There is no pain so profound as a story waiting, inside, to be told. I believe that is quote by Dr. Maya Angelou. But I haven’t the will to sluice through Google to find out. It doesn’t really matter anyway since it’s the truth. I fell in love with that woman on the day she passed away. And it always feels that way. That I’d missed my chance. I’d missed my opportunity to get to know her.
I have always felt like I’ve arrived in life a day late and a dollar short. Born in the concrete jungle in a city that used to be. A city on the edge of a river that flows down to Lake Erie in Michigan’s handprint state. Detroit was a city that used to be, more Roman Ruins than American Exceptional. The gothic towers of old churches pointed heavenward amidst the broken down and bedraggled houses built during the world wars.
With broken concrete, broken dreams, and broken taillights the city’s skyline shined on the Detroit River like false advertisement. Motown, HockeyTown, The Motor City – often vied for the title Murder Capital of the World along with Chicago and Washington D.C.
In the 1980’s, when I was young, the city to consisted of a few houses in a lower-middle-class neighborhood on the Southwest Side. Forbidden to the cross the street or go beyond the bushes that bordered my grandmother’s house several houses down, that had been my world. Things were not bad then, or at least that’s what my brain tries to tell me, but bits of memory like so much smoke in an old juke joint rise up from in between memories of Christmas and summertime to make a liar out of me.
The 1990’s was pure hell. In summers heat gangs were restless and bored. And during the cold months leading to Halloween, they sometimes firebombed homes for the fun of it. We called that Devil’s night.
I am writing this today, mostly, as a sort of message in a bottle. Written down hastily, corked, and thrown out onto the sea of the internet in hopes that someone would read it. And once they’ve read it would sit down along the shoreline and believe the words that I’ve written. And in that belief wonder at how it was that a soul like mine could have gotten so lost. No, that isn’t exactly true. I don’t want your pity. I just want you to believe me.
Over the course of several years, I’ve tried to figure out what happened in my life to make me so sad. Why I carry with me this weight in my heart that stoops my shoulders and bows my head. And for many years I did everything I could to escape it. From joining the army, to going to the middle east, to coming home and running all over hell’s half-acre. But like a great shadow, a conscious creature, it followed me wherever I went.
The newness of my new world and new circumstances would wear off and there I would be. Knee deep in my ‘me-ness’. When I lamented that to an ex-lover – he sniffed and shook his head with profound (profoundness purchased from his several shrinks he loved to keep on his payroll, I’m sure) seriousness and said, “Freddie, no matter where you go there you are.”
Now this sage wisdom came rolling off the lips of someone who cut hair for a living. Not that there was anything wrong with that. Certainly not. Many people make great money doing it as he did. But the statement was out of character for him. I had failed to been added to his thin concerns which were only for himself. Of course, until I wanted to leave and then he’d tell me he loved me, or he’d cry, or a million other reasons why I didn’t walk away. It would take me three years, and several random men who approached me to tell me about him, to figure that out for myself.
But that’s a story for a later time. Right now I am focused on beginnings. Where things originated. My Genisis, so to speak. As a writer, I have often pondered about putting all this down in book form. But the idea of making money off the stripes on my back make me curl inward as if I had just witnessed something obscene. It felt dirty that I would be airing my life out and more than ever I felt reticent about selling a book that would reek of scandal and be tantamount to some cheap ‘tell-all novel’ about the inner workings of fundamentalistic religion and how I survived it.
Recently, I’ve even emailed four educators, professors, experts in fundamentalist religion and violence and offered myself and my story up for use by them or any student working under them who needed dissertation material, or thesis material for their Master’s degree. I figure someone somewhere ‘out there’ could use this information.
I received one reply email today from one of those experts. A nice man who informed me that the was no longer in fundamentalism and didn’t have any graduate students studying about it at present. He thanked me for my query and wished me luck saying, “I’m sure you have much to offer in the above regard by way of your personal experience. I hope you eventually find an appropriate venue for such discourse.”
See, that’s the problem. I’ve never been able to find so said appropriate venue. All I know is I’ve had stories rattling around in my head that would probably curl people’s hair. It’s weighed me down in ways that I can’t even begin to describe and as I said in my email to this man (and to three others)that, “… if I can’t relieve myself of the weight of them (my stories) then perhaps I can use it for the greater good.”
Again, a day late and a dollar short.
Not to say that I am unhappy. I am not. I am a happy guy. I have happiness in my life. I have a wonderful husband and a near-do-well writing career. But I have sadness in me sequestered into a corner of my mind that every once in awhile – like a ghost- decides to raise it’s head and tell me stories I’d like to forget.
So, without any other ‘appropriate venue’ I think I am going to bring it here. A message in a bottle. Or a series of messages in a bottle from a storm-tossed soul. A man who’s gay, an ex- fundamentalist, an ex-republican, married, scary story/ romance writer who hopes that someone out there tonight – or in the following days, months, years etc. would believe him.
Because like most horror stories, novels, and movies out there – sometimes there is no answer to what happens to the cast of characters when the story ends. So, this is my S.O.S as I’m stranded on the isle of recovery from what would amount to an American Horror Story. Except the ghosts were real, and the monsters loved Jesus.
I don’t know how often I’ll write. But I will write as often as I can. Thanks