Monday, September 13, 2010

The Mercury Retrograde Dance or My Trip with the Library Girl

I don't have PTSD. I time travel. I have a masters degree in alternate realities.
It was developed as a child to carry me out of situations too intense for my little mind to embrace.

 It is a blessing and in the past has been a curse.
No drama, just gratitude at this point in my life.
 I hop this mystical train to the past or future and all of my senses are alive with " that" place and time. I love this dance. Be it sweet or bitter sweet it is a wonderful way to travel.

I went into therapy to try and forget but instead I met a woman who taught me how to live the moment in a way that empowers my now.

Mercury retrograde is all about going back and reliving . My friend, Dances with Dolphins, is a gentle old soul who loves to play like a child. She has been shaking her head and mumbling " steaming piles of Mercury retrograde" for the past few weeks. It's not all stepping in shit, it can be amazing self discovery and recovery if you choose it. She is a time traveler too. Mercury went direct today but he saved the last dance for me.

I was invited  to an evening in The Library Girl series. Writers read their work in an old beat poetry style. "Life is like a canvas and they paint it with their minds". An old partner of the process sent the invitation and it was on.

 I had never been to the venue before but I knew where it would take me. I'd be back in my twenties with long auburn hair dancing just above a 26 inch waist. Robert would still be alive and we would drink cheap champagne, smoke a joint, and "the deals were goin' down, the deals were goin' down, the deals were goin' down in the city."

I went shopping the day before the trip. The costume is always important to me. You can take the costumer out of the costume shop but you can't take know the rest. I was going back to my first job as a costumer. An innocent time when a kiss was just a kiss.

 My theatrical background like a sleeping giant was stretching and grumbling to be fed. I took out the pony tail I wear as a massage therapist, let down my Lady Clairol auburn hair and felt  the fearlessness of the girl who pulled together 88 costumes in 7 days. I wanted to take this trip but like most sober alcoholics I was apprehensive about the depth of waters I was about to swim.

 I was grateful my posse decided to join me at the last minute. Tina Sparkle, Dances with Dolphins, and Abracadebra piled in to Tina's coach and baby we were off. We looked good. As we drove into Santa Monica 2010 was fading. " Palm trees swayed like vaulting poles, like bamboo sticks". The address was 3000 Airport Ave.Santa Monica,Ca., I do not make this shit up. God how I love the ironic.

I laughed out loud as we drove up and I saw the building that looked like Baghdad Cafe. Somewhere I had never been was somewhere I had been so many times. As this posse hit the "lobby" I could not help but wonder if the old Persian rugs on the floor were my imagination or if all converted theater spaces just grew them on their own. The make shift bar, the theater loving volunteers, the benches along the wall that came out of someones garage, the long hallway to the womb like room with rose colored theater seats and the white trellis work set covered in  artificial vines, oh yeah, welcome to the Club Bayou. Welcome to every little theater I have ever lived in long enough to touch the craft of creating magic out of nothing.

Drinking from a plastic party cup of red wine and sitting on a bench was a time kissed member of the old posse. Lupe was warm and inviting. Quick conversation tried to cover 25 or was it 30 years in a heart beat. She said I looked the same. Even though time had kissed me too, I felt the same as back when we whispered secrets and shared crumpled newspaper reviews rewarding our " verisimilitude".

Lupe and John had now been married 40 years. John was the last act on the program. My old friend was now a successful play write and actor. I had see in the pictures on his Facebook page that he was still as handsome as I remembered. I wondered if the score to his life would still rock with " Born in the USA" down the streets of the city, the movie star city, do wha ditty, wha ditty in the city.

 John directed and starred in that production so many years ago. Robert was acting in it as well .  He came home one day and told me " Girl, you are going with me to rehearsal tonight. We need help with the costumes and you are going to do it." Back then I did what Robert told me to do. He wasn't bossy he just took you along for every ride he thought would open your heart or mind.

Robert was tall with jet black skin. He was a  green eyed brother who had the kind of charisma that could hold the attention of a thousand ten year old students. In the magic of the silence he recited stories of Dr. King, Malcolm X and Big Sixteen. I hear as I write this his deep base laugh. He'd laugh right at you or more often himself. His charm was undeniable. We met in college and became fast friends. When I moved to Los Angeles we became roommates and I became his apprentice in life. I trusted him with everything. He gave me something to drink and I drank it. I knew it would be good for me because Robert always had my best interest at heart. HIV virus took his body but his spirit met me in the lobby on this night and I was damn glad to see him. It felt good to feel so safe , being reminded to own my truth, to stand tall, live my beauty, and above everything else let my creative spirit roll. The lessons he taught me had become me. I promise to tell his story another day, just know for now I loved him in a way that goes unmatched. It never was a romance, it wasn't meant to be, it was a heart to heart life lesson.

We crammed our tushes into the theater seats, Lupe, myself, Tina Sparkle,and Dances with Dolphins, all in a row. Baby, that is a power posse. The theater was packed and alive with palpable anticipation.

One by one they read their stories and poetry. First the son of the producer played and sang an old Buddy Holly tune to get us in the mood.Then a well known character actress sent us into seam splitting belly laughs as she recounted her on line dating experiences. I was headed back for sure now.

 My mind raced with my own on line dating experiences. The guy with the plastic light up Jesus on the fireplace mantle in front of the twenty thousand dollar oil painting he bought at auction who took me through five elegant marble bathrooms that housed his live lizard collection. When he asked me if I wanted to pet his lizard he meant a real living reptile it wasn't a come on. The guy who asked me if I would dress up like a bunny, I thought he meant a Playboy bunny but noooo......he wanted a big stuffed animal bunny. Time traveling let me enjoy one more long wet kiss with Rob. The man who taught me, some men can attract " exactly what they have been longing for" but sadly can not stay to enjoy it.
As I came back to present ,the performer was telling us she met a man who became her life partner, note to self....don't stop believing.

Next was a small sweet man who worked in film production . He read poems from his youth about girls who stole his heart only to run off with older boys and how invisible his thirteen year old self felt. His wife of seven years sat in the front row listening to him , two loving eyes, holding his pain struck youthful heart, reminding me sometimes you win. Love finds us. Some men stay.

Dances with Dolphins knew the next performer, she lived just down the block from her. They didn't really know each other but the seemed to wind up in each others orbit from time to time. This tall thin woman in a knitted hat with a flower on it had all the lights turned up so she could see our faces. She had grown up an only child and wanted our company.

 Before she started her piece she rearranged the stage. She seemed to be working to get things just right before she started her tale of the girl who didn't get the guy. She was the girl who lost her love to her best friend, a blond blue eyed shiksa who looked like Susan Day. The boy turned out to be gay. But she hadn't really dodged the bullet. She wove into the fabric of her presentation the heart breaking loss of her father , that she had kept as a secret and her salvation in her crush on Paul Mc Cartney. Her long thin fingers traced a place on her shoulder showing us where they had removed her fathers arm to try and save his life and her words told us how his showing her his wound drew them closer in a bond that death and time would never erase.

 We all learned the truth at seventeen. Even girls who look like models get trashed in the movie star city. Suck it up girl, in Hollywood you get haunted by airbrushed pictures you can't live up to and you are the girl in the picture. Sweetie, life just isn't airbrushed. I wanted to tell her I lost my father before I was old enough to know him. Her stories I most feared. I'd been the blue eyed blond but I knew her pain and loss. I had the love who confessed he was gay and I knew the pain of the thousands of questions you ask wondering what you did wrong. Sing a lullaby honey, soft and sweet, sing it to yourself.  " Late nights and Early Times got a hold on me. Late nights and Early Times love is misery."

As we moved on in this literary garden a flower bloomed, a bleached blond Iris, hip, smart and soulful. She rocked us with a story of The Beat Hotel in Palm Desert. A  haven for the time traveler. Easy access to a past rich in poets and bad boys. I had stayed in this hotel years ago. I knew the warm desert wind so stirring. I'd felt the muse and the stories Steve, the hotel owner turned beat historian, would tell. William Burrows drank out of this glass and so and so wrote this in that room, on and on  beat poet history was told.

The more she read the more I wanted to hear. She was fresh, raw and honest to the bone. She told us the story of a naked photo shoot in front of the long long gold trailer parked at the entrance of the hotel. This hotel just called to being naked. I had my own naked swim in the pool one moonlit July night. All alone except for Dean Martin on the loud speakers serenading my naked midnight swim. I knew how free she felt and how she was so glad to have been so bold for she would never pass this way again. A few weeks later Steve would die and take with him the stories, poets and bad boys. Nobody will ever tell them like Steve did.

She shuffled through her papers looking for her next piece and reluctantly settled on a piece she had not planned to read. As she read her story the catch in her throat let us know that though she was fully clothed this was the real naked. She stripped away the poet, the writer, the naked prankster and before us stood nude as the loving daughter whose mother at this very moment was in the process of releasing her life on this planet. You could not help but fall in love with this most intimate tribute. Words from the page became clear bright images of a life well lived. The textures and colors were so well drawn you felt somehow when Mom was gone, although you never met her, you would miss her too.Like a true pro she never broke down as that one slow tear ran down her pale white cheek. " Rita's eyes were cuttin' through the smoke."

The evening closed with my friend John. He brought with him a musician named Al. The handsome silver fox and his shadow on the drums. When John walked on the stage the energy crackled . He told the story of returning from Vietnam.

 John is a time traveler too.Every solider should have a Lupe. Tonight John  would tell us the story of how the "far out" girl takes him to a party where his life will be changed by love. This story is about the night he met Lupe for the first time.  John and Al do a dance in such perfect step that they become one. In my minds ear I hear Robert saying "He's nation wide Deb" oh yeah, this is the real deal. The man makes you hang on every word just waiting for what will happen next.  If we drank Jack Daniels back in the day tonight we were drinking in a fine aged cognac. This was rich and lush and I wanted to savor it. This had me found in the moment. I could smell the incense, hear the music and feel the heat. Just at the perfect moment Al would seamlessly respond with drum and voice painting a picture that is a time travelers dream. "Life is like a canvas and you paint it with your mind."

 I have been shamed in the past for being "too" emotional. I live out loud. For awhile now I have dumbed my life down. I have hidden inside myself and that is alright. But it can't last. Over the last few years my job has been to heal people and in my spare time grieve. All of the people whose approval have I have sought have moved on from this planet and I am free to seek my own approval. I have a feeling it is back to livin' out loud. I'm so grateful I can feel so strong and love so deep.

Thank you poets and mystics for your stories last night. That is what it is all about, the good stuff, Thank you posse for loving me when I'm crazy and hanging with me for the ride. You had my back and made me safe for this trip. Thank you Robert for teaching me to just do it, a life with out risk is boring. Thank you Lupe for embracing me again after so many years.

 Thank You John for giving an inexperienced 24 year old girl an opportunity that would change the course of her journey. Thank you for healing from the unthinkable and coming out to share with us in such a vulnerable and valuable way. Thank You Mercury for one hell of a dance with the muse. " and the deals are goin' down, the deals are goin' down , the deals are goin' down in the city."