The Virgin and the Gypsy

I think it’s time to post this. I wrote it one morning in Berlin this past summer, for Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, on the occasion of his birthday.

This morning, bedroom

We were getting high, my friend Janet and I, behind the church by the grocery store. Back then, if you got caught, you’d be taken into the station, put before a judge—who knows what else: Raped? Ruined? We were fourteen, fifteen tops. We were the smart girls in our class, and still some of the junkies in town knew us and called us the Virgin and the Gypsy. Back then, when I got high, the earth would sometimes tip and I would start falling. It was not a pleasant feeling, but it was better than the other one, the one that I still feel sometimes–the overwhelming knowing that I am actually, like a new bird fallen from its nest, too alone.

Anyway, we were behind the church, sitting on the summer grass, and we were high, when suddenly we heard the sound of footsteps. Now, the church and the grocery store were separated only by a chain-link fence and an embankment (on the grocery-store side) crowded with trees and garbage. We were about six feet from the fence, almost close enough to reach over and touch it with our outstretched fingers. We could see the trees on the other side, but we could not see the person approaching us. We could only hear their heavy footsteps in the dry leaves. I said we were stoned—did I say we were falling?
***
Let me take a quick break to say that for my tenth birthday, my mother gave me twenty dollars, and sent me with our housekeeper to Chinatown. She couldn’t come with me on this birthday journey, because my father was very sick. I didn’t know that my father was dying, right then, at the time—I just knew that I was spending my tenth birthday alone. O.K. What I wanted for my twenty dollars was to find something that would make my father feel better. I scoured Chinatown looking for that remedy. I paced the winding streets, endured the dancing chicken and the fish smothering in their tanks. I bought him a pair of pajamas from some men with comb-overs, but that wasn’t it. It, it turns out, was perfect: Though my father was a Jew, what I found for him was a plaster Buddha, about a foot and a half high, spray-painted gold.
***
You mentioned the dog eating its own shit and not looking back. I’m happy (and afraid) to report that I eat my own shit less and less, but when I do eat it, I always look back. I always look back. I trust nothing and no one. I am trying my best to trust you.
***
My father died three days later.
***
The footsteps were heavy and slow, and were definitely heading up the embankment in our direction, as we fell towards them, stoned out of our minds. I stabbed out my joint in the grass. (Grass to grass, ashes to dirt.) I could hear that Janet had stopped breathing. I stopped breathing, too. Continue reading “The Virgin and the Gypsy”

Emptiness

I took LB’s iphone home last night by accident. She had heated me up some cauliflower au gratin, late, because I am ailing and she is LB (that is, unusually wonderful), and we had talked, while Jotto, her young terrier, who spent much time with Scout in Scout’s waning days (we had come to refer to him as Scout’s physician, Dr. Jottstein) slept on the couch between us. LB and Lynn have been very kind to me lately, listening for hours to my insane, sad ramblings. And then I went and took LB’s iPhone.

Anyway, on the way back from dropping it off this morning, I was thinking how beautiful it is in East Marion today: it’s raining, and the trees, yellow, red, orange, are wildly trance-dancing, their leaves, free, running away quickly down the road. But then it occurred to me, and I’m sorry: This beauty is death. To us it’s gorgeous, but to the trees, it’s the end of their cycle, the shutting down of their glory.

So what about that? I think that that may be an example of emptiness (though I don’t really know): Awaken to the reality that nothing is what it seems, or maybe even what it is, ever. It is not this and it is not that. In any case, we are always, in everything, somewhere between the beauty of the autumn and the death of the trees.

Frankly, though, at the moment, I envy the happy people with all their cozy stuff and their calm thoughts. When I think of myself in my nice old life, I am made completely uncomfortable by my smugness and my oblivion about the fact that all of that was careening toward the edge of the big cliff. Fuck! Love your family! Be incredibly kind!

Oh, and I have a question. Is there a scatologist in the house? Because this is the stairway that leads down from my place in the middle of the night. (The photo was taken on one of the many middle-of-the-night forays that Scout and I took when he couldn’t sleep, and couldn’t stop spinning.) It’s very steep, with narrow stairs. Just to illustrate, Julia was taking Scooby up them on one of the two trips she took out here, and he actually fell through a space in the banister, and would have been hung by his leash and collar had I not magically been under the stairs, coming out of the laundry room, to catch him, and push him back up through the crack. (Rhonestly, he was on Xanax at the time, so that both created the problem, and made it bearable while it was happening.)

Anyway, today, when I left my house to return LB’s phone, I discovered a pile of animal shit at the top of the stairs, by my door. It was not that of a dog, and probably not of a deer (there’s a lot of that around here, but downstairs). What could it have been though? I’m going to post it, in case someone has a guess. And I’m sorry for that, because it’s gross. But while I’m getting down to all the facts of life, I think maybe some shit could enter the story.

The truth is that I woke up in the middle of the night last night, very, very frightened, and, for the second night in a row, slept with my giant mag-lite curled in my arms like a rifle. I wonder whether I didn’t hear some creature outside, scuffling and snurfling and shitting in a dream-crashing way. I would love to know who I’m dealing with. Thanks in advance!

Love, Deitch