An Avocado Tree of One’s Own

The alarm was an intrusion.  I was dreaming I was at a bar where everything was old polished wood, like a nice older sports bar, and someone wanted me to sing.  I didn’t know the words, but then the music would start and I would know the words, and my voice came out big and bold and sort of lusty, even, with perfect little ornamentations.  I was powerfully singing old jukebox standards and really loving it.  And when the song would change, I was convinced I didn’t know the new lyrics, but then they’d just come out of me anyway.  

Then the dream shifted and I was sitting in a downtown parking spot, on a narrow street, facing the parking meter except some part of my consciousness kept flitting around and having little side adventures in the shops, while I was still sitting there looking at the parking meter.  One was something a little combative with a female, I believe, and then back to my parking spot (which I’d never left) and the argument followed me there, and I realized I was driving a tractor trailer.  This woman was giving me directions to head left back up the narrow road.  I glanced that way, glanced at my trailer in the mirror, and said no can do.  Then my consciousness had another adventure in a shop, a tea shop I think, where I was with someone else and we exchanged banter with the barista.  I ordered ginger tea for my friend, who couldn’t decide, and then the barista said to me, “Aren’t you really the one who wants the ginger tea?”  Once it was in front of me, it’s all I wanted in fact, and I wrapped my hands around the cup.  It was perfectly warm but not too hot.  “Yes,” I grinned, a little sheepishly.  Then I was back at the parking spot and the female was telling me to back out and go right.  I glanced that way.  No can do.  Then someone else told me to pull forward into an alley, and we can get out through the alley.  I glanced that way and told them no, the terminus of the alley onto the street is also too narrow, with parallel parked cars.

In real life, if I’m driving tractor trailer in any kind of downtown scenario, I’m very stressed, but in the dream it didn’t feel like my problem.  I just kept telling people no.  I didn’t have anywhere I had to be, personally.

When the alarm went off I knew I’ll need a nap later today.

Nick made it to my dad’s house yesterday after the sun set.  He sent a picture of Buffy on my dad’s lap, looking intently into the camera, which can only mean she was begging for bacon, which she associates with grandpa.  When Nick kissed me goodbye yesterday, she was curled in her doughnut bed on the passenger’s seat, looking exactly like a chihuahua, but white — sly and sleepy and thoughtful, with her half-blue eye and the other brown.  Buffy is queen of the significant sideways glance.

I felt a big void when he left, but gratitude to be entering the next phase.  It’s one thing to sit around and dream about moving to Hawaii, but not to lift a finger about it because we can’t — we sort of don’t exist in the world, with this job, except theoretically.  We can’t check our mail or meet anyone anywhere or make plans or know where we’ll be in any particular way.  So it feels quite impotent, in a sense.  So Nick re-entered the physical realm, yesterday, where he can be an agent and act on things — he essentially re-manifested — and I feel a lot better about Hawaii actually happening now, rather than feeling like a pipe dream, even though I’m still over here existing only in the theoretical. 

Also, on the same day, we found a house there!  It was a Craigslist listing with no photos that you had to schedule to see in person, but had the right basic specs at least, and so my brother went out and took some video.  Nick and I both loved it, and I had an immediately good feeling about the house’s energy.  So Abe sent it to my dad to get his read on it and our dad was like WHEN CAN WE MOVE IN lollll, which is so funny.  Seems like a role reversal of when Abe and I were kids, and our parents had to deal with all the bullshit of moving, while me and Abe were like WHEN CAN WE SLEEP OVER AT THE NEW HOUSE.  Everything’s fun when you’re a kid, and then it appears it all becomes fun again when you’re 77 and have this strong young man show up at your house to do everything for you and put you on a plane to Hawaii!  Thank god for Nick.  I repeat: thank god for Nick.  

The new house has a large, turquoise swimming pool with a broad apron of deck, and four bedrooms; two larger, two smaller.  Abe will take the master and Nick and I will take the other larger one, and my dad can sleep in one smaller bedroom and reconstruct his resin art factory in the other.  There is an avocado tree!  Horticultural jackpot.  A lychee tree and some other fruity, squashy things.  The house itself used to be a community meeting space, and then had other rooms added on, so it’s got a large central space with the kitchen, and a lot of bright white built-in shelving, that extends up so far there’s a little sliding ladder, like you see in fancy libraries.  Plenty of shelving for all our Tanith Lee books, in other words.  My dad was always the person with a million books, growing up, and buying more every time we drove into civilization (I use that term loosely), but he’s all about the YouTube now so his library is quite sparse.  

See, this is the kind of thing I appreciate about my dad so much: after a lifetime of reading intensively, I would expect anyone to over-identify with their book collection, at least a bit.  I think that would be…inconvenient, but totally natural.  Things just become OVER for my dad, though, once he’s moved on.  I think he’d prefer things to simply spontaneously combust once he’s lost interest.  So his bookshelves are sparse, but my brother will hear from him if there’s any YouTube streaming hiccup on the iPad.

The house is just a few minutes from the ocean, which is easily visible, but the closest beach is a rocky one, as is the case in so many places.  The really good surf and sand beaches are a little drive, like 20-30m maybe, and really all the good beaches are within probably an hour.  The house is sort of out in the boonies, but like 20m to a little town and then an hour to a larger town with an airport.  It’s rent we can afford.  None of our life goals involve a high degree of town/city interface right now, so it kind of doesn’t matter.  Also, moving from the western United States, it’s like our psychological map of what represents “a long way from x y z” is skewed for Hawaii.  The entire island is “a short drive”, to us.  Plus, we’re spending a king’s ransom shipping 3 vehicles over, so whatever.  

It’s beautiful, and furnished, but not palatial ie designed for rich tourists.  I mean, it’s someone’s actual home who’s wanting to move to his other house because his legs don’t work great or something, and that’s more my preference anyway.  Every time I’ve ever shopped for apartments, I always go with something a little quirky and old and unique, rather than corporate cookie cutter fabulously impersonal, because I like that more.  There’s a perfect outdoor slab for the weight set and otherwise just a big grassy area that can be “yard” or “parking” or whatever.  Very quintessentially rural Hawaii.  Plenty of “lanai”, which is many yardages of covered decking where we can sit outside and enjoy life in our new climate, which is not constantly trying to kill us for once.  Solar, so the guy’s electricity bill is usually like twenty bucks, and that’s amazing.  A very nice kitchen, where I will be especially involved after this marathon of tragic fire camp food.  Being a vegan on fires is like a 3rd World proposition, involving mostly a lot of unseasoned rice.  

Nick is excited, I’m excited, my dad is clearly excited.  I’m not sure how much my dad’s sense of urgency derives from excitement-about versus fear-of.  And by fear-of, I mean the deteriorating circumstances in the CONUS law and order department.  Whatever the ratio, Nick and I share it, and have reflected to one another how odd it is to be planning a major move on a timeline partly informed by a sense of urgency that one part of our brains tries to convince us is an overreaction, while the other part of our brains continues inserting “yes…except” type rationales.  I continue to trust in the Universe and divine timing and a sense of ease being generally the best path forward, because it’s served us well so far.  And in any case, it’s all come down to a timeline dictated by the more complicated emigration of the little dogs, who we’re not willing to have quarantined by Customs.  So, that’s just that, and we’ll all be on an airplane in four to five weeks, no matter what.  

The little dogs and a house with a pool!!  Nick said, “I bet Milo won’t last 20 minutes, if I go swim, before he figures out to jump in.”  I think that’s true — his elastic love-band connected to Nick doesn’t stretch very far, or for very long.  Buffy will continue to be more like a North Korean prisoner of war, probably, barely surviving captivity, and will have to be coaxed into something she’s certain represents one more indignity.  She did voluntarily jump into the bathtub with me once, which was shocking and gives me hope.  She also rejected the entire prospect of the ocean on another occasion, when she and I visited a dog beach in San Diego, so who knows.  

My conscious mind has accepted Nick’s absence more easily than Buffy’s, despite my emotions being more noticeably upset by the separation from Nick.  It felt surreal to watch him drive away, after six months of being together and sleeping in the same bed or at least the same vehicle, every night.  So I’m becoming accustomed to that, and extra grateful for our cell phone connection, but somehow I keep feeling shocked that Buffy’s not here.  

When my alarm went off, I didn’t feel her on the bed so I assumed she must be on the floor, and I placed my feet carefully because she’s usually right down there somewhere.  And she wasn’t, and I was like holy shit where’s my dog, and then I remembered.  

Throughout the day, yesterday, I’d see something move in my peripheral vision and turn to look for her, or startle that I hadn’t seen her in a bit and where was she, did she need something.  I mean, let’s be honest, I lose track of her all the time.  She’s just always around, laying in a little white comma.  One of the most high maintenance things about Buffy is simply remembering, over and over, that she exists.  She’s so little, and so quietly adorably neurotic about food, and almost invisible except when you go somewhere (more than 20 feet away) and then come back, when she stands up and stamps her paws and makes a big show of greeting you again before curling back up in her comma formation.  It’s very strange to not have her here.  I miss picking her up and wondering for the thousandth time how she’s so heavy, being so small.

I adore Milo but he’s much less my dog.  I love the feeling of his little sturdy ribcage fitting right into my palm, when I pick him up, and the way he flanges out his front legs in a maneuver he interprets as “helpful”, but all he ever does is look around for Nick and stare at Nick and mildly agitate back in the Nick direction, so I try not to represent an obstacle.  Nick is so in love with Milo he almost just cries sometimes, to be so trusted and adored by this critter whose entire thought process is, essentially, “daddydaddydaddydaddydaddy” etc.  I think Milo might be too much for some people, but for Nick he’s just right; and I think Buffy might be too subdued for other people, but for me she’s just right.  I’ve had flight attendants interview me with some interest on what drugs I use to get her that doped up for flights, and they can hardly believe she’s just that way.      

So all the bad feelings, of the whole damn family driving away yesterday, cohere necessarily to good feelings about us getting this dream underway in a more active sense.  And I’m sorry I blog about the dogs so much; I know it’s one of those things that’s super boring to other people (or at least that’s what the entirety of graduate creative writing seemed to suggest), but I just can’t help it.  Especially not right now.  

In other news, I’m really excited to play card games with the whole family, in Hawaii, around dinnertime.  This comes as a surprise to me because I always sit it out at family reunions.  I don’t know why.  I think I’ve reached some degree of mental calmness where playing cards sounds like a really good idea.  I’m like 5 weeks away from having everything I want, and everyone I want, right there.  

And then it’s human nature to immediately want a bunch more stuff, and I accept that because desire is the water we swim in, and rightfully so!  I’ve wanted so much more routine than life has afforded me, the last…forty four years?  No, childhood was alright.  I mean, adulthood has been alright too, but I’d like to have the same basic day, in a row, like a bunch more times than has been possible.  I know this is the antithesis of what a lot of people crave, but “excitement” is not my currency of choice.  When I hear about people playing bridge every Tuesday with their neighbors, or going to the same restaurant every Friday night, or doing the same thing the same way for months or years, I’m like: how do you get a life like that?  

But I’ve had a lot of fun.  I mean, I know fully grown adults who’ve never driven across the United States, and I’ve done it like hundreds of times.  Newsflash: it’s all a vegan wasteland.  I have some former students getting into trucking right now, asking my advice on how to not get fat on the road, and I’m like…unless you have a built-in food paradigm that properly regards most road food as not food at all; I don’t know, you’re kind of hosed.  Good luck.  

I feel an immense appreciation for Nick’s family right now, too.  I know he’s taking a big leap of faith with me and with us — I mean, he’s not troubled by this at all, we’re utterly predictable people to a fault — and he’s bringing with him an energy and a world view that is very refreshing for us, but which was shaped by an entirely different upbringing in different circumstances and refined in the fires of different challenges.  I’ve been immersed in his family world more often than he’s been immersed in mine, and I’m feeling very…I don’t know, just receptive to connecting those two worlds more, and differently, and on terms that feel increasingly our own.  I’ve always felt that our partnership serves to solidify my outer world so I can focus in more comfortably, and solidifies his inner world so he can focus out more comfortably, so really opposite effects but good medicine for both of us.  

I’m a little worried about saying goodbye to him all the time when he goes surfing, and not being familiar with the currents and the rocks.  We said goodbye one afternoon when he went out surfing in Wilmington and next time I thought about it, it was dark.  I got worried, and I’m not a worrier, and obviously there was nothing I could do so I just tried not to worry.  He charged in, finally, freezing and dripping in his wetsuit, and explained to me from the steamy hot shower that he’d had to paddle out about a mile, through dusk time shark feeding waters, to a random boat and ask for a ride because the cops all lined up on the beach and were handing surfers a misdemeanor and $650 fine, as they came in one by one.  Because COVID, you know.  (I swear to god.)  Remember when that was our only problem?  Sitting around watching Tiger King and arguing about statistical models?

Nick’s dad told us then, these models are a fucking joke.  I was still sort of like, “Well I don’t know, Bob, you can’t just throw out statistical models…”. Now I’m like, he was right.  It’s all a hack; even when it isn’t, it may as well be.  We make science our god, but when you’re not allowed to question it or disagree with it, that’s not science; that’s dogma.  

Yesterday I was cracking up: Princeton University came out and said it’s systemically racist.  I really don’t care whether it is or ain’t — it’s systemically Princeton, for which I have zero reverence.  But yeah, they jumped on the bandwagon and virtue signaled as hard as they could, and now the only next logical step is to investigate whether or not their funding is warranted, because Federal law still prohibits the operation of discriminatory entities.  If I were Princeton I’d amend my stance and say, “Oh, we conducted an internal climate audit and turns out we’re not systemically racist, false alarm, please give us our money.”  If I were the Fed I’d shut down all these fuckers.  Lulu Lemon, you’re systemically racist?  Alright, you’re done.  Pikachu face!  The official meme of 2020.  

The craziest thing about BLM — who had a spree of assaulting people in a gay neighborhood in DC yesterday, because why wouldn’t they — is that it’s a form of terrorism they got all the white people on board with, through emotional manipulation.  As stupid as I often observe all of this is, from a simple collateral damage standpoint, I gotta admit: that part is wicked smart.  White people don’t like terrorism.  Remember 9/11, which was an inside job obviously, but how much everyone didn’t like that?  All the flags and god bless America and muslim fever?  Well, they set this one up to actually be powered by white people’s money and guilt and natural sense of integrity.  I think it’s totally natural to check yourself and say, oh, how am I complicit?  To this huge problem that I’ve being convinced exists?  

I don’t know why it didn’t work on me — I just know I’m not racist, because that’s hysterical, it has nothing to do with my personal dramas on the embodied plane this lifetime around.  Like alcoholism.  I get that that’s a thing, and I get that anything I could say to deny being an alcoholic could be interpreted as something an alcoholic would say, so it all comes back to self-inquiry.  I just know I’m not an alcoholic, and no, I can’t prove it.  I haven’t even bothered to say this, in blog form, because the entire thing has been constructed as a semantical trap.  If you admit you’re racist, then you’re obligated to do something about it, and if you deny being racist, you’re part of the problem.  My first boyfriend was an emotional bully and a terrorist, and he’d try this shit on me when I was nineteen.  “You were flirting with that man.”  Guess what?  No matter what you say or how you respond, it just gets worse.  You can’t win, because you’re not supposed to, and the goalposts will move if you try.

The lose/lose rhetoric cuts both ways though, in my opinion.  Because you can’t prove any of us are racists, the narrative changes to “unconscious bias” — you’re so racist you don’t even know you’re racist.  Okay, well, let’s accept that hypothesis as true.  It’s allllll true.  We’re all so racist we don’t even know we’re racist.  Is that actionable?  It is — in the realm of spiritual inquiry.  It’s not, in the realm of politics.  Politically, it’s actionable if we can locate and identify racist policies; turns out we can!  They discriminate against white people and Asians.  So that’s a non-starter.  Back to individuals, then.  How do you regulate against people thinking something they don’t know they’re thinking?  You can’t.  You can regulate against people doing something, whether they know they’re doing it or not, if it emerges on the level of overt discrimination or crime, but otherwise it’s unregulatable.  The spiritual vector is the only airline that goes to that airport, let’s say, but BLM is a political movement, not a spiritual one, so the actual movement (were I to extend credit for its alleged goal of racial justice, which I don’t) and any actual racists are like strangers who will never, and can never, meet.  So it’s lose/lose on both sides, except, luckily, it’s actually a terror front, not a social justice movement, so we can all just relax about the racism and deal with the actual problem at hand, which is, appropriately, terrifying.              

But I guess I understand how it’s been packaged for people, who basically want to do the right thing as it’s presented to them.  Here’s a way to feel like you’re doing something good without actually doing anything at all.  We’re suckers for that, for sure.  Like fixing climate change without actually going vegan.  Wow, that’s a good feeling, right?  Talk about it, complain about it, criticize others for not doing more about it, meet in groups to manually massage each other about it, all kinds of ways to not actually do the one fucking thing you need to do, which is stop eating meat.  

So the BLM movement is efficiently fueled by white people, which is a super cool card trick when it comes to overt terrorism in our own country.  As it’s become more and more violent and out of control, I’ve noticed the social justice warriors online tending to show their roll.  At first there was some mild pushback, like ‘hey 93% of the riots didn’t devolve to riots, you conservative drama queens’.  Now it’s just crickets.  It’s just crickets.  Just rip off the bandaid and admit you’d better vote for Trump, is my advice.  

Nick and I have both come to a deeper and deeper appreciation of our dads and their wisdom, respectively, in the last half year.  Our dads are very different people, who worship different gods let’s say, but they both tended to say stuff that we thought was a bit extreme, in our more innocently blithe times, which now doesn’t seem extreme at all.  Dads are people who pack the car for a blizzard when it’s sunny and warm out, and the older you get the more sense it makes.  I wonder if the wonder years of growing up will ever stop.

Anyway, there’s a house on the coast of Hawaii with an avocado tree, in a big grassy yard, and it has our name on it.                  

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