Saturday, July 15, 2006

Starting a New Blog and My Neighbor

Larry, A Storyteller

I've spent the last hour setting up this blog on blogspot because over at Tripod Lycos they recently went over to a new blog software which has wreaked havoc with existing blogs. This was several weeks ago but the changes for individual blogs have only taken effect gradually. I now have the new software and it doesn't seem to work with my browser. Now that I set everything up here, it looks like that may be the same case here. The only function buttons I see in the toolbar are spell check and photo insert. Aargh technology. Why we believe that our lives are improved with it is beyond me. Yes I'm compelled to it but more because it is the language we are currently all (most of us?) swimming in, not because it is inherently better. I so wish we would understand that it is always the magic that things come back to/boil down to. Its the intent, the desire that makes things happen. We can try all we want to force something to happen the way we want it to but it always comes back to things having to work magically smoothly together. I think.

The painting here is a tribute to my downstairs neighbor Larry Gamage. He died last Saturday night, July 8, 2006. He was a Storyteller with a voice like Johnny Cash. His siblings and relatives are the ones who can sing and harmonize. Larry (and his family) all claim he couldn't carry a tune. I know that is not true because I'd hear him singing along to his stereo system and he sounded right on. I think that his voice was so low and the others (all girls) with their higher voices were too hard to harmonize with - he never learned how. So of course he couldn't sing in that context. But he liked to do singsong? voice while strumming his guitar (which he also never learned to tune), and I believe he wrote quite a few songs. A storyteller though, that is what I think he was so gifted at, the simplest story about anyone or anything, surely exagerated for drama but always captivating the way he told it with his voice so compelling.

We used to argue seemingly whenever we ran into each other. Neither of us could seem to give in. We didn't have that much in common so we were usually talking about daily things. My car's muffler has a hole. Well its because of this. Why? I disagree. I think its because of this and this. I always had the impression that he thought I was not qualified to know anything about anything - whether because I am female or because I am me and my thinking I knew something just irked him. And of course in a way, that was what I was thinking about whatever he was stating was whatever current truth. Somewhere though it also seemed that deep down inside it was because by my challenging assumptions I was spoiling the story. Telling the story was always most important. To challenge the story just ruined whatever spell was going. And I'm such a literalist in some ways that I won't let things stand if I don't think they're accurate.

We argued vehemently five days before he died. He had just told me he'd been given the official word from the the doctors of how long he might have left to live. I had understood that he'd already told me this weeks before, so I acted somewhat matter of factly in response to this. He then admonished me that I shouldn't be concerning myself about some situation outside that I was in the process of trying to straighten out. And we argued about this, I trying to defend my position, he insisting I should stop acting that way. I thought he was trying to give me guidance that I'd be happier if I stopped paying attention to what goes on around me and just let it be. Hmm. We parted in good humor about getting so heated. I said I'd miss arguing with him. He said don't start that. But soon after, I realized I was very aggravated about this, as I so often was with our arguments. I just couldn't believe that my point of view would not be considered. It would irk me so much everytime that I would keep trying to get my view across. And he would keep on not considering that I might know something too. It was laughable on the one hand, but still.

That night, 3 am. July 4th, I woke to an apparent firecracker going off in our yard. It was louder than it should have sounded. And again. Was that a gunshot? I opened my window to peer outside. Then I saw a few lots away a bit of fireworks go off. Downstairs Larry's daughter opened the door to look out. We exchanged comments about the noise. I could hear Larry inside wondering if it was gunshots or firecrackers. Then he asked us if we were alright. I said "No, I'm still pissed!" and meant it because the earlier incident had been rankling me ever since. I had felt when I opened the window to look that I was not supposed to be doing that according to his earlier admonitions. His daughter relayed my words. We all chuckled.

I saw him for a minute July 4th when I came home from my day at the festivities where I had been set up selling my cards and prints. His daughter was on her way out to celebrate the holiday. He and I exchanged a few words about how it had been. That was Tuesday evening. Friday night into Saturday he was gone. I had not seen him again. He had gone peacefully and painlessly. That was another thing we had said to each other when he'd told me of the time sentence - he'd said he was in no pain and he was at peace. Early Sat morning (night) his daughter came up to tell me he was gone.

To me it is a kind of miracle that we can just disappear. It is just about as miraculous as birth. Again, I think it is magical.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Catinka! I'm impressed that you did that tribute.

5:35 PM  

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