Beyond the Veil.

I dreamt in the minutes between snooze-button pushes this
morning. I dreamt a friend of mine had used again, and for some reason my dad
and brother were there to clear his house. As my brother questioned whether
they should remove his name from the gun and case and cleaning kit, my father
said no, and looked sternly at my friend, as if to convey he’d better have learned
his lesson.
This skips to me in bed with my friend who really had used
again some months ago and overdosed and died. His back to me, both warm with
that early morning light flush, that gently pulsing intimacy between
two people in bed. I peek over his shoulder at his half-hidden face, just
seeing the ragged scraps of unkempt sideburns and light stubble. And I repeat to him, “Please don’t be dead. Please don’t be dead.” Over and over, pleading
with him. He then turns his head to me suddenly, but in a twisted unnatural
way, so that it looks as though he is turning on a broken neck, and says, “No
one is ever really dead, are they?”
And I jump up and run away through the house, admonishing
myself to “Snap out of it, snap out of it!,” and I wake up.
Why tell you this? Knowing so well that listening to
another’s dream is so rarely engaging. Well, yesterday, I did find out that a friend of mine had used again.
Heroin. I was talking to someone very close to him. He’s alive, and apparently
back on the road of recovery, but … She said in a thick voice, People die from shooting heroin.
And well I, and many folks I know, know.
I believe, were I to analyze my own dream, that finding this
out yesterday, about someone who had been so strong in recovery for about as
long as me, that it struck me again about my friend Aaron’s death. Sometimes I think
about it, and get all mad at the universe again. Sometimes I think about it,
and just get sad. I think the gun that my friend in the dream was being allowed
to keep is the same gun all of us hold who are abstaining daily from using
again. We all have the option to pick that up again. No stern admonishments or
reality checks will take that option away. But, for me, I think that’s
precisely what this dream was to me too – a reality check, and a warning. Just
a reminder, more like. To stick close to the things that work; closer to the
people whom I love.
Part of what has occurred as the result of all my job
searching is that I’ve come to realize that I really do want to return to the
East Coast. My family all lives there, and I’ve arrived, finally, at a place
where I feel able to have emotional distance or boundaries with my family,
without needing to have the physical distance.
Coming to realize that to the best of their ability, my
family is just who they are. For better or worse, for whatever the past held,
they are my family, and wacked as sometimes the demonstrations are, they love
A friend chided when I said I was thinking of moving back
east, There are SO many better places than New Jersey! And while that may be true, it’s the place that is
closest to my family. Though my dad and his fiancé will move to Florida within
the year. My brother likely to move to Baltimore with his girlfriend, and my
Mom in manhattan. Worried as she is about early-onset Alzheimer’s that likely
her stringent diet of neurosis and anxiety will keep firmly locked out, a coat
of armor that nothing can penetrate, the truth is too that she is getting older
and there are things that I’d still like to share with her.
I called her about a month ago, upset about the lack of
progress in securing myself a job, and she began to list to me resources and
things I should look into, websites, and this and that. And, before she could
get too far into a monologue of “not what I called you about,” I was able to
stop her. I said that I knew how to search for a job, that I was calling her
not for advice, but for comfort.
To her credit, she was able to hear me; she paused, said of
course, and began to simply give me words of comfort and support and
encouragement. To both of our credit, we are forging a new relationship in
which being able to ask for what I need is becoming easier, and she’s getting
better at hearing me and offering it.
I haven’t lived near my family since I graduated college (a
year late) in 2004. I moved to Korea for two years to teach English, and upon
returning home, near-immediately moved to San Francisco.
I’ve run from them for a long time. I’ve done a lot of work
since I’ve been here, and there is forming a desire to be closer to them as
they are
, not as who I wish they were.
They’ll always be who they are, crazy-making at times, disappointing or hurtful
at times, certifiably unhinged at times. But I’m feeling more ready to be there
for that too, because of the rest of the benefits of who they are.
Something that yesterday’s information underlined was the
tenuous nature of life. Another friend of mine, her mother had a stroke during
their family reunion last week, which my friend had refused to attend out of
resentment against her mother. Ironically(?), due to this emergency, she had to
go to Michigan, and join her family. To be with them. I don’t want that. I
don’t want the occasions when I see my family to be as infrequent as they are.
Or based on emergency.
So, with today’s reminder of the thin veil between here and
not, the memory so strong of my friend who died, and the intention to secure
employment so that I might save enough to move home, I’ll go out from here
today, and try, however falteringly, to be open to the love that remains from
both sides of that veil. 

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