Monday, July 4, 2016

Flag a Grave

It's 4th of July weekend and I'm shopping for a few random things. I think about grabbing many things, including a flag for my father's grave, but I walk out the store with only a disposable liter box for Shoes the cat.  

Leaving the store, I still feel compelled to go to the cemetery even without the flag. Due to this compelling feeling and heavy shopping center traffic, I head towards the cemetery which was not the most direct way home. On the way, the thought occurred to me again. I thought I will stop and place a flag at my father's grave. Okay I will stop, but I don't have the flag now? Then, as if someone else was speaking to me,  I heard:

"One will be provided" 

Now I had all these crazy daydream thoughts of flags laying loose about the cemetery and, for a moment, had crazy thought about a stand at the gate selling flags lol! Finally,  I was there at the cemetery and no loose flags were around and that big stand selling flags was no where in sight. Standing there in front of my Dad's grave thinking, what am I doing here, I suddenly get this feeling, a thought, possibly a voice that says:

"Walk up the pathway"

Pathway to the Sermon on the Mount

What, walk up that pathway? It's behind me, in the opposite direction, and away from any of my relatives, but I start up the pathway to the statue of the Sermon on the Mount. Wait, I have been up this path before, only a few months earlier on the anniversary of my Dad's death and it gave me an uneasy feeling. Just like before,  I begin to feel an uneasiness and uncomfortable tightness in the chest. Here comes the voice again. It says:

"You forgot something the last time you were here"

I start thinking, maybe I gave no mind to all these graves last time.  So I started looking and glancing at the names.   I see a vase with flowers toppled over and I walk off the path and fix it.  Again I follow up the path.  I'm starting to feel that there really is going to be a flag up here!  When I get to the end I think, this is ridiculous!  There is no flags up here! I decide I should walk around the statue anyway.  And there it was a small old worn flag with no stick.  I was excited that there actually was a flag up here, but I can't use that flag.  Then I heard:

"You can use the duck tape in your car, pick up the flag"

Okay, I'll give it a try.  I bent over at an angle and as I started up I came face to face with the picture of a young women on the front of a bench memorial.  I was drawn to the grave and looked up the name with my cell phone.  The young women had been killed in a horrible accident.  Something compelled me.  I made the sign of the cross and knelt down before the grave and said a small prayer.  After I was done, I thanked her for the flag and felt great as I walked back down the path.

Happy 4th of July

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Friends on the 4th of July

I don't make or keep friends.  Really, I could not name a true friend that I have, excluding siblings and their siblings, parent, and girlfriend.  Many feel family is the only friends you really need while others feel their friends are there real family?  I know I can be a great friend and that I can make friends easy enough.  I just don't.  Some days it feels somewhat depressing.  The feeling that I’m over here and everyone else is over there, what am I missing?  Most times, it's a great Feeling, I'm over here and everyone else is over there!  Man, are they missing some great stuff, they have no idea.  Many times friends really get things done for you, but plenty of times you end up getting things done to you.  Lack of friends is really going to kill my political career?  Often, there can be good opportunities through friends,   I miss those, but there is also the benefit of be excluded from the bad opportunities.  I have had a few good work and college friends, but they are always different, temporary friends or friends with a border or expiration dates.  Maybe I could have improved these friendships and I guess they could have as well.  I feel my opportunities for alms-giving have been very limited.  Although, friendship is not required, it might be easiest just to help some of your many friends.

Sometimes I think I have some different definition of friendship.  I don't see this expansive sharing of experiences through time.  There is no work involved or building friendship.    Many times I feel that a friendship is just simple moment in time.  You meet and your friends.  There is no work required.  Maybe later or maybe the friendship just fades away.  I probably don't care, but sometimes I think the other person might?  I doubt it.  Worst is when you feel that way towards a person and they just aren’t feeling it.  What was there has faded away or never existed.  That 1 spark was not enough to sustain such a reaction.   Lately, I have tried to conform to a broader and traditional sense of friendship.  Few people feel things and operate the same with me.  Just sensing friendship may not be enough.  Many times that will not sustain a friendship.  I can see that many need constant pleasantries and reaffirmation of friendship.  So, I attempt to oblige.  The truth is I’m mostly ill prepared to speak with people.  Like, Oh we have to talk to each other?  You talking to me?  It’s like I was created to speak telepathically and no one can hear me.  Sometimes they can hear me. I know they can!  

I thought you were my friend?

When I was in the first grade I had a friend.  I’m going to call him Chris.  You know everybody wants to be cool.  I was not a clean boy and I certainly was not trying to be cool.  Shit cool people just are cool and there isn’t any wanting about it.  Chris would always try and hang with whatever crowd was popular, but we were always friends.  By the 8th grade he began to be very unfriendly to me.  One day at gym class, we were running laps around the school and I circle back around and came face to face with Chris.  I questioned him.  I asked him if he was my friend.  I was hurt, but had to act mad and told him that I thought we were friends.  He just seemed to laugh it off and never answered me.  I let him run past.  That was it, we never talked much again.  I still always considered him my friend. 

25 years later, I’m sitting in a bar watching the Orioles play in the 1 game playoff to advance to the divisional round of the playoffs.  I’m drinking glass after glass of $1 natty bohs and towards the end of the game, there he was.  Chris had entered the bar and was standing right behind me!  It was a glorious reunion we talked and talked and drank shot after shot.  And this is what Chris told me.  First, he was terrified when I confronted him.  He thought I wanted to fight or kill him!  He said I was his first friend ever and even remembered what I could not, that I walked up to him and became his friend.  He was a new student and did not know anyone and I was his friend.   What he said next is what really blew me away!  He said that all these years he never ever forgot that moment.  Furthermore, he had thought about that moment and it changed forever how he thought about people and friendship.  That he would never do that to anyone else and he hated what had happened.  You should see the pictures we are so drunk and happy with Chris hugging me constantly that we look like a couple!  We are so cool.

Are you Life?

What a great line to remember.  I was riding my bike and came across the 2 boys that lived next to me.  They were best friends and I was just the other boy.  I eventually became good friends with 1 of them when the other moved away.  They rode by with a warning.  Hey, watch out those kids across the street are throwing rocks and trying to start a fight!    Truth is I was not even allowed across the street, but I was looking for friends.  When I got to the road there they were some younger kids yelling and trying to provoke me across the street.  They ran back through the alleyway and there was their house. Them and now their older brother, will call him Kevin, began throwing rocks.  Kevin was about my age and built smaller than me, but man they were so wild and fun.  Much funnier and cooler than the jerks on my side of the street!  Anyway, Kevin came across the alley like a ninja super hero throwing rocks all around and I rode my bike right trough them and acted like I was unphased when a few of them hit me.  They were impressed and amazed, but I don’t remember the exact verbal exchange.  I know I did for awhile.  I can still see their faces.  CoolKevin and his little brother making funny goofy shocked faces.  I believe it was the next day when we came face to face without all the rocks flying.  I still remember the corner where we met.  He said to me, Are you Life?  He could see I was confused and followed up with one or both of the following, Have you heard of Life or do you know Life?  Finally, I understood what he was saying, but a person named Life?  In a question I replied, Life Magazine? I have heard of Life Magazine.  Now he was confused for a minute!  After this moment of confusion, I was probably laughing and he had no idea why, Kevin sad I thought you were Life.  He may have even said I look like Life.  I’m not sure I ever met Life who knows.  With this confirmation that I was not Life or with his gang, I was invited to join Kevin’s gang. You want to be in my gang?  I accepted and we became friends.  I sometime wonder about life.  At that immediate time, I thought one day our gangs would meet in an alley or something one day.  I hope to know Life one day! 

Friends on the 4th of July

I will call him Austin.  He is the only reason I have typed any of this garbage.  Growing up we were never friends.    We were more like friendly acquaintances.  Basically, only crossed paths after my sister married his brother.  We had different groups of friends that crossed paths from time to time over the years.  I saw him in later years in stores, delivering food to my house, and on the bus.  I had heard that he had a daughter, but also had trouble with drugs and alcohol.  Even that he had spent time in prison.  All of these bad things were surprisingly very disappointing to me.  I really hardly knew him. 

On July 4th, 2013, I went to the local fireworks show with my girlfriend and a jug of leftover vodka blueberry mix leftover from my birthday.  It was not too strong and I had made it for my sister.  We split the drink and enjoyed the fireworks.  I even have some pictures and a video!    When the lights came back on we saw my former brother in law and his family which included Austin.  All said high as they headed home, but Austin seemed very excited to see me and we struck up a very long conversation.  At first I just wanted to leave and continue our hi-how-are-you relationship, but Austin really wanted to talk.  Austin was amazed and perplexed to see me doing so well.  I had told him that I had graduated college and even though I used to hang with a crowd that became pretty hardcore drug addicts, I was able to stay away from drug and alcohol addictions.  I told him that I only drink excessively at various holidays and sporting events.  He opened up to me a little and said that he was an alcoholic.  What he described did not sound like an alcohol addiction and I had heard it was much worse.  Austin was looking and looking for some magical formal or answer about how he could quit drinking and be a better person.  There was some confusion and we discussed a lot of things.  How could I help him?  I was not an alcoholic who quit?  Although, as a teenager, he probably saw and heard of my crazy excessive drinking habits.   Then some how it happened, There was something I wanted to tell him.  We decided to tell each other what we thought of each other all those years ago.

I told him that I always saw him as a good smart person.  That he was like some type of throwback hippie that would smoke some weed and I stay away from the harder drugs and excessive drinking.   I told him that I held him in my mind with higher regard than others.  I told him that I still see him this way.    I told him that years later I saw him and his brother on the bus and they appeared very high, when I looked at him in my mind he looked like a different person and I was disappointed.  I told him when people would say things about him I would never believe it.  Of course he was blown away by these statements.  What did he think about me?  I just thought you were some drunken asshole looking to fight and cause trouble.    It was like seeing our futures in each other in the past.  Although, there is a lot of trouble making drunken asshole in me and I know there is a lot of good in Austin.  It was very strange boundary we crossed and we kept talking for hours.  We walked back to his brother’s house and continue to talk virtually ignoring all around us.  Austin seemed to be looking for that moment for something to click or rub off or the answer to an impossible question.  All about how he wanted to go to school and help his daughter.  That he had trouble finding work.  I reaffirmed that you are who I thought you were and that you can overcome and to not give up.  Finally, he walked us through a shortcut and took us to our car.  One last time he seemed to be pleading for answers.  He told us many of the bad things he had done to hurt his friends and family.  We felt so bad and pleaded for him not to give up.  He pulled a bottle of liquor he was hiding from behind his back and poured it out proclaiming his new beginning!   I promised to be his friend. 

I had no idea how to be his friend.  Everyone I asked told me that he was into too drugs and robbing people and all kind of things.  I insisted to them he says its only alcohol even when I knew it was not true.  Austin called me several times and I did not answer.  One message he stated that he wants to write some type of book/journal and he thinks I could be a bug help and a part of the story.  I just could not see how to be his friend.  This idea intrigued me and I hoped that one day circumstances would change and we would meet and explore this book.  Austin left me several messages.  I saved a few.  The last were discouraged requests to fix his father’s computer.  At church the priest once said that it takes a miracle for someone to change their life around.  Recent experiences lead me to believe this to be true.  Austin needs a friend and a miracle.  I could not give him either one.   

The miracle would never happen.  Austin is dead.  The circumstances do not matter.  When I heard about it I spent my whole day at work and all night writing and rewriting this story.    I dreamt about saying all these things at his funeral.  In the end, I scrapped it and never completely shared my thoughts.  When speaking I could never fully explain.  Sending it telepathically would have been ideal.  Perhaps my sister heard me?  I pray Austin does hear me.  I still mean what I said and never extinguished the possibilities of our friendship and the great book we would write.  You were who I thought you were. 

Maybe it’s all just a con.

I have found more video from the fireworks in 2013 thanks to FB memories.