Three Couples and A Lone Wolf

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May 27, 2017, Superior-   I adore strong couples.  I was surrounded, in childhood, by husbands and wives whom none of us could imagine being without one another.  Of course, there were the ones who just could not get along, and who went their separate ways; they were three, out of thirty six, or so.

I spent the afternoon at SunFlour Market, with two dear women friends, whose combined spirit could brighten the gloomiest of days.  Both are happily married, and in fact, I met the husband of SunFlour’s owner, and saw that he is very much involved with his wife’s success.  The younger couple could be my own children, and in fact, I feel like I’ve known the wife forever.  A musician was also present, playing a truncated guitar, produced by Go Guitars, of California.  His wife later came in, having just enjoyed a special health-related treat.

Four of us got onto the subject of keeping oneself healthy, in the face of aging.  Three of us are in our sixties and my young friend is forty-something, looking mid-thirty-ish.  We agreed that it is the blitheness of one’s spirit that keeps us going, as well as using the purest of foods and personal cleansing products.   I fully intend to keep on with that, for decades to come.  I want the same for everyone else, as long as their quality of life is intact.  No one should suffer, years on end.

I want to see married couples enjoy one another, also for decades to come, and to grow ever closer, not apart.  Someone dear to my heart will marry next year.  Someone else dear to me has found a person with whom to build a relationship.  As I write this, I see the face of my departed love, smiling brightly.  I may be a lone wolf, right now, but I know the full joy of being in a strong bond.

Giant Steps, Baby Steps

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May 24, 2017, Prescott-

We are nearly done with the academic year,

and spent a good part of the morning

recapping.

Three of our students won awards,

having made great strides,

both academically and character-wise.

Another went slightly backwards,

misreading the cues,

after the assembly had finished.

The group as a whole had transition issues,

as the afternoon ensued.

It’ll be over,

for a few months, though,

by noon tomorrow.

I trust team changes,

and student transfers,

will allow for a more even start,

come August.

I will know my own assignment level,

in a week or two.

At least, I will continue to work,

somewhere.

We make adjustments,

and see progress,

in our lives.

Some are entirely

of our own volition.

Others are thrust upon us,

and duty calls-

or opportunity knocks.

Several said they hated today,

and were glad it was over.

I don’t see myself

as having that luxury.

Every day given me,

in good health,

is one more than

Penny was given.

I seldom heard her complain.

Most  of what I do

involves increments.

Baby steps,

some of them backwards,

are needed,

if one is to maintain focus.

Giant steps,

most of them forwards,

are what give me confidence.

Time was,

when I could not imagine myself,

doing half of what

the spirits have guided me to do.

Time will be,

when I look back

on things large and small,

and thank God for my feet.

 

 

So Fleeting, It Is

17

May 23, 2017, Prescott-

I have felt a lot, welling in my heart, today. Sitting on the floor, after hours, keeping a little boy out of harm’s way, whilst waiting for his guardian to arrive and take him home, two of us encountered his simplistic view of things:  If he were only allowed to, he would run after the bus, in stocking feet.  Somehow, he knew the bus would be late, and it was; but guardian was already en route.

This is our clairvoyant child, who warned me not to think of a new friend of mine in a romantic way.  I would not have done so, anyway, but he had no way of knowing my heart- or maybe he did see a hidden danger lurking.

It has been a tempestuous month:  Two deaths of friends, one expected; the other, a bombshell.  Both brought communities together.  An aged mentor, to many of us in my Faith community, went back to God, last Wednesday.    Then, this week, a colleague in the Red Cross passed on, after a serious illness.

Now comes Manchester.  A young lady of considerable, as yet unrealized, talent, sought to bring the joy of her dance hall style of music to another generation of youth.  A crazed and puritanical misfit set out to destroy her efforts.  The resulting carnage will live in my heart, for a long time.

Some in my circle have taken to responding to me, of late, with curt, businesslike replies.  Others, are acting as if we’ve never met, in the first place.  Life is fleeting, so why not friendship and connection?

It’s often said, that if you love something, set it free, and if it comes back, it is yours.  If not, it never was.  So, my friends and family are always free to come and go.  The spot they have in my heart will still be there, should they come back.  This is life, and it goes on.

Manchester

5

May 22, 2017, Prescott-

So many youths,

glad for an evening

of music that made them

dance,

on the floor

and in their hearts.

Nineteen are gone,

fifty hanging on,

because of one

with a detonator.

A light-hearted young woman,

seeking to make her fans’ lives

a bit more carefree,

sits crestfallen,

broken-hearted,

in a hotel room,

in Manchester.

Different

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May 11, 2017, Prescott-

I have, as most are aware, led a life that has been far from conventional.  My love and I did not play by the rules, as much as we might have, when purchasing our home, in 2003.  I did proudly bring in my mortgage check, for five years, whilst juggling her increasingly unpredictable medical state.  Then came the Madoff scandal, which hit us, indirectly.  Then came the “Great Recession”, bankruptcy and short sale.  Three years later, she was gone.  Son moved on with his life, a testament to our own resiliency, and his.

We, the survivors, are hanging in there.  He’s fine in Busan, South Korea, as far as I can tell.  I am stable in Prescott, as far as I can tell. Money is tight, but no matter.  Those who played by the rules have their struggles, as well.  In the end, we each have what we’ve earned, and little else.

My autism has made me different, from day one.  I approach new situations, new groups of people, from a distance, with some caution.That’s caused issues with others, who jump into newness with both feet, and think a delayed response is a sign of apathy.  It’s caused initial issues with women, who are more in tune with connection.  After reading my heart, much of that has faded away, but it still irks me- that I can’t.quite. be. as forthcoming with new friends, as seems reasonable.

Life is better now, though.  At this age, most of those around me have either been through their own scar-fests (my contemporaries and elders) or are heart-readers (children and teens).  I have one goal, for my own behavioural exchequer:  Feel less inclined to hang back, in new situations.  ACCEPT that most people are naturally inclined to be social, to be accepting, themselves.

It’s okay to be different.

Art Town Serenade

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May 8, 2017, Cave Creek-

In my thirty-three years of Arizona life, I had never been to the oft-celebrated, sometimes kitschy, seemingly quiet but artfully shimmering oasis that is downtown Cave Creek.  The southwest is filled with these kinds of places.  I live in one, and have been to several others.  Each has its share of solid, hardworking artistes, and several have kitsch galore.

After a routine dental check-up, I got a message to visit here, whilst at my beloved’s grave.  These notions almost always lead me to a special place, and to increased personal insight.  Today was no exception.

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Local Jonny’s is at the south end of a one-mile stretch that makes up Cave Creek’s arts and entertainment district, aka “downtown”.  It’s attached to “world-famous” Flat Tire Bike Shop, so one could have his bike fixed, whilst savouring a breakfast burrito and cup of delectable brew-of-choice, or carry a cup of java around, whilst selecting her very next entry into Tour de France.

When it was my turn to order, the counter attendant, Hannah, looked me in the eye, as if to say, “It’s about time you showed up !”, and cheerfully took my order.  She had a large, exquisite, Flat Tire Burrito and sumptuous coffee on my table, within five minutes. Jonny’s is one of those places, like The Raven Cafe, Marino’s and Two Mamas, in Prescott, Macy’s European Coffee House and Toasted Owl, in Flagstaff, and Sun Flour Market, in Superior, where if one feels not at home, it’s not the fault of the house.  The ladies told me that Cave Creek is just that kind of place, as a whole, from end to end.

After my early lunch, it was time to check out the A & E.  Cave Creek reminds  me, a lot, of Bisbee, Mesilla Park and Laredo, in the number of metallic art shops, selling all manner of animal figures, made from cast-off  steel, iron and copper.

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Disneyesque Frontier Town opts for wooden figures.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES Essentially, the love and sense of fun, that is exuded here, is not to be bottled up and stored in a cave.

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So, I found that Local Jonny’s, and a dozen other places around town, could easily answer the question posed by another visitor:

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I’ll be back, time and again.

“He Was At Home Here”

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May 6, 2017, Cottonwood-

There was a magnificent scrum of motor vehicles, and drivers, when I arrived at the parking lot of Taco Don’s, and took my place in the rapidly forming motorcade.  The hearse and family cars were followed by the motorcycles, then the classic cars (Jayme was a car buff, being from eastern LA County) and us friends and admirers, taking up the caboose end.

We set out ahead of time, and had cleared Prescott, by the time we were originally supposed to leave.  Some stragglers caught up with us, on Highway 89A, and passed ahead, to get to their designated spots.  By the time we reached Jerome, and wended our way through the “ghost town’s” streets, everything was in perfect order.  Jerome, like much of the Central Highlands, is in full bloom.  Here are some lupines, that graced our view.

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We reached Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, on the northwest side of Cottonwood, with 30 minutes to spare.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that the church’s cross-street neighbour had set up two golden Dol Harubangul (Korean “stone grandfathers”, the symbol of Jeju, where we lived from 1986-92).  This was very much something that Jayme would have found wildly amusing.  As the statues are usually black volcanic rock, this was definitely a nod to the area’s mining culture.

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Immaculate Conception is a spacious, majestic parish church- almost cathedralesque, in size and airiness.  The celebrant priest, also a friend of Jayme’s, noted that the man “felt at home here”, making frequent trips over the mountain, on Sunday mornings, perhaps because of the exhilaration one feels, when going through the pines, and along Jerome’s streets.  The church felt quite homelike for us, this morning, with a robust celebration of Jayme’s relationship with his Lord and an outpouring of love, from his family and closest friends.

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The exquisite service left me chastened, as funerals so often do.  I thought, once more, of my own ongoing mission, knowing that being there for others, something that Jayme Salazar did so well, and at which I am improving, is imperative.  We will all gather again, in his memory, on May 20, for a Fiesta Grande, at Prescott’s Watson Lake Park.  I promised his dearest friend that I would be there early and leave late.

One other nice touch- when I stopped for lunch, at Colt Grill, in Old Cottonwood, the soundtrack featured Mike and The Mechanics’ “The Living Years” and REM’s “Everybody Hurts”.  The Universe always speaks clearly.

“If you don’t give up and don’t give in, you may just be okay.” – Mike Rutherford

“Hold on”.- Michael Stipe

Seen, Heard, Believed

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May 4, 2017, Prescott- 

My kids value being greeted at the bus

each school day.

It actually hurts their feelings,

if circumstances get in the way

of this happening.

They tell me things that go on

at home, around the neighbourhoods,

just like my other kids did,

back in the day.

There is this thing

called eye contact,

undivided attention,

heart connection.

There is this thing

where they matter,

more than the rules

of “Boys Town”,

more than Policy.

There is this thing

where I see them

down the road,

in a few years.

There is this thing,

where I tell each

of them,

that a bright future

lies ahead.

There is this thing,

where I tell them,

that the only one

keeping the door locked,

ultimately,

is themselves.

I’ve said it before,

“seen and not heard”

is a heinous lie.

Whoever coined that phrase

is guilty

of crimes

against humanity.

There is a child,

whom I’ve never met,

who was molested,

a few years back.

I read of her family’s struggles,

trying to deal with

something they don’t understand.

They want it to go away.

Sexual abuse,

like any other loss,

never goes away,

entirely.

Whoever said “seen and not heard”,

is a secondary monster,

extending the pain

inflicted on the child,

by the primary perpetrator.

Victims:

Be seen, heard and believed.

 

Sixty-Six for Sixty Six, Part XXVII: The Only True Network

6

April 26, 2017, Prescott-

I’ve had a good amount of time to think about the people and things that have come my way, over the past six years, especially the past month or so.  I came upon what turns out to be an intensely spiritual little community of a few dozen good friends, anchored by two remarkable couples, who I met, in their entirety, last night, while online.  The women, one in particular, showed a high level of concern for my well-being, last month, when I stopped by their coffee shop, after a long hike.  I was fine, but that level of love resonated, deep in my heart.  Maybe I’ve been on the go, and semi-independent, a bit too long, and the message is to savour connections, more than I have up to now.

There is, from my having met the rocks, the diamonds, of two large and loving families, a deeper lesson.  My travels, here and there, will continue, as will my being active in the community that serves as my home base.  There is, though, thanks to Mrs. Willa Ficarra and Mrs. Kathy Barga, a reminder that there is no real heart connection, without a sense of family.  In all my travels, with three notable single-adult friends as exceptions, it has been the families who have befriended me, who have provided the most consistent support, admonition and encouragement.

As this academic year enters its final month, I look ahead to two months of connection, and re-connection, with friends, new and old, and with my own family, in strengthening the network that will help each of us, in whatever lies ahead.

Selective, or Snooty?

6

April 24, 2017, Prescott- 

It’s no deep secret that I have issues with those who build walls of snobbery around themselves. I’ve found them everywhere, from my home town of Saugus,  to Jeju, Korea, and to my present home base of Prescott.

Usually, snobs rely on “isms”, to validate their choices.  There are those who fall back on their self-perceived intelligence, while forgetting that the late George Plimpton, and others, routinely ridiculed their insolence.  There are others, “hipsters”, who brag about their sense of aesthetics, overlooking the beauty of simplicity.  Money, status in the community, and a misperceived “racial purity” are other sources of walls. Even in small communities, and communities of colour, subgroups operate to either maintain a false sense of superiority or to ingratiate themselves with those in power.  Seventeen years ago, a woman spread filth about my family and me, in a small desert community.  She had arrived  ten years earlier, from Ohio.  Here in Prescott, another individual, an attendant at a local fitness center, turns her head, sharply and disdainfully, whenever anyone over the age of forty approaches.

I have my own sense of selectivity.  I stay clear of fast food restaurants, many chain stores, and most Big Box establishments.  There is no shortage of people who would cry “Snoot”, at this information, and perhaps they’re right.  I do not, however, treat others with disdain, based on age, physical appearance,  mannerisms,perceived intelligence level, economic status or skin pigmentation.  Even the snobs get a fair hearing.

I have made the observation that fear is behind most snobbery.  If the wall-builders would stop and take several deep breaths, perhaps they would realize that nothing of consequence would befall them, were they to open the blinds, and take off the blinders.