friday, dec 9
"love is pain" my son said when he was 18. like all the jail tattoos the gangsters have. sometimes yes, it is. and sometimes it feels better than anything you imagined was possible to experience and sometimes worse than anything you think you have the strength to live through.
i am sitting parked in my truck outside a liquor store with my son and a pack of his teenage friends drinking 40s of cheap beer leaning against the hood. They make jokes, push each other around, slur their words a little more. they get louder and prouder as the drink adds up.
i am talking to the director of the documentary we are making in India about the work i have been doing there to teach yoga to women sex workers in sonagachi, the red light district of india. most of them are mothers too. i look in their eyes and see my own worry and pain reflected back in bottomless black eyes, wet with almost-tears. people tell me that "i am doing god's work". i wonder if they would imagine this crusader sitting and watching my own son get fucked up on a friday night.
i dropped out of high school too. i slept in makeshift shelters and flirted with disaster, played out being a homeless hobo. maybe it is the blessing-curse of the spanish gypsy ancestors. i hear empty glass bottles rolling on the asphalt from the ones they have finished, the rickety sound of things getting a little too loose.
a bigger kid walks up to my sons group, he is dressed like a cholo. i keep talking on my cell phone to anka about our details for the next trip to india. I see things are heating up outside my truck. the bigger boy is getting angry, he is talking to one of my sons friends, who is about half his size. his arms are waving to emphasize something. i hold my breath. this is not a good part of town and there are gangs here, and this kid definately looks like he's in a gang. suddenly, he lifts his shirt up, does he have a weapon? it is possible to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. he is showing a tattoo on the side of his torso. the smaller boy is holding his ground. then the bigger one starts laughing and shakes the smaller ones hand. everybody relaxes and i realize all the other boys had been standing frozen too, waiting to see if things were going to jump off. i breath again.
i wait awhile longer, letting my son spend time with the friends he doesn't see much anymore. i am looking out my windshield my eyes lock with the big cholo. he tilts his chin up in an acknowledgment and i tilt my chin back at him. respect. he says, "who's girl is that?" and walks over to my window.
"these your kids?" he says.
"only one of em" i say. "i drove out from joshua tree to pick him up".
a moment of silence as he stands at my window.
"it's a full moon eclipse" i say and point at the moon in the middle of the sky above us.
"what's that?" he says.
"well, the moon goes blood red and dark, you should watch it"
he stares up looking contemplative at the white disc in the sky.
he has a friend he came with parked on the other side of my car. the friend looks like an older gangster.
"what are you looking at?" the friend says. he is wearing a plaid shirt and has a moustache.
the cholo laughs and ealks away from my window to his friends car.
i tell my son i want to go and he and his friends pile in my truck, reeking of cheap beer. they are laughing and telling jokes. my son says when we first pulled up one of his friends was like, "you got a girl with a nice whip". "no, that's my mom's car". one of the boys said the kid who stood at my window just got out of jail for 13 months for stabbing someone. shit gets real. this is normal life here.
i drop off the friends and drive my son stinking ad reeking and passed out in the passengers seat under a full moon in the rolling desert. it feels like we are driving through the isolated, rocky terrain of mars. we get lost and i stop at a gas station. i look around at the beat up cars in the parking lot, the teenagers in clusters around the gas pumps waiting for the next party. it looks like the kind of town where everyone is missing teeth from doing too much home made meth. my son is beligerant now and wants some weed. so he goes to one of the teenagers and talks to him. the teenager looks at his cell phone. i am getting pissed in the car, i am not waiting for some bullshit hook up at this gas station in some devil's asshole town. i pull my car around with the engine running and roll my window down. i want him to feel me waiting, pissed. i take a deep breath. patience. he gets in and we leave. i shake my head at the lump passed out next to me in the passengers seat. patience.
the next morning we have breakfast and a good talk and go for a hike.
sometimes i think, it's just a part of life, we all evolve, teenagers on the cusp of adulthood have a lot of wildness to get out. and sometimes i don't know how i am able to help so many people, but feel so helpless with my own son. it's a great gypsy joke, and somewhere the gods, who must be crazy, are laughing even when i cry. my son makes me so happy-sad. so proud-worried.
love is pain. love is bliss. love is love. it cannot be weighed, measured or contained in a word. love is a riddle, a koan, one word that you will spend your life unraveling. to get to the the meaty heart of the matter, the meaty, bloody, beautiful, throbbing heart of the heart. to the love of the love. the egyptians said when you die, the gods will weigh your heart against a feather. how much does my heart weigh? is my love lighter than a feather?