Uncomfortable

window-564287_960_720He stretched his legs until his knees locked straight.  He crossed his arms over his chest and lowered his chin and drew a line along his collarbone. He sighed, “I’m uncomfortable.”

“Would you like another chair?” The priest sat straight. “We could change places.”

He sat straight and pushed his hips into the back of the chair. “No.” He scratched his shoulder through his sweater. “No.” He sighed. “I make people feel uncomfortable.”

“Why do you say that?”

He stood up and walked to the window. He looked at the snowfall. “I’ve been told that.”

“Do you think it’s true?”

He turned and looked at the priest. “Yeah, it’s true.”

“How do you make people uncomfortable?”

He took his hand and reached below the back of his sweater and scratched the top of his shoulder blade, “God I hate sweaters.” He dropped his head to the back of his neck and blew a breath out of his circled lips. “I just say things that make people uncomfortable.  That’s all.”

“You do.”

He laughed. “I know.” He took his index finger and rubbed his right closed eye. “But do know why I do?”

“Tell me.”

He crossed his arms. “I’m so Goddamned tired of bullshit.”

“Well, perhaps you need to think whether or not your behavior is appropriate.”

He sat down. “I’m too raw.  I know that.  I get all that.  You know what I was thinking about?”

“Hmm.”

“You know when you were a kid and you saw how many times you could rub one out in a row?”

He laughed. “You serious?

“Yeah, of course.  Every guy did that.  Why do we have to pretend we didn’t?”

“Okay.”

“Well remember how you actually hurt yourself?  Like before you learned about lubrication? Remember that?”

“Where’re we going here?”

“All that friction!  Until you were raw!”

“And?”

“So I’m raw. My conversations are raw.  I was thinking about how my conversations rub against people’s conscience. I was just thinking about it today.  That’s all.”

“Do you think you should change?”

“No. I’m comfortable. I’m okay with me.”

“Okay.”

“You know what else I was thinking about today?”

“What?”

He sat straight. “Now this has nothing to do with sexuality…”

He interrupted. “Why do you feel you have to add a disclaimer?”

“Because I don’t want you to dismiss what I’m going to say and label it a gender issue.  That’s why.”  He stood up.  “I was thinking about the movie Reds today.” He walked to a book shelf and fingered the spine of a book.  “Do you remember that movie?”

“I don’t think so.”

1 (1)

He turned toward the priest in the chair. “Diane Keaton.  Warren Beatty. Anyway.  There’s this famous scene where Diane Keaton is looking for Warren Beatty.  She’s waiting for him to get off a train.  And when she sees him, it’s a big moment. And I know how she felt.  I so know that feeling on her face.”

“Okay.”

“Now the feeling doesn’t matter but I thought about the whole thing.”  He put his hands into his pockets and leaned against the bookshelf. “When I was a kid, I identified with women more than with men.  I knew how they felt.”

“Okay.”

“No. Not okay.” He mimicked the priest and elongated the O in the word. “I told you this isn’t a gender issue.  I’ve never felt like I was secretly a woman or that I was gay or anything.” He stood straight. “I’m just saying I was emotionally intense and other boys didn’t seem to be, so I always felt more …” he struggled for the word and found it, “kinship with women.”

“I understand.”

“I didn’t see myself in other guys.  I just didn’t.” He turned back to the window. “And then one day I did.”

“One day you did what?”

“One day I didn’t identify with women so much.  One day I saw the guy’s side of everything.” He sat down.

“Why are you so fidgety today?  You’re traveling the room.”

“I don’t know.  I feel uncomfortable with putting all this into words.  I’m just so Goddamned tired having to defend every emotion I have.”

“Do you feel I’m contentious?”

“No Padre.  Not at all.”  He laughed. “I’ve just had so many experiences lately where I’ve said something and someone contradicts it.  It’s fucking exhausting having to defend yourself every time you open your mouth.”

“Do you think you see conflict even when it doesn’t exist?”

He laughed.  “No!  And this isn’t about any of that.  Anyone with an opinion encounters opposition.  Well, unless they’re Kleenex.”  He shifted in the chair.  “My point is I thought about that movie today and I thought about how much I’ve changed.  I’m more comfortable being a man than I was.  That’s all.”

“Okay.”

“I think it’s helped me in my writing.  Seeing both sides.  That’s all.” He patted the armrests and rubbed the texture smooth. “This really isn’t a conversation I can have with people.”

“Why not?”

“Tell people I identified with women more than men as a kid?”

“I don’t’ see a problem.”

“An unmarried man in his fifties talking about all this shit?”  He laughed. “I’m too old to justify my life.”

“Who’s asking you to justify it?”

“The Goddamned world Padre.” He sat straight and adopted a slanted accent. “Hi!  When I was a kid I found my echo more with women than men!  I did!”  He laughed. “Yeah, I don’t think so.”

“I think you’re defining gender roles too rigidly.”

“No.” He sat straight and pointed his finger.  His vocal tone was heated. “No we are.  Our whole society.  Things aren’t more fluid.  They’re more defined.  Now everyone is told to define themselves.  We’ve never been so restrictive. You say you’re a heterosexual male and you’re told to examine yourself and redefine everything with more rigidity.  That’s the world.”

“You think that’s true?”

“Yes.  I do.  Everyone is looking for definitions to everything.  We fucking label everything. Gender fluid?  We’re fucking defining something as fluid?  Can something that is in constant change really be defined?”

“Why do you have a problem with this?” The priest shifted in his chair. “I guess I don’t understand the problem.”

“Everyone is so uncomfortable being defined.  But they want to be defined as undefined. It makes no sense.”

“Does it have to make sense?”

“No.” He stood up.  “No it doesn’t.  Just things I’m thinking about.  Anyway, today I realized how much I haven’t changed.  And I thought I had.  That’s all.  I thought about Diane Keaton and I knew I was still just me.”

“Is that a good thing?”

He smiled.  “I don’t know.  I’m not all that comfortable with just being me.”  He looked outside and watched the snow cover the sidewalks.

11

11 years ago today, I became a writer.

This was my first piece:

The Exquisite Slips And Slides Of Life

a19ebf48b38e48c02b82cec82240e588--sons-daughtersYou take his hand as he toddles across the living room. You take his hand as he walks across the street. And then one day his backpack is strapped over his shoulders and he slips his hand from your grasp and he walks through the playground toward the door. Your heart shatters. You remind yourself you’re on view and you gather your tears as you inhale and you slide into your car and you leave the lot.

And then one day you’re walking and he silently slides his fingers into your hand and your knees buckle with the gratitude that he hasn’t forgotten who you are and he remembers what he means to you. And your heart breaks. You remind yourself you’re on view and you gather your tears as you gently grasp his hand. And you exhale in the moment of the exquisite peace.

You take his duffel from his hand as you wait for the announcement of the flight. He’s not holding his favorite stick. He’s not holding a fistful of his brother’s hair. He’s not holding a baseball bat. He’s not holding a fishing rod. And you reel with the knowledge that soon he’ll be holding a gun. And you hold him tight without a care of the view or the cost of the tears. A shake of his hand and a kiss on his cheek is all you’ll have to hold.

He tells you of his duty and you remind yourself of your duty. You dutifully wish him farewell. You watch him slip out of your sight as he slides out of your life. You silently scream as you walk out the terminal door. You tremble as you fumble for your keys. You slide into the seat. The sadness crushes your lungs and you experience a grief that no man should have to endure. But you endure. You haven’t other options. You promised him you would the first time she slipped him into your arms.

Actions Speak Louder Than Nouns

Untitled“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.”

Really?

The problem with thoughts and prayers is that neither are verbs.

And murdered is. In the sentence “Nikolas Cruz murdered school children” murdered is the verb.

We need a verb here.

We need to conjugate the verbs: to stop, to protect, to solve.

We don’t need anymore goddamned nouns.

Nouns die.

 

(Photo Courtesy of stylemagazine.com)

 

Always.

938221He doesn’t always remember anymore.

He doesn’t always remember a name.

He doesn’t always remember that score.

He doesn’t always remember the song.

He doesn’t always remember those facts.

Sometimes. But, not always.

Not anymore.

But he always remembers the window pane and the emptied dirt road that lined the fallow field.

He always remembers the twilighted living room and the darts of a fluorescent kitchen light that interloped their dark.

He always remembers the yellow and blue kerchief he tied around his neck and the merit badges his mother stitched on his blouse.

He always remembers waiting for his fellow troops.

He always remembers the afraid.

He always remembers the wanting of home.

He always remembers the drowsy.

He always remembers the scratching of a salt-shaded beard.

He always remembers the repetitions and the self-recriminations.

He always remembers all the quitting.

That he remembers.

Always.

Uttermost

suffocateUnsighted by surplus, their needed went unseen.

Needed to be included. Needed to be invited. Needed to be considered. Needed to be amongst.

Pandering our utmosts

utmost fear

utmost selfishness

Shame suffocates.

(Photo courtesy of amazonaws.com)