Perhaps the best place to start the story would be an early spring evening a few years ago at Netherworld. Word had come down from on high and it was official; Sabina and I were to be closing on the House of Owls and Bats. We were leaving the greater metroplex for the a funky little mountain township beyond the end of the world. A place, like Morocco, was furthest west, where the wind sometimes blows Tibetan. It was our place in the world. Our Kashmir. After a little less than a year, through tenacity, strange luck, and devil deals, we were about to make the leap.
So, we were out celebrating. It was our last night out before the move. A sort of farewell shin-dig, which came together at the last moment. I can dig that sort of thing. The best plans are when there are none, because chaos ruins plans. My favorite joke states the quickest way to make a deity laugh is to have a plan. For that reason, I prefer to scheme.
Madam Lung cried that night as we said our farewells. It all seemed so final despite the fact I refused to say goodbye, because goodbye does mean done and over. Madam Lung is one tough chick. Lung is Mandarin for dragon. I've known a few cats who like dragons. Some have tried to incorporate that into monikers. Madam Lung likes skulls and cross-bones, and yet there are few others I think have the right to be called dragon.
That night, as we bid farewells to all of friends there, we spoke of getting together again. Sure, they were supposed to come up and visit, and a few have. But we were also going to make an effort to get together their amongst the neon and night music of the city and its surrounding borough townships.
We never did quite make it back. Our Kashmir, the Sahel it's situated in, was infinitely more interesting. The juke and gin joints down below no longer sang to us with such a siren's song.
The story goes that Netherworld is no longer Netherworld. Apparently, it's frequented by those who wear ball caps with tightly rolled bills, who seem to think one can find cosmic truths within the lyrics of Dave Matthews and Coldplay whilst watching whatever sports franchise on the telly. I've never been curious, or masochistic, enough to see how much truth there is to that story, but much like what I've heard of Paris on the Platte, I've written it off to the truth that nothing ever stays the same.
A year ago, the bruja and the colonel got married. My mother was having her last days in the in sickhouse, and the bruja told me if I needed to be with my mother, than I needed to be with my mother. Her wedding was nowhere near as important, despite the big deal she made of it.
I went anyway, although I was a bag of broken glass. There, for the first time in a few years, I saw Madam Lung and Fu Jen Felis. I did not stay for long, just enough to witness the ceremony and pay my respects to the happy couple, and then I was off again into the pointy lands. Part of me feels bad for not staying longer, and not having more of reunion with my friends, but I also recall my mental state that day. I doubt I'd have been the best of company.
It was recently, at one point or another, the bruja and I talked about getting together for tea. Nothing to spectacular. Perhaps when I was down below doing something, a few of us could meet up. It seemed simple, and we resolved to do it soon.
For all the times I might have thought I might be indulging a little too much in intoxicants, the only sort of drinking interventions anyone has ever wanted to do with me involves water or tea. Sure, I might average six to nine cups a day, but it's not like I have a problem. I can stop anytime I want, although, if you touch my teas, you might draw back a bloody stump. And I know saying I've been drinking all day just does not have the same resonance when I'm referring to things like keemum, rooibos, or jasmine. But, at worst, I drink tea all day, I might have to make a few extra trips to the water closet. So it goes.
Well, anyone following along at home knows what happened to the bruja almost a month ago. I still have a hard time trying to figure out how to approach the subject. On the day official word came down, Fu Jen Felis and I spoke on the phone for hours. Tea came up in conversation, and how we should all get together for that. Soon was once more the buzzword.
Well, what the fuck and how soon is now? What was it going to take? Would another friend have to walk on before we all finally met somewhere for a cup?
And that's how I started looking for tea houses to meet up at...
I admit, I was a little nervous about it. Not these friends of mine that showed up were suddenly going to mutherfuker me for having fucked off for the mountains all those years ago and being so distant. I think it was the auspice of it; our beautiful friend was gone and that was part of the reason for this get together. Something I always meant for her to be a part of, but, as a roll of the bones, it never came to pass, and I think there's a part of me that might always regret that.
Of course, it was not bad at all. There really was no pall of a lost friend that hung over us as we sipped from our cups. We spoke of our whelps and told stories. The gypsy and Madam Lung were going dancing later, and I asked them about how that old haunt was. My daughter got me a copy of The Onion to flip through. It was cathartic.
There was talk of doing it again. The Tea Room in our Kashmir has closed for the season, but there was the idea of coming up for a cup in the spring when it opened once more. The possibility how this could become a regular thing.
I left the tea house feeling a lot better. It was nice to see my friends and hang out once more. Just because we have our own worlds and lives these days does not mean it should only be every few years we see one another. It is sad it took the loss of one of us to reinforce that lesson, but, sad to say, that seems the only way something like that can be taught.