man.

I’ll try to be around and about. But if I’m not, then you know that I’m behind your eyelids, and I’ll meet you there.” 
Terence McKenna)

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