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2013 Phinney Ridge, Seattle, Washington, United States
Full disclosure
Today is not 5 March. Today is 11 February. There is another date, currently unknown, though likely in the late spring of 2012, when I was trying all sorts of ways of approaching this Spiral Project, back before it even had a name. I was choosing dates to work on at random back then, and 5 March was one of those dates. The computer I was using at the time seems to think it is more important to remind me of the date and exact time I last modified a document than the date I created it, so, while I may have noted that date somewhere, until I stumble across that date, as a lizard might stumble across offspring it has no way of recognizing, this Proto-Spiral, this Evolutionary Dead End - at least for the meantime - does not know the date of its birth, and neither does its beleaguered parent.

2012 Phinney Ridge, Seattle, Washington, United States
Back when & Nowadays
Back when, I wrote: I have been reading old journals. I was always too hard on myself, probably I still am. (1981)
Nowadays, three decades later, I would say that while many things have changed, some few have stayed the same. (2012)

Back when, I wrote: I must have been insistent, for I am now very aware of not asking every question that comes to my mind, leaving certain matters I’m curious about alone. (1981)
Nowadays, I would call this internalized oppression. (2010)

Back when, I wrote: I have wanted to feel what he feels so badly that I think I have tried to live his life. I have gotten too close. I have filled all the space he had to breathe in with myself. (1981)
Nowadays, I would call this blaming the victim. (2010)

Back when, I wrote: I’ve split wood again this morning, lately felt so strongly that I just haven’t been doing my share, that I’ve indulged myself, given a lot of importance to meaningless nonsense, and let so much that is simple and healthful lapse. (1981)
Nowadays, I'd call this the bargaining stage of grief. (2010)

Back when, I wrote: Question your motives. Question your fears, your hopes. Question your many feelings. And learn that the questions can guide you long before you know their answers. (1981)
Nowadays, I’d take issue with “Question your many feelings." Sounds like I got a lot of messages about there being something wrong with my feelings, which implies that there might have been something wrong with the deliverer of those messages. (2010)

Back when, I wrote: Do not be afraid to know the answers. Rush out to meet them, welcome them, even if they are not the guests you were expecting. (1981)
Nowadays, I’d say I was asking a lot of myself. (2010)

Back when, I wrote: I wish I could stop thinking about it. It leads nowhere. It only hurts me. But perhaps each time I notice it, it jars me into acknowledging something that perhaps I would otherwise ignore. (1981)
Nowadays, I realize that I’ve often wished I could stop thinking about what I really needed to think about. I remember how the emptiness of the upstairs floors of the house that had two locks - and I had only one key - reminded me that I really didn’t live there, that I could bolt in a heartbeat. (2010)
Nowadays, I would do more than imply that he had locked me out of the place he kept telling me he wanted me to think of as home. (2012)

Back when, I wrote: He spoke of having realized he was running down a customer's car and how contrite he was, and I told him I admired his willingness to look at this. I didn't push him to look at all the ways he’s run me and my practices and possessions down, though I thought about it. Call it mindfulness and kindness. Call it quitting while I’m ahead. (1995)
Nowadays, I'd call it cowardice. (2010)

Back when, I wrote: I’m beginning to see how he plans to make the loss of my bicycle up to me, or I think I am. He’s buying me little extras, so far mostly beer, which he mostly drinks, but I notice. I’m okay with that. He took responsibility briefly, which means he has it in him. It’s some kind of cultural pride I can’t wrap my brain around, how he tries to latch on to everybody else’s responsibility so as not to have to consider his own. And yet... (2005)
Nowadays I'd call this wishful thinking. (2010)
Nowadays I'd describe the loss of the bicycle in detail, how on one of the many rehearsals for the eventual escape, I had no room for it in my car, how I locked it to a chain link fence across the street, planning to return for it the next morning, never imagining he would cut the fence and throw my bicycle in a dumpster - the location of which he could no longer remember - let alone admit to this. But not for long. It was no surprise at all when he changed his story. (2012)

Be careful what you condemn (1991)...you might wind up doing it. (2010)

It's easy...if you want it. (1995)

The person most trustworthy...was the person I most easily doubt. (1995)

Sad...gratitude. (1995)

It will never be too late...and I'm not holding my breath. (2005)

If I weren’t living in the country of sorrows...I’d be off the stress charts. (2007)

Q: “Where are you from?”
A: “The road?” (2010)

It’s been a while since thirty dollars meant I was going to eat...and the lack of thirty dollars meant I wasn’t. (2011)

I got just about as lost as possible.
I planned to return according to different directions than the ones I had used to arrive, and I lost Barbur Blvd. or Taylor’s Ferry and ended up on SW Capitol Highway, where I stopped at a gas station, explained I was turned around - “You got that right,” quipped the laconic attendant - and then I couldn’t follow his directions either, and ended up crossing and then recrossing the Ross Island Bridge. Don’t tell anybody. (1998)
Could be worse
I am grieving a man who died suddenly, at the top of his game, who had at least a hundred friends, whose three ex-wives sat together last night around a dinner table in the town where he was born and raised, and called ourselves lucky. I am grieving a man who loved life, who scraped together enough change for a McDonald’s breakfast the morning before his last, and described it in such loving detail I found myself wanting one too. I haven’t been able to bring myself to act on that yearning, but the time will come, just as the time came when I trudged alone to Fred Meyer to make the last key to one of his apartments that I will ever make.
I too love life. If David could sustain his capacity for joy and wonder in the midst of so many medical procedures, so much discomfort, so much apprehension, I can sustain my own in the face of his absence. If David could write poems about facing death, I can write poems about facing life without him. These are the best of the worst days.
Before long, I will close the door to that apartment for the last time, and then it will be all of St. Johns that reminds me of him. I have no plan to leave anytime soon, but the time when I do will surely come. And then it will be the rest of the world, from the Public Storage sign that welcomed him home, to the rivers of Oregon, to the tracks of the Baikal-Amur Mainline, to whatever waits for me in the China that he never got to see this time around. Every day – it’s all I have and all I need. I’ve had some good ones lately, and it’s mostly up to me how many more await me. I can feel a part of David that was entirely at home in the world moving in to nudge the part of me that wasn’t quite.
The ripples of my own life, like David’s, are wide and deep and good. Some day, hundreds of people will miss me too. Insha’Allah, they’ll be wishing to go as I went. (2006)
All those people wondering
Every now and then, as I work through these years of journals, I think of what it must have been like to be all those people wondering while I was writing. Only one, David, showed no discomfort at all. Some distanced themselves from my words, some trespassed in first drafts that were meant only for me, but none of them made any secret of their unease.
I haven’t always aspired to compassion as I do these days.
I’ll tell you a secret.
The meanest words I’ve ever written - the epigraph of my prose poem, "At A Wide Spot": "You know who you are." - were not meant for anyone in particular.

At a wide spot
You know who you are

Remember me when your high beams sweep the shoulder of a new back road you’re driving at the edge of speed and catch a glistening of shattered glass as chilly as starlight, those shards so dazzling they bewitch you to forget they ache to shred your skin.

Think of me when the rain’s begun to fall and you stop to change the flat at the only circle of light in miles of blackness, and the pay phone hunkering there, dry in its glassy cubicle, jangles all the while you’re loosening the lug nuts, jacking up the car, cursing the flaccid spare, all the while ringing that steady, dull, insistent peal that you don’t answer, though you want it quiet, because you know it’s no one calling you.

Most of the time, as shown so poignantly in "No Landscape to Neglect", there was so much more interesting to write about than him, whoever he was. Still is.

No landscape to neglect

All across October New Hampshire,
I was sulking about Patrick,
ignoring the maples and birches.
The late frost still hadn’t scattered
the party-goers: crimsons, lemons
and mauves I’ve tried to recall for two decades.

All the way up the Divide I was glum over Chuck,
forgetting the Rockies, snow at the edge
of the asphalt, dark coming on, but I still
can’t picture the summit, though I wrote
in my journal it was so slushy and steep
there couldn’t be any way down.

All afternoon above Berkeley I trudged
through the botanical gardens and argued with Jim
about some erstwhile lover he never could
live with and still couldn’t seem to get over,
and I wouldn’t know one of the blossoms today
if they dropped in a heap at my feet.

At least here there’s no landscape to neglect,
no vista I’ll one day regret disregarding
while I maundered on about the latest
man who was wasting my time.
This is Bandon-by-the-Swamp: cold, foggy, grey,
no place I want to notice, write about, or be.(2009)

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