Monday, September 27, 2010

Seeking advice on the shedding of tears

Weeping Parisian
from Wikimedia Commons
There's been a death in my world. I have lost someone who has been a mentor, cheerleader, advisor, confidant, entertainer and listener. A kind, talented, beautiful person inside and out. Someone who protected, nurtured, endured, stumbled, climbed, sorrowed, succeeded, wept, laughed, loved, smiled, beamed, angered, frustrated, manipulated, gave, enjoyed, planned, played, produced, praised and prayed.

I've shed a few tears but haven't really had a good cry yet. Maybe I need to watch a tearjerker movie to get me started and then I can just let loose.

The few tears I have shed felt good. I wouldn't say they were bitter tears, but tears of loss and sadness mixed with tears of gratitude and thanksgiving. But for days now, I've felt all dried up and cried out. So if you have any good recommendations on movies that'll make even a tough old cowboy cry, well then let me know. Not that I'm a tough old cowboy but the old part is true.

So what have I gained? An increased appreciation of hospice, hugs, music, friends, loved ones, kind words, sunshine, sleep, food, silence, flowers, funeral directors and that certain change in the air that comes with fall. And these old song lyrics and the melodies that go with them.

The falling leaves drift by the window
The autumn leaves of red and gold
I see your lips, the summer kisses
The sun-burned hands I used to hold

Since you went away the days grow long
And soon I'll hear old winter's song
But I miss you most of all my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall

Oh, it's a long long while from May to December
But the days grow short when you reach September
When the autumn weather turns the leaves to flame
And you ain't got time for waiting game

When days dwindle down to a precious few
September November,
And these few golden days I'd share with you
Those golden days I share with you

And then there's this from Emily Dickinson:

I held a jewel in my fingers
And went to sleep
The day was warm, and winds were prosy
I said "twill keep"

I woke and child my honest fingers,
The Gem was gone
And now, an Amethyst remembrance
Is all I own

So, now just so you know that my question above was serious, I'm going to repeat it here: What do you recommend for a fellow who knows he needs to cry, and who really thinks he wants to cry, but doesn't quite remember how? Should I try the movies route? If so, which ones? Any other ideas?
Thanks my friends.

Monday, September 6, 2010

On a Summer Night (part three)

So when I realized this was not an accident, I didn’t really think through my options at all. I don’t think I knew about the three reactions humans and animals often have regarding what they perceive to be threatening. I didn’t think: fight, flight or freeze. Beck speculated about what I did. Here's what he imagined and my thoughts all these years later:

Beck: You playfully tousled his hair in return and you both started laughing and brushed it off with embarrassed chuckles?
Me: No, but I wish I had. I wish I had at least said or done something.

Beck: You slowly woke up and asked him: "What do you think you're doing?" as he immediately slid back into his sleeping bag?
Me: That doesn’t sound at all like me as a 15-year-old, or even now. But that’s what I like about it. Maybe we would have started wrestling again.

Beck: Your reflexes got the best of you and you slugged him in the nose?
Me: Again this sounds impossible, but I do kind of like the idea of some playful violence. I guess the idea is that he did invade my space and I should have done something to reciprocate.

Beck: You brought your arm around him and gave him a big kiss?
Me: This is the one I like the best. But this is now, not then. I was so homophobic I couldn’t imagine hugging or kissing another male. But that would have been cool to tousle his hair, and then perhaps caress his face, and then move in a little closer, but it would be another year before I kissed girl and decades before I would let another man touch me.

Beck: You pretended to stay asleep but you agonized all night wondering what the tousle meant?
Me: This is the closest to the truth. I pretended to be asleep. Then I seemed to be able to put the entire think out of my mind. But funny thing about repression, here I am four decades later, still thinking about it.

To bring the story up to date, our friendship continued throughout high school and college. We were never close, but then again I was not very close with anyone in those days. Both of us married beautiful women and fathered sons and daughters. Early in his career my friend moved out of state and we lost track of each other for a decade or so. Then we reconnected through annual Christmas cards, until one year my card was returned. I realize this echoes the plot in Brokeback Mountain, but that story and mine only have a few points in common.

To be continued.

Friday, September 3, 2010

On a Summer Night (part two)

So there we in our sleeping bags out under the stars in my back yard. I don’t remember our conversation ending, it’s just that there were longer and longer pauses between his comments and mine. As the pauses grew longer, I grew sleepier. But I know I wasn’t dreaming when my friend did something I didn’t understand then and still don’t fully understand now.

Just now I googled definitions for the word “tousle” and here’s what I got: “Tousle, to make something (especially a person’s hair) untidy. She reached up behind his head and gave his hair a tousle.”

That’s the word for it. My friend, my male friend, my 15-year-old active-in-the-LDS church male friend, had reached over and was tousling my hair. Maybe he thought I was asleep. Maybe he was just curious about what my hair felt like, but I know this: It wasn’t an accident.

It wasn’t just a single tousle that could be explained by a sleepy involuntary stretch that just happened to graze the top of my head. He tousled my hair deliberately and fairly slowly. It wasn’t just a few strokes for a few seconds. He went from my forehead to the back of my head several times.

I didn't realize it at the time, but as I've thought about it over the years, he was touching me in a very loving and affectionate way, or at the very least in a most curious, exploratory way. It was totally chaste in way, like petting a dog, but in another way it was also incredibly sexually charged because his fingers were in my hair, and he was a 15-year-old boy who was touching another 15-year-old boy as they slept out under the stars on a warm summer night. At least that's how I see it NOW as a married man and father.

But back then, as an inexperienced lad, I wondered what was going on, and I wondered what I should say or whether to say anything. What I decided to do may surprise you, or perhaps you’ve already guessed. To be continued.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

On a Summer Night

I've been thinking about some of my teenage experiences, especially one warm night when my good friend and I were sleeping under the stars in my back yard. I know we weren't sixteen yet because neither of us had our license to drive. We'd lived in the same neighborhood for years, but we'd really only gotten to know each other in the last year. Like me, his dad wasn't around. My mom was on her second marriage and his mom was divorced. 

So our moms weren't with our dads and we lived the same street and went to the same ward and the same school, but other than that we didn't have too much in common. I wore glasses over my brown eyes. His blue/hazel eyes needed no correction. I was good at non-technical stuff like English and history. He slaughtered the English language but was great with math. He was into sports. I wasn't. Yet somehow we had become friends. 

Actually I shouldn't say somehow. I know exactly how it happened. We were walking home from school one day and when we got to his house, he tackled me on his lawn. No warning. He didn't challenge me to a fight. We weren't talking about anything in particular, but suddenly he was on top of me and I was fighting to get free. Eventually the fight stopped. I picked up my books and walked home. After that we were pretty good friends.

Well back to that summer night on the back lawn. We'd had a long talk about religion--I wasn't active in the church and he was--and then things grew quiet and I started to fall asleep. Then my friend did something that I will always remember. To be continued.