Thursday, August 17, 2006

beach

1. Last week, I fell in love. He had dark skin, black hair, and the middle thickness that means middle age. He also had two children. He held them like he meant to. I met his wife at the grocery store. I'm in love with her, too.

My grandfather sat beside me on the shore when he said, 'There's no rush, but a restaurant job is no place to meet a husband.'

2. The shore is a lonely place to be. I've always thought. We've stayed in the same house six years. Same hallway, same room, same window, same moon. It's got history. When I was 19, I lined the bed with tears, end to end, side to side. Days I would sit on the sand and let them fall out of my face. My aunt would walk me down the beach. I know, I know, I know, she'd say. My mother was angry. 'You're ruining everything, and he isn't worth it.'

This year, my mother expected tears and got nothing. I am almost 23, and maybe four years makes sorrow a slow ebb and not a sudden torrent. But she would still squint at me. 'I know who you're thinking. He wasn't in love. Look away. There are plenty of other fish in the sea.' Mother, I know, I would say, silently. But the shore is a lonely place to be.

3. Our third to last day was gray. The whole ocean around us made my mother and I alone, bobbing and treading. 'I am not discerning, and I am not wise,' I told her. 'You are not cautious in love,' she replied. 'So you fall hard.'

My cousin Nathan never considered consequence. When we were small children, he would rush at the waves. He didn't meet them as a friend, expecting an easy lift to shore. He didn't meet them as an enemy, either. They met without assumption or expectation, with nothing more than the present moment of flesh against brine against sand. The force overcame him, but he leapt in again, while my cousins and I crouched on the shore.

His fearlessness was a virtue, we thought, but I always wondered. There were undercurrents beneath those waves, and if one had swept him away one day, would we remember him differently than we do?

'I might not be cautious,' I told my mother. 'But I do have fun and I do fall in love.' She laughed. 'As long as that's a fair trade,' she said, and I'm not sure that I'll ever know that it is. I spent my childhood crouched on the shore. Maybe one day a current would have swept Nathan away. But he'll always have that moment of flesh against brine against sand. I don't know that that isn't a virtue.

Thursday, August 03, 2006


Tonight I took my watering can, a cigarette and walked the block. It's becoming a midnight tradition.

Trish is teaching me to care for my place. Last week we lined the streets with pots we'd filled with flowers. The colors carry the whole block. Today Trish called me. 'I caught a woman throwing hers away. She said, "It's dead." I said, "You've got to water them." God,' she laughed. 'Is that so hard?'

'Maybe you should start basic horticulture class for the neighborhood,' I said, sarcastic. We laughed because we think we know how things die and how things grow.

Tonight I took my watering can, a cigarette down the block. An older man approached me: we've nodded on different days, he sitting on a porch me crossing the street from my car. Never spoken. 'Ah'm James. Some say,' he said, 'Ah've got a green thumb.'

'A green thumb is a good thing to have,' I laughed, disbelieving.

'Ah planted that tree on Green Street,' he kept going. 'When mah wife was alive, Ah took her roses, when Ah was in trouble, you know, when Ah was drunk. Ah took them from my friend's bush until she said, "Enough of dis" an' bought me mah own. She shown me how to plant 'em, an' they was red. Mah wife's favorite. When mah wife died, Ah had so many of dem roses, I cou'n't give 'em all away. When mah wife died, Ah planted a tree, an' Ah keep it to dis day. Ah put a note to mah wife in dat tree, an' in 20 years it will bloom right out, and Ah'll be dead by then. Ah'm 62.'

I blinked at him, my watering can. 'What was her name?'

'Mary,' he said. 'Welp, you done made the neighborhood good. Ah'm James. I'll see you round.' He walked away, looking like every day. Poor black man, old, unemployed.

And anyways, he has a tree on Green Street, and he'll tend it till his end. Because James knows how things die and how things grow. I envy him, but I'm afraid.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Last winter, one of my best friends had her heart broken by a boy who walked in, promised her his future, then walked out. While she cried to me over the phone, I wanted to say, 'Why didn't you protect yourself? Why didn't you guard your emotions? Why didn't you see the warning signs.'

'How could I have known?' is what she would have said. 'There were no warning signs, and if there were, I was in love and wanted him. I saw them as small troubles, not impassable obstacles.' He did not see it that way, I guess.

Tim said to me last week, 'At least you have nothing to regret. You took the risk, and you got hurt. But at least you took the risk.' But sometimes I think the risk is something to regret.

Pedro the Lion says, 'Love well, young man while you still can / Once your leaves turn, you won't love again.' David Gray says, 'So whose to worry if our hearts get torn / when that hurt gets thrown / don't you know that life goes on.'

Live a life of loneliness and never get hurt. Live of life of hurt and probably end up lonely. Then there is that beautiful thing that we write songs about, make movies of, paint pictures for, but never seem to be able to hold on to. What about that thing.

Nobody said it was easy. No one ever said it would be this hard.

Monday, July 24, 2006

this is a complaining post

I do not have the money to pay my rent this month.

I do not have the money to pay my car loan this month.

My car needs $149 in repairs and an oil change.

I need new contacts, but I haven't got health insurance and I cannot afford to go to the eye doctor.

I cannot sell my car to save money, because I need it to make money.

I cannot go without contacts, because I need them to make money.

Harrisburg is getting empty of people I love and have loved, and I am anticipating terrible loneliness.

I do have a job. In a place that is a family and not just a workplace.

I do have food to eat and a comfy bed in which to sleep.

I do have friends near and far, unexpected and real ones.

I do have a family that lets me fuck up, even when they don't agree with my decisions.

I do have my freedom and my dignity.

If Gerard would just let me get a fucking dog, my life would be perfect.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

i am at messiah college today i witnessed demolition.

on grantham road there is a little gray house. i lived there. three whole women with me. we had green grass all around us, and the sky. i cried myself to sleep that year and prayed why why why why why. god knew me better than ever because i was broken up inside.

across the street was another house, light green. inside lived homer and mildred. they had age. homer had lived there his whole life, and even before that. i remember he stood to watch the trains go by, i remember we sat in their living room and looked at their love. it was so old and just there. like his vegetable garden, year after year.

i remember we walked the hill behind our house. an ancient graveyard sits there. we found their graves, empty and waiting. our young horror made us turn away, but their love was so old and just there. they knew death was coming, and they loved.

homer and mildred moved away that winter. homer left a sign by the train tracks that said, simply, 'HOMER MOVED.' so the trains would know. the college bought the property.

today i drove past, for no reason. the house is gone, and trucks were staggering about the vacant patch of dirt where it stood. their graves still wait at the top of the hill. i was meant to see this, without meaning to.

all the pains i felt that year have passed. it was the best year of my life, in the little gray house with the grass. crying why why why why why. had i known then that new pains would spring up, like homer's garden year after year, i would not have stopped going.

all things do end. this is no reason for not doing them.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Come up to meet you, tell you I'm sorry
You don't know how lovely you are.
I had to find you, tell you I need you
Tell you I set you apart
Tell me your secrets, ask me your questions
Oh let's go back to the start
Running in circles, coming up tails, heads on a science apart

Nobody said it was easy
It's such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be this hard
Oh take me back to the start

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Just for the record, you're not "making love" to someone if you can do it regularly for months and then expect things to go back to "just friends" all of the sudden, one fine day. That's called "fucking."

Sojo O.G.

The tensions, contradictions and consumeristic undertones of this e-mail are more than I can stand.

Dear Sarah,

Hurry! Tomorrow is the early-bird deadline to register for Pentecost 2006: Building a Covenant for a New America from June 26-28 in Washington, D.C. Our all-star lineup of speakers - including Barack Obama, Marian Wright Edelman, and Tony Campolo - make this a MUST-ATTEND event! You will not just be inspired, you will leave this conference with the tools to put your faith into action to overcome poverty in America and throughout the world!
+ Register now before our early-bird discount expires!
Speakers include:
Sen. Barack Obama, Sen. Hillary Clinton, Sen. Sam Brownback*, Sen. Blanche Lincoln, Sen. Rick Santorum*, Sen. Olympia Snowe*, Ambassador Tony Hall, Marian Wright Edelman, Tavis Smiley (bonus event on Sunday, June 25), Rev. Tony Campolo, Rev. Sharon Watkins. Rev. Brian McLaren, Rev. Jim Wallis
*invited
+ Register now before our early-bird discount expires!
Seize the moment. Change the wind. See you there!
Peace,

The Sojourners and Call to Renewal staff


All-star, early-bird, discount. Jim. Stop using words and phrases that appeal to the system they understand and teach them a new system. You pansy.

This morning, after I got this e-mail and as I was driving back from Harrisburg International Airport at 5 a.m. in a haze of exhaustion, and as I was listening to Dre's 2001, I thought about about awesome it would be if Jim Wallis was suddenly under attack by the liberal Christians he helped spawn, who suddenly became real liberals and accused him of going right because he still supports things like capitalism. Then, he would suddenly call himself J.Wall (which sounds like Paul Wall, but awesomer because of the drug reference) and write this:


Jim Wallis: Ya'll know me still the same ol' G
But I been low key
Hated on by most these niggas
Wit no cheese, no book deals and no 'zines,
no wheels and no keys
No boats, no snowmobiles and no skis
Mad at me cause I can finally afford to provide my family wit groceries
Got a crib wit an office and it's all full of drafts
To add to the wall full of plaques
Hangin up on the wall in back of my house like trophies
But ya'll think I'm gonna let my dough freeze
Ho, please
You better bow down on both knees
Who you think taught you to smoke Righties
Who you think brought you the O.G.'s
Shane Clairborne, God's Politics
And the group that said muthafuck the Bushies
Gave you e-mails full of dope reads
To bump when strollin' through your hood
And when your book sales wasn't doin too good
Who's the doc they told you to go see
Ya'll better listen up closely
All you niggas that said that I turned Right
Or Call to Renweal will flop
Ya'll are the reason J ain't been getting no sleep
So fuck ya'll, all ya'll
If ya'll don't like me, blow me
Ya'll are gonna keep fuckin around wit me
And turn me back to the old me

Brian McLaren: Nowadays everybody wanna talk like they got something to say
But nothin comes out when they move they lips, just a buncha gibberish
And muthafuckas act like they forgot about J

Jim Wallis: If it was up to me
You muthafuckas would stop comin up to me
Wit your hands out lookin up to me
Like you want somethin free
When my last book was out you wasn't bumpin me
But now that I got this little company
Everybody wanna come to me like it was some disease
But you won't get a crumb from me
Cause I'm from the streets of DC
I told 'em all, all them little Christian Democrats
Who you think helped mold 'em all
Now you wanna run around and talk about guns
Like I ain't got none
What you think I sold 'em all?
Cause I stay well off
Now all I get is hate mail all day sayin J fell off
What, cause I been on book tours months on end
Tryna get my damn sales up?
I ain't havin that
This is the millenium of Sojo.net
It ain't gonna be nothin after that
So give me one more platinum plaque and fuck evangelicalism
You can have it back
So where's all the mad rappers at
It's like a jungle in this habitat
But all you savage cats
Knew that I was strapped wit gats
When you were cuddled wit cabbage patch

Brian McLaren: Nowadays everybody wanna talk like they got something to say
But nothin comes out when they move they lips, just a buncha gibberish
And muthafuckas act like they forgot about J