I walked through the cemetery today while waiting on an oil change. As I walk through these last days of Rupert’s life one year ago, these things take on deeper meanings. The tombstones showed a wide range of ages and stations in life, beloved husband age 33; little Henry, two; entire families in one plot for more than a hundred years. I thought of both Alexius and Rupert. Alexius died at 39, Rupert at 45. “Dammit, boys, I can’t believe you left me here without you,” I thought. I need them, but they only exist in my heart and my memory. Sometimes it feels like it will all make sense soon, other times I still can’t believe they’re both gone and I’m still here.
There seems to be grief everywhere around me, all the time. Facebook just now was a friend who’s going to two memorials this weekend. I’m skipping the one I know. I walked past her hair salon today. There is a sad note on the door that the salon is. Loses indefinitely. Indefinitely is spelled wrong, and it just made me sadder.
Soon, the one year mark will have come and gone. I’ll be able to stop thinking about where we were a year ago. Our one year together. It makes no sense. It will all make sense someday.
I made a vision board this evening after an early night out dancing with friends. I found the phrase, Moving Forward, and placed it on the board. Ever forward.
A friend asked me to read this with her. Wow can we talk about mixed emotions here? I’m excited to grow and learn and gain wisdom from this highly recommended book, and yet the reason I’m single is because of a motorcycle accident. I know how to love deeply beyond “the Games of Seduction.” I had it and he died.
My fifth grader wants to skip a grade. She also wants to go to a private boarding school for high school. I don’t think the two are congruent.
We had a disagreement tonight. She was talking about skipping a grade for social reasons, and I was talking educational. When I said to forget her friends and think about being in the best college and being the most successful her, she burst into tears and said I was being mean and she’d never forget her friends. This wasn’t what in meant at all. We backtracked and I had us both restate and mirror the others words. Things cleared up quickly, but she’s a sensitive girl and the tears were still flowing. It was tense and hard. I asked her to imagine herself in the first few weeks of seventh grade in the fall, with all her classmates around her having attended sixth grade except for her. She got it. Then we discussed the need to be alone following this discussion, and she finished her dinner as I finished laundry downstairs.
I felt angry and wanted to know what that was all about. I was triggered, but clear headed enough to know that it wasn’t really anger that I felt. What was behind it? I was hurt. She’d called me mean. I never meant to be mean. I never intend to be mean. But I’ve been called mean by my parents all my life. They raised me to believe that I am mean, when that’s not who I am. It’s who they need me to be. The role I play in their lives, through their filters. I believed it and played along for a long time. Until I woke up and realized that I’m only mean with them. They expect me to be mean and I walk right into it. It’s a survival skill that I’ve shed. I have many close, loving, kind friends and none of them see me as mean. I don’t see me as mean because I’m not.
So when my daughter called me mean, it triggered me, and I felt anger to mask the hurt.
I’m glad I have the tool to walk away calmly and examine my triggers. I know I am looking out for my daughter’s best interest. A skipped grade would be a horrendous mistake for her education. We had a misunderstanding and worked it out. And by the end, we agreed that yes, socially it’s hard to be in her grade, but educationally it’s the right thing for her.
And I got to work on my trigger and grow within myself.
This morning, a friend whom I admire and respect very much, posted that she sees herself as a humble bragger, an over photo poster, and a name dropper. How does one show love for their life and not do these things?
I felt her pain. I reached out online the other night in emotional agony, and I received so much love and support. And I feel embarrassed by it now. I was so vulnerable and raw. Last weekend, I worked hard at a Burning Man conference and met hundreds of people and made many new Facebook friends and there are SO MANY new photos of me circulating the internet. Who do I think I am? Or rather, as the button I can’t find asked, “Do you know who I think I am?”
I replied to my friend:
I’m sure people see me that way, too. Sometimes I worry what people think, other times I don’t care. Dealing with loss and death has left me with an empty bucket of fucks, which has been really good for me and very freeing.
I melted down online Friday night and reached out and received so much love, although I’m a little embarrassed by it all now. Perhaps we can reframe the name dropping and too many selfies and so on as loving ones life and being a good story teller, and show gratitude for being part of an amazing community where we can name and place drop and feel like rockstars.
My bucket of fucks is empty. I’ve loved and lost so much. I do what I want and if people don’t like it, well, I have no fucks to give. I love hard. I’m loyal, honest, and real, and I treat my people like gold. As long as I’m not hurting anyone, I don’t care what anyone thinks. Most importantly, that lack of fucks is backed by a deep enjoyment in being a kind, caring, and loving person.
Having an open heart wins. What have a got to lose, anyway?
It was supposed to be this faery book romance. Instead, I’m moving on.
Rupert and Absinthia took us both by surprise. We were friend zoned when we were teenagers because I was dating one of his housemates. Flash forward 20 some odd years and a drunken hook up after the Dead reunion tour – our first Show together since ’89. We fell in love. And then he died.
Nine months later, I find myself grieving again. It’s been building over the last week or two, I can see that. And here it is. Emo music, tequila, tears, and all. This wave is different though. I’m not devastated because he’s gone, I’m devastated because I’m moving on. I’m moving on and I’m starting to see that clearly. Knowing that makes me ache. Its breaking my heart.
I’ve had three lovers since he died. Beautiful people, inside and out. They have been one right after the other, short term but, strangely, serial monogamy. Brief and intense. Just days between each. Sudden, intense connections with limited face to face interactions. Two long distance, the other a bridge between. The ends of each have lingered with tangled emotions, with one deliciously continuing on from afar. It’s like I’ve lived years in the last nine months. I feel myself moving on after Rupert, and it feels right and wrong and I don’t want to be but I am and I need to. I have to! It’s important. Rupert is dead. He crashed his motorcycle. He’s not coming back. It hurts to be getting over him. It hurts more then any things ever hurt in my life. And yet, I’m doing it. Three lovers. That counts as moving on.
I would like to find a way to take something positive from this. I don’t want to be hardened and unable to allow myself to make a connection with another man. This lifetime is teaching me male loss. Why is there so much male loss in my life? I don’t know how much more I can handle before I rid myself of the lot of them. Men. Fucking assholes. Too bad I really, really love men. Tall little boys, taught to be serious and to win, with their easily awakened silly sides, unsure of women and themselves and arrogant and entitled all at once. Not to mention their smell…mmm. Sorry, where was I? Right.
Throughout my life, I’ve experienced father abandonment repeatedly, divorce (my choice so that seems really different), the deaths of Alexius Stephen Rupert. My two gay husbands and my lover. Partner. Boyfriend. Late boyfriend. Men I never wanted to say goodbye to. Is it a wonder why it’s so much easier to say I love you and feel love with my female friends? Do I hold men at a distance because of this? Have I? Am I now? Will I, in the future?
That’s not who I want to be, walking away from this tragedy. I am moving on. I can choose how I will be.
I choose connection. I choose love. I’m not going to be rash, but I’m not going to hold back. I do it in an invisible way, the holding back. You can’t see it but you can feel it. I’ll be open, and I’ll listen so much better than I talk.
Do you have a few moments of your life that are your favorite moments? The ones where you’re a living legend, where you can’t make this shit up if you tried?
One of them happened tonight. One video of it already hit the internet. It was at the San Pablo yacht harbor under the Richmond Bridge. A spot I never even knew existed. It was both janky and breathtakingly beautiful. The crowd added a whole extra level of both.
It was Robert Burke’s fundraiser. He has degenerative MS and is declining quickly. So we through him a party. It was like Burning Man 1996, only with a lot more gray hair. It was frenetic, with performances and dancers and a fire pit and a swing on a crane made of a giant metal ball, and weed and alcohol – i bartended the first few hours – and never a dull moment. It was a gritty crowd. Lots of long ungroomed beards and cardhardst and hoodies and smokes and straw hats and big boots. People being who they were before the world told them who to be.
We had to drive right in front of the stage to leave. It was getting dark and cold, and Extra Action Marching Band was about to go on. We knew it would be hours if we didn’t leave just then.
We drove straight to the road, right where everyone was dancing. They started clearing a path, when Katy Bell started grinding my car and then crawled up on it and started dancing. She was just the first. Before we knew what was happening, there were hands and legs and butts dancing on the car and in the windows and even a woman climbing in through the sun roof ass first and out the passenger door window. The car was jumping up and down, even tho I’d turned the engine off. The three of us in the car laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed. After all of David Bowie’s Young Americans played, the music wound down and there was a small window and a friend telling me to inch forward. I turned over the engine and slowly drove forward through the sea of dancing bodies and out towards the road home, my friends and I rolling in laughter with tears streaming down our faces.