Roy had a car accident this week. Or last week, I can’t remember. The days go on and I lose track of time. My head is okay, my lungs are okay, my heart is okay, even my spine is okay. My mind is not, it floats on different moods throughout its journey. Like a river, it feels going down with the current, often being pushed to the shore. One gotta master buoyancy in order to stay in the very middle of the river without fear of drowning. There are curves on the river length, there are fallen trees in the way, there are the most dangerous things too – shallow and murky waters. From time to time, a fish breaks out the surface and flexes its shining body before returning and disappearing into the vast realm. Those fishes are like ideas that visit my mind and ring the bell giving me a few seconds to open the door before all of that vanishes into the void of consciousness.
We were in Ohio two weeks ago, his homeland. Roy Dan, my best friend. I would never plan a trip to Ohio on my own but there goes my motivation to travel: friends. So, there I was in the midwest surrounded by corn crops and silos and gray skies and pale vegetation and amish people. How exciting it is to see people rolling around on their carriages, which they call buggies. No modern tools, just living life in a way they use their skills for the benefit of others. Amish in the average people’s language is called utopia. Pretty much like maturity for youngsters.
Even though Ohio State could have many arousing attractions, I was there to meet Mama Bear. The woman who brought to this world Raquel, Roy and Aaron. Her name is Joyce. Of course, she’s a joy. She laughs unconditionally. Good morning, Mama Bear – and you get an extended laughter back along the greeting. We were there to celebrate the winter solstice, so she took all of us on a hike. In cold times all that you see is ice and yellowish leaves. Mud steps, dark soil and birds chirping in the distance, gossiping about how pathetic humans are with their winter clothes. A school of deers showed up jumping. Joyce is a teacher and that is what she does, she teaches, she guides, she shows the way, she educates. I was happy to be in a family like theirs. There was no father around. A generation of men raised by women and fulfilled with the purest love. They were the lesson itself.
Joyce asked us to pick something from the trail. Everybody did. The sun was going down and we praised it as it must. That felt like a real purpose, you know? You can see the sun, you can see what it does to life and what kind of hope it brings. The sun is the materialization of God and you can derive your thinking as much as it pleases you. The sky had blue and gold and red and pink colors mixed. We stood on tiptoes to catch the very last glimpse of the reigning star. The sun light, the water, the fire, the air. Anything else is auxiliary.
We were on our way back to the car and I still didn’t have anything for myself. The abused mind wants to prove something and the search goes unnaturally. I thought about taking a bark piece from a tree. I would talk about my skin, my first layer of physical protection and how, even looking old and moldy, it still nurtures the whole plant. That was not how the game was designed, I was making up stuff, what a shame. Then, I saw it. Like a crown in the middle of long dry leaves. Every single thing in that field was taller than me and I had to open my way, like a forbidden love, in order to reach it.
Back home, Joyce had bought some fine steaks for our special night. Roy and I made the fireplace real. Everybody else was in the kitchen taking care of the salad and preparing the risotto and mixing meaningful thoughts. Holidays, as illnesses, bring the best to people’s hopes and words. We got together around the fire and everybody said, one by one, what their resolution was for the next year. It must be something that would help to heal the planet. I promised to pay attention to my consumption and this is it because I can’t fake being so worried about the environment. I just can not. At the same time, consumption is something that bothers me so, honestly, I will stick to that purpose. Kate will make her own detergent, Aaron will reinforce recycling, Quel wants to waste less. Roy, my dude, wants to take down the system and he needs someone to join him on pipeline sabotage. Oh yeah, he never disappoints. That is the kind of resolution nobody is expecting. After that, Joyce invited us to show our special findings from the hike. She had dried flowers and dried sticks combined to show the power of togetherness. What a thoughtful way to show us how deep and beyond time that gathering was. Everybody listened carefully. Joyce would smile after every two words, such a sweet woman. I bet she has honey instead of blood on those veins. A consumed lumber broke in half and almost set Kate’s dress on fire. The fire spikes were flying over us and I wondered if family hatred would ever end. Asking for a friend.
Aaron and Kate and Roy and Quel waited patiently. I was the second on line and showed everyone my thorned flower. Everybody had a glass of wine, but it was only me drinking it with despair. “I was walking in the woods and could not find anything to pick up when I saw, suddenly, those naked petals standing by sharp shells. It means a lot to me, representing the beauty and sweetness lying inside the danger and pain.” Those were my words and I made it simple and short to avoid my eyes from crying. Men should not cry. Elephants must not be heavy.
It took me a lot of courage to say that. I bet it was easier for the others, as they were more used to Mama Bear’s dynamics. The talks went about being conscious of the planet, respecting each other and recognizing others’ flaws. It all embarrassed me inside like holding farts. You release your farts in that family. We stood admiring the fire and feeding it. There is something about fireplaces that works the same about feelings: you need to feed it.
The fire was on point and the funny thing was the fireplace itself, which was about to crash completely. The barbecue pit was in the backyard and it had a lot of leaves and branches on the ground to serve as a fire feeder. I told them that it was time to cook the best steaks of their lives. They went back to the dinner table and I placed the prime meat on the grill. Flames licking it from below and the clear dark sky witnessing it. I was alone with those bloody tender pieces and all the predators in the neighborhood could smell it, I am sure. Are there any? When it was all ready, I headed back to the house. Faces telling expectations. Mama Bear asked me to have her steak a little less rare so I went back outside. The flames made me feel good, burning not only the meat but also my pride. I wish I could be buried in Ohio so Mama Bear would bring me flowers every August the 5th. Brought her meat back and she was delighted. We cheered. The cats and the dog were around the table seeking for a drop of human kindness or human lapse so they could steal a bite. After the meal, everyone exchanged presents. I did not, because I was not aware of the tradition and may the spirits forgive me. Mama Bear gave me a beautiful bag with cattle painted on it. Inside, chocolate, caramels and wool socks. Perfect! I am going to Colorado and that place will be freezing. Is it a reality wool socks for the heart?
Woke up next morning to a text saying “I am with Peter having tea, come on!”. I stood up and looked through the window. Two barefoot guys were sitting in a lotus position over the sea of dried maple leaves. Got inside my jeans without taking my sweatpants off and went down there. Oh boy what a time to be alive. Peter, Roy’s cousin, is a wizard, a guide, a master, a kind of Gandalf of the lost lands. Something about him made me feel home. We started sharing thoughts and visions. He will soon go to China and learn how to zen himself in a Kung Fu temple. How beautiful life can be. We were drinking some kind of black tea and that scared the shit out of me because I thought it was mushrooms. It was not, actually. We were just warming ourselves up with hot beverages and proving fresh friendship at the source. To my surprise, Peter took out of his pocket a bag of mushroom infused chocolate. I was not expecting that but I was glad. Even though that fear was consuming myself, I could feel the medicine connecting to me. Roy and I swallowed it and Peter managed the words. The light stream between the trees felt like strings and the wind sounded like whispers of I am coming, I am coming. They could tell my inner desperation and the conversation went smoothly. I felt like a bug using the mushroom as a shelter. It could be my forever home.
“You smell like a brother” – I said to Peter. Yes, brothers have a smell. That’s how wolves recognize each other and that is exactly like I found my tribe. We hugged each other and Peter jumped the fence leaving the premises. I got to my phone and called everyone I care for. I love you, forgive me, stay with me – words of inside. Mushrooms make me say things without filtering and I love it. I feel like the most honest man on earth.
On the next day we went to visit Roy’s grandpa, Mama Bear’s dad. A farm, full of cows and a beautiful family. Kind words exchanged, sincere smiles. Treating elders with love is a good way to feel love growing inside of yourself. I drank milk straight from the white and black moo-moos. More fresh, impossible. I love milk and I am not scared of being judged.
While I write these lines, Roy is in front of me. He just got news about his car. Insurance will not pay, there’s a fee for the towing company. Considerable fee. By day. Today is Friday and they return on Monday. Fucking fees and careless drivers. A vile feeling grows and the sky loses its virginity. Are the goddesses playing a dirty game? Nothing else matters more than bile and frustration. Despising an enemy can be a mistake and all I hear is a snore. Facing adversity, he made the best decision one can make. He took a nap. He farts loudly and I don’t know if he is awake. Can we be unworthy even subconsciously? He farts again. I bet the motherfucker can read my mind right now. Stillness, the room’s blacklight is the only thing speaking when it reflects on white surfaces. And it says “I AM PURPLE”.