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Strange, Beautiful

By C.A. MacConnell · October 13th, 2010 · Living Out Loud
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Five a.m. Dear God. Often, that’s how I begin journal entries. And so begins this one to you. Dear God, where’s J? Miss you, bro. Gonna caulk my tub today. Damn, can’t stop thinking about that kid who jumped from the GW Bridge. Could’ve been me a while back. Amy’s frozen meals on sale.

God. When I use that word, I mean something inside and out, a higher power that connects us all — from the white-haired writer to the sun, from the baby spitting up to the wind. Cats to horses to trees. From the painted actor to the woman with a toothless grin. And back again. In early moments, words come fiercely but truly. The people around me, strangers to friends, are the ones who teach me about internal truth.

Man, I love Diet Dew.

There was this striking, big-eyed woman I met in the hospital. We never talked in there. Nobody really talked. Recently, I ran into her by pure chance, and when our eyes locked, we both smiled wide. We know what it’s like to be trapped, wearing slipper socks, eating from trays, working on puzzles with missing pieces. I shook her warm hand, feeling the life there. Gratitude overwhelmed me. We were outside, moving around, free. “How are you?” we both asked at once. Neither one of us answered. I cried a little.

Daily, a red-haired girl stands on a nearby street corner. She holds a sign that reads, “Homless. Need Help.” Glaring and raw, three words tell her story. And so does her squinty left eye; it twitches with craving. Sure, maybe she wants drugs, but her heart’s message is clear: The struggle is deep here. Without recovery, I could be standing there with a sign, dirty and confused and sick as shit, skin burned red by the autumn sun.

Aye, me want a pirate ship.

With others, messages are cloudy.

A friend flirts for years and when confronted, he retreats. Another friend says he’s sober; I find him doing crack in a bathroom. Last year, I fell in love with a strange, beautiful man, and we never really spoke. Ridiculous, but it happened, and I took it seriously. Now wrecked, I wonder how I got so wrapped up. I’ve done this once before with a man I barely knew. All in my head? The depth of it, no doubt.

A joke, a game, hates my guts? I dunno. I leave it alone. I only know my side, and both times my words and heart collided and I couldn’t separate the two. Last year, I didn’t even try. I beat myself up for a while. So fucking fragile. But my soul can be vicious when it comes to love and dreams, and I still feel a piercing connection there, one that is indeed alive in me. But I could be any of them, on the other side. I’ve flirted with the wrong one. I’ve joked when I should’ve been serious. I’ve crossed boundaries when I should’ve been quiet. Back when I drank, I lied about it. I am a puppy. I am a shark.

I’m gonna give someone a noogie.

Haven’t we all lost ourselves, desperately searching for someone that “gets” us? But truthfully, my interactions with all others are lasting lessons and reflections, telling my truth: I’m 36. Certain thoughts drive me, thoughts that any single woman my age might have. Get married, yellow house. Like her. Find lucrative career. Like him. Go west. A swing set, a son. Pretty like them.

Then there’s the side of me with muscle. Lately, I try my best to harness my passionate mind, keeping the intricacies as mine, letting the rest go. But I won’t stop the flow of my naked writing style, because when I try to change it, it feels like I’m wearing someone else’s too-large suit. When I saw that woman, my twin from the hospital, I realized that I need to let the universe decide how I should write, who I should be with and where I should live. It isn’t up to me.

Pulling out my sleeping bag, just because.

Someone just filled my fridge with food. The apartment came through magic. Friends helped me move. The car, a lucky deal. As of yesterday, I have furniture. For the past year, I had virtually none. All of it was given to me. I look around, from table to chair, and God tells me that my answer rests in giving and receiving. True love lives there, within the spiral of human lives.

Reality. I’m no famous artist, actor or model. Never claimed to be. I’m short, I’m not graceful, slender or feminine, and I’m covered with the scars we call tattoos. Human and flawed, love me or laugh at me, but I am one strong lion, and I write straight up from the gut, and that is something.

We all have a divine voice, and I have something to say to me, to you, to us. Hey, I fell in love with a strange, beautiful man, and we never really spoke, and my imagination raged. But deeply and sincerely, I clearly saw myself in him, and that is so real. And I am strange and beautiful, too, as are you. And that is enough.

That kid. The way he jumped. He and J in heaven? Time for a nap.

CONTACT C.A. MACCONNELL: letters@citybeat.com



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