Friday, June 24, 2011
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
I get the feeling I might be too cynical. There are times in the cool darkness, when the lights are off and my eyes are closed and I’m listening to the far off sounds of the universe in motion, and people’s thoughts, that I hate everyone and everything God ever made. Even myself. This just makes me normal. At least I’m feeling something. I’m not like those crazy locked up hardcases, so numb they don’t even feel their own bodies anymore. We all need to be better than somebody. Whatever.
I’m in this zone, feeling sound as it vibrates on my ear drums and the door opens. I crack an eye like an alligator.
“Another headache?” Murphy knows me from a long time back. He doesn’t care, like me, and we have a connection, some brotherhood based on common pain and emptiness. We both have spiritual toothaches. I guess we’re each others’ spiritual dentists.
“Yeah.” I can smell him. Cigarettes. He’s the only guy I know who still smokes. I used to. Now when I need a fix I stand downwind from him. Filter-free at no cost. He’s full of questions today. Something is wrong.
“Take a pill?”
“I took several.” I don’t ask him what’s going on. I don’t want to know. I think about the sound of electronic feedback and avoid reading his mind.
The silence in the room bleeds into my open eye and pries open the other one. Two grey men in a grey room.
“I was worried about you.”
“You should be. I’m still not right, but I’m better.”
“Understand, we were only trying to help you.”
“I know. I was far gone when you found me. Thanks.” This again. Okay, I went mad, but long before we ever met. “I’m feeling now. Things are better.”
“It’s not what you think it is.”
What!? I don’t show a reaction, although Murphy knows he’s surprised me. This is new.
“Johnson’s back in the city. He’s got the same thing you had.”
“Alcoholism?” Glib response, defenses up, fits my pattern, this seems to be me.
“A symptom, but something is feeding on him.”
We’re thinking of our scars. We’ve all walked through hell, but for some reason Murphy made it through. And back. Without falling apart, without the mad fractures Johnson and I suffered. Sometimes I think he’s part demon and he enjoys this mess. I know he and Johnson are closer than I am, twin minds, but Johnson and I…we broke down.
“You seen it?” I ask a real question.
“It was at his place, yeah.”
I don’t want to see anything ever again, Johnson or those things. I escaped. Murphy left me there. I saved myself in the end.
“I don’t want to see him.”
“He doesn’t want to see you. Just think about it okay?”
I don’t care, I can’t care. It’s a trick. “I’ll think about it.” I say. There’s no option, he’ll just keep coming back if I say anything else. I wouldn’t trust me either. Damn us both.
Murphy sighs and stands up. He opens the window blind, lets the light in, shines it on my empty room. Before the door clicks shut he shouts “I’ll call later! Take care of yourself buddy!”
He’s gone, and left the sun behind.
I believe in monsters.
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
He has seen boom times, bust, and boom again in his home city of Calgary, Alberta. Now he makes his living between Toronto and Winnipeg. Facility planning, strategic project planning and an architecture thesis once filled his time but these days Thomas is fully occupied with the upcoming marriage to his long-time partner Jim. Normally a very private person, Thomas is all smiles as he speaks openly about gay marriage, his life with Jim, and his close ties to Calgary and his father.
Preparations are in the final stages and anxiety is high but the private and sometimes reserved Thomas laughs off the stress, “When I proposed I knew it was the next step but it seemed like setting a date far away you’d have lots of time to adjust to it. Now it’s less than a week away and I chuckle at how quickly time ha flown.” Power tools and sawdust fill the garage and a new gazebo stands waiting in the backyard. A close friend has been enlisted to conduct the ceremony. “If we could get married in a Catholic church with all the pomp and circumstance”, says Thomas, “I think Jim would love it because that’s what everyone grows up with in their experience, but that’s not possible.” So they’ve designed their own personally meaningful ceremony and this Saturday, Thomas and Jim will say their vows.
Without support from Jim’s religious tradition, Thomas feels no need to force a conversion to the United Church that does provide ceremonies for same-sex couples. He does feel that gay marriage is a “living issue” in modern day faiths and doctrines. He believes Churches will find their own stances but if any Church or religion is to perform a service to the public this issue must be addressed. He admires the relationship that exists between Churches and education that results in better funding and more community support for private schools but, “…community support doesn’t give Churches the right to persecute or ostracize anyone who is gay.” Ultimately the rule of law must be obeyed although Thomas would feel bad about being excluded from attending Church or the sacrament.
Thomas met Jim at an Eaton’s Building fundraiser held through the Historical Society and by week’s end, after two dates, interest in a larger relationship was definitely there. Thomas says, “I felt like I was being seduced.” Although Jim took the lead early in the relationship Thomas responds, “I wasn’t exactly passive or innocent in the matter.” Thomas chuckles and explains despite the fact Jim showed an early commitment it was Thomas who finally proposed three years later. “When I felt that there was no doubt in my mind that this was the person that I really wanted to spend the rest of my life with I felt I needed to then put all my chips on the table.”
However, when he met his future spouse same-sex marriage, while legal in Manitoba, was not recognized in Alberta where Thomas and his father hail from and a province where Thomas still feels at home. Therefore the soft-spoken Thomas had not always seen marriage as an option. “It wasn’t legal in my home province so it wasn’t something I ever really considered part of my future.” It was only after gay marriage was resolved nationally and made possible in Alberta that Thomas felt marriage could be a part of his life.
He relates, “I was in Toronto when it became official. There were media standing on the corner of the gay village looking for some kind of excitement or hype about this initiative being passed and there was none in Toronto. But Toronto has been very gay-positive and I thought you’re standing in the wrong place. You need to be standing on a street in Calgary, or on a street in Edmonton, or Lethbridge, or Red Deer, or someplace else where it wasn’t considered acceptable and there you’ll see the excitement and the commentary. In urban areas that had already moved on it was considered that it would have to go national.” Despite Alberta’s conservative stance on this issue it is the spirit of independence that Thomas most admires about his home province.
The “politics of the time” was a factor in Thomas’ proposal but not his only consideration. His father and the people he grew up with in Alberta didn’t share the national shift in attitude. Thomas and his father share a close bond born of tragedy. His mother died while he was a young boy and his single parent father raised him. Thomas reflects, “About the time that I was ready, it was after a time that Jim had met my family, that my father got to know him and accepted the idea of me living with someone.” His concern goes deeper, “I wanted to give my father enough time to get used to the idea before I made a wider declaration of my relationship.” Some time and many heart to heart conversations later Thomas’ father has given his full support to his youngest son. His father helped Thomas see what a large responsibility children so on this issue Thomas and Jim will take their time, and live their life together one life-changing event at time.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
How do you eat Alligator stew?
Ask an Alligator to make it for you.
Say please when you do,
And supply your own spoon.
Crocodile, crocodile, why do you smile?
The least obvious difference you'll see,
Between a Dolphin and a tortoise according to me,
Is that a tortoise moves quickly by accident,
When Elephants dance in tight stretchy pants,
Think safety and be sure they are avoided.
Keep your distance as they bend and jump and prance,
At any moment those pants might be exploded.
Has any Flamingo ever asked of their fellows or themselves why,
Everybody is dressed in pink?
The thing to remember about riding a Hippopotamos,
Is the top side is safer,
Than the bottom is.
But not much.
They're bouncing on the promenade,
Spilling all the lemonade!
Orangutans enjoy orange tang and boomerangs,
Never, ever, ever, ever play ring-toss,
With a Rhinoceros!
It will cheat and move it's horn.
Then never let you argue.