And suppose I don’t find a way to unite the disparate things I want to say?
Suppose I am just a set of clouds morphing in the sky, fluffy and cumulous.
Suppose I just say what happened?
I fretted about jobs and money and my place in the world, in the family of things and in my family. I worried about not being valuable enough and about how to get work, real work. And then I spoke to all the wonderful civil servants in the state of Rhode Island who have jumped into the breach to help me. And I felt lifted, noticed and cared for. I felt not so alone with the anger over being left with another mess to clean up after my reckless, feckless brother toddled off, haplessly or hopefully to his next assignment in the great beyond.
The social workers, the mental health professionals who helped my brother took over and found out how to help me too. I have infinite respect for them and the care they evinced for Peter after death and for Peter’s partner and for me. And so although the medical examiner’s office still does not know the cause of death, and as they explained it to me, they will not know for another 3 months, (why because when someone takes as many drugs as my brother did, it takes a long time for toxicology to unravel the strands) still the finality and arrangements have given me a kind of peace.
And so feeling I had been able to find a way to have my brother cremated and for his remains to be delivered, with a little ceremony to his partner has made me feel I did right by him. And I am feeling freer. And so I went to a lunch offered to me by my old time boy friend but more importantly, my long-time friend Marty.
He invited me to a “nice lunch” and in fact it was magical. It was at Balthazar, late lunch, packed dining room, glorious flowers, rose wine, steak and conversation where Marty shared what he recalled of my brother from when we were in college and my brother was ending high school and going off to art school in Philly. A five year throw. And Marty recalled some of the things my brother had done, said and attempted.
He recalled that Peter had painted his room orange and yellow in an attempt to make it resemble the inside of a circus tent. That he made a movie where he used adhesive tape to demarcate the titles on my back, and had me sit in the back yard to get a sunburn. We recalled how great the titles looked and how long it took for the words to leave my back. He remembered how my brother had taken his SAT’s on acid and made a pattern with the boxes and scored very well. He said Peter was arrogant and pompous and full of himself even as a young man, but Marty also said there was sweetness to him and I tried to recall it.
I walked from TriBeCa to Soho and then back, not a long walk, but for me tedious. And it was hot, and humid, but again, and why can’t I remember this, as soon as I got my stride and my poem going I was moving along just fine. I stopped and listened to a young man play the piano as part of the Sing for Hope program. This public art initiative places free artist decorated pianos in parks all over NYC this summer (www.playforhope.org ) It seemed like a spontaneous celebration. I knew that the young man, who was my brother, the kid brother who had addressed letters to me in the late 70’s and early 80’s merely as: WICKI TRIBECA, would have loved the random pianos dotting my downtown landscape. Yes the letters got to me. And no they wouldn’t now. The world, my landscape has changed radically. It has for all of us, but I do still know that the world offers itself freely to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting.
I need to remember to listen better.