i just got off the phone with one of my oldest friends-blue- who lives in chicago. earlier this year, i had plans to be there this weekend- seeing the book of mormon tomorrow evening and big fish on saturday night. having dinner all over town, pitching a book idea to a friend who has published a beautiful book about her grandfather and fire island in the 20’s, and just generally feeding my soul in both old and new ways. we talked today, because he had arranged a psychic reading for me on saturday with sharyl noday which i will still receive via skype.
we chatted for a while using the online tool and i really have to say how much more i enjoyed the conversation while looking at his face. there are so many many memories for me in that face. i realized as we spoke that i love him as madly as i did when we first met that early morning in chicago in 1979 at that afterhours club named “columns”. if i remember things correctly, we strolled from lower downtown along the lake to boys town as the moon descended sharing stories about life and our perceptions of fashion, music, fate and hope. we became fast friends and later roommates, work mates, frenemies (during my oh-so-desperate drug daze). but we have remained connected these 32 years.
these days seem some of the closer since he lost his mother last year. he is struggling with physical changes that accompany the aging human experience and the combination seems to have opened his emotional world and be offering it to the sun. he mentioned that he spoke to another friend of ours, now living in phoenix, who asked him to tell me how touched he is by the arc my life taken. blue continued to say that bill must have done some online research because he seemed to be much more intimate with some details and he cried as he spoke with blue. blue cried as he relayed this information to me, including details like blue had always felt that i was special, but i was never able to see that- how it was painful for him to watch me struggle through all the challenging lessons i have had in my life. i cried as i heard all this and was swept up in the idea that someone has been able to care about me all this time while i was unable to do so.
i sign off today in humility. i am gobsmacked by the fact that i am cared for by someone who knows me so well (definitely an old tape playing). i quietly received a most unexpected and completely personal gift that came wrapped in a plain wrapper, but has stirred the deepest part of my soul. i must remember to give these kind of gifts as it is something so life affirming to receive.
some friends from chicago came into town over last weekend. some other friends let us use their vacation home outside fairplay to have a getaway. it was pretty magical. we arrived on thursday evening and spent the night. the house has 3 bedrooms with a total of 6 beds, we all slept in the same room the first night – kinda like a dorm. laughter and storytelling were the easiest way to start to catch up with each other.
in the morning, it became apparent that the views from the house were pretty extraordinary. very large picture window on all 4 sides revealed snow-dusted mountain scenes behind blue skies in each direction with aspens that held only memories of gold on them created a sense of wonder that we don’t quite feel everyday.
friday we had breakfast at the brown burro in fairplay. good green chili and a welcome air for travelers gave us a great start. we drove through buena vista and stopped to take photos along the way. we then headed to mt princeton and sat in the pools created by the hot springs for most of the afternoon. the waters were 80 and 100 degrees while the air was about 60. it was at once relaxing and invigorating. many of my cares and worries got left in those pools.
we then headed to salida which is one of my favorite small towns in colorado. there are bohemian art galleries and restaurants galore and each time i return, i discover something new. this time we found a gallery called art and salvage. the owner paints sweet folk paintings on old windows that are sweet and charming. one of these paintings will probably be the gift we give to my friends for their generous gift to us.
there is a remarkable photo of the arkansas river as it flows through highway along salida which i used as a banner for this blog. so picturesque. the entire day was a delight for the eyes. we headed back to the house and spent the 2nd and final night outside fairplay. as we drove up to the home, there was a family of 10 or so deer munching on the grasses of the lawn. they disappeared into the aspen grove as our car drew near, but it was another amazing aspect of our visit away from the city.
the next day we drove up through breckenridge, dillon, frisco, georgetown, and idaho springs before we got back to denver. our friend eddie, remarked that he had never seen the john waters’ film “female trouble”, so we opted to rent that. we laughed and napped and finished the saturday with an incredible dinner at rioja. the most outstanding was an herbed ricotta cheesecake with pickled apples and candied orange peel. the trip was winding down and the friendships were warming up.
on sunday, it was mostly packing and readying for home for my guests. we stopped at parallel 17 for a quick brunch before the flights. friendship is a staple for a healthy diet and my visitors reminded me of this. i laughed and i opened my heart this weekend. and found myself realizing how much i had needed to laugh. it had been awhile.
I made it into this Program because someone else worked their Twelfth Step on me. Someone passed it on to me. Someone was out there after they got clean and sober, caring about others. I need to never, ever forget that. Had they simply gone on with their lives and forgotten about people like me who were still out there using and suffering, I wouldn’t be here today. My gratitude begins with that fact. It is with that gratitude in mind that I reach out to others, especially the newcomers. I need to have them in my life. That is where my spirituality begins.For me, spirituality comes from caring about others. I have found that the more I focus on improving the quality of the lives of others, the less I am into myself and my will. I feel a freedom and peace from within. The gifts I am beginning to receive in my life are greater than I could have ever imagined.Something else I have done is that I have forgiven myself. I have forgiven myself for being an addict. I have forgiven myself for all the damage I did to my life, to my physical health, and to my career and finances. But most of all, I have forgiven myself for all of the horrible, negative and unloving things I have felt about myself. It was not until I offered and accepted my own forgiveness, that I was truly able to grow in my sobriety..
From CA’s Faith, Hope, and Courage
Good morning, son
I am a bird
Wearing a brown polyester shirt
You want a Coke?
Maybe some fries?
The roast beef combo’s only $9.95
It’s okay, you don’t have to pay
I’ve got all the change
It hurts to grow up
And everybody does
It’s so weird to be back here
Let me tell you what
The years go on and
We’re still fighting it, we’re still fighting it
And you’re so much like me
i title this good morning friend as i don’t have a son. i do, however, mentor people fairly regularly. and the struggles wear different clothes and come in different packages, but don’t seem to change that much. i have been listening to ben folds this morning and there is a melancholy to his words and music that is laced with light and frivolity. i hope this is what i share with you this morning my friends..
we published the Winter 2010 newsletter yesterday. you can read it at http://www.ontheten.com/
again, good morning friend… and hello weekend!
Once upon a time you dressed so fine
You threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn’t you ?
People’d call, say, “Beware doll, you’re bound to fall”
You thought they were all kiddin’ you
You used to laugh about
Everybody that was hangin’ out
Now you don’t talk so loud
Now you don’t seem so proud
About having to be scrounging for your next meal.
How does it feel
How does it feel
To be without a home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone ?
my friends pictured above have known me since 1978 or so. they represent what is good about our generation as well as my youth- smart, funny, hardworking, talented, and with huge and kind hearts. i am sincerely humbled when i consider all the distances they have traveled in this life while still living in one big-shouldered city. we had dinner last sunday and my life took an unforseen turn.
i am smack dab in the middle of a change of heart. not sure how i know this, or how i actually mean this, but i still know this is the truth. i have been seeing so many people from previous times in my life. they are all sweet, wonderful people who have been living life on its own terms and are doing the best they can. i love them for this probably more than i loved them before. mostly because i am able to love them now in ways i never knew how previously.
here i am walking an ancient labyrinth and retracing the cave drawings i encounter. there is joy and freedom in this for me. i am actually connecting with the power to grow up and the desire to do so. no matter my age. no matter the lack of grace, it is the desire and the ability- not to mention the need- that prods me onward. i am not sure where i am headed next, but i know i am going and with anticipation.
this time away from my daily routine has done something i wasn’t sure i needed. it has confirmed for me that i okay. i measure myself next to my past and i feel engaged and empowered. this feeling may last a week or a decade, but it feels so freeing that it is not of consequence today.
i love my friends. they hold my history in their hearts and minds. they remind me who i was and who i am. i need to be reminded of all this as i sometimes forget who i have been and only see who i am.
i am posting a version of this song from one of my favorite current bands- anberlin. this cut is happy-go-lucky, easy and breezy and helps me wanna bop my head back and forth. it mirrors how i am feeling today.
i have been in denial about the things i have been noticing and wondering about a friend. he has been in recovery from iv meth use for a coupla years and has shapeshifted these last few months. i have known something was stinky, but didn’t want to make it real.
i live very close to him and drive by his house frequently. the front door traffic pattern and the porch varmints have been increasing with each month. and a few months ago i had him over to check it out and it was evident that he wasn’t with me in the room. i convinced myself that he had stopped taking his add meds, which he heartily agreed with.
now i understand though that old ways have returned and he is using again. i’m sad. disappointed. a little angry. but i’ll get over those. i guess it brings the possibility of such a thing closer to me, since it happened to someone i know.
weirdly, it has been like watching an accident in slo-mo. the fragments of a cracking veneer and random disrepair continue to become evident. his other friendships are becoming like tall model sailing ships in glass bottles, just sitting on shelves collecting dust. his company du jour are all younger males that most likely don’t have much stability. i recognize well the predatory sexual practices that are likely at work.
i have only begun to understand addiction. i have lived around it and with it for my entire life, but i am only at the tip of the iceberg of comprehension. as i am reading the wonderful book on addiction by gabor mate right now i will quote from him on addiction. I found this series of quotes on a lovely site called change therapy.
in the english language, addiction has two overlapping but distinct meanings. in our day, it most commonly refers to a dysfunctional dependence on drugs or on behaviours such as gambling or sex or eating.
surprisingly, that meaning is only about a hundred years old. for centuries before then … addiction referred simply to an activity that one was passionate about …
in the words of a consensus statement by addiction experts in 2001, addiction is a “chronic neurobiological disease … characterized by behaviours that include one or more of the following: impaired control over drug use, compulsive use, continued use despite harm, and craving” …
the issue is not the quantity or even the frequency but the impact …
he then gives his own definition:
1. compulsive engagement with the behaviour, a preoccupation with it;
2. impaired control over the behaviour;
3. persistence or relapse despite evidence of harm; and
4. dissatisfaction, irritability or intense craving when the object – be it a drug, activity or other goal – is not immediately available.
he concludes his chapter, “what is addiction?” by saying
we need to avoid the trap of believing that addiction can be reduced to the action of brain chemicals or nerve circuits or any other kind of neurobiological, psychological or sociological data … addiction is a complex condition … we need to view it simultaneously from many different angles … to get anywhere near a complete picture we must keep shaking the kaleidoscope to see what other patterns emerge.
i am posting a paolo nutini song from his latest cd. i listen to this often when i’m driving. i am completely mad about him…