Thursday, June 30, 2011

cricket: the mystery of the human presence

what is the difference between a friend alive and a friend dead? for some reason i always end up asking obvious questions! i mean, the answer has to be their missing laugh, their gorgeous smile and contemptuous upper lip. they can't help me with my homework or interrupt my thought.

actually, those not true. i've memories that sometimes crack me up. i've photographs, videos, recorded conversations. the magical discoveries and inventions should bring that person alive, yet they do not. part of it is unpredictability. i never quite knew what bill or randy, for example, would say or do. little twitches and squeaks could modify a usual expression. and some people we miss more than others. i never thought the one person i would miss the most bert gardner, my traveling companion. i realized after she died, neither of us trespassed on our inner turf, quietness emanated from berta, she listened a lot more than she talked. 

a few public figures liven up our world in such a way that when they pass my world is not the same. picasso one such, t.s. eliot another, and when steve jobs leaves, my universe will be a less interesting place. only a few resonate this way. diana never affected me, but, boy, she sure did a lot of other people. 

last fall my sister cricket called me. out of a job, behind on her rent, i could hear the fear in voice: i'm about to be a bag lady. for the first time in my life i leaped in with money (i'm basically a tightwad), not to pay her rent, rather to buy her a laptop. 57, she'd never had a computer. i figured if i could get her on facebook she'd connect with many friends from her life. and that's what happened. she'd been a part of the sixties, seventies, and eighties music scene, traveling around with groups like asleep at the wheel, drinking their whiskey, going outside to puke so she could drink more and keep up with the boys.

the important part of the story for me: what made her delightful to so many of these folks. as i got her online, a phone with unlimited calling, paying the gas and electricity (she still lives without heat cause she doesn't have the money), i understood. a dedicated supporter of beautiful singing and beatful musicians, a  passionate lover of dogs, a funny friend, she shares herself in a way with them that makes their life fuller and livelier. 

of course, she's not sugar and spice and everything nice. depressed and grumpy, irritated and anxious, she's as annoying as the rest of us. however, these don't last long, she's careful to pay her share and usually very thankful and considerate.  a lightbulb flashed in my head: presence, that's all i have to give. all that really matters is what i'm doing right now. yes, doing. i've always been suspicious of advice be here now. no, i'm doing here now, damnit, even if i'm meditating, watching a movie, or sleeping. 

thanks, cricket. you've really been the one to help me. never a father, i at least had the experience of a little adopted girl. no wonder parents put up with everything that comes later!

you can see more pictures of cricket here: