I’ve only spotlighted one other writer – Craig Johnson- on this sight before, and that was some years ago. Today it’s a writer that I’ve known for a few years named Ray Harvey. I’ve read Ray in small bites before, but this piece drew my envy and admiration. I’ll let it speak for itself. So damn good.
Another Day in the Life
Hypothermia, hunger, addiction, dehydration.
Nicotine, caffeine, ephedrine.
Revulsion, degradation, medication, hallucination, humiliation, resignation.
Freight train, roll yer own, box car, don’t want to die alone.
Street light, street fight, stolen car, fugitive.
Food shelf, soup line, tramp stamps, dumpster dive.
Chased down, locked up, broke down, humbled.
Hypothermia, street fight, chased down…
The Northwoods of Minnesota, in the ’60s and ’70s, was a blue collar enclave of iron mining communities. The women and children worked hard on the home front while the men (and a very few women) worked swing shifts at the mines. With all of the responsibilities of raising four kids and taking care of my Dad’s needs, Mom wrote.
It’s taken me until very recently to realize that therein lies the roots of my writing. One would think that it is a glaringly obvious statement, but her writing was almost never discussed. Ever present, in various locations around the living room, were copies of Redbook, McCalls, and Ladies Home Journal and Reader’s Digest. There were novels by Leon Uris, Anais Nin, William Peter Blatty, Victoria Holt or Mario Puzzo. And then there was the Writer’s Digest – The Bible of writers.
Mom wrote short stories and submitted them to each of the women’s magazines, and received her rejection letters quietly. In fact, her entire writing experience was done quietly. No one ever discussed it. It wasn’t taboo, it just never came up. I was barely aware of it, being so self-absorbed as kids are I do remember her tap tap tapping on her typewriter on days that I was home sick from school. I’ve never read her work. I can only assume that the subject matter would have been appealing to women – based on the magazines that she was submitting to.
She was repressed by time, place, societal norms and expectations. As more time passes since her death a few years ago, I’ve come to see her in a much different light and along with that comes a much deeper appreciation and respect.
She was an avid reader and always encouraged me to do the same, and I did. When I showed an interest in photography, she subscribed to two photography magazines for me. She was a good singer, and when any of us showed an interest in music, she supported it. She was always trying to expand her world. After my father passed away, she married an artist who worked in the painting and sculpture mediums.
She was bigger than her surroundings, but I didn’t appreciate it. I do now, and I am proud of her.
I wept over my break-up with God while driving. I was thinking about our good times; those hundreds of hours spent in praise and worship, and then remembering that I thrilled at the experience of the fellowship all in unison with one intent, but also not admitting that I was not feeling the presence of God, but rather the euphoria of a single-minded meditation of sorts. Not once did He show up. We waited, vigilantly, but no-one could say definitively that He showed up to the party being thrown in His honor.
And that time as a missionary in Mexico when a family brought their daughter, crippled with polio, to a group of us at a work sight. The parents saw the joy in our faces during the Sunday service earlier in the week and where convinced that the Holy Spirit inhabited our praises. We also believed, and we prayed for her leg to straighten as a testimony to her family and village that God will never forsake. But He did.
And the hundreds of hours in prayer.
And so on.
We had a 35-year relationship with plenty of separations and restorations until, well, I just ran out of gas. I didn’t have the one-sided conversation in me anymore. I wasn’t buying the, “God speaks to you through the people he puts in our lives and through the good things that have happened to you and the bad things that didn’t.” I’ve counseled people with that line, but it was very good sounding and anxiety relieving bullshit. He never spoke to me. Not once. Not ever.
I miss Him a lot. I wept so deeply I had to pull over.
That was yesterday. Today I find myself fully dressed and in my right mind. I think I’ll write.