cgs/& why i never drank over you

This thing is coming to light, this thing is coming to pass, hiding in the cupboards, making furtive moves behind a chair that I still don't have, moving through the stolen milk crates and the beds that make up the furniture (and a lost bed that got taken away in the night when no one was looking), crawling across the floor and disguising itself like a rubber ball that contains all the colors of the rainbow.  But it won't reveal itself yet, it's a chapter of a story that hasn't started yet, and I'm not in any hurry to open the book.

There was this exchange.  The daughter is doing math projects, and the father is doing yoga on the floor.  They're both on the floor, really, on the floor with the dog who is unable to contain just how happy she is that this is all happening on her floor.  The daughter says, "I am going to put glitter on your stomach, is that all right?"  The father says, "Yes, of course."  She says, "It's body glitter, so it will probably stick for awhile."

It's a good thing, a very good thing.  He forgot to cover himself with chalk after reading cards for a stranger that afternoon, and there were some lingering things that needed to be neutralized, and body glitter is some of the best voodoo on the market, but hard to do this ritual exactly.  Tonight, this is done exactly the right way, and even the ancestors are pounding their fists on the floor at the way these things tend to arrange themselves.

His stomach is sinking lately, really, upset at itself for worrying about things as mundane as money.  Spending money lately on frivolous things, like trips to old west towns, fried things in restaurants where the waitresses all have brown eyes, and keychains for remembering the places she's been.  It's important to remember, he thinks, but even more important to build a list of places, and to keep going.

This is a family disease, old Gypsy spirits in the bloodline, a constant restlessness to seek and to wander to feed the seeking.  "And outside in the cold distance, a wildcat did growl..."  It was very clear that there were things in all these moments that were suddenly terribly important.

Not the least of these came when, surrounded by hippies disguised as cowboys, or the other way around, he was struck by how this place was fed by ideas of masculinity and femininity that no one in their right mind could possibly live up to, and these days, could want to live up to.  He was thinking about her again, not the daughter, another her, a too young for him her, and a string of old friends who grew up on border towns, but on the wrong side.  On this side, they sell everything like crazy, but all the coolness is removed, and there is only a cynical celebration of muscle and glands, the kind that wear themselves on the bars of motorcycles so that there's no question about anyone's intentions.  On the other side, there are other things worth paying attention to, not least of which is that there is better music over there.

Over there is so far away, though, because they forgot their passports, and are stuck in a place where the only decent thing to do is to honor the dead.  During a short visit to the cemetery, she tells the father that she wants to be a saloon girl, half zombie, half living, and all history.  This is a history that every generation wants to recover, but no one really knows how, because the courage has been burned off all the residents, or at least as far as he can see.  He wants to tell her about real Cowboys and real Coyotes, ones she knows, but she has a look in her eye when she talks about these things that makes him stop.  Maybe she can figure out the trick to this particular lock, his generation fucked it all up.  This generation might have better ideas, but right now they all seem too wounded.  Maybe patriarchy does ravage us all, or maybe it's these old ghosts wanting to set the record straight, or maybe it's the same thing.  Better to pay attention only to those ghosts who want to live through acts of fearlessness, the ones who know that at that terrible dividing line between life and death, gender as we know it ceases to matter.  But it's also likely that in times of crisis, it's all that most of us are aware of, so we try to take it with us like a shield, and we crash into things that make us entirely different.  Usually entirely different means much stupider, because we don't know how to let go of the things we no longer require.

Sorely disappointed there were no Gypsy fortune tellers in any direction, he knew that he had become one somewhere along the line.

This is what the cards said.

Whatever plans had been underway, with cups and chariots and lovers and fools, everything had been interrupted by swords.  It seems so far away, but it could have happened yesterday, because it probably did.  There would be more illness all around, and death all around, and the old lovers were declining any entrance, but some offered blessings to look further down the road, and some were holding on behind curtains that he wouldn't recognize as familiar.  He didn't want to believe any of it, because there was an urge to build something beautiful out of all this heat, there were gardens that hadn't come yet, and they were visible by doing tricks with eyes and light. 

Then there was news, an aunt with an emergency that needed her heart opened up, and the father of the father with new growth inside the thing that just housed cancer, and a boy who was starting to choke, and the brother of the father who was starting to inject insulin.

The daughter complains that she broke her wrist, but she can move it, so she does math projects on the floor and pours glitter over his stomach.  This would be all right.  There would be suffering and there would be pain, but there was magic here, reflected in lights that came from her hands.  That's how you heal, he thought, that's how it's done.  The thing that hurts you becomes the thing you learn how to use.

That girl was there, too, the one who guided him through endless nights that turned from cold to unbearably hot until they broke in half, she was there, too, and she was saying that she could never be all that he thought she would be.  But she was wrong, because she became something so much more, like an idol, or an amulet, something to carry around the neck like a beautiful scar, like a beautiful jewel that didn't try to hide the scar underneath. 

This was the place, then, where men were looking at the kinds of suffering that opens doors to the next world, and wounded women were preparing to heal things.  He knew that he'd taken his place in things, become the father and started to live in its myths, but he'd also learned how to become that other thing, and there was something in that shapeshifting that made it suddenly very urgent to tell his daughter about these things, and he couldn't tell her directly because she might miss it if it was too direct, but it was something that could be unfolded, like a dress, or a paper fortune-teller, or a life. 


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