GEORGE BAILEY, BARE BISCUITS AND JACKSON BROWNE
Hot damn. My world was turned directly on its ear in the last few weeks–mostly on account of I got exactly what I asked for and it slapped my proverbial bum. There I was, a little Beltane witch hollerin’ LAND and thumpin’ like a momma elephant with my fingertips in the air . . . and the next thing I knew, I was covered in sweat, primer and ticks while nursing a thrown back under a cedar tree. As a dear departed brother was fond of saying, twenty-three scadoo. Thought you knew. My Big Momma loves me. And I had pestered her right nearly to distraction on this little “spell,” I reckon. But, laws, has She made me earn every square foot of pear tree/fig tree/water well heaven–and she ain’t done yet. I know Her better than that.
Now. Things didn’t go smoothly, y’all. Lessee: the electric is hanging from the house all precarious like, the dryer outlet WILL NOT COOPERATE, the floors all had to come up and be laid back down, there’s water damage under a broken down window, the satellite internet is slower than molasses and I found a tick in an, um, interesting little fold of my skin. (Think: screaming, minor melt down, googling, a mishap with a match and a half hour of the strangest position I have ever been in WHILE NOT having fun.) The Southern Fried Husband’s Jeep is broken down, we are twenty minutes from town and the move has bitch slapped our bank account like a two-dollar hooker. And that’s the upside.
Where was I? Oh, yes. Getting exactly what I asked for. Yippe kayee . . .
And then . . . late last night after fried green maters, stuffed jalapenos, an audacious tribal meeting with magic students and one very vocal cicada, it landed. Square and hard. I looked around at the pillage of boxes, hand tools and general mayhem that makes up the material of my life and remembered how it all got there: on the backs and sweat of my friends. Y’all have no idea of the magnitude of full-tilt-boogie, no-holds-barred energy it took to move my little family in those short days. Folks forgot to eat, nurse beaten knees and breathe. I watched my magical daughter lift twenty-pound concrete blocks for hours on account of they meant something to me. I sat astounded when her wife, exhausted and sweaty, ran to the country store for bandaids in hopes to save a broken Salvia plant. I marvelled at my friend, Malcolm, lifting planks of wood in driving rain . . . for the second day in a row . . . with a superbly righteous smile on his face. I stood beside two women who gave up their off day to paint my home while I worried on whether or not the color would do–then watched them, husbands in tow, pack boxes and sweep filth like we were at a garden party and drinking sangria. And not one time, not one second, did I hear: I’m tired. Naw. What I heard was: it will be okay, hon. It will get done.
And I’ll be damned if it didn’t. Bruises, blood and all.
So, it landed there in the dark, square and hard on my shoulders: I am one rich bitch. A friend of mine recently noted that I was the “George Bailey of Auburn.” Took me a minute to realize it was a compliment, but longer to realize that somewhere down the line, somewhere along the way, I must have done something good.
I’ve been repeatedly chastised by family and others for giving too much energy, spending too much porch time with a hurt soul and wiping tears of strangers at the expense of sleep, time and money. See, I haven’t spent a life of altruism. No soul can. Every soul-slapping moment came with a heavy dose of conscience salve–for I was a wicked, wicked chile. I figure, I owed the universe. What I didn’t count on, what knocked my drawers off, was this overwhelming show of adoration and self-sacrifice from the strangest places of my circle. (Yes, I did notice where it didn’tshow up–but hey. That’s theirs to wrestle.)
So. George Bailey, aye? Strange that my friend would deem me that worthy, but more that I had considered, um, an icy bridge or three lately. Strange that every time I leaned over, an unruly angel needed saving . . . and that jumping for someone else’s ass always saves me.
Now. I realize I haven’t been poetic enough, witchy enough, or Southern enough in this post. Two tears in a bucket, pluck it. Life doesn’t always allow for syrup, y’all. Sometimes, you mayhap end up with a dry biscuit–and Seba Land is suffering from the lack of a store run lately. But, to hell with it. I’ll try:
A long, long time ago and very far away, there was a New Jersey prostitute who saved a teenage punk of a girl. Her name was Faye and she had golden curls, an efficiency apartment and dreamed of falling in love one day somewhere in Corn Country. Now, Faye was worried about the Wile Chile and thereby would lecture her greatly on the evils and perils of the world whilst layering red wax across her lips and burning the bathroom formica with a Pall Mall. Wile Chile had no walkin’ sense and only half listened to Miss Faye, yet had no squirms of conscience about how hard her benefactor had to “work” to provide extra cigarettes and peanut butter for her little squatter rear. One night before Miss Faye left for a particularly revenue-esk “date,” she sat the child down and handed her a cassette tape of Jackson Browne and instructed her to memorize a certain track. As her benefactor had never asked anything of Wile Chile before (not that it would have made any nevermind, but the light from the frozen window had just then hit the cassette in a gray-crystal manner and glamoured the child), the little shitass consented.
Well. That child learnt every word. She sat there, contemplating and broken, and twisted her long black hair to the tinkle of piano keys and the sound of the Jersey Turnpike until the keys rattled at the door. And then they cried together, the Prostitute and the Wile Chile, with a bottle of Strawberry Hill. They grieved each other’s innocence, they wiped away the other’s sins. Then they saved each other, you know, the way that women do on the precipice of starvation, suicide and 1980 somethin’. The next morning, Miss Faye drove WC to a New York airport and sent her on home to her Grandma, the soul whom had never lost faith in her Southern taterhead. Months later, a letter was delivered to Alabama. Inside was simply one photograph: a woman with golden locks (a bid pudgier than WC remembered), a strapping man holding her hand and a milk-fattened toehead boy in a diaper. The return address read simply: Main Street, Des Moines, Iowa.
And the Wile Child cried again. When she was done, she began the long struggle to one day become saltier, sweeter and worthy of all that Prostitute Peanut Butter. No one could stop her from offering it, with a bit of jam, to other Wile Chillun–on account of it’s sustaining like that.
“Never give up.” The only thing that was written on the back of the photo.
I never did, Faye. And my Corn Country is ear-to-ear with folks worth saving.
To my readers: My little ass moved out to the country. Pictures won’t load, links won’t read, so this one’s on the plain side. Calling Wild Blue tomorrow. Y’all hang on. xo