Welcome home (week 2 of 10)
a Preface to your welcome home.
This time as a baby boy. So many homes you just don’t know about, but each return visit HERE is different. You may appear as a tree, apple, gold, nugget, fish, deranged nut job, dingle berry, hair follicle, rose blossom, boy, girl, snow cap, polar bear. Some other homes don’t place things in boxes and categories and encyclopedias. You have no recall of those realms because we up here (wink, wink) erase all past life experience. It makes living in the present easier to grasp, yet still you avoid doing so. Sometimes we screw up too, and past, present and future scenarios will remain intact in some individuals. Those returnees are coined geniuses or crackpots. So here you are on earth again, with different challenges ahead. We will supply a before the facts, quick heads up synapsis. Let us delve into your future for a few moments. You are on your own after that.
Your mom will be ready for kids years after you arrive here. Your dad will be coerced to take you in. Your young stepmom will be forced to care for you and a sister before her own biological offspring arrive on the scene. All those folks will have suffered from childhood trauma themselves. Loving! touch! What is that? You will come to love and acknowledge what you receive on entering here. What will you receive? Pain and Deception. First love is first touch or is it vice-versa?
There will always be angels within, without, and about you. Two angels from your earliest memory will be Gramma who cleaned people’s homes and thrilled all you kids, when she bought home a Cushman’s Bakery chocolate cake. Remember Mama Gene’s tidy home on 114th Street and Morning Side Drive, with the scent of cashmere bouquet and the french doors separating the bedroom from the rest of the apartment? Mama Gene worked as a model of Sheba Ann Frocks. She was very tall.
Two of your very first life savers.
So welcome home young feller.
You can take it from here.
You are on your own.
Welcome home Kotter is where I shot off to.
Welcome home Kotter? They wore Afros back then in the 70’s. I had an Afro and wore green or red platform heels. Can you imagine that?
Earlier I had written about being in a baby carriage and looking up at smiling brown faces. Ma had her young hands on the carriage crossbar. I imagine her smiling softly, embarrassed by the crowd. It was Harlem you know.
Just after I poisoned the driveway gravel, I noticed the beans beginning to appear and was joy-full about the tomatoes. I built the raised organic beds three years ago.
Planted 3 tomato plants back then. They grew like crazy. There were green leaves leaves leaves twelve feet (I am guessing) high. If I was a tiny Jack and climbed day and night, I’d pass 3 tomatoes, maybe. My neighbor G dropped by and obviously like me, didn’t know squat about growing tomatoes. I grinned proudly at his mention of my green thumb. The next year, last year, my friend V showed me how to grow more tomatoes and less greenery. This year there will be an abundance from the 4 plants. I got a pan from the kitchen to drop plucked blue berries into. Purchased 4 plants from Costco last year. The 2 varieties ripen at different times. One variety has already shared her fruit. I gave some to G. The other variety still has green berries, so I plucked and ate the few ripe ones right then and there.
So welcome home. I was going to add ‘coming’ to home, but mind strongly resisted. Mind said, ‘Don’t go there’ and as you see, I didn’t. Why I didn’t go there doesn’t matter. Reminds me of the FBI scouring the earth to find out why the shooters killed so many people. Why don’t they just admit, mass shooters don’t stab people, they shoot them. Get rid of the guns and hand out knives. That is the only senseful solution. No other country in the world even comes close to the number of civilians shot by other civilians. Exchange guns for knives. Let’s all carry knives. I have got three or four already, so I am set.
Stories. One story after another. All words, thoughts and scenarios after the fact are stories. Being the moment is comparable to being a 35mm negative, where each impression is a separate image. Mind needs a story to exist. It needs a beginning and a time span. One film negative does not work for mind. It needs a before/after to compose a story. Over time stories change, even as hard as we try to maintain them intact. Same negatives viewed by different viewers will give us different stories. Photos of masters and slaves are a prime example. Wherein lies a story’s truth then?
We wind up at my favorite topic. Being here and there at the same time. Being fingers tapping the white letters on the black keys AND being the content delivering messenger. Two beings operating independently, but coming together when need be. As much as I enjoy role play, and I do, being the multiple characters in this one vessel appeals to me.
I love being home with Bernie. Bernie? Don’t know where he came from, but let’s use him as the doorman.
“Thank you Bernie. Have a good night.”
Welcome Home takes me to Vietnam and back.
I got out of the taxi on October 15th (or there about), paid the cabbie, and hoisted my duffel bag out of the boot. Boot. I was married to a Brit and some of my words have been changed for life. Boot is one of them.
There I stood looking at the projects early in the morning. Maybe at 6am on a Sunday. That would account for the the empty street. Picked up the duffel. Had moved out a year or so before I left for the conflict, as Vietnam was never a declared war. I left in 1966. It is now 1968. I didn’t volunteer, but was drafted. I was happy to get out of New York and away from them. I was 19 in 66 and killing was on my mind. First a side story!
I stayed with a family in Ubud, Bali. I played with the kids in the neighborhood. One time I was leaving Rama Sita where I lived, with a friend. I was wearing a very wide brimmed straw hat, low over my eyes. I looked at my friend and asked, “Do you think they will see me?” She said, “Fred, you are where you are.” At that moment the kids started howling and hollering “gila gila gila” Crazy crazy crazy man! It was all in fun. I love kids. I taught the Sesame Street program and at other English language schools in Taiwan. The Sesame Street classes included kids from kindergarten age up to about 14 years young. Some of hem didn’t have shoes, but the parents wanted them to learn English.
Let’s continue with the kids.
First let’s interject an important message here. I am home. Thank you for the invitation AND thank you for accepting it.
The kids loved me. We had fun together. The Chinese culture is very different than ours in ways. Most of the teachers were female. A man, a former colonel with the Chiang Kai Shek army, owned one of the many learn by rote schools. This is where the kids repeated and memorized what they heard. Not responding correctly to a question would get their palms stinging out loud, from that ruler hard smack.
I applied for a teaching job at his school. Many of the other applicants were blond and blue nordic types. Speaking with some of them was very difficult. I was often saying ‘excuse me or ‘please repeat that. I couldn’t understand what they were saying, because of their thick accents. Many of them got jobs there. Blond and blue worked for many of the Taiwanese populace. My interview lasted much longer than the others. This guy had me read just about every book in his office. OK, that may be an exaggeration, but he didn’t believe I could read English proficiently. I stayed at that school for only a short while.
College degrees were not necessary then.
I recently wrote something about my Vietnam return in a writing class. Lillian Wald houses. 930 east 4th walk, 13th floor, apt 13E. I held the duffel bag off of the elevator floor, to keep it out of the piss puddle. Stepped out. Rang the doorbell and waited. Yep, I now remember, it was on a Sunday morning. The locks, bars and chain were undone, and the door opened, with Ma behind it. I entered. Laid the bag down. Looked around. The place felt small, confining, like an old dusty dream. We looked at each other for a few moments. No words. She closed, locked, bared and chained the door, and turned to her bedroom. “Come on back. Tell me about it.” I followed. She got into bed and pulled the bedspread up to her chin. I looked down at her for a minute and said,
“There is nothing to tell really. Where’s dad?”
“Your father is down south with E. He will be back on Thursday. You want something to eat?”
“No. I’ll just change my clothes and take a walk.”
“OK, but try to be quiet. Your sisters are still sleeping.”
I changed my clothes in the living room, hung the uniform in dad’s clothing closet and never saw it again.
My Vietnam experience involved a lot of firsts. First killing humans and animals and any body being where our artillery shells landed. First smoking marijuana. First mainlining opium. First sex with a woman. Not the first being afraid of the dark. Not the first “I’m gonna die’. Not the first not trusting anyone.
The Sesame Street kids would climb on me like I was a bean stalk. Their parents and grandparents who came to get them after class, hated that. I kept my hands and arms stretched to the sky, while the children hugged and climbed over me. The students wanted to be in my classes. Word got around. I am sure I would have been out of there because of the parents hostility to my presence. Most of the parents smiled at the other teachers, but not my way.
None of that mattered, as me and my students had lots of fun the Sesame Street way. Taught English to kids and adults for 1 year in Taiwan.
The Taiwanese culture and ours(generalizing) had different ways of communicating. We go head to head, to voice concerns. Their culture used intermediaries in conflicts. I unconsciously offended a fellow teacher. A mutual friend shared the injured party’s concern. I was asked not to directly confront the accuser and didn’t. The ‘messenger’ conveyed messages back and forth, until the matter was settled.
No one liked Vietnam vets because they saw us as losers and addicts. We lost in Korea also, but there were so many more American families involved. The whole country was involved. Vietnam was young people, dopers, radicals. Kill ’em all, was the attitude, kinda.
Welcome homecoming Fred.
People say ‘You made it home in one piece’. I said that too until I discovered I really hadn’t. Then people said ‘Man, that sucks. You get through Vietnam and then get shot in the head, in New York City.’ Yeah, it sucked BUT also came with amazing growth experiences. My whole life has involved falls, crashes, broken bones, pulled muscles, tendons, ligaments, a head shot, almost drownings, then rising again with angel helpers, appearing as humans, canines, plants and silent messengers. Having the injuries have been bearable. The difficult part is the road back, but never fully back. Friends say, ‘Fred, you have 9 lives’. I say, “No more lives for me. Let this be the last one’.
Someone mentioned being in the warm ground with the worms. I know that warmth, even though I will probably feel nothing when I am down there with no eye balls, skin, meat on the bone, and eventually no bone in the ground.
I experienced something like that when following the Lakota and Blackfoot Red Road, for about ten years. I sat in prayer and the Red Road was the first time I reconnected with mother earth, actually under mother earth.
I had experienced Hathe Yoga, Rajneesh dance, Nichiren Shoshu, Contemplation, Vipassana and other since forgotten disciplines. Hatha yoga and Osho work came closer to earth, than the more esoteric venues. The Red Road work was on, in and from the earth. How in? The hamblesha is a vision quest but has more spirit connection than a vision quest. One of those years My inner guide said dig a pit instead of going on the hill. With help, we dug a 6 foot pit, wide enough for me to stand in, naked, while holding a sacred implement. I am 5’8. The pit was then covered with tented willows, covered with blankets. Pitch black, insects, bites, 4 days and 3 nights. No food or water. It took that long to know my welcome home.
In the earth, on the earth, of the earth.