I’m always looking for more, tis true.
More to fill up the whatever whatever. You know how that goes. I hear tell some folks use alcohol, some drugs, some sex, some all three and then some. I don’t use any of those things. To be clear, I don’t think that makes me more will powered or stronger in any way. I do have a liking for Ativan, which is a benzo and deadly in its own way in terms of how it changes the brain permanently. Just typing the word Ativan I smile a bit.
I use other things I guess – reading, exercising (in the summer), a bit of art now here and there, hanging out with people, churches of various sorts (and I rail against all of them fairly evenly), and a general desperate feeling of needing more. And yet, I have amazing people in my life. But because they are not there enough according to my standards of enough, I do not feel, well, grateful enough I guess. Loneliness can cover up gratefulness sometimes I think.
I was reading a blog recently by a friend’s niece, who is I think about 21 years old and making her way in a city that is new to her. It is quite lovely to read – her fears and the excitement and discoveries around the whole thing. When I was 21 (well 20 but basically almost 21) I moved to Vancouver from Winnipeg. I knew one person. Jobs were easier to get then of course and I began to attend a church and to make some friends. Then I went to SFU for a year to finish my degree. I got involved in IVCF – I guess that is still around? A Christian university organization. This is where I met M, way back in 1988 holy cow. She talked off my ear while we sat on a gym floor is about all that I can remember. And there was a corn roast. And Ben Johnson won something in the Olympics. M. and I are still friends – she has married and has a place in East Van. Her job stability is much more stable than mine and she is I think the most emotionally stable person that I know or have ever known. Kindness and generosity ooze out of her. No really, you can actually see it oozing. When my mom died, she and her husband invited me to spend two nights before I had to fly off to the frozen prairies. I spent the two days in their spare room watching the Good Wife on Netflix on my phone. Everything felt overwhelming. I would text her that popcorn would be nice and sure enough there’d be popcorn. I was craving a three cheese macaroni dish and there it was to be followed up by the greatest dessert known to humanity, the apple crisp. M. once rubbed my back a bit (I’m usually not one for the touchy-touchy although I crave the heck out of affection) whilst I proceeded to vomit. That my friends, is a friend. “You know,” I told her, “I don’t think I could do this for you.”
“Oh I know,” she said.
A lovely woman really. She is an atheist now but when I told her that I had to remember to pray for my niece at an appointed time whilst she was on a mission trip, it was M. who texted me to remind me.
“So it’s lunchtime,” I sometimes call her on a weekend and say, “If I happen to pop by say would there be lunch.”
“Indeed,” she generally says.
The other day while we lay by the pool!!!!! I told her that she, T, and G. had to get on planning my 50th (good lord my god) birthday coming up in eight months. “And it has to be really good otherwise I will be more depressed than usual and oh my god my singleness sucks. Maybe crayons should be involved.”
“But not just crayons that would suck.”
T. and M. planned my 40th way back when. T. I’ve known I think since about 1995. We met at the Vineyard. Then she was married, had a child and got divorced and we both left the Vineyard and yelled at each other a lot due to both being a yelling type of people.
“I think some friendships go entire lives without yelling,” I sometimes note.
“Really?” she said, puzzled.
We argue and sometimes text argue quite badly and I get all thumbs. But we also get each other in a way that is kind of rare I think. T. is strong and loud and loves the least and works at the safe injection site sometimes and its accompanying housing for the hardest to house. I recently visited her (briefly! should anyone in authority be reading this) at one of the places where women came and went and there was a general feeling that things could become chaotic. “Holy smokes,” I said. T’s own life is quite chaotic now – she’s got her mom living with her, her daughter, some other folks, she works a lot and has a chronic illness that sends her to the ER more than it does not or something like that.
“The doctors need to figure this the heck out!” I announce to her once in awhile, “This is insane,” I bluster on in that direction for awhile.
It is T. that has made me feel more comfortable and have a better understanding of the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver.
Years ago she ran many blocks, stuffing her then three year old into her stroller, in order to meet the ambulance at a coffee shop when I had felt faint.
“Does she have anxiety?” asked the paramedic.
“Well . . .” said T. “Well, well.” I think she somehow preserved my dignity.
I miss T. a lot, so chaotic is her schedule. T. has a heart for people (that is an expression I don’t like but I will use it) that you can’t fake really. At some point my mom, who had met her once, friended her on Facebook. That was sweet.
T. and I know C. from the Vineyard days. We re-connected a few years ago. C. has a deep ability to sit with people for hours in emergency rooms and be this completely calm presence. When I had pneumonia a couple of years back, she sat with me at VGH for a good long while. My obsessing was quite high because I was sick (well, higher than usual) and I was obsessing over this and that, waiting for that and this as you do in the ER.
“You could close your eyes,” she noted.
“What hmmm what hmmm.”
“That’s it, close your eyes.”
I closed my eyes. That was a good thing to do it turns out.
C. has discovered recently from a doctor that she is one of the few 50 year olds (I have stated her age!) with spina bifida left on earth. Spina bifida is rare now due to folic acid being taken by the pregnant. Or the fetuses are aborted, says the doctor. Because of all of this and a lifetime in a wheelchair, C is having a lot more chronic pain and sudden pain and infections and all sorts. She handles that with a striking calm, with a striking, ‘oh well.’ C. allows me to complain, both in person and on FB chat. I think I did this once and she informed me at the end of the conversation that she had to go to the ER.
“Christmas cake, C! Why didn’t you say that at the beginning?” No need, she said.
She’s had an inordinate amount of death in her life since I’ve re-connected with her and she was so helpful after my mom died. Caregiving in a gentle and profound way is a skill that is underestimated I think, vastly actually. Society in general doesn’t seem to give it the respect it deserves.
I think I have written about these people before but it never hurts to do it again I don’t think.
Let us not forget G., who is also extraordinary. We sometimes hotdog at Costco. Everyone should have a G. in their lives. Those who know G., agree. That rhymed. T. has at times tried to develop a separate friendship with G. which has been distressing but one must put up with challenges in this life. When T’s daughter was younger, she usually took awhile to warm up to people – not a hugger, that kind of thing. But within five minutes of meeting G. and me in a park, she was snuggling up to G.
“Wow,” I said.
“I worship G. and her husband I.” T. has said many times.
G. is also an amazing cook and baker. She has let me host some weird events in her home. One time, not many people showed up.
“I hate everybody!” I announced to those who did come.
“Well, don’t take it out on us,” said G.
That was true.
I think I often do not appear thankful. But really, I feel the thankfulness so deep in my bowels (ick) that it would make me weep all of the time if I didn’t stop it with my busy brain that exists on a more angry level.
I have not forgotten S. and S. and C.! I was focussing on Vancouver people here.
I shall end with a poem that I found on another blog. I read it to A.T. yesterday and she teared up. It is an amazing poem I think.
Pray for Peace by Ellen Bass
Pray to whomever you kneel down to:
Jesus nailed to his wooden or plastic cross,
his suffering face bent to kiss you,
Buddha still under the bo tree in scorching heat,
Adonai, Allah. Raise your arms to Mary
that she may lay her palm on our brows,
to Shekhina, Queen of Heaven and Earth,
to Inanna in her stripped descent.
Then pray to the bus driver who takes you to work.
On the bus, pray for everyone riding that bus,
for everyone riding buses all over the world.
Drop some silver and pray.
Waiting in line for the movies, for the ATM,
for your latte and croissant, offer your plea.
Make your eating and drinking a supplication.
Make your slicing of carrots a holy act,
each translucent layer of the onion, a deeper prayer.
To Hawk or Wolf, or the Great Whale, pray.
Bow down to terriers and shepherds and Siamese cats.
Fields of artichokes and elegant strawberries.
Make the brushing of your hair
a prayer, every strand its own voice,
singing in the choir on your head.
As you wash your face, the water slipping
through your fingers, a prayer: Water,
softest thing on earth, gentleness
that wears away rock.
Making love, of course, is already prayer.
Skin, and open mouths worshipping that skin,
the fragile cases we are poured into.
If you’re hungry, pray. If you’re tired.
Pray to Gandhi and Dorothy Day.
Shakespeare. Sappho. Sojourner Truth.
When you walk to your car, to the mailbox,
to the video store, let each step
be a prayer that we all keep our legs,
that we do not blow off anyone else’s legs.
Or crush their skulls.
And if you are riding on a bicycle
or a skateboard, in a wheelchair, each revolution
of the wheels a prayer as the earth revolves:
less harm, less harm, less harm.
And as you work, typing with a new manicure,
a tiny palm tree painted on one pearlescent nail
or delivering soda or drawing good blood
into rubber-capped vials, writing on a blackboard
with yellow chalk, twirling pizzas–
With each breath in, take in the faith of those
who have believed when belief seemed foolish,
who persevered. With each breath out, cherish.
Pull weeds for peace, turn over in your sleep for peace,
feed the birds, each shiny seed
that spills onto the earth, another second of peace.
Wash your dishes, call your mother, drink wine.
Shovel leaves or snow or trash from your sidewalk.
Make a path. Fold a photo of a dead child
around your VISA card. Scoop your holy water
from the gutter. Gnaw your crust.
Mumble along like a crazy person, stumbling
your prayer through the streets.