I have often mentioned that time is an abstract. Dig on some quantum physics or Buddhist philosophy, and you'll probably spot on to what I'm talking about. I prefer to measure time by the stars and songs playing on the stereo. The lunar calendar and Chinese years call me more to the western ones, and I'm sure that would invite one of those baseless contrary accusations, but worse things have been said about me by better beings. So it goes.
Be that as it may, I was born, grew up, and continue to live in a western society, even if, in some dysfunctional way, a little more along its tattered ledges. Upon the Gregorian timescale, and the modern American idiom, I know what time it is. Time might be this abstract concept to me, which moves simultaneously like glaciers and liquid mercury, but paradoxically, I have an uncanny recollection of dates and times, and am almost always punctual down to the nanosecond.
The month on the Gregorian calendar is one I have been trying to ignore. Perhaps because I want it to go away. When it comes to brass tacks and bedposts, it is but a set of days, but the auspice of those days have weighed heavily upon my mind.
My daughter will be forfuckssake!sixteen in but a few days. I am both looking forward to this and dreading it. She will be able to drive. Drive to see me. To see her grandfather, aunt, uncle, their spouses, and her cousin. I am thrilled she can get to know my side of the family on her own time and we can hang out whenever it works out, not so much having to be dependent upon the whims and whiles of her mother.
But, of course, she is my little girl. It's horrific enough that she's already had two boyfriends, despite me expressly forbidding her to date. She has flat-out told me she doesn't want me to meet a boyfriend, stating I'd kill him out of hand. Slowly. But kill is such a friendly word.
My father's birthday is four days after my daughter's. He'll be sixty-three. In my mind's eye, he'll always be thirty-seven. Two months and a few days ago, I became older than that mental construct. But that's okay, thirty-eight is the new eighteen, and eighteen was an interesting orbit around the sun.
It's the rest of the set of days I try not to contemplate...
The gypsy reminded me Jibril's birthday was at the end of the month. He would have been forty. She remarked she wanted to have a drink or a few on the date. I can own up I was a bit of a cunt about it, but I also think the backfist of perspective was necessary.
"If we drink, will it bring him back? I stayed sober last year and that didn't work."
Make no mistake, to have my friend back, in good health with functioning kidneys, even if it was just for a single conversation, I'd race the world to the bottom of a whiskey bottle. I'd become a shave-head monk in saffron robes. If I thought it would work, there'd be no question.
But we done discussed my views upon the waving of a magic wand...
Then there's the holiday. Yeh, that one. The one dedicated to gluttony and 'Merica's excuse for footies. I always liked Bill Maher's remark on the subject;
"Thanksgiving is holiday we celebrate the one time we were nice to the Native Americans. Sort of like a date-rapist saying; 'let's just focus on the dinner we had...'"
Last year, we supped at my brother's house. He was excited about this, because we were not eating turkey. I brought jazz for the dinner music.
"Mom and Dad aren't coming," he said when we arrived.
"What's up?" I inquired.
"Dad just said 'cancer'," my brother replied. I remember the feeling in my belly made the feast my brother had worked so hard on suddenly very unappetizing.
My daughter, brother, sister outlaw, Sabina and I were sitting out on his veranda drinking beer and enjoying an unseasonably warm day. I was barefoot. We heard the door open into the kitchen, and all stopped mid-conversation.
"Hello?" A croaky voice called out. My brother and I went in to see my mother and father standing by the counter.
"What the fuck are you doing here?!?" I was too shocked to be polite.
"And it's good to see you too," my mother said as she reached out to give me a hug.
They only stayed an hour. My brother sent my parents home with a to-go of holiday dinner. Months later, my father would say how my mother tried so hard to eat, and keep down, my brother's effort.
"She's in remission, she ain't going to die just yet," I said to my father that day.
"She's not going to die!" He snapped, the air between us turning to tigers and cobras.
Two days after New Years'...which one of us was the bigger liar?
That was the last holiday. The last embraces of greetings and goodbyes. The last time my daughter ever saw her grandmother. None of us knew it at the time. There was no way of knowing. It depends upon the day whether or not I think that's a good thing.
This month...the coming holiday season...fuck!
I find myself filled with a sense of fear and loathing normally reserved for the characters in the penny dreadfuls of Eddie Poe and Howie Lovecraft. My mother has been dead for almost a year and I find myself still feeling walking wounded, carrying a bag of broken glass in my gut. If there was such a thing as fair, I would mention the searing unfairness of this.
In days like this and times likes these, I find my temper shorter than it's been in years. Oh, I could lash out. Scream, growl, roar, punch, and break things. I could drink until, like some of the older hominids at the Cantina, sobriety would be this mythological destination like the Happy Hunting Grounds.
It would accomplish nothing. My voice would be hoarse and my hands would hurt. Liver sprain is never fun, and drinking to excess fucks with my tea drinking regiment, which just will not do. I have a maelstrom of emotions I've been dealing with for nearly a year-getting close to three if I want to go back to when she was first diagnosed-and I meditate upon the reptilian to maintain my sanity. Some days are better than others.
We had the memorial. There was the scattering of her ashes on that mountain pass. I wrote and spoke the requiem for that. She's gone. Done and over.
The harsh and painful lesson I am constantly reacquainted with; when thinking of my grandmother or Jibril, and now my mother, is it's not that simple. You never really get over this. It's cobwebs and talons and razorblades and maggots and it will spring upon you out of nowhere, like an ambush predator from primordial times along some nameless African river. So it goes.
Mei fei tsu. It's the time of the season. This year, that bag of broken glass in my gut threatens to cut and bleed through. I meditate upon the reptilian in order to maintain my relative sanity. As to whether or not I can pull it off...ask me a couple days after the Gregorian calendar sheds its chronological skin, and we'll all be surprised.