The Other End of Sunset

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Before you come for my piano

Do you ever wonder who is around you on a plane? On today’s flight, I have a cast of characters, as always.

To my right, is a woman reading a book on how one’s diet makes one smarter. In front of me, to my left, is a guy who looks for all the world like a fisherman – complete with weird vest with lots of pockets. Except he’s working on a laptop with a portable mouse. And before he booted the laptop, he carefully fitted a privacy screen on the laptop, and he still looks around periodically to see if anyone is looking. And he locked his screen when he went to the restroom.

On my left is a pair of women who are headed to Australia on the next flight. How do I know? Because I saw the title of their Lonely Planet before they boarded, and had a brief conversation with them regarding the likelihood they’d make their connection in SFO (we are late, on today’s leg). They are very comfortable together. The brunette is writing in her diary, with an iPod in her ears. The blonde is doing crossword puzzles with her feet on the side of the plane, also with iPod. They look like a couple, but there’s no physical contact between them. Maybe a couple that’s been together so long they don’t touch anymore?

And what is the brunette writing in her diary? I just caught her looking at me. Stop a moment to ponder that she could be writing in her diary about the tall dark man in the bright pink shirt on his computer, wondering what he is writing just now.

Writing-about-writer-writing-about-writer. That is some strange infinite recursion, and here we are with no Aquinian logic to help us solve it. Where are the Jesuits when we need them.

// Side note: Ironically enough, the radio is playing “Sympathy for the Devil” by the Stones as I write these lines about one of the leading lights of the Catholic intelligentsia in the last couple of thousand years. A juxtaposition that is ever so slightly creepy. Back to my prose… //

I made my best friend very sad with my last posting. Sorry. I'm used to thinking about the sad posts as being about Jeanne, but BF told me that the last one was the saddest post (other than the death post, that is, which was brutal).

I think my writing is getting less and less tragic, but maybe I’ve got screwed up scales of measurement. In this case, I think the sadness my BF felt is about her life, not really about my post. As is my rule, I don’t tell others’ stories – but hers is sad right now. I think she felt a little too close to one of the characters in my last posting.

I guess that’s a testament to her humanity, and should serve to remind her not of loneliness, but of connection. To feel sadness, to recognize oneself in my writing, requires connection – you can’t be sad for something totally alien. If you can find the humanity in a story – and how it reminds you of yourself – it means you are human, you are a self, and thus are a part of the story. Somehow that feels better – it’s better to be sad, and inside the woof of life’s fabric, than to feel numb, and know that you aren’t part of it. But I'm sorry anyway.

It’s coming up on the one year anniversary of her death, and I find that my emotional scabs are ripped off again. I'm looking at her pictures and tearing up. I hear an Elton John song and get a catch in my throat. I have a problem at work, and I want to ask her advice. It’s hard to believe that this time last year I was trying to keep it all together, and care for her.

It’s odd what makes me sad. I went to see The Police the other night – they are on their 30th Anniversary tour. It was really fun. I was there with SL, my best friend, and the inimitable K. K had a pretty miserable night, so I won’t talk about her. She might hurt me. She’s tougher than I am. Ask anyone.

SL spent about half the concert watching me. I was singing at the top of my voice, and laughing, and jumping around. SL was almost giddy, seeing me having such a good time. She couldn’t hug me hard enough.

And then, suddenly in the middle of the show, I felt Jeanne’s presence. In a very comforting way. As if she were there, standing next to me, watching me too, and smiling that huge smile she got, where her right eye crinkled shut. Not the Mona Lisa smile she got when she gave my best friend the Jag, nope, not that wistful one. A full on grin. Because she was happy that I was happy. And somehow she wanted me to know that she was happy with and for me.

I was happy she was there too. Although I'm tearing up as I write this.

Complicated somehow.

My best friend felt very differently. For some reason, the show also made her think of Jeanne. Weird, since Jeanne wasn’t particularly a Police fan, but something clearly reminded us both of her. BF was sad – it got in the way of her enjoying the show. But she didn’t tell me she felt a presence, just that she was sad. I wonder why, or what, made her sad? I wonder if I'll ever understand.

As I flew out to the East coast yesterday, it was partly cloudy the whole flight. One of those flights where you can see the ground the whole way. I love watching the ground as I fly over it. You can see things that you wouldn’t normally.

Perspective is magic. You can see the hills, the entire course of the river, the strange stripes in the ground. But when you are down there, it’s all the same. Just another day, and miles to go before I sleep. Up here, it’s a tapestry woven full of mystery, a canvas with some color, but waiting for you to put the final touch. Down there, it’s just life, in the mud and muck and dust and sweat.

On partly cloudy flights, sometimes you can see a dark area on the ground that doesn’t seem to be connected to anything. It’s a shadow cast by a little cloud in the sky – one of those smaller cumulus clouds, I think. But the small cloud, seemingly so light and fluffy, casts a very dark shadow, visible from 34,000 feet. A small little thing can affect something so far away. And you can’t see it up close.

It is June 16th when I type this. I don’t recall what was going on last year. In 7 days, last year, she would pass on. Quietly, in her bed. With me holding her hand, and talking to her, and telling her I'd be ok, and the dogs would be fine. She was lovely… and intermittently testy that last day. But you all know that story (or can go read it for yourselves in the archives… ahh the joy of eternal storage!)

But that is a story for another day. Maybe I'll tell parts of it again next week. Who knows. Maybe I'll stop writing entirely. Maybe my tale has been told. I think I don’t make recruiters cry anymore, and I'm not generating a post each week, as I was, so maybe I should hang up my pen and call it a day?

Or perhaps I should take after so many other bloggers and write a blog about technology, and gadgets, and how I hate the Comcast HD DVRs, or something like that? Try to set myself up to be the guiding light on technology? I could talk about artificial intelligence, and maybe math, and school structure, or something normal.

Think y’all would like that blog?

I'm not sure I would.

Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
--Gerard Manly Hopkins

I like to live out loud. I like to express the things I find in the musty corners of my mind. I don’t want to write a normal blog.

We just cleared a cloud bank, and suddenly the plane is bathed in the light of a setting sun. Not the OtherEnd, but ThisEnd of a sunset.

I am still in the shadow of the events up to 1:30pm on June 23rd, 2006. But, for today at least, I know that I am in a shadow – the magic of perspective. Knowing one is in shadow requires one to know that the light shall return.

I believe in the light, and not just the light that attracts moths. The light from the wings of the Holy Ghost. The light from the angel on my shoulder.

Time for a perspective change – the plane is descending, as the sun descends into the distance.

The wings are out there, surrounding me, surrounding that person I know whose spouse has cancer, surrounding my BF as she struggles.

The brunette just lovingly took the blonde’s hand.

And who knows, maybe that Angel is healing all of us. One day at a time.