Yes, my mother died and I went to the beach, for years now. I was just there Tuesday under the moonlight, by myself for dinner. Free.
It was a long, terminal drama of illness and financial meshuggas but then it finally happened. It felt like Christmas morning in the sense that it was years of build up and then you get to the tree and the presents, the climax and it wasn’t all you anticipated, expected.
I thought it was going to be this utter devastation thing. Instead, it was like water ripples on a pond.
I spent the spring and summer doing a job at a sports stadium that I took just to get out of the house as I waited for school to restart. I basically used the paycheck to eat nice meals and go to the beach as baseball and soccer games are on uneven schedules. 1 game one week, 5 the next, 2 the following—-and I only worked game days.
I’ve often picked up part-time jobs in odd industries because like an extended journalistic investigation, I like to try things out. The restaurant manager, security, Wal-Mart, soup kitchen helper, volunteer, Habitat for Humanity—-I like to go places for money or not, and do something, somewhere where no one knows me for while. I imagine my funeral will be a huge banquet hall full of diverse people in language and color and body and spirit who will marvel at—-”You knew Kyle? How did you know him? He did what?” I love being, my being, in so many places that are unknown to the other, diverse from my work, my degrees, my past.
Then I spent literally months at the beach. I spent so long at the beach that I considered creating a locker business but instead followed a Moroccan teacher's suggestion (if you’re cool and smile, you meet some pretty nice people at the beach—-it’s a less intense, diverse space) I’d met there and buried my comforter, books and eventually snacks two feet down. I also learned how to buy a greater comforter at Goodwill and keep it at the beach. I just laid there in my micro red shorts and read and wrote and slept.
Friends dropped off like flaked skin. One saw me coming off the train, gave me a ride uptown and in the course of my relating oh, yeah, she died…I watched him vanish in front of me, in his car. He even pointedly repeated my phone number, I’ve had the same one for 17 years and that he would call me. That was 3 years ago. Silencio.,
Another friend who’d really been a rock for two years, who’d tracked me down from a cross the country beforehand, who had a mother in the same situation but not as ill, reached me one day, no argument, no drama, we couldn’t be friends anymore. i had suspected for awhile that he was going through something he was keeping secret and being cross country it’s difficult to see or confront. But I looked at the text and felt….nothing. Just deleted him and blocked his number.
Several students that I had mentored for years….betrayed me personally. It’s a long tangled tale. But when there was nothing to take from them, nothing for me to give because I was wrapped up in the details of death and mourning they lashed out. So I had to remove myself from them. They hadn’t accomplished the intended schooling goals.
Another friend of 7 years had been getting snarkier and snarkier, lashing out, being abusive. She had issues with death and though with everyone I tried to minimize how much I talked about the terminal time—-eventually you get worn out repeating the details of someone dying slowly so I was far more interested in other things, newer things, different things—-I had to let her go.
Family members freaked out over money, inheritance, emotions, drama. Death is something we should plan for so that all details are settled, all that is left are the emotional grievings because when it’s not planned, it’s a mess. My holiday card list became much lighter but curiously they came closer to me, by my insistence towards death, and then faded back to our non-existent relationships afterward.
From February to about November this all happened and as always I sat in meditation and had a conversation, an ongoing with God, with the myths and spirits and pixies and sprites and Nature and trees. Really got the Congress of reality in on this.
First I thanked them. I always thank the wind and the rain in the midst of a hurricane. Because it’s just here to take me to the new point.
Then I prayed into the question: Show what this is for? Tell me what this is to be.
That’s a hard prayer because it comes fast. The more you pray it, the faster it comes. And I’ve been praying to be told, shown for decades now about everything from sex to shoes to symbols to signs.
In Toni Morrison’s Beloved Paul D asks Sethe how Baby Suggs passed and she says like cream.
So I thought on that, prayed on that. My mother hadn’t quite passed like cream but the death took all the spoiled milk with it.
Suddenly, I was free. I was free. No more entanglements, no more co-dependent friends, no more people I didn’t want to be around. I stayed in a friend's giant house for a week and realized she was the only person who knew where I was. She was upstairs. I chatted up an Oscar winner’s daughter that she knew. Someone kind of like James Bond and his wife served me dinner.
All the folk I thought, I needed, wanted, were gone and all these other people, my 2nd and 3rd circle of friends and acquaintances rushed in and filled up small spaces.
They were all gone through, the burrs and bumps and bitches and bastards and fools and friends. My mother, one of the biggest stones in the soup, took them with her. It was like she died on her own terms, that I gave her what she wanted to come back to NY and for that, her passing to me, her only child, was like cream. A cream that flushed so many folk away.
The circle is small now. Even lovers aren’t as….needed in the same way. I’m present all the time. I’m immersed like seaweed in the ocean in my Art. It’s all I am interested in. I have no space for people, folks, issues, dramas. I went to a seminar recently and they kept encouraging me to speak on the panel, to question the panel. I liked the chicken and kept it moving. I’ve bumped into one or two folk, smiled and kept it moving. I no longer share, overshare, listen too long. My Art calls like a siren.
I know, logically, personally and even in my plans and goals that it won’t be like this forever. Not even for a full decade. Teaching means you care, you bond, you invest in others but like Jay Z suggests, I hold back 2 inches now. I don’t ask too many questions of folk because I don’t want too much talking around me.
Oooh, I cook some good food. I started exercising more because I’ve been cooking up some jamming food.
I write I TV produce, I business manage, I do my Art and for the first time in decades, because of my mother’s death, I feel totally, happily, contentedly, free.
Yeah, it surprised me too.
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