Tuesday, July 31, 2012

all dogs go to heaven

the summer was rolling me up and down the skatepark and into the barrio singing songs of dilapidated front porches, rickety door handles and mexican radio. living in those stubborn venice blocks and alleyways was the insular feeling of a neighborhood giving everything it had to steer away the cunning eye of gentrification, a foul stare here, music too loud there, and a worn-out food truck selling produce in the middle of the streets every afternoon.

the crooked energy made the insanity a little bit less to bear but nighttimes were scary and disorganized and there'd be greasy bags of food in my hands or resting on pillows next to me in the mornings like lovers of welcomes overstayed. and sometimes there were motels and state parks, movie theatres and backseats, strangers and friends, and i was lazy and hurt and smoking too much weed and drinking more than i should have been drinking. to redeem myself, i wanted to write something spectacularly honest and truthful, instead, my efforts materialized into one-hundred pages of trivial dialogue that meant something to me and nothing to the world and i was out of money and drifting back into the suburbs, somehow sitting on old baseball fields of little league games past. this time, no uniform, only a guitar in hands and hurt in heart and this mind that wouldn't stop racing with all the probabilities and events that had gone away. and i'd get struck by these large swelling waves of adrenaline and wanted to act, but all around me there wasn't anything to change or alter because i'd been pushed away from the sea, and i was swimming in pools of faceless tract developments and air conditioned coffee beans, worlds away from my tortilla neighborhood, wondering if i'd ever get back.

and, but, i was rescued.

i didn't recognize it right away but there i was, surrounded by family and specifically by my sister Rebecca. she gave me a living room, an air mattress and a quiet unconditional approval that asked nothing of me but gave so much.

she also made the most heartening bowl of chili i'd ever tasted, whether after a workout, waking up, or any time, i'd sit in the claustrophobic august/september heat and eat this warm chilli, and it was resuscitating something, somewhere. and months earlier, i'd been struck by this feeling of incredible isolation, but there in that apartment, with Bec and her chilli and her slight indifference but absolute confidence in me, i was nourished again. and there was also Charlotte or Char Char, already near fourteen-years-old and with a tumor the size of a baseball on her stomach, her auburn hair receding on her back, Charlotte would sit by the door waiting for Bec to return from work and she'd stare at me, her little tongue out in the most obvious dog smile i've ever seen, watching intently and encouragingly as i attempted to clumsily locate my soul on the strings of my eastman acoustic. and it helped, it helped, it helped, there in that apartment was a loyalty and friendship and laughter that helped me come alive. and when i drove away a couple months later, back to my same neighborhood, i could feel the world and i cried. no man steps in the same river twice and if he feels like a better one upon his return it's often because another person, in my case a person and her sidekick, cared enough about him to let him heal and it's the most illuminating feeling to experience and the river becomes that much more beautiful. and i'm not sure if i've ever clarified how much that time and all the times we've had together have meant to me, and i don't know if i can accurately express them properly, but Rebecca if you read this, thank you, i love you. and Charlotte, last night you were put to rest, and our hearts are heavy, we miss you. the amount of brilliance you gave the world from your tiny Pomeranian frame has changed our lives, the lessons learned from you are undeniably good, you Charlotte, were, and always will be, undeniably good. and somewhere (in my mind or wherever eternal) you are on your furry back, happy, a foot rolling your belly back and forth in gentle motion.