Sunday, April 29, 2012
Like a knock-out punch to the gut
black mountain symphony :: two boots pizza, bridgeport, ct :: april 29, 2012
I had quite the weekend… one that I’m not sure I’d exactly like to EVER repeat. I mean, parts of it were awesome, and other parts, not so much.
Friday, I headed to CT to watch BMS at Sully’s Pub. Sully’s is a weird place. I don’t know how to describe it any better than that. But it got super duper weird after BMS’ set. The other bands reminded me of this little indie club in CT I’d go to when I was in college. There was the ska sounding band. More of a ska-ish, really, but it was close enough. Then the hardcore NYC group. Then, the group that claimed to be influenced by Fugazi. (If Fugazi meant to sound like Frogboy or BiG MiSTAKE. *ahem*) Seriously, I couldn’t shake the deja-vu the entire night. The vibe of the club, the music, all of it just hit a nerve and suddenly it was the mid-90s again, and I was hanging out with a vegan boy who not only stole my heart, but introduced me to the wonders of the CT indie scene.
Of course, on the trip to my hotel, the iPod had to spit out “Back In The Day” by Blues Traveler.
I close my eyes and feel like it was back in the day.
Saturday, before I hung out with the band, I needed to do a deep spiritual cleansing. That sounds so disgustingly New Agey, but there’s no other way around it.
I started at St. Mike’s cemetery in Glastonbury, which is where the entire Ukie population of Hartford County is buried. Or at least MOST of them, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
Of course, I go to the most obvious place first - the family plot where three out of four slots are filled. Two things struck me immediately, both of which really made me sick. Like physically ill.
1) There were flowers on my mother’s side of the stone, but not Nicholas’. I’m assuming that they were from my aunt and cousins… the fact that they chose to bring the evil bitch flowers, but not the son/brother they lost so tragically just bugs the piss out of me.
2) The ambulance we placed on his headstone is still there. That stupid little matchbox car is still in excellent condition considering it was left there in the 80s. (Even more surprising, I guess, it that it’s still even there… but like I said, the entire Ukie population is buried there, so maybe someone knew/knows of Nicholas and has kept it there? I don’t know…)
I bawled when I saw that damn thing - the memories of how it felt in my hand, playing with it - they all came back. Hard.
Now, this is the part of the story where I prove just how fucked up I really am. I’ve always been able to sense ghosts. Although we didn’t talk, I knew he was there with me. Thirty years. He’s been dead thirty years and I wonder every year what he would have been like had he not died of cancer. Would he be crazy? Cool? Hot? Gay? He didn’t have any answers for me, but knowing he was there with me was insanely comforting… which was good because then I turned to my mother.
She got an earful from me. I vented out loud, and didn’t get a response. I wasn’t expecting one, to be honest. I can never feel her there. I wonder if she’s ignoring the pain she’s caused me as well as she did when she was alive. She’s been dead for twenty years. A nuclear bomb was dropped on my world twenty years ago, and I STILL struggle to clear up the wreckage and put things back to some semblance of normal. Once I calmed down, I literally felt a little hand pull on my fingers.
Yup. Time for special guest number three.
As I stood there, looking at the disturbed ground and thinking that only a month ago that grave wasn’t there, everything I had felt towards my uncle came spilling out. I finally got the fucking closure I needed. He was a good man for the majority of my life pre-March 1992, and I mourned that. (Not unlike mourning the mother I wanted, the one that was within reach, but determined to spend her days hiding in the bottom of a vodka bottle.) Then, I let him have it. How could he stand by while my aunt stole from me? Hurt me in ways family should never be able to? It got ugly. REALLY ugly. He deserved every word of it and I feel a thousand times better for it.
I decided to take the long way to my grandparents’ grave - my godfather died in 2009 so I wanted to pay my respects to him. I didn’t find him where I thought he would be, but I stumbled upon the grave of one of my mother’s friends… the one who decided to take a walk into a lake with her pockets full of rocks. I never knew her personally, but as soon as I saw her name, I could hear my mother’s passionate pleas to her that day on the phone. I could feel her as well… tortured. Full of regret. She missed out on watching her kids grow up. I couldn’t offer her any consolation. I didn’t know her, and honestly, truth be told, I think she deserves whatever she gets. I will never understand suicide. Never. It’s bad enough to kill yourself, but to drown yourself? That shit’s just twisted in a way I can’t even begin to try to understand.
No matter how dark I get, no matter how seductively the voices whisper, I can’t go there. I WON’T go there.
At any rate, I left her and looked for my grandparents’ stone. It never fails - no matter how many times I visit them, I can never find the damn stone on the first try. It might be because the English translation is missing and I forget what the surname looks like in Cyrillic. As I wandered, I found myself getting frustrated that I could never remember where they were. I heard my grandmother call my name, clear as day. I turned my head in the direction of the sound, and BOOM! One gravestone, three names - two familiar, one belonging to a person I never knew. Like Nicholas’ grave, there were no flowers there. Nothing that showed their blood had swung by to pay their respects… it made me sick and I had to ask my grandparents what they thought of their daughters. If they were disappointed.
I wish I spoke Ukie because that’s what my grandmother responded in. I wish I could tell you that I was able to infer what she was saying, but she just sounded tired. Like she’d had this conversation before. Like I was a little kid who asked the same question again and again and again. My grandfather waited for me to say my goodbyes before making himself known. I knew exactly what he was saying, even though it too was in Ukie. The stern disciplinarian I remember from my childhood let his displeasure with his children come through in the angry tones and clipped words.
Clarity. Closure. Cookies.
I suppose there are weirder things to do than wander around a cemetery yelling “WALTER! WHERE YOU AT, WALTER?”. but nothing comes to mind easily. I covered the entire cemetery while calling for him. Out loud. It was like some warped game of Marco Polo, but Polo decided he wasn’t playing. I looked at every single stone and if it was there, I didn’t see it. I don’t know how I missed it, but it’s possible. I guess.
From there, I headed to the Vets’ Cemetery to see my Dad’s stone. I know he’s cremated. I see his ashes every day, but I needed to see the stone. I needed to contact him somewhere that wasn’t home. I can’t explain it. And he was there… He never leaves my side lately so I wasn’t surprised. In this case, I needed to lean on him more than ever. They were holding a service for a deceased member of the Air Force. In the section where the bodies go which just happened to be close enough to my father’s stone so that every word carried on the wind. (There’s the sections of just stones - the simple white markers in their endless rows - and then there is the graveyard. Dad’s stone overlooks the graveyard.) The casket with the flag on it. The cries. The soothing murmur of the priest. it was too much for me and I broke down like I haven’t in years.
After I pulled myself together, I drove to Wethersfield Cove to calm myself down further. All the random memories that popped up - that crazy night with R where we totally fogged the windows, the days spent throwing bread to the seagulls, the attempts at fishing, that crazy night with R. (Hey! I can’t help where my head went. Apparently, I needed to relive the happy, crazy, night that should never really ever be mentioned… Ah, memories.)
I posted on Facebook that it was definitely the old HAUNTS tour, and it really was.
It needed to be done, and I did it.
And I can’t even begin to tell you how much better I feel.