WRITING MY WAY HOME.


This is a previous post (2011) that I am re posting for new readers.

MY FAMILY  history was brought to life in an unpublished memoir.   The stories lived on during a long arduous journey of research and trying to get published.   Sometimes I read pages to get close to my parents.  I squeeze in between them like a ghost, hear their voices, and see their expressions.  If I remove the outside world, the hum of the hotel air-condoning , the delivery trucks, and speeding motorcycles,  I can remember swimming in the pool with my mother.  I see her bathing cap strap pulled down across her chin, her red lipstick, and her one-piece strapless bathing suit. I can see her freckles, and her long slender arms backstroking as she swam.scan0013

Early in 1960 my father decided to build a swimming pool in the backyard of our house on Thurston Circle.  I had just completed swimming lessons and asked my father for a pool. Years later he told the story: “My little girl asked for a pool, and I built her one.”   I think he built the pool for my mother.   He was under investigation with the FBI and Department of Justice, and spent most days in court defending himself against a deportation order to Russia.   Subpoenas, arrests, and trials were routine events that tied my parents together against a world of misunderstanding.  After eleven years of nail biting suspense, my mother just wore out.  The pool was built with the intention of removing my mother’s anxiety and sadness.   My father designed the shape of the pool around the original pool at the Garden of Allah, a highly scandalous Hollywood hotel apartment that attracted starlets and gangsters in the early 30’s.  I know this tiny detail from photographs I’ve seen of the Garden pool.   More obscure details surrounding the building of our pool were found reading his FBI files.

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My father accused the pool contractor of being an informant for the government.  One sunny afternoon he marched him out of the house. I was hiding behind a drape when the confrontation broke out.  I recall the big shouldered contractor running from my father’s threats.  Most likely an FBI agent was parked outside and  followed the man after he scampered out.

The pool was finally completed in mid 1961.   There are photographs of my mother and I in the pool; her smile is radiant and naturally composed.  She and I swam everyday.  My father  loved to swim too, but he was busy with court proceedings and meetings.  Before the year ended my mother filed for divorce, the house burnt down, and I was released from childhood. I don’t regret those events any longer.  They were steps that shaped my character, and what brings me back to the topic of growing up with gangsters.

The best memories of my childhood are in swimming pools and restaurants with gangsters and gamblers.  They were part of the family, and when they were around my father was on very good behavior, and my mother defenseless against their irresistible humor, pranks, and generosity.   She just sort of glided in and out of activities, and helped me ride the vibrations.   She didn’t laugh out of herself like I do, and she rarely yelled.   The older I get, the less I seem to be like her.  Maybe the passage of life experiences determines which parent you will take after. Had I married and had children, maybe I’d be more like her. Since I get into all kinds of tricky situations, and throw the dice, I need my father’s strength more.

Over the years, I have forgotten some of the dead reckoning discoveries I made about our family history.  Still nothing compares to reading about my Aunt Gertie.  She was my father’s sister. Until I read about her in the FBI file, I didn’t know she existed. I haven’t figured out why my father left her out of our life. According to the FBI files she was a remarkably loyal sister. Gertie was the one who confronted the federal agents when they arrived at the family home in Winnipeg, Canada.  She pushed my grandmother out of the interview, and spoke for the family.  The agents showed her a recent photograph of my father.   She told them that her brother left home when he was twelve and they had not seen him since.  She could not verify the identity of the photograph because almost twenty years had passed.  The agents left without any evidence and continued to search for the birthplace of my father. Every time he was arrested, he entered a different birthplace.  He named Chicago, New York, Detroit, and Los Angeles.  His origins were discovered through a letter that his mother had written when he was fifteen and confined to a boys reformatory.  The letter was turned over to the FBI, and that is how they discovered his parents lived in Winnipeg.  The government could not deport my father to Russia without verification from his family. Eventually my father won the battle. He was granted citizenship in 1966, two weeks after my mother died.

Gertie died after my father. I don’t know if they corresponded over the years.  I have learned enough about my father to know he was protecting her from further harassment.  Maybe if my father lived longer they would be coming after me.

THE THINKER – THE IMPROVISER.


I was there a few days before I noticed a figure darting from one sea-lion to another. He gestured for me to follow but I couldn’t catch him.

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He caught me by surprise from behind and wiggled over to me.
‘Let’s eat. I’m starved.” The Thinker dove down then up above my head. He cupped his fins around my head and pulled my hair.
“Where you been my Fins?” I asked.
“Why?” He said as he let go of me.
“ It’s just a normal question?”
“I don’t answer those kinds of questions. I am building my sand castle! Wait till you see it–it’s going to blow you away. Everyone will be blown away!”
“Exciting! I’m so happy for you. Will you show me?”
“ Maybe. Don’t look at me like that. Your eyes, they draw me in. It scars me. I don’t know what to do with you little one. Who are you?”
He lowered his eyes and sucked in his gills.
“I really love you. I mean I want to be with you forever!”
You should make a book of shells and tell their stories. ”
” You’re right! I know their stories too!”
” You could make a lot of money.”
” I don’t think about that. When I need money I just ask for it and it comes. All you do is count what you have. ”
” You think that!”
“Yes I said it didn’t I. ”
We carolled between starlight nights and crimson sunsets on the rock porch exploring varieties of sea mates. He used his fancy fish feet to get us into private ceremonies, and parties. The fish authorities didn’t bother us at all. We crashed into a party of penguins, and we weren’t eaten alive. My eyes were always on the thinker; as pleasurable anticipation bubbled inside.  In the morning he read to me from his bible, and watched the seagulls. He drove me in many directions, unfamiliar ideas, and habits that got me to thinking so when we swam we were always talking.
“You need to lower your voice. Make it deeper.”
“Why?”
“Trust me.”
One day he swam me to a blow-hole.
“I’m not sure I can get through as easy as you do.” I said.
“Don’t say that. Follow me.” so I followed. I’d waited a long time to see the sand castle. As we expanded our gills and soared upward, my eyes searched for the castle.
“You see it? Isn’t it spectacular?”
“I see the sand yes, but where is the castle?”
“You don’t see it? Come on—really. ”
“No my fin. I don’t see anything but piles of sand.”
“ Look beyond the piles. You have to see between the lines. You don’t get it do you? You only look at what’s right in front of you. There’s castles everywhere; huts, hideouts, back alleys. ”
“Is this what you mean by patience?”
“ No! This is conciseness of the universe. We’re not alone you know. The skeletons and ghosts are here.”
“ Have you seen them?”
“ The water of Santa Fe is as crowded as pavement. I’m telling you what no one else will. You should thank me for that. I’m handing you the key to the universe.”
“ How about the key to a warm place to rest and food?”
“ You’re such a brat. Come on. I’ll take you
to shore.”
I met his power posse; and they all assured me they could reverse or  promote anything I wanted.
“If you are ever in trouble call me. I can fix it.”  the Thinker said.
“ Like what?”
“ Whatever you ask. You want to live forever under our safety net. You have to trust me. You’re a city cougar with a Range Rover and a brick house above water. Come on–don’t you see that. Most of the fish hate you. You need me.”
His eyes narrowed into dagger like bits of darkness.
“I’m not a cougar. You are the first young exotic fish I’ve swam with.”
“ Oh really. That’s not what I heard.
“ What did you hear?”
“ I know about you?”
“ Really. Then tell me what they say?”
“ You’re impatient, aloof and swim alone. ”
“ I’m not like that always.”
“ Well I know, I’ve seen inside you.”
One day he emerged as a sea monster, holding empty bottles and wailing. I felt a rush of empathy and covered him with my body. He wrestled in pain for days and then when he surfaced, he was wearing a different face, and his touch was absent. His teddy bear eyes were like bricks of strength.
“ I’m not coming back.” He said
“ Why?” I pleaded
“ Wrong question.”
“ What did I do?”
“ You don’t see my castle. I can’t be with you. All you think about is lobster and hotel vacations.”
“ I haven’t had lobster in years, or a hotel vacation.” He swam away, just as suddenly as he appeared.
It was like a knife severing me from one place to another. He despised me. His curiosity and mischievous cleverness triumphed over affection and companionship. His splashes exploded into monsoons of tears inside of me. I returned to my brick house and closed the drapes. Every night I danced and cooked. I sat on the porch in a spray of solemn sunlight and didn’t miss the waves or blow holes. I’d missed my dance music, old movies, journal and sanctuary of comfort. I made him vanish with a vow.

As I cut his sunflower from my yard, placed it in a vase and said, ‘when the flower dies so does my love for the Thinker.’ The sunflower died yesterday. I pulled off the wrinkled yellow petals and scattered them in a planted pot. Maybe he will come back as the beautiful sunflower I once knew.  But I know he won’t. Love is in all of us. How we give it and cherish it  is unique.  I still have my love. No one can take that.                           20141122_143530[1]

 

 

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SHARE, PUBLICIZE, COMMENT, AND RESPOND TO BLOGGERS


IF YOU DON’T SHARE YOU DON’T CARE.
I’ve just started recommending a few of my wordpress pals, and their writings. I still resist the word blogging because it sounds like slobbing. Web writers are amazingly talented, from all over the world, and all ages. I’ve learned about the cultures through their stories from: India, Russia, Brazil, Ireland, Scotland, Europe, and the Middle East.

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SHARE THE ROAD TO WRITING

PART TWO OF ADVENTURES IN LIVINGNESS


 

On shore the land felt liquefied and unfamiliar without the sensual spark swimming along side me.  The leaves glistened above my head, like golden gems you’d wear on a necklace. The Santa Fe river sang its song over rocks, branches and brush, while white butterflies and birds fluttered an awakening.  I passed cafes, watched couples and families luxuriating in the sunlight, Canyon road art hawkers snapped photos, gallery owners chatted on the courtyards.

20141021_150953_resizedThe stage of comfort as picturesque as a postcard.  I was outside the activity.  I rushed home, passing people who walked as if lost, and shoes stuck in tar.  Thoughts trotted like ponies all going in different directions. No path had an answer, or a reason, or an understanding of our endearment. 

The Thinker swims close by. Sometimes I feel him soaring past me, glancing for a moment, then he’s gone. The house is quiet, doors and shades closed. My nakedness is wrapped in blankets and the aroma of pumpkin spice from a candle.  My stage is empty, no audience of  any sort. These are  the moments when examination of behavior, discipline, and self-honesty rise above  the solitude.  A woman of lovers rather than husbands, beckons my heart to open to the odyssey of  love.

I appreciate all the new followers from the THE THINKER story. Thank you for

your comments and hope you return for more. 

 

 

 

ADVENTURES IN LIVINGNESS


The throw of the dice this week lands on the tip of the diving board. The pool was serene and powdery blue and I was enticed by the sensual shift of waves and sunlight.   I took a leaping dive off and swam for eight weeks.

Beneath the surface glaze I held my breath and when I opened my eyes there was a man sitting on a rock, posed as The thinker. I asked him what he was thinking and he said, ‘the universe brought me to you.

 

 

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I shimmied at this rhetoric of mysticism and then suddenly, he swam towards me and wrapped me around his back. I held on to strong neck and ran my fingers through his mane of hair. We floated away beneath the weight of reality,  beyond limits and caution.  We  swam towards the underbelly of Santa Fe. All kinds of sharks, sweet dolphins, brainy lobsters, wondrous whales  and tasty little shrimps.  We swam with them in a pack and chided their gossip and questions.   Swimming with the underworld fascinated me and I hung on as we passed through darkness and luring beasts of prey.

Soon we were alone again and fondling; almost one  from head to toe. My breath sieged into his and we swam through layers of fantasia.   Suddenly he leaped forward and  couldn’t hold on.  I was dropped off on a rock that splintered my skin. I watched as he soared above me and waited for his return.  I was so cold that my eyes blurred and shut.  When I opened them a lazer like light appeared in the distance and pulled me up to the surface. My arms wrapped around the raft and familiar hands took hold of mine. Friends paddled me to the shore. I can’t see  the Thinker anymore but I see him in the memory; swimming towards  uncertain adventures in livingness.

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COMPASSION RELIEVES THE SUFFERING


Woody Allen commented on depression in all his films; the one I remember most went something like this; ‘I get depressed if one person is suffering in Africa.’

Remember those days; when all we had to concern ourselves with was:  Africa, a bit of Russia, and powerfully silent Cuba and China.  The Europeans loved us back then; we gave them something to laugh about.

I turn on the news intermittently during the day; and whatever activity had occupied me suddenly dissipated into bothersome dust.  Murder, beheadings, shootings, corruption, deception, fear and helplessness swept away the dust, and my consciousness wept.

Whether it is the unfathomable death of a woman who seemed immortal, the young  journalist beheaded on television,  the left and right parties swinging obscenities at  each other,  all soliciting a reality show of our government. My choice of sorrows is mounting.

Today is a cabaret of: weather, activity, and excitement as Fiesta Week begins in Santa Fe.
The city will converge on the Plaza for the performing arts, parades, musical improvisations, dance and Northern New Mexico  chow. Policeman will be stationed alongside the booths to protect us.  They look grouchy and irritable; but in my experience, the friendliest cops I’ve ever met. Try talking to a cop in Los Angeles.20140823_134608

The butter on the tortilla of  Santa Fe, is that our community events, processions, and traditional religious enactments are safe havens for  Spaniards,  Native Americans, the mixed,  the foreign and us Anglos. I can ask to be invited into any assemblage and chances are they will accept my presence.

The safety and care  of people depends on all of us. If I recognize a stoned drunk stumbling; I should take his hand to shelter. If an old woman needs help crossing the street: I should lead her. If  insults and arguments draw my attention; I should keep my eye on the situation. This is where my consciousness rises from dust and sorrow; to a strong wind of humanity.

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