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"The Downward Spiral" continued...
March 4, 2005
1:40 pm
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This is a continuation of the story on the "long, tedious" thread.

****************

Most of the time we would be at my paternal grandparent’s home for the Holidays. We would pile in the station wagon and prepare for a six to seven-and-a-half hour drive to Albuquerque, depending on the number of stops. These trips were often fairly eventful. Cathy would be squealing about how Olga’s hair was touching her arm. There would be lots of fighting over the window seats. Olga always got to sit by a window or up front with Mom and Dad because she gets motion sickness. I would always end up in the very back of the station wagon with my brothers, and sometimes Dayna; sun bearing down on us like a freight train because the backs of station wagons are all windows.

There was never anything to breathe back there except second hand smoke and stale, hot air that seemed completely oxygen depleted by the time it reached the back, and let’s not forget the not so occasional blast of anal gas. Thomason Family rumor has it that once, when I was three years old we stopped at a gas station. Apparently, I got out of the car fast as I could, dropped my britches, and peed right there by the gas pumps. According to this tale, Mom and Dad argued about who should have to go get me and before they could settle the matter I was done, pants pulled up, and back in the car. That’s what happens when you raise a kid in the country.

Now, it’s no simple task driving for hours along first curvy mountain road, and then ahead on black asphalt with a whole lot of nothing in every direction. We got bored. We came up with games and forms of entertainment, but these antics weren’t always appropriate for the confines of the station wagon, and we got in lots of trouble. Someone always needed to pee no less than 5 minutes since the last stop. Someone was always touching someone, aggravating, picking on, or just breathing in a way that was annoying to someone else. Someone’s head was always blocking the rear view mirror. Someone was always whining about having to breathe in the cigarette smoke whenever my parents lit up. Someone was always squealing for Dad to turn up the air conditioner but he never wanted to because it made the wagon burn too much gas. And if Mommy and Daddy were lucky, maybe we’d pass out from asphyxiation sometime after the first 2 hours of the trip.

There was no such thing as a sudden “slam on the brakes” stop to settle these annoyances. There were warnings like “Don’t make me stop this car or you’re all going to get it.” “Everyone quietin’ it down now!” Daddy’s Texas accent always manifests itself when we were in trouble, or when he’s around his family. There might be a subtle tap on the brake that would make us think he might actually stop the car and give us a spanking. This would usually settle us into complacency for five minutes or so, but soon, believe me, Dad got tired of tapping on the brake pedal as a warning, and once he stopped the car we were done for.

He would peel his belt out of the loops with a zip-pop, reach in the car and grab a kid—any kid, by any limb. For better or worse that kid got spanked. Then he’d reach in and catch the next kid he could, his frustration escalating to the point of near boil over because for some reason that only kids understand, we believed if we hopped from the front seat to the back seat to the back of the wagon and back again and so on and so forth, we could somehow escape his wrath.

In all honesty, as small as my mother is, I’m surprised he never yanked her little ass out of the car and gave her a few licks with the belt before realizing he was spanking his wife, not one of us kids. Eventually he’d catch us all, and there we’d be, lined up on the side of the highway crying. Yep. After you got your whoopin’ it was best to stay out of the car least you get back into the fracas, thus getting spanked twice by mistake!

I remember me and my sisters often asking my dad if Weldon was going to be there. Weldon was taken in by my father’s parents and lived with them from the time he was 12 until he turned 18. It seems that Weldon was being horribly abused by his stepmother. My Grandma Annabelle, Daddy’s mom, told me that when Weldon came to live with them he was desperately ill and his folks had not tried to get him any medical treatment. She also said that he was covered with marks and bruises from regular beatings he received at the hands of his stepmother. When his stepmother threatened to call the police on my grandparents for keeping Weldon, my grandmother told her to go right ahead because she would love for them to see how sick Weldon was, and document the colors painted all over his tender skin from the abuse. No one ever called the police.

I guess Weldon left my grandparents’ home and did whatever he did—got married, worked, had kids. But something wasn’t right. We all felt it. We cringed when Daddy said “Yes. Weldon will be at Grandma’s house for the holidays.” We tried to convince Daddy not to take us to Grandma’s when Weldon was going to be there.

Weldon always wanted to put his hands on us, pick us up, and force us to kiss him on the mouth. Of course he always did this in the most appropriate way in front of the rest of the family. It didn’t matter. The hair stood up on my neck. I avoided him like the plague. I was terrified of him much of the time, and the rest of the time I was too uncomfortable to put it into words even now. He didn’t smell right. He didn’t pick me up or hold me right. I didn’t feel safe with him like I did when I sat on Daddy’s lap, or when Grandpa would hold me and I could smell the rich smell of cigarettes and the country smell of him, fresh like corn picked right off the stalk. He didn’t tickle right the way Uncle Daniel did, or play the fun kind of games like pretending he got your nose. He just grabbed, held too tight, always seeming to be on the look-out for a little girl to snatch up and cuddle.

Sometime in my late 20’s, I quit drinking long enough to find Jesus and go to college—for real, this time. I majored in Human Services and Sociology, landing a paid internship at a Domestic Violence shelter for battered women and their children. The agency also focused on survivors of sexual abuse. When I took the job, I didn’t realize I had “issues”, but by the time I finished my internship time not only had I discovered hidden issues, I realized the issues had me! I had lost the ability to control the flow of memory recall, and suddenly I realized that I was a survivor of sexual abuse.

I felt sick to my stomach all the time. I put on more weight. I put all my energy into church activities, just waiting for the good lord to step up and “heal” me. Ever heard the scripture “Physician, heal thyself.”? Shit, is that a scripture? Well, guess what? We are all our own physicians, and some of us are much better than others.

When my internship was over, I promptly entered therapy with shelter staff. My therapist pondered with me who might have perpetrated sexual abuse against Olga. It was apparent to me in my adulthood that something must have happened to her. Of course initially my therapist wondered if I felt like my father could have been the perpetrator. Statistically that’s often the case, but I felt such self-doubt. In my heart I truly believed that there was no way that my father could have ever done such a thing. Despite this fact, I felt I might be trying to protect him in some way. I talked to my sisters about this and we all agreed that if anything ever happened it was definitely not Daddy, but most likely Weldon.

There is an unspoken law in our family system: Never hurt Daddy. Protect him at all costs. Somehow we all felt that he was somehow fragile and couldn’t bear the pain he might feel if we were honest with him about things that happened in our lives. We learned to keep secrets. We learned to connect any expression of disappointment from him as an indication that we had “hurt” him and that meant we weren’t good. We jumped to all the conclusions that kids jump to.

In adulthood, I believe that Weldon abused Marlyee. I believe that Mommy and Daddy know about whatever happened, and it made my dad hyper-vigilant when it came to looking after his little girls. I believe my daddy thinks it would do more harm than good to talk about this secret. I have a strong suspicion that someone was abusive to my daddy as well, and though I have asked him point blank, he denies this is the case. Daddy just believes that it’s best to leave the past in the past. Stuff it until you forget it and then it can’t have any power in your life. He and I have never seen eye to eye on this, and I know we never will. But it will never change my beliefs about what happened in our family, and what can I do besides draw my own conclusions? No one is going to answer any of my questions.

Olga’s targets of choice seemed to be Dana and Danny. Danny doesn’t remember anything, and says he doesn’t want to. I don’t blame him. I wish I could stop remembering, but I can’t. The way I figure it I have to remember it until the memories don’t feel so much like fresh abrasions, all leaky and burning. I have the memories. I have more memories of Dayna’s and Danny’s abuse than they do. See, I know that the abuse started in Safford, because that’s when Dayna started to come to my bed and show me what she did with Olga. Dayna doesn’t remember any abuse starting that early. But she has her memories. She has memories of admiring a little purse that Auntie Emiko sent to Olga. Olga wanted Dayna in her bed one night, and she promised Dayna the purse if she would cooperate. Dayna wanted the purse so badly that she did what Olga wanted. But when she was finished with Dayna, she refused to give her the purse. She reminded Dayna that she couldn’t tell Mom and Dad about the broken promise because if she did, then she would have to tell them about what she and Olga did. There would be big trouble. So Dayna went back to her own bed, raped and empty, crying silently, the way she always has.

How did it manage to survive this long? It has a life of its own, these violations. They meld together, growing, mutating, and multiplying from the seeds planted by Weldon’s family, into the stinking protruding pistil of that South American flower, the one that smells like rotting meat in order to attract its prey. This stink is in the midst of our family garden, yet everyone wants to pretend they can’t see or smell it. They spray their denial like Glade. They talk around it, like a too big center-piece on a holiday table. They act as if pretending it’s not there will strip it of its power, all the while doing just the opposite. The very fact that one is forced to react rather than pro-act based on one’s life experience gives it fertilizer, sunshine, and water. It takes over everything, like crab grass or some kind of parasitic twisting vine living off a 200 year-old redwood.

It seems that now, this growth, this alive thing encompasses everything we do as a family. It goes into the family therapy sessions I have with my two children. But when it goes there, it is met with large, razor-sharp scissors. We, my children and I, will stare this thing in the face. We have planted our own redwood. And in our mythical, magical forest, parasites like this thing are not permitted to flourish. We hack away at it, a little at a time, hoping for the best.

I feel for my children. I feel such overwhelming guilt that I bore them into this sickness. I exposed them. I allowed it to be. I could have vaccinated them, but I didn’t. I was too busy wrapping myself in denial to acknowledge where I was leaving them—in the gaping maw of Carcarion carcaridus—the Great White. All I can do now is hope that as we work together, things will begin to change, and any losses they have suffered will be recovered in exchange for something more pure, and easier to make sense of than this thing living in the midst of the rest of my family.

Do I feel the beginnings of healing in these writings? Some stirring so far off that I’ve nearly forgotten what it is? Yes. And it feels good to remember what it feels like to move away from the stink and into the sun just after a good, hard rain.

*****************

Love to all,

Ren'ai

March 6, 2005
11:29 am
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addicts wife
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Damn ren'ai this is really GOOOOOOOD, it took me a couple days to read it , cuz' of my unstable PMS, or MS status at the moment, but I wanted ot be sure to respond to this thread, so you know I read it, and LOVED it!!!

I have a feeling that if We knew each other ,we'd be friends, and going out for coffee, or something to chit-chat!!

Thanks for sharing this!!
Love, AWwww

March 7, 2005
12:09 pm
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Thanks, AW. I guess we can still chat. You have your coffee there, and I'll have mine here!

Love,

Ren'ai

March 7, 2005
1:00 pm
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Awwww,
that means a lot to me and all my issues at the moment...
I feel like some one keeps shaking my snowglobe when i t FINALLY starts to settle.....
And was recenly shown or came to the realization that my health has been an issue for a lot longer than I allowed my self to be aware of, So, the snow globe has been shaken all over again, and I am confused, becasue all of what i was taught and learned needs to be relearned, or un done, So My identity feels shaken, and stirred........
Whhhooooaaaaa, guess i needed ot vent a bit, huh??
Im on my 3rd cup of coffee, and still going...
How are you today???

March 7, 2005
1:13 pm
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I'm doing pretty alright. I came to the realization that even if my ex wants me back it will never work out. I've been journaling about it and that has been helpful.

Do you have fibromyalgia?

I'll check in soon!

Hang in there, okay?

Love,

Ren'ai

March 7, 2005
1:48 pm
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Im pretty sure i do have fibro. But havent been to a MD for that yet. I have had type I diabetes for 29 years, and have been in chronic terrible pain for about 3 years. On of my MDs did some bloodwork, and it did show a rheumatoid problem ,which he was extrememly reluctant, and nervous to elaborate on. He only suggested that i see a specialist as SOON as i have medical coverage again. And in hearing of this I have been researching all kinds of chronic pain conditions, and All things point ot arthritis, and /Or fibro.
(long sighhhhhh)
my mom told me that she was diagnosed with fibro. about 4 years ago. (she put that in her instant denial file, and doesnt get treated for it, buttakes celebrex, and asks me for my vicodin (Ive told her to aske her MD for it, as she has medical coverage, adn will get her OWN RX. for it.)
anyway... other than that, Im ok.
LOL, Isomehow stay positive but laugh throuhg my tears frequently.

Journaling is a wonderful help, isnt it???
Ive got a whole box full of journals that are duct taped shut in storage.
And a few new ones in the making presently.
it so helps.
Oops, I just got a voicemail from a social Security office, So I better return the call, and see what happens.
I'll be back.
🙂
~Aw

March 7, 2005
3:56 pm
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well, he state person called me back, and said she would be puttingmy medical through , becasue Ive exhausted my unemployment benefits and have no income, I mentioned that i would be contacting Social security, adn she seemed ot get of the phone rather quickly upon hearingthat.
I hope that wasnt a mistake, butI was being Honest.
My mom came over, andshe thinks I am over reacting, that i need to work, and that i am obsessing about disability becasue someone put that in my head..
I told her that this is the 5th professional that has mentioned "going this route" to me, and I've lost my last 4 jobs due to health problems.. So I am not over reacting, and It takes so long to get approved for this, that i will surely need it, bythe time it's apporved."
Grrrrrrr.
I know she is trying to be supportive in the only way she knows how, but I cant even seem to finsih a thought with her, and It's F-ING reatrded.
She saidf all this ,and asked me for my vicodin. I told her to call her MD, and get her own Prescription, Hmmm, Wonder why she left so quickly.
I Love this woman, but she is a "peice of work."
Dammit. She kept asking if she could vacuum my apartment, and I told her NO, becasue it's the only floor cleaning i can do without severe pain, as i do not have ot do that on my hands and knees. So, she left. I know she'll be calling after dinner to see if ate a salad for dinner, becsue my "fat clothes are tight."
Uggghhhhhhhhhh.
Anyway.. she is gone
And Im re-grouping from the visit.
And I wonder why I have anxiety?!?!?!
Well, DUH.
I'm going to go for a drive, dont know where, anywhere will be nice.
I'll be back later-ish.

March 8, 2005
6:11 pm
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Ren'ai - just wanted to let you know I'm still with ya hear...just haven't had time to read. I am still interested. This is great stuff.

t

March 8, 2005
6:21 pm
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Ren'ai there was a woman on "style " channel today who got a makeover thather kids set up for her with a woman named ren'ai on it who was an artist, a Personal trainer and 3 beautiful kids, andI thought of you!!
Ha-ha.. and I didnt even think she needed a make-over, but I thought of you while watchin' tv today in between all my dreaded phone calls...
Hope youre having a great Tuesday!!!
talk to you soon-ish.
~AW

March 11, 2005
3:43 pm
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Hi!

Thanks for sticking with me on this writing stuff. It's been a big help to me.

I have been traveling all week and I'm worn out!

I'd like to go home early today but I can't. Don't you hate that?

My little slanted eyes are closing...

Ren'ai

March 11, 2005
4:07 pm
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Ren'ai...I love to travel but i wonder if it's partially becasue I Love coming home so much too.it wares me out sooo much.
Sorry you need toothpicks to keep yer'eyes open..:)
I am pooped, but it's becuz' Ive had my step son here since 11, and then my girlfriend came over wih her 2 lids, adn they were at an out door volume level of about 20, and I couldnt hear myself, Or my freind and was wishing I could put them on mute or take a valuim....
( have a head cold, so everything is annoying today)
Im glad they all got to play together, and that i got to see my friend, But now I need a nap, I Put Jake in the bathtub, so I could Re-group"
Glad to hear from ya'
Hope yopu have a great weekeknd,TLJ TO YOU SOON.
lUV YA'
aw

March 30, 2005
7:11 pm
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08/20/03

Dear Anthony,

I have so much I want to say to you, I hope this doesn’t end up being one of those 12-page bunches of bullshit—you know, the kind you used to get from me all the time when you were in the Navy? I’m positive you remember that better than I do!

I can’t even begin to express my joy at seeing you and Julie the other night. It felt so good, and so familiar as if we have never been apart. Julie, Renee, and I talk about that aspect of our friendship all the time. We can go a year without even talking, but the next time we’re together; it’s almost as if time has stood still. I believe these kinds of friendships are rare, and truly a blessing.

I want to tell you how very sorry I am that I wasn’t a good friend to you when we were in High School. I knew that there were things you struggled with and I am glad to see that you have come through your struggles with that same bright smile and sense of humor. Looking back, I remember more than once talking to different people about you, and the fact that no one could get the tiniest bit close to you without falling head over heels in love with you. I still see that charm in you. I think it’s the way you live your life, and feel about yourself that draws people to you. Learning to love yourself is one of the hardest lessons to learn in life. I remember you telling me that your Mother and Father always told you that there is NO ONE who is better than you are, and you believed this to be true. You were right! You are right! And I’m glad you have been able to believe in yourself. If I grow up, I want to be just like you…

I know you have paid dearly in other respects for working hard, and playing harder. I have always had a sense of you, Anthony, even when you were far away physically. I don’t know what makes this sort of thing happen. I would love to be able to tell you more about it because it is a hard thing to talk about but something tells me that you have a “sense” of things as well. You might be someone who understands this.

Since I last saw you, I keep on dreaming about you. Last night, in my dream, we were in my parents’ house. We weren’t teenagers, it was now, except that I was thin, and beautiful—now there’s a dream for you… Anyway, we were goofing off, having fun. Rick, Lenny, and your Mom were there. Dayna was there, and a couple of other people, Denise, my old lover, and this girl Margo that Denise had a crush on before she and I got together. In this dream, everyone was getting settled in for the night, and you and I were going to sleep in the same bed—not as lovers, but it felt very intimate, I’m not sure how to explain it, but there was just this feeling of closeness, friendship, and love. You looked me in the eyes and said “I didn’t tell you, did I?” I knew what you were going to say, and I was listening with as much acceptance as I could muster. Then you said “I’m leaving again. I’m going back to Phoenix.”

Now, it’s fucking 5am and I’m writing this letter, so I know this dream is not about moving. I have had other dreams of you. I know you aren’t well. I know there is a part of you that is nervous about life. I also know that for the most part, you are well settled and accepting of what your life is and will be.

Something else you said to me in your dream was about having partners—--boyfriends—--in your life. You said that for you, relationships weren’t about sex. You talked about Bill and said it felt good to be with him because the two of you are able to nurture each other, and that was what felt good to you. I know you are a sexual person. I do have my memories as well… I believe what you said in this dream is true of your life in many ways, and I can’t help but feel that in some strange way, we really did have a conversation last night.

Tony, you are the first person I ever loved. I don’t know what it is about that love, but it is a very special kind of love that is somehow preserved. That is not to say that I’m still in love with you. But I love you very much, in a very special way, and I have been wrong not to be a better friend to you in the past.

I was wrong not to support and respect your feelings when we were in High School. I was wrong to put certain pressures and expectations on you. As crazy as this is going to sound, I had a roommate in College when I was in Tucson. (I know, it’s hard to keep track of which college and when…) She once told me that I was making a big mistake by not just going with the flow, moving in with you and another man, and letting life be life. I wasn’t mature enough or open-minded enough to think that way, but I felt she was right. I just couldn’t imagine dealing with my family under such a circumstance.

Time has changed me, for the better I hope. At least, in my way of thinking, if not in my physical appearance. Basically, I’m writing all of this to say that I want to be a good friend to you, and no matter what you are going through, I’m willing to stand by you in love, trust, and friendship. I hope you will consider allowing me to be more involved with your life and your family. I can feel some hard times to come, and you are important to me. You are one of the most important people I have ever had in my life. I don’t want to waste that. It seems almost sinful.

I hope Bill is well. I got the impression that you are on good terms with him still, and that makes me happy. I hope that Bill has brought you some happiness, and given you the kind of love you deserve to have. I can tell he has taught you a great deal about giving love, and that is a special thing indeed.

I’ll be around…

Love,

______________________________

*****

Anyone trying to read this, a publisher perhaps, will find it a hard read. “Too much skipping around” they’ll say. “I can’t keep track of what’s happening.” Well, guess what? Me neither. It’s what makes this what it is, gives it a life of its own and breaks the mold. How can I write like someone else when I’m me? I can’t change what’s happening. I can’t make it all come out in order to satisfy someone else.

I can’t package it up in a neat, tidy bundle like fresh laundry. It comes forth as it is, and, as I allow it. I suppose if my primary goal in writing about my life was to make money, I could organize it for a publisher or an agent, or an editor, or whoever. But that’s not what this is. This is—well, it’s who I am—disorganized, skipping and hopping from one hot coal to the next, hoping to reach the cool, clear water on the other side. I step on the coolest coals first, and move on to the hotter ones. Or, maybe I do the opposite because I prefer to get the pain over with a little bit faster.

What difference does it make? I won’t know what the fuck happened here for years, if I ever do so why should anyone else make sense out of it? It is mine, after all. How ugly can it get? Maybe I have no idea. Still, I see the brightness of the red-eyed demon ahead and just around the corner; stalking in zealous search of terrors yet to surface.

Anthony is the love of my life. I met him when I was a Junior in High School, through a mutual friend. He has a boyish face, eyes that twinkle always with the light of mischief, a smile that has melted many a heart. As you know, if you read the letter inserted into these writings, many a time I have marveled at the fact that anyone who is exposed to Anthony for a period of time falls in love with him. He has a most remarkable charisma. There’s just no way to NOT want to be around him. He is quick-witted, indescribably handsome—to me and many others. As far as I’m concerned, anyone unable to sense his beauty is either blind or a fool.

Anthony is very likely the most simply complex person I have ever been blessed to know. (Thank you, critics, but I am well aware of what I said—“Simply Complex”—it’s the only description that makes honest sense.) He has self-confidence that knows no equal, and a vulnerability that draws me in to his life and makes me forget what the world is, when I’m sixteen years old. He makes me laugh. He loves it. He makes a face, a particular face, and I laugh. I can’t help myself. No matter how mad I am, no matter what situation we are in, he makes the face when no one but me can see him and I unravel. Is it a coincidence that my daughter is born with the ability to make the exact same face, and we discover it quite by accident one day when she, during playful experimentation, makes the face and I melt into pools of delirious laughter? Then I share with her a part of my life. My life of Anthony.

He introduced me to his mother as “the girl who was forging your name to my absence note” because he and I had ditched one day, and the librarian caught me as I wrote a note and forged his mother’s name neatly so that all would be forgiven in the world of High School Attendance. The truancy officer had paid a visit to his house earlier that day, and his mother knew exactly what he was talking about. His eyes twinkled as he watched the capillaries in my cheeks bloat with a rush of blood that turns them passionate pink, and makes them shine with a sleek, nervous sweat.

I can come up with a substantial list of reasons why I fell in love with Anthony, but I won't. Not now. You wouldn't understand it anyway...

I had been drinking since I was 12, when I could, then drugging at age 15, when I could. I look back and see myself in the blender even then, unable to separate one thing from another with any kind of clarity other than a falling star, and my brother Danny.

We drove out into the “boonies”, the end of Rosedale Rd. We were drinking Bacardi rum mixed with some grape Kool-aid, I have no idea why…and parked there, underneath an old cottonwood, I spied a shooting star and made a secret wish. “Let me be with Anthony tonight.” Before this, I had prayed to God, begging for a chance to be with Anthony. I loved him before we ever kissed. I remember a clear response to this prayer—“No.” But that word held no meaning for me when I wanted something, not even when I believed God said it. I kept praying, and one day, it was as if the voice relented and said “Alright. If this is what you truly want, I’ll allow it. Are you sure it’s what you really want?” And my response was an adamant “Yes!!!”

Call me crazy. I’ve already stamped myself with that label, have I not? But I know what is real in my world better than anyone, no matter how contradictory that statement may seem in some moments of my life.

I wished on a star--—once as a naïve 16 year-old—--once again as a weathered 40 year-old---and both times, my life changed forever. There is no burn like the burn of a wish granted on a falling star. That star falls to earth then waits in the wings, and later, it streaks right through you leaving a smoking hole that, it seems, the entire world can see through.

Danny and I drank together, like we’d done so many times before. We loved each other in a way that not only siblings love, but in a way that friends love also. We left the spot under the cottonwood and went to get Randy and Anthony. We didn’t have much rum left, and Anthony liked wine, so we headed off to a place, which shall remain nameless in this document, to make an illegal alcohol purchase. TJ Swann. Wine. “Easy Nights”, I believe, but I could be wrong. I know “Easy Nights” was my personal favorite…

On the way home, Randy, who was sitting shotgun, asked that we pull the car over so he could puke his guts out. Too much booze will do that to a person. We pulled over. Danny was driving, without a license. He was too young to drive, but I was too drunk, and too busy thinking about sitting next to Anthony in the back seat. As we sat on the side of the highway, listening to Randy wretch, heave, cough, and spit, a deputy pulled up behind us, lights flashing. We were interrogated, flashlight blaring into our red-rimmed eyes, about who drank, how much, and what we had in the car. I have no idea why that officer never asked to see Danny’s driver’s license, but he didn’t. We all pointed our fingers at Randy, who was escorted home by the deputy that night. The officer turned us loose simply stating that if he saw our car out again that night, he was going to arrest us.

Danny and I took Ray to pick up his car, and we took our car home. Danny decided he was done for the evening, so Ray and I went and parked up on a hill over-looking Safford. I only remember the realization that I was laying back across his lap, our arms wrapped around each other, kissing. His hand gently moved to my breast, and after a moment I gently moved it down to my waist. He respected the gesture, possibly to my disappointment.

Anthony’s kisses were like no one else’s. I had been kissed before, lots of times. I was heavy, and felt ugly. I flirted and exuded sexuality in an effort to gain the attention of boys who would never have anything to do with a “fat” girl. Why? Because as you well know, fat girls are like Mo-Peds in that they are both fun to ride until a friend sees you! Ha!! So, when I was kissed, it was always by a boy who expected he was going to fuck. Because, you see, it’s okay to fuck a fat girl, it’s just not okay to date her. These boys, their kisses were like rushing through a dinner of liver and onions because there would be chocolate cake and ice cream for dessert. Unpleasant. A gesture done in tolerance only in hope of something more satisfying. Cheap. Sloppy. Unworthy. Stale. Meaningless. My unwillingness to comply further would always follow a hasty, rough grasp of my breast, then would come the begging, negotiating, shaming, pressuring, etc. Same routine, different guy. I held fast to my virginity.

When Anthony kissed me, it felt tentative, shy, questioning, vulnerable, investigative, experimental, tender, unsure, intimate, caring, concerned, respectful. When I think about it now, it was like he had been kissed the same way I had been kissed all my life—with that expectation of what’s next always attached. With no meaning, emotion, or satisfaction resting in the kiss itself. I felt safe in his arms, his mouth on mine, feeling and searching for the meaning within what we were doing and how it felt. Anthony was a boy of 15, but he had somehow already developed a depth and sensitivity most men never achieve. The irony hides in the fact that almost no one has ever loved him in a way that enables the full realization of this part of who he is.

As a young man, he hid behind a mask of superficial gestures that cost him dearly in relationships with those who weren’t willing to hold on tight and ride the “Anthony Coaster” all the way to the end. He never fooled me without my permission. And somehow, I think he knows this. And somehow, I think he loves me for it as much as it makes me love him still.

Love. There is so much power in that word. It’s like the nuclear warhead of relationships. Some might argue that hate is the real bomb in a relationship, but I counter with the fact that love misused does far more damage than hate can ever dream of achieving. Why is it that we think we can use this four-letter word to encompass such an infinite array of emotions and relationships? Its foolishness equates naming all males “Adam” and all females “Eve” and all dogs “Rover” and all cats “Felix”. For love is as unique as those who experience it. No two loves are ever identical. Ever.

In my mind, I have saved every memory of Anthony. I learned so much from him, and continue to do so without him even realizing it. I remember taking him horseback riding. We rode to a creek, a trickle, really, in the middle of a game preserve. We dismounted to take a break. It seems I might have packed us a lunch or something. He started splashing me. I tried to splash him back, but he was too agile and I couldn’t compete. I was soaked and laughing with him as I teasingly begged him to hug me, knowing that if I could get close enough to hold him, his clothes would be just as wet as mine. In my hug-coaxing words, I said “You know you love me…” He stopped laughing, and held my gaze. “I do love you, Ren’ai.” Words, so soft yet so serious. Then he took me in his arms and held me there, long enough. Long enough to turn a memory of coal into a perfect diamond.

I wonder if it is possible for the greatest forms of love to live free of the tandem strappings of the greatest forms of pain. To love freely is to skin oneself alive at times, only to find the sun beating down on the rawness of who you are, scorching hot and unforgiving; lying in the salted ocean sand. To love freely is also to find the most peaceful relief of the day-to-day pain we hardly even notice, until love relieves the ache and replaces it with the fullness of joy, hope, and a “high” that no drug or hormone can replicate.

I think about a night in October. I know it was October because Daylight Savings Time was coming to an end that night. “Fall back, Spring ahead…” We were falling back. If I looked at a calendar, I would be able to recall the exact date, and my urge to do this is almost irresistible. I find myself glancing around for an old calendar I spotted a day or two ago, somewhere near the desk where I’m sitting. I want to know. Want to remember the date. I stop to find the calendar, but it is from 1977, and the date I’m looking for is in October of 1980.

There was a party at Lorenzo’s house. Loren. Everyone had left except Loren and his girlfriend, me and Anthony. Loren and Amy had quickly retired to the privacy of Loren’s bedroom, and Ray and I lay on the floor together, once again kissing passionately. I remember the feel of him, the way he smelled. What it felt like to desire. I don’t mean want. The English language is such a superficial, clumsy thing. There are never the words to describe the reality of living, and we find ourselves forced to settle for words that don’t measure up, don’t paint the picture. It’s like a black and white television. Desire. I would have given him everything he asked me for that night. I would have given him my heart, my soul, my mind, my body, my spirit and every good thing I had ever known. I wanted to beg him to take these things. I didn’t interfere with anything he did. I bathed in his essence. I felt, not with firing neurons but with white-hot spirit that is without definition. Maybe this is not such a bad thing. Certain things, special things, well maybe they aren’t meant to share with others. So, only I can ever know what it felt like to be me that night.

I remember feeling a coolness on my breast, and realizing with faint surprise that my shirt was open, my bare breast exposed. The coolness that brushed against my physical consciousness, just for a moment, was the sensation of his wet kiss evaporating off my nipple. Amazing. Simply amazing. That I could be so enveloped in him, the feel of our bodies so close, the desire that drove my every thought and gesture; yet not know, physically, that he had taken me into his mouth. Perhaps, somewhere there exists a writer more skilled and eloquent who will one day put words to these feelings, their own feelings. As for me, this is all I can say, and even if I could say more, it would not be for anyone else to take part in.

Time disappeared, or so it seemed. I couldn’t begin to attempt a guess at how long we were together that night. I can only remember it in spaces of touch, smell, sensations, and again the desire that burned so brightly I still see it when I look inward.

Anthony had to be home by 2am. I didn’t want him to leave. I wanted him to stay, I wanted him to take everything I wanted to give him. I joked with him that since the clocks were turning back at 2am, it would be 1am again, and he could stay another hour. He stayed. Our clothes gradually disassembling, but not quite coming off and I remember the softness of him, as my hand brushed against his softest skin. My friend, Julie, once told me the softest thing she ever touched was the skin of a man’s hardened penis. This recollection streaked through the constant barrage of feeling like the blazing star I’d wished on just over a year before. Julie was right.

I don’t know why a part of me felt that I had crossed a line by brushing my hand against him that way. I felt as if I shouldn’t do anything unless he made it abundantly clear that he wanted me to touch him. I thought to behave any other way would be disrespectful of him, or might be perceived as “slutty”. I wanted to respect him. I wanted his respect. I wanted him to take my virginity from me, and I know now that he was trying to respect me, figure out what I wanted. He, too, was waiting for a sign. So, again, our night together ended with no fires quelled. For me, the fire shifted from a burning pine log to magnesium in the open air. It was so bright. What else was there for me to see?

March 30, 2005
8:53 pm
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GullyFoyle
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Beautiful.

Gully

March 30, 2005
9:03 pm
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Anonymous
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Thanks, Gully.

My ego could use a couple of "strokes" right about now...

Love to you,

Ren'ai

March 30, 2005
10:25 pm
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sewunique
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Ren'ai,

Glad to see you writing again. It is beautiful what you say! Sorry if it seems I have not been here for you, but I am in spirit and mind and always wish the best for you.

Loving friendship,

Sew/C

March 30, 2005
11:15 pm
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addicts wife
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WOW, renai,
What great writing..
so glad you share these with us.
((((hugs)))))
Luv Ya'
~AW

March 31, 2005
1:45 pm
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Anonymous
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Thanks for taking the time to read all my bullshit...

Love you all!!!

Ren'ai

April 8, 2005
10:50 am
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Anonymous
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For LadyV.

Love,

Ren'ai

April 13, 2005
1:50 pm
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Anonymous
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Okay. Here's the rest when you're ready...

Ren'ai

April 14, 2005
12:38 pm
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tracylyn
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Ok Ren'ai ~

We need the next chapter.

t

April 18, 2005
3:02 pm
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Anonymous
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lol!

I don't know if I have an entire chapter! This is a work in progress...

Thank you very much for taking the time to read it, though!

I'll get more posted asap.

Ren'ai

April 18, 2005
9:13 pm
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addicts wife
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Hi ren'ai...
I just really wanted to say hello and let you know I was thinking of ya' since its been an eternity that Ive posted 2 you, been caught up in my own drama and just moved 9finally) so now im in the new place and got the computer hooked up before I even found my socks... or much of anything else for that matter....
Anyway, looking forward ot reading more of your writing. iso enjoy what you share.
Hope you're doing great!!!

(((((hugs))))))))
~AW

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