I don’t remember whether I read this quote or heard it in a movie ‘to be a writer you just open up a vein and start writing..’ I got it intellectually then, but it wasn’t until I started my own public exposure that it really hit home. Exposure. A friend wrote a beautiful post about Christmas and in my mind’s eye could see him as a boy, and as a man, sleeping beside the Christmas tree, anticipation set afire by the glow of Christmas lights. Misty lights of the tree reflecting off the shiny eyes of an enthralled boy blending with the vision of the man. And maybe it was the third day of rainy overcast drifting into winter, but I started thinking about what happens to that joy, the anticipation, the belief in what cannot be seen. How wide eyed belief can morph into dreamy melancholy.
It made me think about those pictures of my brother, really a baby then, in those early 60s photos. The ones where the paper is thick and hefty, the edges serrated, the color so rich and deep it was a shock to see after black and white. My brother in his perfect white tee shirt, red felt cowboy hat on his little buzz cut, cowboy boots and the real faux leather holster hung low across his BVDs. Blue eyes blazing, a delicious grin and a real Doc Holiday pose for the camera, little chrome Colt blazing away. The delight in that photograph is palpable; whoever the photographer was, Mom or Dad, had to absolutely be grinning ear to ear. This perfect little urchin taking on the world in his cowboy get up and his underwear.
There’s a picture of my Dad from the 70’s that always makes me laugh. My staid, silent Dad. Wearing a cheap blonde girlie wig around our living room, dancing and singing. No alcohol required. The wig was a Christmas gift for me and in the rush to get the Santa gifts out, had forgotten to get it under the tree. After the first rush of Christmas morning was over it was remembered and revealed. And my Dad wore it. For the camera. No shame. None at all.
There’s a newer picture, my first Christmas with my beloved. We had a tree up, not much under it. All of our furniture was second hand, rescued from thrift stores and other people’s basements. I was working as a temp then; he had his first job as a technical writer, neither one of us making much. Just before the big day, an ENORMOUS gift appeared under the tree, misshapen, wrapped precariously, copious cellophane tape. It was for me and I could not imagine the contents. In the picture, I am sitting besides this mystery in our living room. It is as big as me and my inability to solve the puzzle is apparent on my face, as is the anticipation. He had surprised me with a pair of steel belted radial tires. He wanted to keep me safe and I believed he always would.
These important men in my blood stream, part of my DNA, all gone. All wanting to keep me safe, make life wonderful. Our delightful anticipation about life to come, life with each other, giving way to the silent water torture of time. Anticipation to melancholy. What is the true gift? Is it that which causes anticipation or wonder? Or is it the molding of our hearts, beliefs, passions and gifts into that which makes and keeps the connection with others? True connections, leaps of faith that create heaven here between us, not waiting for the hereafter.