Friday, May 18, 2007

Cheaper Minutes

My closest family members are all in Australia right now. There's some decidedly heavy family shit going down currently, and I haven't really sorted it all out... That's for starters.

I have a calling card that I use. I can dial the 32 digit number to reach my little brother with my eyes closed and my fingertips sawed off. The calling card costs me $40 bucks every time it recharges for about 400 state to state minutes. When I call Australia, 40 bucks gets me about 30  minutes. I know there's all kinds of ways to get around this charge, but I'm not going to join the phone circus to do that. Mapping out times and locating "cheaper minutes" and planning "talking time" with people I'd rather call whenever the fuck I feel like it, doesn't appeal to me.

If I run out of time, I usually get disconnected after the computer voiced lady tells me, " You have one minute of call time left." I'm the only person in the conversation who can hear this, and I always have to give 30 seconds to find the best place to cut them off and tell them that we have about 30 seconds of the issued and approved 60 seconds left to wrap it up. To tie the loose ends into unforgettable knots.

Normally, this happens at super fucking wrong times. Well, maybe it's actually the perfect time, I don't know. Take this for example. A couple of days ago, I called Australia and everyone was getting ready to make a drive out to Boreen Point. Its a place that my family crawls back through generations. There's tons of stingrays from what I can remember. It was lush, and full of mystery at night. It smelled of rotten fruit, which made the fresh fruit taste all the sweeter.

The drive to Boreen Point was on a long and winding road where you'd hardly encounter any other car for miles on end. When you did see a car, you strained as they got closer to try and make them out. In the blink of an eye... size them up.

There has never been one instance when a car came at mine, with only a painted line separating us, that I didn't seriously count down to death and prepare to see the flashing images of my life Usher me to my final exit. It's like there's never any possibility other than a collision in my head on any highway.

My mother says that they are going to visit my Grandfather's grave and she tries to run right into the next punch as if it's a roll and I detect my mother tripping over her lips gumming out the words "grandfather" or "dad" interchangeably, but that's because her tongue has had absolutely zero practice saying them to me. My patriarchs have always been concepts.

So, I wasn't completely shocked when my mother said they were going to stop by "Dad's" grave during the trip. Normal enough, if you always knew your grandfather even had a grave, which would imply he had a death, and that people in my family knew there was a cause of death and that there was a man who they had all loved at one time or another who just passed on, and he was physically lowered into the Earth by someone who probably got paid to keep books on shit like that, and was anyone even fucking there? Were you ever planning to share that with me? I never ask for details, and that's probably why half of my childhood memories are dreams and not legacies. I don't blame my mother because it causes her pain like no other to talk about it. But it is significant to note that the memory of my grandfather, and how he means anything to me, is based off of a totally different understanding of the past. I'll be 34 in a couple of months. Maybe you could send me a photograph to round out my collection to ten. Sure. I'll trade it for a painting. What would you like? I'll see what I can do, and then you will see too.

It took me about 5 seconds to hear about an overnight grave and process my feelings about just learning it. Then the operator said, "You have one minute of talk time left."

I was always told my grandfather lost his mind while fighting with the Light Brigade during WWII in Papua New Guinea. Fair enough. He comes home. I am told he talked to light bulbs while I sat on his lap, so I don't know if we ever connected. No one seems to think so. Then, he ups and leaves his wife and 5 kids. End of story.

This is where my imagination apparently created other pieces of who I thought my grandfather was. Don't worry. This won't take long. I "dreamed" I was walking on a sandy beach and came upon a hut. To enter you had to pass through a wall of hanging beads. The floor was sand. My grandfather sat there, and I walked to him and I think we hugged. What we felt can't be reclaimed and won't be dismissed by someone else's account.

I thought that was a memory until I asked my mother about it and she seemed kind of freaked out and said it must have been a dream. So, no telling there. There is of course the obvious, my grandfather stopped by my sleeping body on his way to hell. That's where all sick people go right? I can't think of any religion that ever truly did a fucking thing to Crush War. It's your job to sway me that's for sure, you believers.

There was never in my whole life a mention of a funeral or a place or whatever. I always assumed our family had a sadness because he just left and no one ever knew what became of him. I am starting to put the pieces together though, and I guess I can understand. Loving someone with severe mental illness is sad when you are helpless to heal them when they are around and crushed when they are gone without your helplessness even, and there was so much lacking from what you could communicate and share. That was ten seconds into the thirty seconds left.

I told my mom, time was running out. I asked her if he smoked. She knew the brand "Avatar" or something apparently no longer available. I asked her to leave a pouch of it on his grave. It seemed to surprise her that I wanted to do that... maybe because I had never offered or asked to give something to commemorate my grandfather's "passing".... maybe because I didn't know there was a fucking grave to begin with.

She said yes no problem and we would talk again soon and she loved me and my brother loved me and my step father loved me and would I kiss my child from them all etc. etc.

It's possible that if I tell my mother I never knew there was a grave, she will reference how I live in my own head because she must have told me the only three times I wasn't paying attention. I think my argument would likely be, a grandfather should be burned into your soul and not something you could maybe have remembered wrong or dreamt. Need more information please. I'll work on the processing, but I can't promise that I can handle my attitude.

Don't worry pops. You're in here.