I haven’t seen Jade in a long time. He’s cut all his hair off. It’s short now and parted severely, flattened with beeswax and curled a bit on his forehead. It looks amazing, like a femme-y 1920s gay man on a date. I immediately want the same hair. As the day wears on, I just cannot stop staring at Jade’s hair.
“That’s the first original short hair style I’ve seen in years,” I say, and I mean it.
The next morning I sit on the floor of Jade’s bedroom with his little tub of beeswax, and we try to make my hair look like his. Beeswax, now there’s a hair product I could get behind. What if you even got the wax from bees you raised yourselves? Hair product, right from the hive!
My hair’s a little too long, and I end up looking like I have a massive comb-over. I laugh and wash my hair but the beeswax won’t come out, so I just laugh some more and put my hat back on.
On Wednesday we walk to the food-cart village on 12th. It’s august in Portland, so the sidewalks are littered with walnuts and windfall apples. I like picking up these apples and taking a bite out of the good half, then dropping them back on the sidewalk. I like the green ones that are blushed pink on one side, and clefted deeply where they were crowded on the twig. These apples taste like fall to me, and make me think of this time last year, when I was on the Olympic Peninsula, sleeping in a moldy cabin and eating duck eggs. Some friends had rented a cider press, and they stood in the pouring rain and pressed a whole abandoned-orchard’s worth of apples. They put the cider in a massive carafe in the kitchen-cabin, and it changed every week- from juice to mead to the strongest vinegar you could imagine, and then no-one could drink it anymore, except maybe a shot in the morning as a health tonic.
As I toss another apple onto the sidewalk I think- There is nothing more perfect than these apples. It’s a miracle the city makes them at all.
As we walk, Jade and I talk about “how we’re doing”. Ok, not so good, really bad.
“I wish people wouldn’t say- ‘How are you’,” says Jade. “I wish they’d just say- ‘How’s the crazy?”
We laugh- about expectations, about how shitty everyone is always doing, and about how no-one, really, wants to hear you talk about it.
As we talk about moods, Jade tells me he wants to see an intuitive healer. I plug for allergy testing.
“Your gut, it’s connected to your head,” I say. “At least mine is. More than I can believe, sometimes.”
“Oh yeah. If I hadn’t stopped eating gluten a few years ago, I would’ve killed myself by now.”
We laugh again. The sun is dropping, and the shadows are long. I wonder if that’s really true. Maybe it is. Who knows. Who knows how many people are out there suffering, trapped under a hundred-pound wet blanket of depression, moods changing faster than the new Portland weather, and all for a little gluten allergy?
Your gut-bone’s connected to your mood-bone…
Even if it is just an allergy, or the long wet winter, or lack of exercise. Or a buildup of environmental toxins in your system. Or all of these things combined. It’s not like you can just rationalize it away. It’s hard to have hope, when you feel heavier than lead. When it feels like the very center of the earth is trying to reclaim you.
For the last two weeks I’ve had this stomach bug. It’s actually clearing up a little now, on it’s own, and I’m starting to feel a little livelier. But DAMN. Did that thing make me feel depressed! The feeling would come in waves, after I ate. Sadness washing over me like a summer thunderstorm. I cried a lot on my bike, pedaling across town in the hot sunshine. It felt good, crying on my bike. Sobbing and wondering if anyone would notice. Meanwhile, my stomach was doing all sorts of crazy shit, gurgling and feeling nauseous and being in pain. It was like food was poison. Every food. What a nightmare, I thought. What if it was like this all the time? What if I was allergic to EVERYTHING?
The last few days I’ve been feeling better, and little flowers have started to come up in the springtime of my psyche.
(That’s the cheesiest metaphor I have ever written. Ever.)
Whenever I start to feel like shit for some new reason, when I get depressed, anxious or tired, I often wish I could just pop my hood, pull the bad thing out like jammed paper in a copier. But it’s never that easy- no matter how many books I read, no matter how much I regulate the food I eat, no matter how much control I have over the environment I live in. It’s hard to keep up- impossible, really. There’s too much already, and there’s more of it every day. Too much against us, against our physical, animal bodies, the ones still living in the past- and now everything’s changing- new poisons coming out faster than we can adapt to them. It’s here, people. And we’ve got it the worst, my generation and folks younger. We grew up waist-deep in it, we didn’t even know what we were swimming in. And now it’s kicking us in the face, chronic this-and-that like a trust fund we never knew we had. Sometimes I look at the older folks in my life and feel jealous. Where will my generation will be, I wonder, when we’re in our sixties? Fifties, even? Will we live that long?
Yeah, we’re pretty much fucked.
And that’s what I want this blog to be about. Not about how we’re fucked, but about what we’re doing to cope. To make it through day to day. And if we’re doing pretty well in spite of everything, I want to talk about what it’s like to watch our friends go down around us, to watch our best friends struggle like salmon in a gillnet.
It’s not that I have hope. I don’t. But while a lot of us feel like shit a lot of the time, we’re not dead. And since we’re not dead, we might as well talk about our problems, right? We don’t have much to lose.
Thursday Jade and I biked to Oaks Park. It was the most obscene summer day, and all the world’s children had turned out to ride the mini-train and eat soft-serve ice-cream cones. In line for chicken strips, Jade talked about the inherent racism of disney world. A girl in front of us turned around to listen.
“I like disney world,” she said, staring up at us with a sort of fierce look. “Have you ridden the ___ ride?”
“No,” said Jade, smiling. “But I have ridden the ____ ride.” The girl turned back around to order her onion rings. On the back of her shirt, in six-inch letters, were the words “I Love My Two Moms”.
“Only in Portland,” I whispered to Jade. “ONLY in PORTLAND.”