There’s been a wonderful tendency of mine, recently, to simply enjoy all of my various circumstances for what they have been. I’ve been the kind of man to set my own standards, and take an unwavering stand on my own principals. There have always been some things I’ve believed in that I’ve decided to take a stand on in this life.
I’ve succeeded in accomplishing just that one goal, rather well.
I’m sitting in my usual spot, with my notebook, keying in all these thoughts, and have been considering how well things have gone for me, over my very precarious lifetime, how I’ve always known where I stand, regardless of the extent of my illness, at any given moment. I’ve succeeded, not failed. It’s so reassuring to look back over my life, and take stock of all my various decisions in life.
I’m confident I’ve made the right decisions for myself, time and time again.
It’s a funny thing about principals. One day a man wakes up and realizes that he’s either been true to himself, or he hasn’t. That day comes in any man’s life, when there’s no more middle ground left for him to occupy. He’s either succeeded or failed, and it’s that simple. My father failed, I’m certain. He did not succeed in remaining a gentleman under any and all circumstances, the way he advocated I do, in all of his lofty verbiage, that he spoke of so flagrantly, while he was alive.
With all his bluster, keeping himself a gentleman seems to have been one of his basic standards which he could not uphold in his life, in spite of himself. He had to face that lie of his, sooner or later. With all of his bluster about holding the highest morals and principals, the day must have come for him, that would allow for no more lies.
He knew what he’d done.
In the final analysis, the man was a wife beater and a child abuser, and it’s facts like those that creep up in a man’s mind, when the nights get long, lonely, and isolated. Major holidays come back around to haunt a man, if he has any sort of conscience whatsoever, and the questions of why the man is alone will come to him, in spite of himself, if he has any conscience at all.
He either receives an indictment, or he doesn’t.
But this is not just a tally of my father’s shortcomings for the public to climb onto my same old band wagon with me about. He knew what he’d done to his family, and found a way to, not only live with it, but also found a way to die with it. The day came when he found himself all alone in life, and he never did enough to take a stand on any of the lofty principals he said he stood for.
I know because I was the son of the man, who became the student of his father, the young man who had all the lessons of his father’s mistakes memorized, to compare my own adulthood behavior, to learn from his, and to apply it all to my own life. It would’ve been such a waste of a life, for the son to not have learned from his father, whenever it became my responsibility to study my own father’s issues, and to apply them to my own life.
I don’t believe the man ever realized I paid him the compliment.
The solitude comes to me and haunts me at holiday times, whenever I don’t have much to do.
This has been part and parcel of the way I’ve lived my whole life, from the days of my father’s mistakes, through the times I’ve been expected to make my own decisions about my own circumstances. What I’m enjoying today is the knowledge that I’ve remained true to all the most lofty principals I’ve ever been exposed to. I’ve been true blue to every last one of them for a lifetime.
I’m not saying I haven’t made my mistakes, but that I haven’t violated my principals.
There happens to be the one phone call I made to a young lady, with the expressed purpose of making her upset about something that wasn’t even her issue. I blamed her for something that was obviously my own affair, but she took the bait, and accepted responsibility for what I’d done to myself. It upset her. That was the one time I really did do something I wish I hadn’t done.
I’ve just had the most wonderful conversation with a close friend today, and we discussed all the in’s and out’s of what I’m generally referring to here. The way it adds up is on the positive side, in my favor, without holding back any kind of information or discussion on the matter. It might be unwise to fully discuss all the in’s and out’s of my deepest personal issues, and I’ll decline to do so here.
But know that I’ve succeeded, rather than failed.
I enjoy remembering some of my friends, from a time I haven’t thought much of anything about in several years now. I almost forgot altogether. I can recall knowing a very nice young lady, from the Mt Vernon Place Methodist Church, who was a Spanish major in college. She was quite fluent in the language, even though she made it plain that it was not her native tongue.
She was very fluent.
She had a way of helping me speak the language with a significant amount of alacrity. It was uncanny. I’ve forgotten her name, but she used to believe in my ability to speak Spanish with such confidence, it was almost as if she could get into my head and help me formulate the sentences, as we conversed regularly in the most complex Spanish, in the basement of that church, where we hung out.
This person was one of many people I knew and enjoyed friendships with, in the Mt Vernon Area of Baltimore City, way back at the end of the 1970’s, when I was trying to avoid mind-altering chemicals, by associating with respectable people from the Methodist Church. I heard about auditions for the paid choir at one point, and was told that I read music very well, by the choirmaster, himself.
He did decline to employ me to sing in his choir, though, and I’m certain he did so as a response to my infamous substance abuse issues. Their worship service was on the radio on Sunday mornings. I’ve always been an open and honest individual, and knew several of the people in that neighborhood, over the several months I lived there, in the Albion Hotel on Cathedral Street in Mt Vernon.
There were plenty of other musicians to know, that close to the conservatory of music.
That choir master was always respectful of me after I auditioned for his paid choir. He sensed that there had been a day and time I had known very well, what I was doing as a choir member, even though he did not know the full story. I wasn’t so much the man to tell stories, in those days, but there were other people there who found me to be quite the remarkable character in those days.
I became a personage in Mt Vernon in the late 1970’s.
At that time, the Albion Hotel was an old, cheap hotel, but was adequate for my needs, nonetheless. I spent the nights writing music for guitar. The Albion was comfortable enough for me to put myself up there, and it provided a home for me in a pleasant neighborhood for quite some time. I knew this one flutist, who had bushy read hair, who was the most astonishing beauty to behold.
I never heard her play the flute.
She told me she married a young fella I saw coming and going from her apartment, knowing something of her whereabouts in the neighborhood, without making too much of a nuisance of myself. She was a delightful young lady by the name of Mindy, who was later known to hang on my every word, when I went back to Baltimore City, to visit from the hospital, the following winter.
She and I enjoyed a friendship in passing, in the time I lived in Mt Vernon.
I used to attend the young adult Christian Fellowship at the Mt Vernon Place Methodist Church. One night I took occasion to pray in front of the entire assembly. There happened to be this wonderful young lady, who used to insist on trying to have a relationship with me, when I had a major nervous breakdown, just because she insisted I had prayed the most real prayer she had ever heard.
I ended up in Springfield Hospital, with a toxic reaction to some kind of chemical I had no intention of taking. Margie would drive herself out into the country, to Springfield Hospital, to see me on the weekends, to try her level best, to encourage me to feel good about myself, and find that I was alright, in and of myself, regardless of what I was thinking about at the time.
I was sick with an overdose, and she couldn’t understand it anymore than I could.
I’ve never been able to tell the tale very well, but there was this little park in Bolton Hill, where I went to one day, alone, to sit on a park bench and enjoy a moment of relaxation, in a springtime afternoon. I saw one of the city graffiti artists happen by, and he was painting everything in sight. This just happened to be one of those things I’d always wanted to see in Baltimore City, and there he was.
I sensed that it was a special, spiritual moment, and I was waiting to see what happened next.
There were these two guys who walked by where I was sitting, and one of them took one of his hands out of his jacket pocket. There fell a sugar packet out of his pocket, and he didn’t seem to notice or care. I was in the habit, from being in state hospitals, of eating raw sugar straight out of the packet, but when I tried to, with this particular sugar packet, the contents were not sugar.
It was too late, from the first taste of the substance. I was dosed. I was overwhelmed by whatever chemical was in that packet, and my abstinence and sobriety were forfeit, whether I wanted them to be or not. I ended up back in Springfield Hospital, in a most sorry state of inebriation, and to this day I don’t know what the chemical was that I had dosed myself with on that day.
Margie would come visit me fairly regularly, at the ward of the state hospital, after she found out I was there, but it was no use. Apparently, whatever the chemical was in that particular sugar packet, whether it was heroin, cocaine, or crystal, I never did know. But I had a major mental problem with being dosed by whatever it was, for the better part of a full year thereafter.
Margie stopped coming to visit me after a few trips.