It was the kind of house no proper Mother would want to find her son or daughter living in; mold growing rampant on the ceilings, an unknown liquidly substance seemingly leaking upwards between the disjointed floorboards. There was a small family, if you can call it that, of pigeons living, suitably, in the living room. That was where I mainly slept. I didn’t mind the pigeons- out of all of us, anyway, I minded them less and lately it was even less and less so, as was my minding of everything else.
Momma Marian had been a superfluous Mother figure for me up until I was about 13 and started developing a bosom- not that I blame my bosom, though perhaps I should. Momma Marian snapped over something, snapped over nothing- I don’t know which, but she split one evening after supper- never came back. Timothy, my little brother, and I sat in her bed waiting until Tuesday when the cops showed up and shuffled us off to be cared for, as per the request of the government and society.
Momma Marian never emerged to tell her side of the story, maybe she died- maybe I don’t care. Maybe I’m bitter. Maybe I‘m terrible. “You can never tell anything anymore, so it’s no use considering,” would say Jediah at my mention. Jediah was my first love. He never was a lover, but he rescued me from foster care. He stole me away and we became the epitome of classic novel adventurists on our streetcars and cable cars and old abandoned building/homes and wise cracking old veterans and chess players in the park- every park in America. I grew up and I became me because of Jediah.
Jediah. Jediah. Jediah. Doesn’t his name just sound like the very spark of life at inception?
Hey- Universe! I have a question? Why do you take away all of the good things from me and leave me sleeping with pigeons? Don’t you know I need a Mother? Don’t you know I have a brother? Don’t you know I’m too young to die unknown, unloved, and undiscovered?
Jediah. Jediah. Jediah.
He had blond hair. I always found it magical. Blond hair follicles growing out of a bone white skull, so light and effulgent. He may as well have been a mythical creature to me. His eyes, blue, of course, but tricky. One minute wise, like he knew things only an Egyptian mystic could have known about the universe, and the next second, he could seem as lost as me. But I always trusted him. I always trusted him. If I cried, he held me, mostly. If I slept, he stayed awake on lookout for harms way- which was never lurking too far behind.
Jediah. Jediah. Jediah.
Jediah became my Mother. He didn’t look the part, but he played it better than the real life character. So nurturing and loving, but most of all, he never left until he had to.
Jediah. Jediah. Jediah.
He’s gone now. It’s not my fault. It’s no one’s fault. I blame the universe and it’s evil plots, it’s excruciating taunts, it’s palpable narcissism- well, guess what, Universe! You’re not so hot to trot! You are rigid and unforgiving and stupid, most of all, stupid. You have no heart and it’s your loss because you may take away from us with out a seconds thought, but you will never feel the gift of love- you never will! You never will.
He’s gone now.
It’s not my fault.
Don’t know how.
A house of pigeons and a homeless Curly, Moe and Larry are my family now. Larry’s an old girl. Moe’s a dead cow that Curly dragged in from the meadow somehow, determined to feed us, but the pigeons got to it first and I’m a vegetarian, unless I get too weak and the stink of the cow keeps me from getting too weak.
They are all gone now.
I keep closing my eyes to the tune of a different day. It was May of 1982 and I was six and I was outside and my Mom had lemonade in her hand and she was laughing at me splashing about like a fish out of water on dry land. I was pretending to be swimming, though we couldn’t afford a pool- not even those cheap kiddie ones from Wal-Mart. Mom laughed, though, and it was at my impression and it was better than a pool. No money can buy a Momma’s laugh and my Momma had the best one in the world. Her lips would curl upwards at first into a smile, but once she started howling they would curl downwards and it would almost seem like crying, but it wasn’t. She was laughing and I was the one making that beautiful sound happen.
Even younger, then. I close my eyes. Sitting on her lap in November, it’s around Thanksgiving, and the house is full of family and food. I can almost taste the mashed potatoes, Momma’s favorite. She is rocking me back and forth on her father’s old rocking chair he made himself. We rock next to a crackling fire, stockings already placed over it in anticipation for Christmas. She makes her breathing slow and deep to encourage mine to do the same, to fall asleep and when my brother, then 3, runs in screaming about something under his bed, she doesn’t jump to calm his frantic call, but “shhhhh’s” him away from us and I never have felt so loved.
I can’t cry about it anymore. You’d think I could, think it’d be easy, but you can’t count your losses a million times over and still feel it the same as the first. A hundred times, maybe, but then you get exhausted and you forget, mostly, what it used to be like back then. You are left only with vague memories that seem important, but their importance isn’t so close to the surface of your heart, it’s more like in the back of your brain. Like how you can know a well is deep under the ground, but from the grass it might as well not even exist. And that’s necessary. That’s how you keep living your life after such loss. It’s terrible, but it’s true. You just forget. Just a little bit and that’s enough to lighten the load, to carry on in whatever mode comes natural to you.
For me, it’s this. Living like this, not that I have much choice- some maybe, I wont not take any accountability. Maybe I could get a job, get out of here, have a different life, maybe even a better one. I don’t know, but it ain’t natural to me, that’s for sure.
Take this pigeon family. Some people call them dirty creatures- well, I’ve been called worse. Dirt isn’t so bad, it’s natural too. It’s not a pre-requisite for being unlovable and I guess I’ve come to sort of love that stupid pigeon family. They’ve all got little personalities, you know? The one I call Sal, he’s real timid and sort of skittish, but I know he’s not really as scared of half the things he pretends to be, he just likes the attention and that reminds me a lot of my little brother. He was always like that too, even when he was real young, like with the monsters under his bed- he wasn’t trying to get rid of monsters, he was trying to get Momma to himself cause I was hogging her.
Dylan is my favorite of the pigeons, I think she is a girl, but I’m not really sure how to tell. She’s, I guess, the one I identify with the most, though if I were an animal, I don’t think I would want to be a pigeon… a bear maybe. They seem really protective of each other and that’s a nice trait to have in a species. Human’s have sort of lost that along the way, I guess we used to be much more protective- ‘cause we had to, right? Otherwise it was finito for humanity, but now the earth’s swarming with so many of us so our value’s gone down and that’s reflected very much so in the way we treat each other.
Another one bites the dust.
What’s for lunch?
Survival of the fittest. It’s cutting time, but here’s the trick, no one gets to play the game forever, at some point we all retire and that’s not optional.
Gemma acts like the Momma Pigeon- don’t know if that’s true. She’s protective of the others, so I respect her. I also think that she sort of loves Dom- that’s what I call the fat one. I call him that cause I had a cousin named Dom and he was really fat, like he weighed 300 hundred pounds when he was 12. It was really gross, but mostly it was just sad because no one ever saw him any more. I mean everyone saw him, everywhere he went people stared at him and stuff, but when he was younger he didn’t always used to be so fat and he had a really nice personality. He was really funny and sweet, but somewhere along the buffet line I guess he lost his personality and just became sort of timid and sad and then when he added on the pounds all people could see was the fat and the sadness and even me, I couldn’t seem to find him in it anymore. It’s like the food ate him instead of the other way around.
I guess in a way we all get lost in something, in sadness, in loss, in someone, in a dream, sometimes just lost literally and can’t find our way home. It should be more comforting than it is, knowing we all get it, but really it just makes me feel more alone because we are all getting lost all of the time, but there are so many of us that no one is really looking for anyone because everyone’s too busy trying to prevent their own losses.
At least here, in this house of pigeons, lost wanderers and a dead cow I’ve got some consistency. Gemma, Dom, Dylan and Sal, plus Larry, Curly and Moe, well, we’re a modern sort of family. We look out for each other and every day that passes we all forget a little more about the losses that brought us here and we just start letting go a little and looking for some good things to gather.
We’re gonna gather us some strength that way, some super, super-power strength that way and some day I’m gonna be strong enough to leave this place and I’m going to sprout wings and fly away, grow a new life, with new love, a new effulgence is gonna come my way.
Someday. Someday. Someday.
I’ll rise out of this house of pigeons as a beautiful dove flying in a flock of immersing, multiplying love and if and when I do, I promise you, I’ll come and look for you and help you count your losses, too.