"Heaven has a road, but no one travels it; Hell has no gate, but men will bore through to get there."

Friday, December 28, 2012

Walking Off The Pier

When I was young, chaos often seemed to blow through my life frazzling expectations. In certain moments, however, as if looking through a crystalline window as snow fell, there was clarity- if for an instant only. With it came meaning and an ecstasy which fleetingly illuminated the whole universe- powerful enough to touch even my tiny corner of it. I felt like I was running in the cold at peak speed for a few lung-splitting seconds coming to stop at the end of the pier with a quick intake of precious air, breathing free, and transcending myself as I dropped into nature.

Standing on that pier today, I watched cold green waves roll over an even less-inviting beach under the last faintly glittering leaves of a row of exhausted cottonwood trees.  Their companion willows seemed to be weeping indeed against an obscured and almost invisible sunset. I was again having such a moment- and it seemed to last for hours.
To my left I could not help but notice the pointy dome of the incongruously majestic Baha’i temple. It’s pearl whiteness exceptionally out of place in the grey sky, as if it should be far across a bigger and different sea sitting in Istanbul next to a substantial mosque. The pathway to the lake was as wet and slippery as the streets of an old and dreary Venice in my mind.
In front of me across an unwelcoming Lake Michigan, I imagined that state’s west coast. It would be scattered with quaint and friendly resort towns. To my right were the towers of the city that had been my kingdom for eighteen years- appearing as indifferently to me as when I first met them, yet still every bit as large and metallically beautiful. Had I been a robot, I would have likely felt very much at home. I was hard-pressed to contrive an effective way of paying them their due, knowing that without my consent or support they would endure a long while without me.
A silver and auspicious British air jet shimmered like Excalibur on its runway and would be leaving at 8:00 am the following morning. There would no doubt be champagne to be lifted with my new world-traveling partner in crime to toast our immense New Beginning in London. Castles, cathedrals, boy choirs, Her majesty and every permutation of Arthurian lore aside, I was about to start living a childhood dream which was to begin in only a tiny handful of hours. I felt the pulse of my life on the cusp of a gargantuan possibility with power enough to transform me back into myself.
I remained stuck in the moment and obsessed with memories. I was struck by how fragile and insubstantial but unnervingly powerful they were- especially the ones that reach far back into your past and being like the fingers of a skeleton both sharp and cold. I had just captured some of these in a book of poetry I had completed called The Practice of Longing, abandoning journaling for rhyme. Still there seemed not room or time enough to recount, share or explain with any substance the person I had become after my time in this place. I pulled a rather grade school-esque spiral notebook from my excessively trendy Clive backpack- complete with a Kevlar lining- somewhat like the one that shielded my heart. Possessed by a strange feeling of unity, I began to write.
Scarcely having a page filled, I realized with a start and a pang in my stomach that capturing this profound whirlwind of life and rendering it immobile long enough for any “normal” sane person to examine and make sense of it would be daunting at best. On top of that, I was haunted by the thought that with media venues and publications existing ad infinitum, how could a gay, once born-again, neo-Platonic Christian pagan, Kansas-born, white, politically incorrect Republican/Libertarian turned Clintonite who had watched his mother die while dating his first boyfriend and attending the nation’s most conservative college, and who witnessed the Berlin wall falling from the posh suites of Capitol Hill power-brokers and then survived by the skin of his very bare teeth in Chicago… courting debauchery at endless bars and circuit parties from New York City to South Beach and surviving the crushing loss of his greatest love really compete?
Struck by the irony of this observation with the force of a back-handed slap, I resolved it was time to let the game begin anew. 

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