heartmelt

❤melt : calling on alex

I met Alex when I was 17 years old.  I don’t know if you can remember so long ago, but I can.  Back then, the world was so small that everything was within reach, and time was so overgrown that you could take as much as you needed.  Back then, we were afraid to die young, as if life were more slippery than youth.

We spent the summer sprawled out on sofas, laughing in temples, traipsing down street fairs, and slicing into pancakes.  My sister, my best friends, and me.  I don’t think anyone had seen such an odd combination, but we were always evenly matched. Two against two.

We would take turns on each others teams, but it always ended up tied in a knot.  A knot we pretended was a bow.  A bow we pretended was on purpose.

We could never fall out of balance enough to break the tie, so we’d simply untie the bow and unwrap the gift of life.  We let go of expectations and lived frugally on surprise, until we all accidentally grew up.

In the years since then, the four of us have given toasts and welcomed babies.  We’ve opened stores and shut them down.  We’ve bought congrats-on-the-career-we-don’t-approve-of cactuses and I’m-sorry-things-suck roses.  We’ve said more truthful things to each other than most people hear in a lifetime. Sometimes we avoid each other for months, happy to live in a grown up lie, afraid to hear the truth at all and sure it’s all we’d get from one another.

When random prison cops told me Dave died, I didn’t believe them.

They had called me into the sergeant’s office and brought in the closest thing the prison had to a grief expert– the beautiful Officer Blige.  The room was full of them– every senior officer on duty.  I listened politely, because I have a fondness for her, but was so confident in my denial that I confused everyone.  They started rummaging through papers and clipboards to confirm, but couldn’t find me any proof that my David Martinez — that my husband — had died.

Finally they asked me to phone a friend, not realizing that the running joke of my life is that “phoning a friend” is really just code for calling Alex.

So I called Alex.

I told him what they had said, and he paused and replied, “See what happened was…”.  I put down the phone.

“Did he confirm?” they asked, eight faces staring intently at me.

“Yes.” I said woodenly.  I didn’t understand it, but I believed it.   Other people have truth that ebb and flow, truth that moves like sand or time.  Alex’s truth is like a rock.  You can walk on it, or rest on it, and in the hours following the news, it was the only ground I trusted.

It took weeks to see him in person after I came home.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the world grew up and you have to run around to find anything you want now.  Time shrunk and is shrinking, so quickly that it sometimes vanishes before you can even close your grip around it.  Being grownup is harder than advertised.

Now we’re all afraid we’ll live forever.

When life isn’t working, that small fear becomes a terror.  It is giant and sits on my chest, paralyzing me.  Right now– today– this moment– everything that can be broken is broken, or is breaking. Every dream I have seems like a rocky road and a bad plan.  I don’t have any of the answers, so I phoned a friend.

I called Alex.

And he came, of course, because there’s still more pancakes to slice and cement steps to rest on.  He arrived with gifts– a little toy Gizmo that he thought I’d like, obviously forgetting that I’ve been terrified of the Gremlins since I saw the movie as a child.   Alex isn’t the one of us who is in charge of remembering.  Alex is the one in charge of doing.

I thanked him, and then looked closely at the doll, ready to feel the tingle of fear wash over my skin.  The goosebumps.  The tightening of my muscles in a subdued flight or fight response.

But there was nothing.

Because size isn’t permanent, and neither are fears.  Sometimes very big things become very small.  Sometimes overgrown nightmares go nearly extinct.  Sometimes a momentary gift of love erases a lifetime of terror.

 

Gizmo and street tacos because some friends are save-the-day experts. Thanks @alexhyu

A post shared by My name is Ra. (@rawra.avis) on

 

Everything passes on– the good and the bad, the young and the old– and I don’t know if it’s harder to know you won’t see the end of every fearful thing, or harder to know you might live to see the birth of new fearful things.  I don’t know if it’s harder to know that you might see the end of everything you’ve ever loved, or harder to know that you might never see the blossoming of all the things you might’ve loved.

Either way it’s all about love and fear.

Today, over street tacos, I looked at a tiny gremlin and remembered when my fear of him was as big as the world is today.  Today, my car isn’t working, my computer isn’t working, the software I need to do what I’ve done my whole adult life is gone, my husband is gone, my phone barely holds a charge, and I can barely hold my head up as I go through so many days full of rejection and chaos and loss.  It’s fear, fear as big as the world is today.

But across the table is Alex.

 

 

Alex from my 17th birthday bonfire party.  Alex from my grand opening, and house warming, and wedding.  Alex from when I couldn’t make rent, and from when our old car wouldn’t start, and from every time I’ve needed help turning an idea into an action.  Alex from across a plexiglass visiting window.   Alex through a phone at a sergeant’s office.

I think– maybe the world isn’t so big after all.  Maybe my fear isn’t so big after all.  Maybe everything is small, and I can reach for what I want, and pinch away the stuff I don’t, because the only thing in my life that has been consistently larger than life itself– is love.

I thank him again for the gremlin, and he smiles, totally oblivious that I’ve told him a dozen times I’m terrified of them.  He doesn’t hold onto memories like that because he knows everything passes on.  It’s an Alex truth, the kind you can rest on, or walk on, depending on what you need to be doing.

So, today, I rested on truth and love, and all the little nightmares were too small to bother me at all.   It reminded me of way back in the day, when I was just 17.

I don’t know if you can remember so long ago, but I can.  The world was small then, just like now.  Time ebbed and flowed, just like always.

And Alex was there for me.
Even then.

 

Best Of Friends since '02. It was good to have the family back. @alexhyu & #X

A post shared by My name is Ra. (@rawra.avis) on

 

__________________________

NanoPoblano, NaBloPoMo

Heartmelts. Not just for Mondays anymore. 

Do you have an Alex in your life?  You can say hi to him over on Instagram if you want.  He’s happy to be your Alex, too.  http://instagram.com/alexhyu

38 comments

  1. I wrote a book in honor of my Alex. He died when we were living grown up lives, too far apart in space and time. I have it out to a few agents and am praying it gets picked up.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I am glad you had an Alex, and I am heartbroken for your loss, all at the same time. The world gets big and small like that, all the time, and sometimes our people are farther than they should be… *hugs* I can’t wait to read your story when it’s published. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! This comment sent me on a picture crusade, and though I have a zillion pictures of him… I have none of us together. I updated the post with a few instagram pictures. Doing that stuff on a phone is hard, but I feel like it looks prettier now, so thank you. 😀

      And yes, yay for rocks!! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Zorbear won’t be responding to this post. You see, he’s such a little, baby bear that I have to read the posts to him and then he tells me what to say back. And I won’t be reading this post to him because it would be meaningless. He’s suffered no losses yet, and I want to keep the knowledge that such things happen from him as long as I can. As his parent, it’s the least I can do.

    That said, I once had an Alex, but he’s gone on ahead. Thank you for reminding me that he’s not really gone anywhere at all. As long as he’s in my heart and mind, he’s still there, watching over me, reminding me of the only truths that matter…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes, you can lose the solid truths. No matter how big or small the world gets, or whatever passes on, that sort of thing stays under your feet forever. I’m sure of it. Give Zorbear a big hug for me… I think I might write a story just for him and the other Little Foots that visit this blog someday.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “Everything passes on– the good and the bad, the young and the old– and I don’t know if it’s harder to know you won’t see the end of every fearful thing, or harder to know you might live to see the birth of new fearful things. I don’t know if it’s harder to know that you might see the end of everything you’ve ever loved, or harder to know that you might never see the blossoming of all the things you might’ve loved.”

    *weeps*

    If you have ever doubted the beauty of your words. Don’t. xx

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Another beautiful post. Friends like Alex are quite rare, as I’m sure you already know. I have been fortunate to run across a handful of them in my life, but not one so long-standing as Alex. I am thankful that he is your rock for those of us too far away to be that for you – even though we would like to. On a side note, you wrote: “Now we’re all afraid we’ll live forever.” That reminded me of one of my favorite lines from a very “D” level movie. In it, Ethan Hawke’s character has contracted the virus making everyone vampires. He’s eating at some diner and says, “Life’s a bitch; and then you DON’T die.” Great line from a right terrible movie. I’ve never forgotten it. Only in my worst imaginations do I ever consider what it would be like to never move on from this world.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You are blessed to have an Alex in your life. And I imagine you are ‘Alex’ to several people. It’s the way you are. My ‘Alex’ is a couple of sisters, and if I ever lost Don I’d just drop everything and go to one of them. As usual the way you write about it is thoughtful, creative, exquisite and heartfelt – jealous 🙂
    The last letter I sent you in prison has been returned. I’ll send it on to you anyway – it’s still relevant.
    Alison xoxox

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This was beautiful. Thank you.

    I too have an Alex that is wise enough to just listen when I need to talk, to throw a funny comment in when I’m nearing my limit, to call me just to make sure I’m okay and to care. I’m grateful for this compassionate, caring, strong and gentle friend.

    Like

  7. The only person who’s consistently been around in my life is my sister. I have friends who’ve come and gone, who I thought would stay forever, but they moved on or I did, and new friends moved into some of that space in my heart. But my sister is there for me in a way no one else is, and she knows I’m there for her too.

    Have I said recently that I love you, Ra? ❤

    Like

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