It is just one of those weeks. Constant demands on my time from ‘rapid rehousing’ which might win the award for the loosest use of the term ‘rapid’ in history, demands from the shelter, lack of sleep due to people partying at all hours and keeping us awake, the noise from the street, the noise in my head. The phone calls and the sickening demands and threats. All of it is conspiring to have me say ‘enough already’ and throw up my hands at the lot of them. The only thing that gives me joy, the only things that makes me want to get up and keep on doing this day after day is the page and the pen and the music, and the fact I have a Boy who is relying on me to provide some kind of long term safety. I have the weight of the cruel sick world on my shoulders, and like a runner with a ball, a bathroom window escaper, a thin ice skater, I am trying to stay ahead of the game, ahead of the cracks in the surface and the traps in the garden, those giants whose job it is to ensure I don’t make it to spike that ball in the endzone.
Old Bull Lee wrote a lot about the interzone: that space between normality and the unreal reality of life beyond the curtain of sobriety. Once you see behind that curtain, once the Wizard of Oz has dropped his mask, once you see beyond the lights and tricks, the stage dressing and the scenery, there is no going back. It is bad wisdom, harsh knowledge. What is real and what is real sometimes. That which exists, and that which only exists to some. That interzone, that gap that once you fall through there is no getting back to the world other people inhabit and move through. I dropped through the gap early on. I dropped through the cracks early on. The invasions of my body and psyche, the cuckoo in the nest treatment, I quickly realized about the space in between what appeared to be and what was, the gaps that evil slips into, the spaces inhabited by the hidden danger, the unimaginable secret cruelty.
I was alone. I asked for help, but was instead greeted with blame. There was no help, there was no assistance, there was nobody who cared enough to not thrash me or blame or dismiss me. There was no nothing, except the knowledge I was in it alone, and I could sink and let them win. Or I could swim and survive, and one day stand over their graves, kicking over the loose soil and making sure the monsters no longer breathed. I chose to watch and wait, and if I didn’t make it, it didn’t really matter at all. Those first days after I ran away, dropping acid and getting high in a squat were marked by a feeling of safety and freedom. I was my own person. My mistakes were of my own making. I had options rather than a listless inability to change the situation which marred my miserable childhood.
I had an empty black hole in my stomach. An all consuming vacuum in which the spaces in between other peoples normality and my own cracked life sucked in everything good and negative, safe and dangerous, hedonistically blissful and terrifyingly bad, and once it had eaten all the marred and all the shiny things around me, it started to consume me too.
Once this black hole found hard drugs and serious drinking, music and poetry, words that form swords and mirrors my future path was set. I tried to distract it with babies and growing my hair long and girly. I tried to lead it astray with pulp fiction and mindless television shows. I tried to ease its grip with sex and affection: I would throw it a bone, make sacrifices to its black hole demands for fresh blood and inspiration. None of it worked. Instead I grew sad and frustrated and lost. From young smart military men who looked like Elvis, to jazz playing smackheads, sadists who were fascinating, and occultists who were far more in love with themselves than anything else, I tried to like men. I would take them home, and blow their minds. I was wild and uninhibited and utterly ruined. Sex meant nothing to me, my body had never been my own. I didn’t care what they did, or wanted. Strangle me. Spank me. Hurt me. I saw it as an exchange in return for company and interest, while never really being into whatever they had to offer. I would read them poetry and drag them to dingy bars and clubs, and try to see who they might be. Some were interesting for a while. Some were dangerous. Some turned out to be boring. It took me all this time to realize that no man was going to offer me anything equal, anything supportive. They want and they take and they drain and they demand and they do not give. Men simply do not want strong intelligent women. Some of the most interesting and intelligent men I have met have desired the most empty headed women they can find. Blank, pretty, nice to look at, utterly non challenging, someone to turn the lights up bright with, to buy white goods at best buys with, to exist in mundane neither-no-there-ness. They don’t want Mata Hari or Frieda Khalo to come home to. It is all too tiring and difficult and troublesome to be anything bar ships that pass in the night with a difficult woman.
I would rather be lonely than easy. I would rather be alone than pliable. I cannot edit myself and survive. Take me or leave me. Shut the door, or hear me, but unplug my guitar, dismiss me and sweep me under the carpet, motherfuckers, and I will take ALL the drugs and the car keys and take off down the road playing Blue and asking California if it will accept me ‘strung out on another man’.
I refuse to be dominated intellectually. I have a very low tolerance for men’s desire to be indulged and petted. In the end I gave up on men entirely. A switch got flipped. I have finally reached that ivory tower, I am a rock I am an island Simon and Garfunkel teenage desire to not need anyone to touch you, or you touch them. It is an acceptance of loneliness, of solitude, of giving up on the big romantic lie that there is someone for everyone. Love is a pain the ass. Love gets in the way of sense. Love gets in the way of happiness. It puts a sheen on the unacceptable, the useless and the despicable. I have no need of romantic love. The next man who even looks at me that way might live to regret it. I am sick of fists to the face, of the pain of the damage, of the broken promises and broken dreams, of the lack of decency and lack of support that flows both ways. I have no more romantic dreams left. The second I realized that dominion and winning mattered more than a long friendship and caring, I was out of there. I have no more hope left. Romantic love is not for me, and physicality poses more problems and tiresome demands than I now have energy for.
My true love is journeying. I would rather travel to this new place or that than stay with my feet grounded in one place, tied down by a man who can never truly understand who I am, or a girl that lets face it, would rather have a dude anyhow. There is a certain charm that newness imbues upon a place. Driving through little Oregon towns, those little greasy diners, and their cases of stale pies, and glass flasks of burnt coffee look wholesome and quaint.
The trees and the fields are charming. The tiny mainstreets look idyllic. The slow pace and the pine trees, the sage grass and the deliberately wild west signage, the longhorns and the ranchettes, the space and the emptiness, all look so alluring through the lens of newness. The filter wears off after a few weeks: that diner makes you feel queasy, you long for some city coffee, the pine trees and scorched brown grasses with flashes of purple sage look like fuel for the next wildfire, the wild horses go from whimsical to dog meat candidates, the cows smell of ozone-destroying farts and the signs that read Bonanza and Oakridge go from authentic to hokey and disney-forced. Even the ranches and the space and the wild emptiness fade from alluring into boring before they fall away into dully isolated and soul destroying. The hat tipping cowboys irritate like a bad movie that has gone on for half an hour too long. There is no music in that mountain lion wind. There is no charm, no future, nothing not even rain or relief.
There is nothing in Oregon to fill a black hole soul.
When I read about quacks claiming to be able to cure addiction it engenders a feeling of utter rage and desperation. Drugs and alcohol fill that all consuming black hole. Pour enough powder and crystal, ethanol and acid into the void and the vacuum can coexist peacefully with the physicality of a life that cannot be lived in the way the innocent live theirs. There is no fixing a soul like mine. There is no fixing the rage. There is nothing that can make me content, or calm or placid or able to contend with dull and mundane. The only way to ‘get rid’ of addiction is to get rid of that with drives it. The pain and the sorrow, the emptiness and the realization that life is not as safe and as easy and as reliable cannot be simply erased. The evil cannot be denied or hidden. I would rather stare it full in the face and know where it lives than draw the curtain to it, playing a childish game of I can’t see you, so you can’t see me. I cannot afford such privileged delusions. Evil always some hunting for me. Nor can the knowledge of the solution be wiped out. I know already from that first brush that opiates fill the void. I know that alcohol wipes away the fears and the memory. I know that acid opens the doors. I know that coke creates an ego out of pure self hatred and doubt. It is all as real as the next solution.
Bowl the usual cliches at me about self knowledge and awareness, about mindfulness and health and I will make a paper airplane out of that hallmark card bullshit and dart it right back at ya. I am not interested in different ways to fool myself.
There is no tricking that black hole soul into placid acceptance, such a rookie move will never work for long. It is intelligent and wiley. the only way forwards is not by meditation and promising healing which can never happen with scars that run so deep, no the only path for me was fighting. The void demands and I do small deals. Weed but no opiates. It counters – opiates but no street drugs? Street drugs but no fent? No fent until the Boy doesn’t need ya? No smack unless it is clean? No coke unless it is pharmaceutical….. The void knows the deal, it knows I’ll feed it, eventually. I keep it on lean rations. It lives like a hungry wolf at the door, waiting to see what scraps I will throw at it. It knows it can’t have booze, and I know if I get drunk I had better be ready, because a drunken black hole is wild and crazy, free and unleashed. I know I can’t drink and stop. Sitting in the passenger seat of the van, a bottle of orange colored vodka at my side, unable to leave the house without a quart of hard liquor, as I would start to shake and puke, and the walls would close in, I made my mind up that the exchange was not worth it for me. Booze didn’t calm my seas as well as my one true love ever would. There was simply no substitution.
I am grizzled and old. I have fallen over and picked myself up more times than I care to count. I wander to the edges and keep track of who has a script for oxys or morphine. I read these promises made by fakes and charlatans and privately fume. Some poor kid who has worked out what fills the hole might think there is an easy way out, that they don’t have to fight, that there are answers and easy outs. There is no easy out. Once you know, you know. Once you are in, you are all in. Once that hunger is awakened it will consume everything. There is no cure. You can spill it onto the page, or the soundhole and your knee, or the microphone and the stage, or the canvas and the ink, but those little exorcisms do not last long. They barely stop the drooling and licking of the chops, or the pulsating and the longing, or the knowledge that it all doesn’t have to hurt quite so much, at least not all of the time, even if the pain and longing is forever, and people are incapable of loving and returning love just as much as I am. Travelers to the coast of perfection never last as long as they should. These are end zone days.