katie


Huck and the Christmas Miracle

Posted on December 16, 2010

In case you hadn’t noticed, I esteem Anais Nin for her courage and abandon in living life. She followed her spirit – to whatever heights or depths it took her and reveled equally in both. That is the way to lead your life, nothing held back, no reservations – just hungry for life and all of the experiences it has to offer.

I’d forgotten how to do that, I think. I had followed my heart and it took me to such places – more than once – from which it is hard to recover from your experiences there. It’s hard to be guilty of loving people too well – it leaves you trying to decide whether to love at all, or simply depersonalize all of your experiences with others. Sometimes, one gets bruised and buffeted so treacherously by life, it makes you just want to curl up into a tight little ball, suspect of anything that comes in your direction good or bad, because you just cannot tolerate any more pain.

I should have remembered what C.S. Lewis said about locking your heart away…

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“Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, and irredeemable.”

Its easy enough to love people, when you’re just being good and understanding to them. Even if they rebuke you for that, you know what it is inside them that spurs them to do so. Loving people that way, well it does not require that you always reveal yourself, or share who you are at your core with them. It is not intimacy, only love. That is the only kind of love I had left to give, and I had to work – to consciously will myself to make the effort to do that, for I did not want to become closed and bitter, as I knew one could. There is a certain degree of satisfaction in practicing the love of people and loving-kindness. You know that you did the best you could by them, and that’s uplifting – but it’s not what warms you in the night when you are alone, or even when you are in a crowd of people and still feeling all alone.

To experience real understanding, real intimacy with others, one has to peel away the layers of hurt and pain, the bad experiences, the words flung in anger, the fear, the very defenses that you have built to shield yourself from further pain. People do that because of having reached a critical max somewhere along the line that leaves no more energy, nor will, nor desire to heal the wounds. The pain becomes too great and there is no relief for it – only an attempt to isolate from any further pain and hope that either death or emotional numbing happens.

Having in the last year, chosen not to die just yet, I had to find a way to exist in the new and strange world in which I find myself, filling my days with doing what I am supposed to do, and keeping people feeling decently about me, I suppose – just to get by. That’s not living, not when neither your heart nor your soul are in it, when you’ve hidden them, and any feelings away from even the light. It’s existing. And so, I was existing – just marking time hoping that my wounds were going to heal someway, that I’d get back to enjoying what was left of my life somehow, that I would find a way to let the light back in and perhaps even write again.

I have never much been able to separate the physical from the mental in relationships. I think that being able to touch people, to softly stroke them when they’re in any kind of pain, to pat their back when they’ve achieved something, to wrap your arms around them in tender embrace – well, that is just how I am with people. I think when we can touch one another, we connect on more than one plane of the human experience. Not all of the touches are erotic, or sexual – but you cannot separate those sensations from who we are as adult, sexual beings. One reminds us of the other and the other the one…and both are a part of our journey into the soul.

Again, I had immersed myself in pleasing people – doing what was expected of me. That is no place for anyone to be, least of all this woman. In doing so, I have denied myself time for what I wanted, what I needed from life. We all know where that got me, well at least it should be evident in this writing. I was staring into the abyss, and it surely was staring back at me. Having lost what is perhaps my most cherished ability in life, the ability to express one’s self to others – even if they misunderstand, misinterpret, reject what you say or write – at least to be able to make that effort to communicate. No matter how I tried, I could not regain it, and I longed for the ability to do so…and perhaps have someone understand the wretched mess in which I dwell.

About a month ago, a dear old friend who I have know since maybe the third or fourth grade contacted me. This came out of the clean blue sky – and it rocked the confines of my tightly-wound world. My friend had, in our youth, been a red-haired, freckled faced boy with twinkling eyes full of fun and a mischievous smile. I’d not seen him for better than ten years – this friend I call Huck, because he’s always reminded me of Huck Finn – invincible, full of mischief and wise beyond his years.

We last had seen each other at a high school reunion in our hometown – and even then, there was some sort of connection between us; we were simpatico. During that reunion, we spent time getting drunk, recalling stories of our youth and finally making love that was far too wild and abandoned, given our age. Now, I have thought of him since, but rationalized I might not see him again unless we had another reunion – and those grow fewer as we all get older. When he sent me a message, I was – to say the least – surprised.

Huck told me he would be coming to Louisiana to visit family who still live here, and asked if we could get together to catch up. Well….simply put, that in itself was frightening to me. I had pulled away from people, especially people I had known for a long time, so effectively that the thought of meeting up with a really old friend with whom I had previously been intimate – well, I was full of apprehension and misgivings.

In his text messages that followed, I tried to push Huck away, same as I do others. I no longer really feel like a friend to anyone, not one who has something left to offer – and I surely did not want to disappoint or hurt him. I also admit that I was scared stiff knowing that if I was around him, we would wind up repeating our last encounter. Every misgiving, every attempt to push him away – all were met with patience, understanding and reassurances. Still, I do not think it was until the night before we met again that I was certain I would go through with our little assignation.

We were text messaging back and forth, and I had the ‘mean reds’ again – the fear was rising up from my guts into my throat and making me so frightened that I didn’t know if I had the will to force myself to go through with meeting him. I guess he must have sensed that, for suddenly, as I was in the middle of typing a reply – he called to reassure me again. I always knew Huck was wise beyond what folk attributed to him, he’s one of those unassuming wise men – the kind who don’t go looking for laurels for their wisdom. That phone call cemented all those thoughts for me.

When the time came, and I walked into the lobby of the hotel, I had my phone tucked away to be able to call and find out which room he was in. Before I could put down my bag and reach for it, there he was and everything else just faded into the background. I don’t remember seeing anything but him – right in front of me, walking up to me and me throwing my arms around his neck, like an orphan who after so many years of searching, just found family.

“Oh, Huck…you are a wise, witty and wanton man.”

He may have plied me with Jack Daniels, but he never asked a thing of me, but to be myself. He only responded to me in the most sensitive of ways and allowed me the comfort of doing this on my own time. Huck reminds me of the words of a Leonard Cohen song….

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“Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin,
Dance me through the panic ’til I’m gathered safely in,
Lift me like an olive branch, be my homeward dove . . .”

If he wooed me with his words, or gestures – I surely did not feel pressured. I cannot describe the feelings someone gives you when they do that – the connection you can make with another person who demands, expects, asks for nothing from you – but in giving you that freedom, assures what you are bound to give them without reservation.

I forgot about thinking, I didn’t rationalize, analyze, nor try to understand anything – I just surrendered – like leaping over a cliff and while falling, enjoying every minute of the air rushing up past you – and never thinking that you will stop falling, and falling and falling.

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“Let me see your beauty when the witnesses are gone
Let me feel you moving like they do in Babylon
Show me, slowly, what I only know the limits of . . .”

I think it was the most beautiful and intimate experience of my life that I shared with Huck. Despite the sensation of falling, he was leading me up and out of the abyss and back into the light.

Huck is gone…back to his home. I only get to talk with him now and not touch him, or hear him, nor feel him. I ache for his understanding and his touch in the present – he made me greedy for more, but also somehow awoke in me the part that allows me to write, to communicate this.

That is such a gift as I don’t suppose any who don’t write can imagine. So, I can wait. He’ll be back soon enough and in the meantime – I can write again.

In writing this story in my head, aside from the sexual experience of it, I kept feeling so happy to be able to write again and that somehow, someone ‘saw’ me and knew who I am, the part of me that I’ve kept so secret. That just seemed like such a miracle to me…

My mind kept churning with thoughts of how to explain it and continuously, I was drawn to remembering the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life”. The time of year is the same – and George, the central character had considered suicide, just like me. He was despondent and felt that his life had not counted for much and neither did I. He thought he was about to lose everything and I felt I already had. There were all those things he wanted to do, but had not because of responsibilities – and I’ve always been ‘of use’. I can so relate to George – for our lives have so many similarities. Then, I remembered George’s guardian angel – Clarence – when I saw the ending of the movie the other night on television.

Is it a coincidence that the little book that ZuZu picks up and hands to George at the end of “A Wonderful Life” is a copy of Mark Twain’s “Tom Sawyer”, or that the angel’s name is Clarence? Who knows? Personally, I’ve long ago given up on believing in coincidences, so I don’t think it is. You are free to come to your own conclusions.

As for my own version of the guardian angel, Clarence ( Huck)…well, he made me remember what George’s angel inscribed inside that little volume of Tom Sawyer :

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” Dear George,
Remember, no man is a failure who has friends. Thanks for the wings.
Clarence”

If you doubt the veracity of these analogies…watch the movie for yourself. From my own perspective – the red-haired, freckle faced fellow who always reminded me of Huck Finn in our youth, has matured into such a dear and beautiful man. He might scowl at being compared to an angel, but I cannot help but feel that he must have been sent by fate at this time – though I’m not sure what I ever did to merit such divine intervention.

So this is the story of my dear, darlin’ friend, Huck – at least the beginning, if not the end.

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“And quiet is the thought of you, the file on you complete
Except for what we forgot to do …..a thousand kisses deep.”

Last edited by katie on December 16, 2010, 12:06 pm


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One response to “Huck and the Christmas Miracle”

  1. It’s been a while since I have been so totally "absorbed" in a story.
    It’s almost like you played me a song, and every chord quietly reverberated inside me.
    There were echoes in my mind.
    It’s a story I went into, like a boat on a lake.  And then I drifted, got lost in reveries, and didn’t care.
    There are SO many truths spoken here…
    I am quite at a loss to begin to tell you on how many levels you struck home inside my spirit.
    Very well crafted.
    Absorbing, sensitive.
    The video was excellently chosen.

    More. Please…

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