...he takes that last step over the cliff?
PARENTHETICAL WARNING: Long entry ahead. Fix yourself a drink before reading. Or two drinks.
The past five weeks have been strange. An understatement, really; they have been like a stay -- temporary, I hope -- in Hell.
First there was Eviction Day, April 3rd. I grabbed stuff, almost at random, and threw books, music and a few vital papers into a friend's car so he could store them for me. A lot was left behind for what a writer friend so aptly called the Eviction Vultures.
Then two weeks in a cruddy motel spent in a fruitless search for a job. Any job. I shared the premises with drug dealers and ladies involved in commercial transactions of the timeless kind. There were no doubt a few drifters, too. Like me.
After that, three weeks at the Ancestral Pad, now occupied by my sister. We have never really gotten along; when she told me to come bunk there, I thought she had mellowed. Nope. It has been a miserable time, with repeated bouts of sullen anger, threats to drive me to the nearest homeless shelter at that very moment, and constant reminders that she was making a Big Sacrifice by letting me draw breath in her space.
The house was worse. From the outside, it stands apart from others in the neighborhood by virtue of its rotting shingles, 35 year-old paint job and wildly overgrown yard. Inside, it puts the Collier Brothers' Manhattan pad to shame.
Of the four bedrooms, one is accessible. The rest, like the living room and dining room, are packed floor-to-ceiling with boxes of, well, stuff, piles of detritus, books and magazines purchased over a 20-plus year period and apparently never read, and bags, papers (some dating back years) and plain old shit. The only usable pieces of furniture in the living room are a couch (where I slept) and a tiny desk where my sister's laptop lives.
It is filthy. Dirt runs in long streams across the floors, cobwebs dangle from the ceiling, the kitchen and bathroom are simply vile. Foul. The shower doesn't work, and obviously has not for ages.
PARENTHETICAL YES-I'M-FUSSY NOTE: In order to feel even remotely clean, I had to take what used to be known as "whore's baths." I feel grubby right now, and have felt that way since arrival.
Inevitably, the moment arrived when I could no longer remain here. And so tomorrow, I depart.
This is where incredible good fortune comes into the picture.
Two very, very kind friends have offered me a place to stay. It is not in California, but is rather in the state where I have long hoped I would end up. Not the town I would have picked had I been able to move unrestricted, but second-best.
They tell me the job market is better there -- unless I moved to Michigan, it could hardly be worse! -- and are being simply wonderful about taking me in despite my straitened circumstances.
What will I do at the end of the 32-hour bus ride that begins tomorrow? I don't know. Whatever I have to do is my best guess. I worked as a janitor long ago, and suppose I can do it again if I must. I'm quite certain I will not return to the specific area of the writing racket I engaged in for 24 years. I won't do freelance word-smithing of any kind, except to supplement a steady job.
See? Even old (or, as a sweet, beautiful lady put it when writing about me recently, "aged*") dogs can learn new tricks.
But I will write. It's a compulsion, if no longer a career for me.
I'm not afraid of what comes next. Nervous as a cat on a major caffeine high, yes. But not fearful. Both of my continentally separated friends have assured me, at separate times, that they have good feelings about this move of mine. I trust their judgments.
In my younger, invincible days, I would be anticipating what is to come with delight. No less adventurous now, but affected by a two-year battering that left me, for a time, on the brink of wanting to simply jack it all in, I look ahead with more caution, and understand how steep and treacherous my path is going to be.
I've been at the bottom, Jim. I can climb back up. I will. It is a challenge. It might even be fun.
Though it may be days, weeks, even months before I can do it, I will be writing about my upcoming adventures, from the bus ride (this is my second big trip on the "Hound," and I know from experience there will be plenty to see) through each step of way to contentment. I write...it's what I know and love.
And what of my friends? K. and J. have been at my side for years. During the worst moments of the recent disaster, K.'s warm, caring voice on the phone and help have kept the last strings of my sanity from snapping. She is beautiful by any measure, and I have treasured her friendship since the time it began. J., too, has been of immeasurable help and a source of wisdom (even if occasionaly twisted wisdom, which is the kind that suits me best. He is my brother.
I have known S and K to be good people for a long time; I am looking forward to getting to know them better.
Most of all, I am looking forward to the day when I can treat each of them with even a fraction of the kindness they have extended to me, the day when I, back on my feet again, can say to them: "look what you've made it possible for me to do, and feel proud of yourself!"
At this point, I have to say I have learned who my true friends are. And have learned who doesn't make the grade, friend-wise. Some surprises lurk on both lists....
I would name all four of these life-saving, life-giving, unselfish people, but won't now. They know who they are. I'm heading toward two of them now; I expect to see the other two, one on each coast, in the near future. I feel as if I'm destined to enjoy their company again, and believe Fate will give me time and opportunity to do what I can to make them feel unreservedly appreciated. Loved.
I'm jumping off a cliff** tomorrow, somewhat blindly and with less preparation than I'd like. But, unlike those poor bastard lemmings, I know I will make a soft landing.
I'm happier than I've been in months. I have a destination. I'm eager to find out what comes next.
* Ooooh, that hurts! Couldn't she have said "mature" instead? Damn, I may have some high mileage on the ol' wheels, but I'm not ready for the to take the Big Dirt Nap yet!
** Yes, I know this, when combined with my allusions to "hitting bottom" and "climbing back up" equate to one hellish non-sequitur, but this is my journal, folks, and I like the allusions, so you'll just have to groan and bear it.
17 hours ago