Just the Right Amount of Strange

Have you ever met someone and clicked with them instantly because they’re the same kind of weird that you are? Isn’t it great? It’s such a relief to feel understood and accepted.

Recently someone pointed out to me that there’s really no such thing as normal. Good point. I’ve never known anyone who hasn’t felt at least a little bit “out there”.

Personally, I’d find it rather creepy if we were all alike. The implication would be that we had no free will or independent thought. I can think of no better definition of hell.

That’s why I’m instantly repulsed by people who tell me that the only way to get to heaven is by subscribing to a specific creed. That sure doesn’t sound like heaven to me. I don’t want to agree with everyone all the time. I don’t want to check my brains and my personality at the door. I would die of boredom. You keep your Stepford Wife Heaven to yourself. I’ll have no part of it.

I like to let my freak flag fly, and enjoy having it fly with plenty of crazy company!

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Orion’s Belt

Most couples have a favorite song, or a favorite movie or a favorite restaurant. We had a favorite constellation. Even though he’s no longer here, those stars still watch over me.

We chose it because it was the first constellation we could see as we stepped out of our house in Vero Beach. That town is the perfect place to take walks at night because you always feel safe. In this day and age one should lock one’s doors no matter where one lives, but in Vero Beach at least I wasn’t completely horrified if I forgot to lock them every now and then.

So we’d follow Orion’s belt down the street, loop around, and eventually wind up down by the river, where we’d sit on the banks and gaze heavenward. We were close enough to smell the salt air from the beaches. Sometimes we’d sit near a local bar and listen to live music. Other times we would just sit. I loved being quiet with him. And I loved the outlandish things he’d say to break the silence, too.

When he passed away, I didn’t see Orion’s Belt for a month. I was either too distracted to look up, or there were clouds in the sky. Sometimes I’d look for it. Sometimes I just didn’t have the heart.

Whenever I see it now I think of him. I wonder if you can still see the stars where he is. I hope so. He loved them.

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[Image credit: sciencereflections.com]

The Other Place

When my boyfriend, Chuck Guerra, passed away on Monday, it wasn’t the first time. He died several times on the table 25 years ago during brain surgery. So this time he knew exactly where he was going.

Naturally I was devastated. I still am. I can’t imagine a time when I won’t be. But at the same time I know he is at peace because he has gone to “the other place”. That’s what he always called it.

He told me all about the other place on several occasions. He said that when he was there he felt an unbelievable connection to every single person that he loved, both living and dead. There was no anger, no pain, no worry, no sadness, no fear, only joy and freedom and pure love.

He said that while he was there, he only had to think of a place and he would instantly be there. He could learn anything he wanted to learn and know anything he wanted to know. He said classes would always start just when you arrived, because time isn’t linear like it is here.

And he could talk to animals. He remembered playing with a giant dragonfly and a bear. Here, he was often visited by butterflies to an unusual degree, and he considered them messengers from the other place.

At the end of that visit 25 years ago, a man sat him down and said, “You can stay here if you want, or you can go back. It’s up to you. But I will tell you that you’re going to have this for all eternity. You only get a little bit of that.” So Chuck, having young children at the time, decided to come back. He loved them so much he felt he had to.

But he always missed the other place, and he said he wasn’t afraid of dying. He also looked at every day here on earth as a gift, and one that you only get a little bit of. He used to say, “You have been given a perfectly good day. What will you do with it?”

I feel lost without Chuck, but I know he doesn’t feel lost. He knows exactly where he is, and that place is good. Somewhere, he’s playing with giant dragonflies and knowing whatever he wants to know.

Rest in peace, my love. Breathe easy.

I leave you now with a poem that my dear cousin Karen shared with me.

Death is Nothing at All
By Henry Scott Holland

Death is nothing at all.
I have only slipped away to the next room.
I am I and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other,
That, we still are.

Call me by my old familiar name.
Speak to me in the easy way
which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me. Pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word
that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effect.
Without the trace of a shadow on it.

Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same that it ever was.
There is absolute unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind
because I am out of sight?

I am but waiting for you.
For an interval.
Somewhere. Very near.
Just around the corner.

All is well.

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[Image credit: etsy.com]

Perfect Moments

Andy Warhol said that we’d all get 15 minutes of fame. To that I say, “Pffft, what’s the point?” If you’re the type that wants fame, having only 15 minutes of it would be cruel at best. Fortunately, fame is not nearly as important to me as experiencing perfect moments in time.

Have you ever experienced one of those fleeting instants in your life when everything seems to come together and you know you’ll hold that memory close at hand for as long as you live? I honestly believe that those are the moments you will see when your life flashes before your eyes. Those brief interludes are when you get to taste pure joy. I have had a few. They always sneak up on me.

One time I was sitting on a lawn chair on a beach in Puerto Rico. The temperature was perfect, and there was a slight breeze. I had no place that I had to be. The surf was rolling onto the shore, and there seemed to be a million stars in the sky. I saw the Southern Cross just above the horizon. And BAM. There I was. In a perfect moment.

Another time I was standing on a rooftop in Istanbul, and all of a sudden all the mosques in the area began the call to prayer as I gazed over the city. It had taken quite a bit to get myself to that city, and yet there I was. Again, a perfect moment.

And then there’s every single solitary time I look at the full moon.

Then there was the time I stepped out my front door and the entire sky was, I swear to God, bright yellow. I have no idea why. And I’ve never seen anything like that before or since. But it was like I was on another planet. Everyone in the park across the street was just standing there, staring skyward. I wanted to take a picture, but that would have meant going inside to find my camera, and I didn’t want to miss a single second of it.

Another time I was swimming in a crystal clear cove in Dubrovnik, Croatia. I have never seen water so pure or a day so fine. Heaven could not be better.

The first perfect moment I remember was as a child in Connecticut. I was sitting on a rocking chair in the living room with all the lights out except those on the Christmas tree. I was in my pajamas and wrapped in a soft blanket. Safe and warm. And I just happened to look over my shoulder just as it started to snow for the first time that winter. Bliss.

The moment I cherish most, perhaps, is the first time I stood at the Craggy Gardens overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway and I knew, I mean, I KNEW this was where I was supposed to be. This was what home felt like. I could breathe. I’ve been trying to get back there ever since.

Who needs fame? If I get 15 perfect moments in time, I’ll consider myself fortunate indeed.

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