I couldn’t bring myself to write a single word of the autobiography that day, but spent an inordinate amount of time lying there staring at a blank page. I really just didn’t give a shit about my past, and I was pretty damn sure no one else did either. Therapists always thought the problem was in your childhood- that you had been abused or something- and I’d had a perfectly fine childhood from what I remembered- though admittedly, that wasn’t much before my early teenage years. The moment I decided to just blow it off for the day, I remembered the lucid words of the woman in the wheelchair in the Alhambra ward basketball court cage: that I would need to write for me– that I was the one who needed to read it, to see it- and that people would take or leave the truth whether I censor myself or try to entertain or not. Perhaps she was right- that despite how painfully difficult it was for me to drag myself through writing something that I don’t believe would be of any consequence to anyone- that writers were writers because they wrote what burned inside of them; no matter how presumptuous, egocentric, ill- paced, vapid, or tedious their tangible expressions may seem to the reader.
“So You Want to Be A Writer…” I muttered, rolling over with an exasperated sigh. I only had to share it with the house residents- I didn’t need to impress anyone, It was just that I hated doing anything half-assed, and would take me a lot longer than three days to avoid neglecting details that would never stop nagging at me.
“God if you think I should write this worthless autobiography I need some kind of motivation, muse, or sign that I should waste all my time digging up things that I’m fairly certain don’t matter anymore. Because I think this is stupid and you know how hard it is for me to write things I don’t give a shit about,” I said aloud, burying my face in the pillow. In my mind I saw the old man in that chapel in Oxnard who had given me the last journal and told me to “write down everything that happens.” I shifted again, spacing out somewhere in the boughs of the oak tree at the window, continuing to watch the blurred memory in my mind. Only then did I recall anything else the man had said, of which he again looked at me very seriously and said that in the future I would doubt, but that I needed to “not doubt that God really does talk to you.” Perhaps he was simply out of his head, speaking nonsense like the nonsensical thoughts tirelessly running through my own head.
“I don’t know if I even really know me- how is anyone else supposed to?” An inordinately large hummingbird zoomed up to the window, beak all but scraping the glass. He hovered there for perhaps somewhere around five seconds or so- then with a sideways motion that made me think he would have asked me what I was doing, the light caught his ruby- feathered chest.
“Sorry buddy, not in the mood,” I said as though he could hear or understand, as he zipped off.
I suppose I had indeed been given a lemon or two- and without much delay; my dumb sign I had asked for, and was always asking for because I tended to be really dense in regards to believing in anything positive- what I had written in this book had also happened. So I guess God was still listening. Maybe even in a generous mood.
I turned to a few lines below the request for a lemon, first pausing to go back and write a small “thank you” beneath it.
I wrote, “Dear God, please let me die- very, very soon- or as soon as possible. I’m tired. I want to go home, but not home where I grew up- that doesn’t feel like home either. Nowhere does. Never has. I need to go somewhere far, far away from myself, everyone, and everything – but I can never get far enough away from the things that torment me day in and out; but you already knew that. But I know we made a deal, and though I confess I regret now that you spared a life that only went on to become entirely worthless and burdensome to me- give me the strength, the will, and the direction to fulfill my purpose here; but please bring it swiftly and after, do not forget my heart’s desire and request for rest and home.”
I took a safety pin from the inner lining of my grey jacket- just like I did that day 11 years ago- and drawing a few drops of blood, retraced over the word home.