Triptych: Congregation for Cause
The Physics of Self
I, like many of you, was once younger. Entirely possibly, I will continue to get older as I write this. It is a miracle! It is unstoppable! It is a terror! It is a failure of possibility! Replace “it is” with “you are” or “I am;” continue, please, to read from the top.
Just to Make You Understand
When Santangelo Carvaglia, whom everyone called Bonji for reasons I can’t remember, said “so Jaime, what’s it like to be a lesbian?” to me in seventh grade science class, he got in such trouble with our teacher, because he was meaning to do something that would get him in trouble, because it was Catholic school and it was almost 30 years ago and it was the same impulse that drove boys to white out 69 on their backpacks and to say things like, “If you went camping with a guy and you woke up in the morning and your butthole hurt, would you tell anyone,” and then, if you said no because you were confused as all hell, follow it up by saying “Wanna go camping?”, because it was some type of de-sexing, de-genderizing way of telling a girl she was ugly and undesirable and she should be the opposite, either that or they didn’t want to want me, the same way saying “oof, Jesus Jaime, cover up” when I wore shortie overalls on a jeans day was meant to communicate that no one wanted me, my body, around, I knew that somehow he didn’t deserve to be in trouble for THIS thing of all the things that twelve year olds say, that somehow THIS thing was the worst one to everyone yet it was the truest thing to me, even though he didn’t know it was true, didn’t know it was anything but another in the line of words like “You look like a ho” when I wore cherry chapstick on school picture day; it was the truest thing, the most simple thing, and it was the thing that should have hurt the least, and it was the one thing that I could have answered with honesty and depth and understanding, back then and now and with fervor and a soundtrack: it is like this, it is like this, it is like this, you who could have been my friend, let me tell you about it.
The Miracle Commission
Things I’ve done since I’ve stopped drinking are not at all as ambitious as the kinds of things one imagines drinking has been keeping one from doing. For example, I have built with Legos, which certainly I also did when I was drinking; I have perhaps read more books again, but then, not reading books was never a problem for me; as a child I was book-grounded to be punished; I was allowed to stay up reading in bed as a reward. Had I stopped reading so much at night? Yes, perhaps I had; perhaps that problem was the biggest departure from my self and therefore the biggest problem. But the other departure from myself (if by self we mean how we were when we were younger which, reader, I posit, is not always the best way to go) is that also I fell asleep blissfully by which I mean I passed out, and I had always wished for passing out, had always wished for some button or pill that would magically induce unconsciousness, and there it was all along! We’d had pills, we’d had liquids, no one had quite made it clear to me! How well they worked! But I awoke, too, I awoke after my body asserted itself and the booze had flooded from my system, and as it withdrew like troops my body shook and heart beat strong and I was awake in the dark doing nothing much, really, nothing much, except for being always ready, a soldier on alert, this mind, unlike when this 3:30 wakeup was from pure depression, and then I would get up and go to the grocery store and make tea because the times that I felt alive at all where in those pre-dawn moments when I seemed safe and alone, and I would watch the sun rise, which sounds like the kind of thing that a 19th Century Glorious Christian Gentleman would do before his strenuous lap around the lake and chest-thumping calisthenics, except I was doing it simply because I was awake and because I knew it was only a few hours until the depression ate me completely again, the complete eating being different from the kind of eating done to Jonah or Pinocchio, the kind of eating when you’re still alive inside and can see out the mouth and have hope for a blowhole, no, the other kind of eating is when there is no mouth or blowhole and you can feel the stomach acid disintegrating your body but leaving your brain and pain sensors intact because acid eats in from the outside. Were those sunrises happy times? Was Jonah happy when the blowhole opened? Remember that Jonah was swallowed, in a roundabout fashion, because he was running from the LORD because I guess in those times the LORD was thought to not find you so easily if you were on the sea, and Jonah got out because being punished had made a real impression on him, the kind of impression that makes a person want to thank someone for stopping beating them and then suggest to everyone else that they might consider being beaten and then not beaten by this very smart and far-reaching dude he knows. I have to admit, there is something about being not beaten any more that anyone who has never been beaten cannot quite understand, and maybe the LORD knew that all along, and I have to say, this pisses me off, because I hate being an object lesson.