Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Important Things

I. Enjoy the Weather.

It is not a real winter here. Polar vortices are heard of but unseen. Congratulations are given, months after the fact, for the foresight to go where snow will never be shoveled. Hard times are over!

It gets down to the 50s at night. There's a heater in our house, but it's inconsistent. There is little concern about this, even though 50s-at-night can be a pretty chilly situation when you're indoors and stationary. Congratulations on the weather makes me want to engage about it. Correct it. You know, it can actually require jackets. You know, K acclimated immediately, and she can get quite chilly. You know, weather extremes are a pretty good marker for the passage of time. You know, it's actually the lack of humidity that has been the biggest blessing. You know, I have a hard time stopping myself from thinking of how different everything would be if we'd turned right instead of left. 

Well anyway. Thank you, it is rather comfortable outside. How are your pipes holding up?

II.  Laid to Rest.

Vibrant is not the word. The single thing I keep remembering about Walt is when I went to Chicago with him and my brother Dave. We were going for a comic book convention, the first time Chicago Comic Con was branded Wizard World Chicago. I remember the nametag had the electric blue Superman on it. It was 1997? 1998? It must have been 1997. After high school and before college started. I bought a wall scroll for Denise, who I may or may not have been dating at the time. We were dating toward the end of high school, then broke up a bit, then in that first year of college pinged back and forth a bit, as one will do. But I remember wanting to bring back a present, and I remember choosing some sort of anime-ish wall scroll. It rolled up tight, but it was long -- three-feet or so -- like a nice walking cane, but too long to be packed.

Walt and Dave and myself had shared a hotel room for the several days we went to the show. After we left, I realized I'd forgotten the scroll. I think we'd even made it to breakfast? It must have been a Denny's, or something similar, located quite close to the hotel, because we hadn't gone far. I can see the moment clearly -- putting something in the back of the van, realizing the absence of the scroll. I told them and we went back to the hotel, and they let us back in the room. It was there leaning in a corner, and I picked it up, and we got back in the van, and we went on our way again.

What I'm trying to say is -- Walt joked a lot. My feeling on that trip was that I was a little embarrassed and a little awkward all of the time, and that as Walt grew more comfortable with me, he would joke more at my expense. Which is a sign of affection really, or comfort at the very least, when it comes to midwestern dudes inclined to go to comic book conventions, but at 18 and right out of school and used to being the weirdo that cooler weirdos pushed around, it made me feel uncomfortable and exposed. And I was dreading the jokes at my expense for forgetting and having to go back for the wall scroll I'd bought for the girl who was maybe my girlfriend.

I don't think he said anything about it. Probably, he didn't even care. Or notice. I was 18 and self-conscious about anything that drew attention to myself (a pressure point that has only slightly subsided over time), and I was terribly relieved and grateful for not being picked on about it.

Walt was the first of my brother's adult friends I met and felt any kind of relation to. Last September Dave told me Walt had cancer -- many cancers -- and he passed away last week. This anecdote doesn't do any kind of justice to who he was as a human being or a man or a father or a friend. It's not really meant to. It's just one of many things that's rumbled around my own head as I've thought of him recently.

I'll feel better if I repeat what I posted on Facebook:

Walter Davis wore overalls, rocked a marvelous mulletted ponytail well past its expiration date, and, despite being one of the bigger dudes I have ever met , comfortably answered to the nickname "Tweedle." He passed away last night after spending the last several months bloodying the nose and blackening the eyes of cancer. Which means he gets first pass at the heavenly $1 comic bins.

Walt was a father, my brother's dear friend, and a funny motherfucker. He still is those things, and will be them forever. Rest well, buddy.

I'll feel better if I share what L shared with me, after reading about Walt's passing:

i read this poem of rilke's for many days, sometimes even out loud...and shared it with some of our friends too...and its acknowledgment of the unknowable and the immensity of grief felt right. others told me they felt the same way. so i thought i would send it to you. lots of love. xo.

Quiet friend who has come so far,
feel how your breathing makes more space around you.
Let this darkness be a bell tower
and you the bell. As you ring,
what batters you becomes your strength.
Move back and forth into the change.
What is it like, such intensity of pain?
If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine.
In this uncontainable night,
be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,
the meaning discovered there.
And if the world has ceased to hear you,
say to the silent earth: I flow.
To the rushing water, speak: I am.

III. Rising and Being Risen.

A recurring insecurity is, "What am I contributing to this situation?" Relationships, work, creative endeavors, social outings. As if a thing (anything) can be seen from the outside, and as if it can be judged, then, by it's individual components. Am I being helpful? Am I making it better, or worse? What would happen if I left now? Am I slowing everyone down? 

I almost fell down a hole of fearful, existential introspection, there. I came upon that image by accident and it actually made me feel a lot better. If you make a dumb choice, if your joke is the worst joke, if the people you love are a little disappointed in you or embarrassed by you?

You still have to get out of bed the next day. You can choose to be kind the next time the people you love don't hit the bar they want or expect. 

I don't think man is capable of love is the line, for me, with the most gravity from the True Detective I watched last night. Obviously the speaker is in the depths of his own hole of introspection and existential crisis. He's a fiction, but then so is Homer. We get to choose which is correct. We can choose nature (fear, suspicion, judgement) or grace.

Maybe we're wrapped up in our own heads and we don't notice when it's the kindest thing simply not to poke our friends in a sensitive spot. Or maybe it's all somewhere in our heads -- and by our heads, I mean our entire selves -- and we can, occasionally, have an inherent feeling for what will help maintain a positive balance for ourselves and the people we love and the people we like and the people we've only just met.