I heard a calling to myself from myself. And I listened. I followed it.
Bet that sounds like quasi-spiritual, Walt Whitman hipster garbage, except that is truly how it happened. I have no other way to really explain how I found myself sitting in a lawn chair with off-brand Sophie shorts, feet in a beautiful clear Colorado mountain stream, beer in canteen, and my dog, Ranger, running in the water- before he ran off for good, months later.
I don’t quite know why this all happened how it did. It was a deep knowing that lead me to Colorado. A primal intuition. I’m talking ancestral caveman-level type of shit. It seemed like this is where I was always heading to. I had to follow the path being laid out before me. But what exactly was driving me out here, to Colorado, now?
The entirety of my life lived in Texas, has been spent wanting to say goodbye to a meat-head meat state I never wanted to live in, am now, ironically employed by to make sure children are safe; and presided over by Governor Greg Abbott. He’s the one who approved all those cuts to Medicaid and stipends for at-risk and special needs children- which is pretty on the par as far as Republicans are concerned. The difference is Governor Abbott had an unfortunate accident, recovered (with private insurance), and has been sitting in a wheel-chair for the past two decades. My former boss used to call him Governor Hot Wheels because of that very dissonance. Wonder if good ole Hot Wheels would’ve still signed those bills if he had to worry about picking the right Medicaid program, keeping food on the table, and wondering who the hell is going to watch his special needs children because CPS just showed up and ran everyone’s criminal backgrounds.
But that’s the rule for some politicians down south by southwest. Say, do, or hate whatever it takes to make the voting-White-honky-assholes tickle God’s pussy ‘til she squirts out her tits or checkbook in fear. There’s always enough oil money to pay for sideline-seats to both. I mean how the hell else is Trump president with the world gone all conservative crazy again. Words in state-law books aren’t as perfunctorily written as “laws” in the Bible. But if I was a betting man, I’d bet the Baptists probably have better lawyers on retainer.
“God [The Right god] helps those who helps themselves.” Ain’t that right Ole Greg? There’s always politics in the pulpit and vice-versa. You can grind an orange until all the membranes and citric sinews are flushed away, but remnants of pulp will still cling to your glass of cold-pressed orange juice. Sometimes people get ground to pulp too. Some fresh, frozen, but never from concentrate. People on both sides and no sides of the aisle.
And I think the guy I lived with for 9 months was a legitimate psychopath, whom I also hooked up with sometimes, and I’m kind of weirdly heartbroken about it even though I know I’m pretty kick-ass and overall worthy of being loved. I’ve been honored to be a groomsman in beautiful weddings- including my father’s to our stepmom, but I miss my mom; and my hero grandfather is about to die. And I don’t think there’s a request off code for a 32 year-old, gay, former Pentecostal, semi-pantheist, intellectual optimist, height of prime sexuality, best shape of adult life yet incredibly (intentionally!?) celibate, half-Jewish, investigator for Child Protective Services of Texas who just needs a goddamn week free from all this loudness clamoring for attention. Life has a way of bringing us exactly what we do and do not need. It seems my way forward often leads me down even stranger paths.
* * * * * *
This will not likely gain any points in refuting said self-celibacy; but I legitimately saw a UFO a couple months ago, took a picture, and later reported it to MUFON. No kidding. It’s case #83414. The silver disc changed shapes and started shining intense bright lights on the clear afternoon of Mother’s Day, 05/14/17, in the middle of farmland; while I was on my way to a CPS case regarding a little person mom allegedly on meth, currently starring on a reality show. Show of hands for who thinks which is weirder. Sure, it could have been a secret military test craft. It was definitely not a drone nor sunlight reflecting off an airplane. Maybe they were interplanetary ‘spirit guides’ that I had been wondering if people- if I have? And if I do have some weirdos up above, did they not send word because I reported the sighting to MUFON; or did they hover in the sky for 4 minutes just to let me know, “hey, you’re okay kiddo. By the way, we’re not the most bizzaro thing you’re gonna see today?”
Jesus Christ… This is the first time I’ve written it all out and just realized how jacked-up and kind of wonderful everything has been. (Insert cry-laugh and cry emojis.)
I pause to let my mind stop. I put the pen down and close my eyes.
I breathe in a long cleansing Colorado breath of air. I feel the warm sunlight pressing itself onto my arms.
In and out.
Clearing. Freeing. I release all the Gregs and dregs of the world down the river.
In and out.
It is now starting to make perfect sense how I found myself sitting here, sideline seat to Nature.
* * * * * *
Manifested Destiny (Part 4 of 4):
My flesh rescinds
Its offering for your atonement.
Let shadows of mediocrity
dine within their closets.
Let them teeth on
the far-right white bread
and cow’s milk teats.
I’m feasting on mountains.
I’m dwelling with birds and angels.
Your own deeds are a mirror.
My hands are bloody with your shards.
I reclaim my flesh and voice.
I was never broken.
The good ones never are.
I’m dropping my indictments
Leave vultures for the dying.
I am speaking for us all.
I’m alone and breathing mountains.
I have found love right here
Four days ago I was knocking on a door in a mostly-poor mostly-white suburban town south of Fort Worth, Texas at 11:36 PM. School’s been in session one week and the allegations of child abuse were flying in like they do after every summer break. Life is always seen as more dangerous and seedy by southern, white, Blue-Apron subscription, female nurses and teachers with husbands who own rifles and hang Psalm quoted wall plaques in the guest bathroom. Doubt there’s any blue apron here, and regretting the thought I knew was likely true, or blue ribbon husband.
I was hoping nobody would answer. I wasn’t in the mind space to deal with someone else’s shit-storm tonight. I was hoping that the children were safe and the report was wrong. Hoping that all the meth moms found freedom from their addictions, or were at least smart enough to hide them. There were two cars in the gravel driveway. Busted porch lights shining down onto the chipped white paint mobile home. I walk past an old brown Buick with its hood lifted- engine exposed; not that it mattered because it would probably never drive again. There’s another truck frame resting on cinder blocks. This is somebody’s life in 2017. It might as well be 1917 these days. The whole of America is one great rusted trophy on a pedestal. “You had a dream, and we let you even have Dreamers, but we’ll get back to your dream later.” I used to do the same with my own.
I knock on the red frame door with light peeking through the cracks. Knock loudly a few times. I’m here to bang one more nail in their coffin. I wait for 15 seconds. Maybe no one is home or maybe they’re asleep. I knock again. I wait. I hear crickets and cicadas chirping but there isn’t an answer. Thank God. Might as well have been heaven’s door. No way to tell if someone is ever home or just gone out for a smoke break. Smoke one for me, sweetie.
I drove home, plopped on my bed, and look at the rest of the workweek calendar to decide which day I could call out. I have 540 hours of sick leave that I will never fully use. I can’t even remember the last time I’ve actually been sick. The times I have called out were usually due to a killer hangover or needing a mental health day. Often those two bleed into one another and often both kinds of days were needed. It wasn’t so much the job pressure or calling out that was the issue. But what excuse would I give to my supervisor? What excuse do I need to give myself?
I saw my name marked off for Wednesday and then I remembered. I went back to my requested days off email and saw I had indeed randomly asked off. And Tuesday was a full day “Mental Health Wellness” training. Compassion fatigue is the number one contribution to burn out in the mental health and social work fields. And at least in my particular profession, it’s given almost zero fucks about. There’s a bit of kryptonite in everything we set out to do.
I began doing chakra meditations three years ago, when I had hit a particularly treacherous spot of nihilism. Work had ground me to the core and I was being sent to work emergency response for a county everyone had quit in. I once asked my old boss and good friend, Roxanne, “who protects the protectors?” She said, “I guess we protect ourselves.” What happens when that stops working?
I had no idea how much meditation would change my life. Meditation began to clear the thought webs and erode the bitter steel trap clasped over my heart. Through the process of breathing and releasing resistant negative patterns of thinking I slowly began to find my innermost strength. But for the past couple months there was a pit in my stomach and heart that no amount of meditation could loosen. You can’t breathe your way out of a blood-letting. Something began forming in my mind, “I am driving to Colorado in 35 hours,” High-five and love- from future me.
Goodbye comes easier when your inner/higher/future Self says it for you. This wasn’t the only time that has happened. This inner-knowing only seemed more clear once before now. It was all those years before I almost killed myself while living and teaching in China. I would chock up some of my other serendipitous experiences to the reckless invincibility of youth rather following an intuitive knowing. But maybe that was my inner self speaking deep and softly to me back then. Back before the voices of others droned over the sound of my own. There is something that always calls out within us. I needed that voice again.
My feet are touching the cool rocks being washed over by the stream’s current. I am encircled by green and mountains. I needed the land to speak to me again. I needed to empty the case where a child drowned the night before Thanksgiving. And the one where we saved three children from their abusive father just to watch them get sent to different foster homes. My own family’s perceived disapproval of me. Disgust with this country and their god. America’s splintered pain. We’re all fucking orphans. I needed to dump all of these voices and hear something real. I needed to hear rivers. I hear them clearly and nothing else. I am my breath. I am the attention of the wind.