Love in the Time of Corona: Happiest I’ve Ever Been

I sincerely hope, and I am not being sarcastic one bit I say it, that no one shoots Donald John Trump in the face on live television. I honestly do. But if someone does shoot Donald John Trump in the face on live television I hope I’m watching. 

Do you remember when Regan was shot? When was that? I remember I was in the band room practicing. I think. I cried because I had cast my first vote as an 18 year-old for Ronald Regan. I didn’t yet know any better. David Hinkley shot the President to win the favor of his obsession Jodie Foster. Odd, what some people do.  I wonder if Jodie Foster ever picked up the phone and said, “Look, I know I don’t really know you and I don’t really jive with your politics but Jesus, sorry that crazy fucker tried to kill you and apparently he says he did it because he was into me somehow and I really don’t even swing that way if you know what I mean but, yeah, well, I’m sorry he shot you nonetheless. Goodbye.” 

Did you know it was a gay Marine Vietnam veteran who saved Gerald Ford from assassination? Oliver “Billy” Sipple. He’s mother was an evangelical Christian who was embarrassed and disowned him after it became widely known he was gay because of the publicity. Marine or not, the White House was slow to even send a thank you letter after it was discovered Sipple was gay. Republicans and Democrats may have switched sides on race since the days of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (a Republican) and George C. Wallace (a Democrat) but the Republicans have always, always had it in for the gays. 

Speaking of Marines, my Marine brother, Josh, called me yesterday. We try to check in at least a couple times a week now that he’s starting fresh in Florida (which makes him a martyr in my book) and I’m between LA and New Orleans. “Hey Bubba,” he asks, “What’s the point of the blog? I mean it seems like you’re all over the place.” And he’s right and it’s question asked in earnest I thought tonight I’d try to see if I could remember what the answer is. 

When I was in Iraq, I found myself staring into the desert and into the deepest part of myself as I was having what I considered to be a spiritual epitome. The simple dirt farmers in the eastern part of Iraq so reminded me of the poor and working class folk I grew up around in rural Alabama. None of us there, those of us who stood to get hurt or killed, Iraqi or American, we really didn’t have shit to do with our being there. It was like the scales just fell away from my eyes and I was standing there faced with the difficult reality that I was part of something immoral. I remained and do to the day, willing to kill to protect the life of another Marine and also to gladly give my own to save the life of another Marine. That will be true for me until I leave this life. But Iraq had just gone from being difficult to be crazy making and I honestly thought at one point I was going to lose my mind. 
The one thing in this life I cannot abide is cruelty. 
I thought I knew what a Marine was. 
I thought I knew what the United States of America.

I really didn’t know what to do or maybe I actually did because before we left for the sandbox, I picked up a long-untouched journal and started to write, in present tense, relaying to the page what was happening to me, what I felt I was learning. If you’ve read much of my stuff, you’ll notice I’ll often jump to present tense when telling a story to “take the reader there” and I believe it works. In academia, I’d get nail for vasolating between tenses. This ain’t academic writing. Anyway, I started using that technique in Iraq. 
When I found myself in such a crises of conscious I honestly didn’t know what to do. I had that weapon in my hands. All the time. Rifle serial number: 6262805, “Judy” I called my M16. If you say my play you know that. “Judy,” because like my mother, my M16 was sleek, beautiful, and dangerous. The M16 was my actual sword. I had to make the actual choice between the pen and the sword. 

I chose the pen. 

Twelve years earlier I’d opened my wrists with a razor blade. At twenty-three I’d had enough and my internalized homophobia tried to murder me one night while I was supposedly a student at The University of Alabama. I soaked our friend’s couch in blood before I made a call for helped and I was saved. When Matthew Shepherd died, all my friends were saying “that could have been me” and they were talking about Matthew Shepherd. All the while I had this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach because I knew what it felt like to try to kill a fag. 

At so many points in my life I’ve had to rely on the writing to lead me forward. To answer Josh’s question, I think that’s what the blog is about. It’s my compass, so I can keep heading toward my True North.  My life is good but I ain’t done. I hope I’ve done some good in my life and I hope to make that look like chump change compared with what I can accomplish in the second half. 

I am happier than I’ve ever been in my life. Y’heard me? Happier than I’ve ever been. Or at least as happy as I’ve been at the happiest moments in my life. I was happy the day I became a United States Marine. I was happy the day I married Adam. I was happy the day I made him take the ring off my finger he’d placed there seven years earlier. Happy and sad. I was happy and sad when my mother died. Devastated she was gone but so happy she was happy in a way I couldn’t even yet understand and that her long suffering had finally ended. I was happy the day Tater woofed at me on Scruff and I’ve been happy every day since. Being with him makes me happy. He’s kind of a nerd and funny. He’s a super-smart engineer and yet still an Idaho farm boy at heart. He has this sweet unperformed masculinity that nestles easily and comfortably into mine. We’re buddies. And he’s made for me in bed. 

So yeah, I’m in love and that’s certainly part of what has me at a place of saying that I’ve never been happier but its more than just that.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Interesting that Dickens’ words fall so apropos of today when the relationship of workers to the wealthy is such that it is. In the middle of some of the most troublesome times since when I came to this joint in 1965, I have found a kind of peace and happiness I’ve not known. 

Day after tomorrow we fly to New Orleans to sign the paperwork and close on the house there. It is a beautiful little shotgun, built in the 1880s and stripped to the studs for restoration. It’s beautiful. When I stand in that kitchen I feel at home and like I could prepare a thousand meals there for people I love.  I’m just trying to not count any unhatched chickens but when those keys are in our hands, I plan to pick Tater up and carry that sweet man into our new home. One of them anyway. 

With regard to my career, I have to decide what to do next and I plan to let the blog help me do that. I have too many irons in the fire. I have four unproduced works and those have to be coddled and jettisoned. It would be ridiculous to let the thousands of hours of blood, sweat , and bourbon I put into them be wasted! They’re all great works and I have to get them out there into the world.  As wonderful as things are, there still needs to be a couple changes for me to feel confident that I am living fulling in my life’s mission. 
Tomorrow I’m going to be adjusting the focus on exactly what that is and how I’m going to get there. I hope you’ll join me. 

About this entry