Hallowed Conditions

Yesterday there was a memorial for Jim Dwyer, a complicated man who was often flamboyant, sometimes moody, always bright and a good man and a visible member of our community. He became an alcoholic after he retired and that was at least a cautionary tale about leaving behind one’s profession. He had one great human love that I knew about and that was a woman I work with and have known for many years… they had a passionate short affair before she had to give him an ultimatum about the alcohol. His sudden death, poignantly or otherwise, in a convenience store after a Farewell Grateful Dead concert came as a surprise but turned out to be the work of heart disease not an overdose. The memorial was not an orchestrated gathering and no one, except his brother (whose mannerisms I cherished, since they were also Jim’s,) spoke… the musicians did a little, but other than that we wandered around at the Grange, ate, looked through the memorabilia and kept our memories to ourselves. The family (and Jim!) wanted no alcohol and so it was sober and quiet. A very un-Jim time. My potato salad dropped on the floor and the bowl shattered for an unremarkable bit of excitement and I also led very tall Vanessa around on the dance floor in circles to a dizzying version of a Dead song—her sadness that of an invisible widow.

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I remembered how one time when Michael was gone I took Jim up on an offer to go skiing. We went with two of his friends from north of Chico. It turned out to be a nice day on the McGowan Lake trail and I enjoyed the company of the woman of the couple and didn’t spend much time with Jim until the ride home. On the ride home he rather strangely started telling me about how smart he was, about his IQ and basically pointing out how superior he was. I didn’t know what to do with that information but knew on some level it was a rejection of me as inferior to him. I didn’t take offense… I just marveled at the oddity and awkwardness of the information as conversational matter.

You have to wonder about the arc of our lives and the people we touch. I woke feeling death putting out tentacles and it was Jim’s unheralded lonely death in that convenience store that pulled me from the unconsciousness of my sleep. When it is over for each of us others eulogize us even if they never really knew us, as I barely knew Jim, although I think we were friends, as far as that goes. I went to his home one time to check on him when he was posting suicidal statements on facebook. In that encounter he was as docile as a child and promised me he would not kill himself since he had his cat to care for.

I’ve been missing Michael since I got home from Creech…

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I had another of those wandering reviews of the geography of his illness trying to find an intersect where I might have helped save him. Since he was never really sick in the classic sense of acting sick I still can’t completely reconcile the boney ash under the tree and on my counter with the handsome and completely vital man in the photos.

Later—It’s three o’clock on a perfect fall day. I have been anxious and panicky all afternoon and feel like I am crying inside. I don’t even have zucchini to carve this year so I scored a few of Bruce’s rejects and have dusted, picked flowers and lit candles for the night ahead.

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I missed one shift of the KZFR pledge drive while I was aimlessly picking my way home from yoga (and getting a much needed chair massage from Weezie.) I have to go back to the studio at 5pm and my plan is to ride my bike and look at the lit carved pumpkins on the way home. The Chico Police have pretty well sealed the streets to prevent the outrageously fun parades of night creatures we used to have on Halloween so I don’t expect that it matters that I will be in for the night by 7:30.

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Selkie has gotten into the spirit of things by eating something dead so I’m taking her outside now so I can meditate and breathe some un-contaminated air before I have a toast of Bailey’s and head to the station. To all Beings, Living and Dead, I send my quavery regards.

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