Tuesday, September 10, 2019
Another Memory Post
Those are the four remaining of the five chicks hatched by Darla a few months ago. Can you tell which one is the hen and which three are the roosters?
Here's something interesting- I have noticed a great reduction in the crowing around here. Even from Liberace. It's as if none of the boys wants to be challenged by the others. The new ones because they are below Liberace in status, age, and size and perhaps Liberace because there are three of them and only one of him. I don't know. But at this point those four are their own flock and stay mostly separate from the others. If all of the roos start going after Sissy (that's what I have named the one hen) they're going to be eliminated and the NO MAN LORD guy down the street is going to be eating rooster stew again.
That's the cruel truth.
So I've been thinking more about that first year I moved to Tallahassee and how things proceeded. It took me a very long time to come out of that depression. I can actually remember a moment when I realized that things were starting to be more colorful, not just black, white, and shades of gray. It really felt that way to me. I was living with Paula then.
One of the greatest gifts that D. gave me was to introduce me to Bill and Ruth Wharton. Bill I met the first day I was here. I told the story about him coming over to show D. his Ovation guitar. Bill and Ruth lived in a big old house on Park Avenue which had once been a stately neighborhood but was now a bit crumbly and there were a lot of hippies living amongst the old people who were holding onto their family homes with trembling fingers. The Whartons had two daughters who were almost the same age as my youngest brothers and I fell in love with the whole family as did so many others. They were the Mom and Dad of a whole bunch of hippie kids and musicians and they accepted me into the fold as generously as they did so many others.
It was different times in those days. People in our community weren't really judged on what they wore or where they'd gone to school or where they were going to school or what sort of work they did or did not do or who their parents were or even if they'd spent some time in jail or were just flat-out crazy. It's like everyone was respected for what they brought to the table and if you get right down to it, everyone brings something. And usually, if you look hard enough, something of value.
Almost every night at the Wharton house people gathered to play music. Everyone sat in a circle and music was played and joints were passed. There were violinists and flautists and guitar players and bass players and vocalists and hell, I don't even know. There were classically trained musicians as well as self-taught folks.
And it got cosmic.
Perhaps this is why the Grateful Dead never impressed me so much. They did not invent the space jam, trust me. And I heard some amazing music back in those evenings. I once took a friend of mine who was visiting from Winter Haven who was a horn player and percussionist, to one of these sessions. His mind was blown. He'd never heard music like this, much less gotten to participate in it. Notes were woven and braided and untangled and tangled again. They soared to the heavens and they sunk to the funk. It was quite indescribable and actually- you had to be there. My friend was speechless. He literally did not have the words to use to interpret what he'd just witnessed.
Me? I had nothing to add but no one begrudged my presence. I was just there. Who knows? Maybe I played the part of audience.
I met a lot of people who came through those open doors. Sweet people. I swear to god. Some of the sweetest people I've ever known, some of them so shy that they only seemed to speak with their instruments. But they came because they wanted to play, they wanted to be a part of...whatever this was.
I'll never forget it.
And please understand that my ability to FEEL as if I fit in never really settled upon me. It was no one's fault. I was just heart-torn and so insecure. But I kept going back. Sometimes with D. Often with D. But before too long he wasn't my only friend there.
And this community became more than just nighttime jam sessions. There were treks to the mushroom fields and there were camping trips to the beach and to local festivals. I remember once a bunch of us drove to Cape San Blas which was then an almost unspoiled piece of Gulf beach with a state park where we could pitch tents and cook on fires. We bought shrimp on the way down and boiled it and realized none of us had brought anything to make cocktail sauce out of and so we ate it dipped in melted butter and Tabasco which is still my favorite way to eat boiled shrimp. And of course Bill has his own brand of hot sauce now and it is delicious on shrimp and in the gumbo he cooks during his stage shows.
You can order it HERE.
But what I remember about that camping trip was the fog. The ocean fog that drifted in and stayed and how lonely I felt. It seemed like everyone was part of a couple except for me and I walked on the beach alone and cried and wondered what I was doing on this west-coast beach when I was raised on the Atlantic on the other side of the state. Instead of sea grapes and palm trees this area had pine trees and dunes and the sea was so much flatter. In some ways it felt like an inferior ocean to my beloved Atlantic but here I was.
Here I was.
I did not miss my family at all (except for my brothers) but I did miss my running mates back in Winter Haven. We had been a bunch of kids from weird and dysfunctional families who were, not to put too fine a point on it, pretty intelligent geeks and we had become our own family in high school. That's a whole other story and not the one I'm telling tonight but I did miss them. I also missed my first real boyfriend who had dumped me hard and sometimes, when I was so low, I would think of all of the men I'd loved who'd left me starting with my very own father whom I hadn't seen since I was five. The one who'd stuck around- the abuser- had betrayed me the worst quite actually, because I had loved him too. I didn't have the knowledge then to realize that but I'm sure that deep down I knew it.
So all was not perfect but I had found this new sort-of family with a real mom and dad who loved their kids and raised them in a new and honest and profound way that I'd never witnessed before (yet another story) and I hung on, even in this place where the ocean didn't roar with power but gently rocked with sea-spray and where I desperately wanted to fit in even though I did not feel that I truly did and where there was music that, although I could not create I could bathe in, and people who seemed to like me fine despite how I felt about myself.
That's enough for now.
It's been a quiet day here in Lloyd. I walked on White House Road. I cleaned out the hen house. I beaded part of a butterfly on Maggie's dress. Tomorrow I am going to babysit for August and Levon for a little while at their house. August has promised to show me his library books and told me that I can borrow one if I want.
Who knows? I may.
Last night I dreamed of my stepfather. It was a nightmare. It was a call-911-nightmare. After over fifty years I still have these dreams. The past is never the past, is it? Not the bad, not the good. It is all inside of us no matter how far we have come, no matter how much we have grown, no matter how much we have changed.
I suppose we make peace with it if we can.
But we still remember whether it's the feeling of panic and fear or the feeling of despair as we walk along a beach in deep fog, the waves rolling in and out, wondering if we are the only person in the world on this beach, to feel these things, to have no idea where we are going.
See you tomorrow.