He settles into his stride,
Crossing at the crosswalk as all good citizens do.
His half-cocked smile, his knowing, grey eyes,
Catch me in mid-glimpse as I stop my car.
He is, after all, crossing legally.
This man, with haughty dignity
And days of dirt on his face, beard, and clothes,
Advises me silently that someone important
Is crossing my path.
I understand fully. I must stop my car.
His jackets look impacted with his life,
Filled, I’m certain, with more clothes, booze,
And tiny bits of memorabilia about which,
If someone else ever found them,
Would have no meaning.
One item screams for my attention:
A brand new pack of Marlboro cigarettes.
It’s a pack of golds.
This gentleman, and I use the word specifically,
Holds them proudly, tightly along with his 49-cent, red lighter.
Could this brand new pack of cigarettes
Be the reason for his cock-surety?
Could his new-found abundance be the reason
I’ve clearly been put in my place?
I did, after all, stop the car when he tacitly demanded I do so.
I suspect that it is not just the cigarettes.
I suspect it is much more.
In his mind – in his world – he is king.
He needn’t receive others’ adulation or affirmation.
He knows who he is.
This proud pack of cigarettes is simply the scepter
Of a royal with sequoia posture and
Fern-like outgrowth on his face.
“Stop the car. Let me pass,” he glances.
“Gladly, my liege.” I obey.
With all the discussion about marriage equality, I’ve heard arguments that included using different language for marriage-equivalents between two people of the same gender to protect the traditional definition of marriage. Well, I would like to suggest that if that is the case, let’s also find a lesser name for the union between two people who were previously married to other people since divorce historically is not allowed except under very specific situations in some traditions. Let’s also rename the union that includes one or both individuals who have betrayed his or her spouse with infidelity, because certainly this cannot be considered a sacred union. We should also find a different word for a “husband” who doesn’t provide for his family, because that doesn’t meet the traditional role of husband defined by many societies. Perhaps we also find another word for “wife” for a woman who doesn’t stay home to care for the family, and instead works to provide for the family. And a different name for a couple who chooses not to have or cannot have children other than “married.” If we’re going to argue for the definition of traditional marriage, which for the record has nothing to do with what some folks suggest, let’s keep the word “marriage” for a man and a woman who only have been married to one another, have been completely faithful, only have sex to propagate, where the husband works to earn a living, and the wife stays home to care for the children, they don’t use birth control, and they have regular sex, because most traditions require that as part of a “real” marriage.
If these limitations are not possible, then let’s use the word “marriage” for a ceremony in which two adults who have no legal reason they cannot otherwise be married, and who love one another, are joined in wedlock. You see, the definition of marriage is becoming more inclusive all over the world, including countries in North America, South America, Europe, and Africa. Nothing anyone says or does at this point will change this fact. Eventually, the United States Supreme Court will grant all couples the right to marry. Eventually, all 50 states will grant permission to all couples to marry. Perhaps this year. Perhaps next year. Perhaps in 10 years, but eventually, this will be the case. It is inevitable. Those who attempt to stop or slow that process will be seen as having been on the wrong side of history. How our descendants will perceive those of you who drag your heels will be seen in the future.
Same-sex marriage may never be permitted in Muslim countries or where other religiously-orthodox governments exist. I understand that those who adhere to certain religious traditions do not support marriage equality, but state-sanctioned marriage has nothing to do with religion. The state grants permission for an atheist couple to be just as married as a Hasidic Jewish couple.
For the record, my husband and I had a religious ceremony and, as far as we are concerned, we are married in the eyes of God. Yes, we have a registered domestic partnership through the state, but that doesn’t count nearly as strongly to us as our marriage vows, which our minister officiated. Our vows are between God and us as a couple. I would suggest no one has a right to challenge the marriage celebrated in the eyes of God, nor how we call our marriage . No one.
What I know is that one day, my husband and I will be able to be legally married in our home state of California. Until that day, I will not stand idly by and let others insist how my husband and I should define our relationship, anymore than I would insist how others should define their marriages.
A Single Brick
By James Glica-Hernandez
Carefully, patiently, I lay my bricks,
One on top of the other,
Building the edifice of the
Sturdy, stalwart dam.
No expectations for soaring height
Or vast breadth… at the start, at least.
As the structure grows,
So does the tragic surprise.
Each brick holds back
Another drop of truth unspoken,
Another quivering breath held tight,
Another disappointment hidden.
Avoiding a wretched, free release,
A volume of terrorizing words,
The structure of expressed agony,
These bricks hold life together unchanged.
For should these bricks fail,
Everything would be drowned out
By the thunderous weight and
Suffocating tears of separation and loss.
So, build on shall I
Toward a façade of unvanquished strength
And veiled, unending sorrow
So that others… even me… can maintain our “same.”
Emotional boundaries can be tough to define. On the one hand, we want to welcome people into our lives and keep them there. On the other hand, we want to make sure our hearts and bodies do not become damaged by another person’s presence. To accomplish this balancing act, we create boundaries.
Sometimes, these boundaries are so loose, they don’t prevent much more than someone drowning us in a pool. Others have parameters that are so stringent, no one has access to the person’s vulnerability. Both of these places can be very lonely for very different reasons. The former creates loneliness because often, we are so ashamed that we will not discuss the situation with others. The latter is lonely because we push everyone away who wants to get close.
Boundaries are a necessity, though. Some view the production of boundaries as an ego-based activity. I do not happen to believe it is. I believe that these boundaries are a healthy way of building an emotional home in which to live.
“I welcome you to speak freely to me,” means there are a lot of windows from which light can bathe the room.
“I will only discuss things with you that are spoken respectfully,” means that orderliness in the home is vital to healthy living.
“I will not tolerate physical violence,” means that no one may approach your home with a wrecking ball.
“All people in my home will be respected… always… no matter how deeply you disagree with them,” means that your home is a safe and healthy place to be for those who value those qualities, and a place from which others must leave if they do not choose to live according to these rules.
Arguments and disagreements are understandable. Even anger has its place; however, one must always remember that love comes first. One must love one’s self enough to act according to one’s highest expectation of himself, and one must love the other enough to not lose control over his words or actions.
Boundaries are healthy if not too loose or too stringent. The best tool to determine how they work is to evaluate whether one is lonely or feels overwhelmed by the presence of another. If one feels appropriate levels of both freedom and responsibility, joy and challenges, strength and growth, then one is in a marvelous place.
Must I contemplate whether my lack of active writing contributes to my doldrums? I believe so. I have been wallowing in stagnancy recently. This question, as all important questions do to me, flashed in my heart and felt right. Really right.
What do I know about writing? The naked truth is this: More than music, more than family, more than verbal expressions of my faith, my writing gives me succor. I know I’m neither an expert nor do I appeal to all people in my craft; however, I feel better when I write. I feel more alive, more vivid, more animated, more valuable. In writing, like in visual art, my written craft is permanent-ish. As one who had paintings burn during a gallery exhibit limited to my work along, I can say firsthand that this is not always the case. First-person, first-hand. Without writing, I am arid and desolate. The blank page is my canvas. I simply color it my way. Yes, I’m still at the level of scrawled crayons and fingerpaints, but I will continue on my path toward fulfillment and excellence.
My dream? To know that I can sit in my studio and write all day long without financial worries, family concerns, social obligations. To say, without fear of repercussions, exactly what is on my mind and in my heart to say. This alone would be a huge change for me.
Perhaps, once before I die, I will have written something truly satisfying and delicious; something I can dreamily savor until the books of the Akashic Record are my library.
I lost a friend today. Not just any friend, but a dynamically important friend. He actually died in early November, but no one called us, his family, to let us know. We found out yesterday. Richard and I have been friends since the early 1970s. We have been “sistuhs” since coming up in the discos during the era of polyester, thumping bass, and champagne splits at gay bars around Sacramento and San Jose. I will miss my friend for so many reasons. Our history is long and always loving.
What makes this so much more difficult is that the series of losses in the last few years of life-long family/friends closest to me, David, Mark, Joe, Miriam, and now Richard, is increasing. These are people that are my brothers and sisters, whether by birth or love. I’ve been so graced to have so many to call my dearest friends in life. Of the friends with whom I’ve stayed consistently close to for more than 35 years, only five remain, Margaret, David, Jeff, Sharon, and Shirley.
My more recent friends, and by that I mean people with whom I’ve been close for 12 to 20 years or more, like Cathy, Sandy, Jeff K., and others are just as vital to my emotional and spiritual well-being. These oldest friends, though, are important in a different way, because now that my family of origin, the three others in the Floyd Glica family, are gone, these friends are the only ones with whom I can share our memories nearly as closely as family. Even my siblings by birth have not known me as long as my oldest friends.
The road grows more challenging without these comrades by my side where I can hear their advice, see their smiles, or hug their warm souls in person. Sometimes, I feel like I will be like my 92-year-old Aunt Mary who talks about being the last one of her friends to remain here to remember. In my selfishness, I don’t want to be the last one standing. The pain, I think, would be unbearable.
I will miss my beloved family and friends forever.
How is it that people born between 1900 and 1940, and tied to us in a direct genealogical lineage can be so very new? That is the art and science of genealogy, I suppose. Names and dates, paperwork and photos. Sometimes, question marks are the most specific items we have about someone. For many years, that is who my great-grandfather, John D’Anna was to me. Now, in 2013, I am just beginning to discover who he is. Because of the generosity of the family who grew knowing him, I am able to see him moving in silent films from the 1950s. I am able to hear more historical information; the real stuff about a real person from living, breathing relatives. It is a powerful experience to say the least.
Until 1997, I didn’t know anything else about John D’Anna other than that he was my great-aunt’s first husband, and the father of my grandmother’s favorite first cousin. After that, I discovered that John was also my grandmother’s father, which made Georgette my grandmother’s sister. It was good news for both of them. For Gam, this was brand new information. For Georgette, it was a lifelong secret about which she could finally discuss. For me, it raised many new questions.
John’s face has always been illusive to me. Always at an angle, or in Black & White. He always was looking down, or very old. Now, John’s face is becoming more familiar and younger. He reminds me more of my cousin, Kelly in some ways. I realize, too, that more than any other branch of my family, my skin color is identical to my great-grandfather’s tone.
I try so hard to integrate this information in all its abundance and importance, but I now this is a slow process.
“Fear not the road ahead. Standing still in life is the only real danger.” ~ James C. Glica-Hernandez January 1, 2013