Monday, January 12, 2015

One Selection Sunday, Almost Seven Years Ago


This is a repost. If you don't "blog," whatever that has come to mean, I beg you to keep a journal or to hang on to annotated date books. Sometimes an accidental look back can take your breath away and deepen the tints, light, and shadows of your presetn day. 

The original date of composition was 15 March 2009. I see now its many faults, my errant romanticizing of some things basically horrific. 
And then there are the many moments when I repeat the fictions I was force fed, and believe the fictions force fed my kin, as well.  

Forgive me it all, for I had just fallen in love.

Be well, Dearest Readers.

Selection Sunday.

UConn is #1 in the West, Memphis #2

The Pittsburgh Panthers are #1 in the East Region.
Inexplicably, wrongly, in a profoundly turdified decision, Duke is #2 in the East (first round against Binghamtom, #15 -- their NCAA post-season début)
FSU = #5 in the East, first round against #12 Wisconsin

UNC-CH #1 in the South, #2 is Oklahoma

Louisville heads up the Midwest, with Michigan State taking the #2 spot

At my age and intellectual maturity, you'd think I could navigate the intricacies of "family" better than I do. All parties are emotionally stunted; None of us have a clue how to relate to one another; Only a few of us will admit to love; Everyone is permanently estranged from one, or several, very important primary relationships.

Never mind some of the more awe-inspiring tales of assinine stubbornness and convoluted recollections. Never mind the child who hasn't spoken to his Mother for 42 years. Never mind the child who thought perfectionism would be protection from parental malevolence. And certainly pay no never mind to that child who loved everyone overly much, for his was the Kingdom of No One.

Never mind, never mind!

Still, on Selection Sunday, I find it hard not to think about the two family members most dear to me: the Brother-Units -- TW and Grader Boob.

TW and I were separated for an unbelievable 39 years. I am wrong to assume that I knew him at all before he "left" the family way back when. Certainly, any claim I make to know him now should be equally suspect. TW went missing during the Summer of Love. We lived north of San Francisco at the time and life chez nous was nothing if not turbulent, tense, and sometimes downright emotionally brutal. I think I went into a fugue state from which I have yet to successfully emerge.

TW stands for Tumbleweed. It is hard to call him that, as I knew him as someone else, and then created a whole imaginary persona during his 39 Long Missing Years. Honestly? I still call him by his childhood nickname -- and struggle to remember not to use it when I email or telephone.

Okay, okay. So we have only spoken once by phone. I just can't do it. I have phone phobia as a matter of course -- but this is an entirely different animal. I am afraid he won't like me, won't have anything to say, or that he'll find me slow-witted and boring. The one time we did speak? Perfectly wonderful. Incredible. Sweet. I sucked on the end of a pen and ended up with inky lips. He was drinking Scotch, I think.

It was almost exactly the kind of conversation that Grader Boob and I have been enjoying for decades -- hysterically funny and intense.

He told me about his daughter and her mother, about eating out of trash cans, getting shot in the gut. He told me about the woman he loves, about becoming a grandfather!

He wrote me later that I "give good phone"!

We email with regularity and that has occasioned much hilarity, too, but more than that, his letters make me cry. Okay, so maybe it has become more like sniffles -- I sniffle a lot. How do you apologize for having left, and on purpose, too, a child alone in the world? Our Father told us that TW would join us in our new home overseas, that he was coming in about 3 months time, and oh! won't that be GRAND?

He never came.

I remember sitting on the porch, all fugued-out and reading Tolkien, watching the afternoon rains head our way, relishing the cool breezes that announced the line of showers. Grader Boob, who had sprouted unexpectedly to a manly 6' plus, came into view on my right. Something about the air changed, and it wasn't atmospheric pressure. Dad came into view on my left. I remember that he had nothing on but a pair of boxers, starched and eerily bright white.

It was a train wreck.

[Whole section of original post, blown up, out, and away -- to smithereens!  You are welcome!]

And that was that. 39 years.

Today, TW is many things. I imagine that he has worked hard every day, one way and another, since he "left" us, at a variety of jobs, both legal and illegal, interesting and dull. At the moment, in order to "pay for cat food," he divides his energy two ways: he is a tour guide for trekkers to the Grand Canyon (indeed, if you go to one of his blogs, he posts nothing but photos of The Canyon along with the thoughts inspired there) and, of course, he is a bookie of long standing.

The photo above is his.

This is one of his busy times -- the conference championships, the NCAA basketball tournament. I really want to learn more about betting and gambling and odds and busted kneecaps, but get the distinct sense that this brother of mine doesn't suffer fools... He recently described the dyspepsia he suffered when the umpteenth elderly couple in a matter of hours approached him, saying: "We've never done this before. So how does it work?"

Grader Boob went on to become what is known as "A Fine Young Man," and "A Good Person" -- although each remark of praise was usually followed by a heartfelt "if only he would cut his hair."

I really shouldn't get started because I tend to go nuts on the superlatives. Truly good, is he. Smart. Kind. Funny. Compassionate. My hero.

There was an occasion -- it was 1978, I think -- when simply the sight of him saved my life. That was also the day he turned me on to Bruce Springsteen, and didn't make too much guff over watching me drink a beer.

(An amazing piece of Grader Boob trivia: He has never had ANY alcohol or used ANY illicit drug. More awesome? He's never had coffee. Something {whistle, whistle} convinced him early in life that potentially mind-altering substances were evil. He was, for many years, quite the athlete, and that played into these decisions, too.)

It's unfair to Grader Boob, though, to pigeon-hole him so. He is wounded. He is scarred. He is so fearful of the possibilities of change that after he got his undergraduate degree, he stayed at the same university for his grad work, then his years teaching... and now, all these years later, he is still there. Unhappy, and stuck. Growing up, what he loved was repeatedly snatched away. As an adult, he hunkered down, determined to stay where he was, and to keep what, and whom, he "had." I love him so.

He's a marvelous professor, a fan-fucking-tastic Brother-Unit!

When I "found" TW a little over a year ago, I was trembling in my haste to call Grader Boob, to share the news, to rejoice and be glad. It felt like a punch in the stomach when he instructed me to not provide TW with any information about him. When I managed a breathy "why?" -- he pointed out that we had not been hiding, that we could have been easily found at anytime. In my head, a voice chanted "so-fucking-what-so-fucking-what?" but, of course, I lacked the courage to challenge that logic and step out of my role as Little Sis. I wanted to ask him how he might have felt, were he The Abandoned One? Would trust really have been that strong in him? Gee, I think I will try to find the splintered nuclear family that left me alone on the friggin' North American friggin' continent. TW desperately wanted his Mother, also, we tend to forget -- but she was busy making babies with someone new, and, again, she was on a completely different continent, a third continent, as well! It almost looked like a game -- how far away from the young TW can we get? Like playing RISK, with a twist.

du calme, du calme...

Anyway -- I am the only available touchstone for TW when he thinks of Grader Boob. And should Grader Boob change his ponderous mind, I am ready for that, too. I am the liaison between the Mother Unit and her first set of sons. Neither son wants any contact with her, or allows even the sharing of an address, or an assessment of happiness. Sometimes, I am afraid to speak due to momentary confusion of who allows what.

So what is it about today, Selection Sunday, that makes me think of these dear doods to whom I am, purportedly, related?

All day, I've been emailing the Grader Boob, and simultaneously getting *this* close to picking up the phone to confer with TW over the teams I am selecting for my prognostication entry, then finally settling for electronic communication with him, too. I am getting confused in these similar conversations, as the Brother-Units start to blur and blend in my mind.

D'you know that the two of them have nearly identical writing styles and vocabularies? Senses of humor? Intransigeancies?

What is a sister to do?

At the close of our first and last conversation, TW asked me to ask Grader Boob "to forgive [him]."

Please explain to me why this man, treated like dirt and left behind, surviving only by luck and wit, needs anyone's goddamned forgiveness?

I did as he asked and had to report back, of course, that Grader Boob wanted nothing to do with him, and found no way to say it but to blurt it out, pounding these keys. TW answered:

discretion being the better part of valor,[GB] has done well to shunt my overture to a siding. i admire his compartmentalization survival mechanism for the quite rational response to unsolicited life clutter that it is. there's every chance that the unknown might subtract more than it adds. i hope he blossoms, flourishes and triumphs beyond his wildest imaginings. it was never my intention to get all touchy-feely, nor to cloy, nor to impede anyone's progress through this world. hell, i have made such a pariah's garbled hash of things that when you eventually weary of me as well i absolve you entirely in advance. until then, dear heart, i am so very grateful to have you to talk to. you sew back on my fraying shadow, [Retired Educator] darling.
D'you see what I mean?

I wonder what the odds are for a Duke v. Pittsburgh match-up?

© 2015 L. Ryan

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