[1 Mar 2021> Flashing back to April of 1997, picking up where post 854 left off. ]
April 1, 1997 — Cananea [Mexico]
Saturday watched U of A beat North Carolina to go to the final against Kentucky. Sunday was Easter. We drove up to Phoenix and had easter brunch with [K]. Then we went to the Phoenix museum of art and saw this exhibit of rock-n-roll related art ("It's only rock'n'roll"). Rain clouds came in on the drive home. Monday I called Jim and asked him if they had work closer to home. I also called Geotemps and asked them what they had going. (Gradually letting them in on what's to come.) I called about a few jobs. Called all excited about this ad for a production crew and I thought it was on a movie set but it ends up it was for building and tearing down props for theme parties and it only paid $5/hr. I did get an interview with this guy, Dr. Spangler for this job at a Honeybee Research Lab funded by the FDA. He was a weird guy, we ended up talking for two and a half hours on a variety of topics ranging from whether true silence exists to the legalization of drugs + how Mom's turkey singled me out to court (or fight) to anti-pickpocket tactics in Mexico to... we hit it off but whether I got the job is another question. He said he has always been biased towards students in the past. I sure hope I get cuz bees are cool.
Monday night was the night U of A beat Kentucky! Awesome game, close the whole time, but U of A controlled the entire game. And that's all she wrote, doesn't get sweeter than #1. Tucson went nuts. We stepped outside and there was a din of screaming, car horns, fireworks (guns?), etc. We walked towards 4th as were many other people. People were running down the middle of the road jumping on cars, high-fiving every stranger, hollering at the tops of their lungs. The center of activity was around O'malleys. Before we even got there, a stampede of frat boys knocked [Zo] to the ground and she hurt her leg. Kind of put a damper on things. It only got uglier. Crowd hysteria spread and people were climbing buildings, flipping cop cars, throwing garbage cans and breaking streetlamps. I guess it went on until 2 a.m. when the police dispersed crowds with tear gas. All because of a game where people throw balls thru hoops.
This morning I drove through the aftermath on the way here to Cananea (via Nogales again). Hopefully this will be my last trip to Mexico if not my last geological job. I just finished Light in August [by William Faulkner]. Disappointed in the ending, especially the second to last chapter, I mean, what was that all about anyway?
April 3, 1997 — Tucson
Kevin's dead. I still don't know what to make of that. It's like a part of me has died. He's not around me enough that I realize his absence, but still the thought that he is just not here shocks me. It will take a while to really sink in.
I found out this afternoon at three. It was raining and I came back from the field early. It was a weird day. Actually the last two days were weird. I didn't want to be there. I was cheating my samples. Not that I was too lazy to walk, just not into enough, didn't care. Yesterday was windy as hell and there was a dark cloud over the smelter. Today was windy and started to rain. I would drive off and read Pablo Neruda's Canto General and started to write (a story about a guy smuggling drugs across the border, runs from the border patrol, drops the drugs and is stuck somewhere in between (represented by letting a deer loose out of the barbed wire fence)). The rain was coming in more and I left back early to Cananea. I had been thinking a lot about Kevin, about how he must feel up in the attic with mom. I could see it coming.
Almost got into an accident on the way back to Cananea. A truck signaled for me to pass and as I was passing a big truck comes out of nowhere. I slammed on my breaks and so did the oncoming truck and I pulled onto the shoulder on the opposite side just in time. I guess it wasn't that close but it really shocked me about how easy it would be to get into an accident. As I was driving back to Cananea I was intent on driving back to Tucson that night. The rain was really coming down. When I told Luiz he thought the rain would clear and suggested I stay. I went back to my hotel and was just sitting there, not knowing what to do. I was about to get back up and just tell Luiz I had to get back to Tucson (the night before I told Lee that this would my last job in Cananea because I couldn't take being away from home anymore and I cited Kevin as an example of why it's so hard.) I turned on the television for lack of anything else and was watching Holland vs. Turkey play soccer and it was this depressing stand-off where no one seemed to want to score. Then the phone rang and it was Zo and the fact that she was calling me at three in the afternoon said it all. Then she said she had bad news. And then I really knew. And then she told me to sit down. That it was about Kevin. I said I was on my way home. I didn't want to hear any more over the phone, I just wanted to get home. While I was throwing all my stuff in the Trooper I noticed I was shaking and was breathing like I had just ran a marathon. I went to pay the motel bill and the lady was freaking me out. She told me that I would have to pay for that night and I told her I really didn't care. And then she starts filling out these "facturas", hunt and peck on the typewriter and other people were coming in and she was helping them and I kept saying that it didn't matter, I didn't need a receipt, to just give me the credit card slip and I would sign it. So that was over with and then I went back to Luiz's. There were some other guys there, but I spoke in English to him. I gave him the map and told him that I had to leave that my brother had died. It was really pouring by then.
I was driving and still not believing what had happened. I was thinking maybe I imagined that whole conversation with Zo. Then I burst out in tears. I was passing big semi-trucks and could barely see with all the rain and the spray coming from the trucks. Then I crossed the border. Outside of Bisbee I burst out crying again. So bad I had to pull over. It was hard enough seeing through the windshield wipers. The rain was mixed with snow crystals. I stopped in Tombstone to use the bathroom. I was going to call Zo but couldn't find a phone. I noticed a headline on the newspaper that said, "Storm's Winds Turn to Rain". I was sick of listening to silence so I put on the new Counting Crows. It seemed all the lyrics were applicable to my situation. It's hard to say what was going thru my head during that drive but it was a long two and a half hours. After a while I started to think about the details, like I wonder how he died, or what are we going to do with his body. I didn't know much at that point, just assumed he O.D.'ed up in the attic. The rain never stopped. It was making time go very slow. Finally I made it here and into the arms of Zo.
Then I took a shower and [D] called so I got out early. He was very stoic and practical. He had to go identify the body at the morgue. Said Kevin was laying there with a white sheet over him and his face exposed. Then he had to pick up his car and drive it home. Evidently Kevin had O.D.'ed on the streets of San Francisco. Some guy found him at 6 a.m. this morning on his way to work. D said he was in his running outfit, he had a rope tying off his arm and there was a bottle of unopened Evian water next to him on the seat. Weird how people remember details like that. Then I talked to mom and she told me how Tuesday morning he was working on the house and needed some paint. Evidently he also wanted to get some supplies to start painting again. So she gave him $50. He put on his running outfit and said he was also going to go running. At noon she was a little worried. They found him the next morning. He's to be cremated, this was mom's decision. Probably what he would have wanted. She started talking about what she's going to do with his ashes and I really couldn't think that far ahead. And then she starts talking about his belongings and I really can't think about that either, but I guess one should. We're leaving to San Fran tomorrow morning. Uncle [N] is coming out and [J] is flying up from Argentina but won't make it until Tuesday.
I still am not sure I understand what happened. Zo has been a big help. I just hope that Kevin is in a state of bliss. Everyone says that it's better this way, that he was miserable and had no hope, could see no future. I know all this is true, but I also know he wanted to live, that was his whole predicament. It's just sad to think that I was once suicidal and I got over it, and to imagine the other worlds which Kevin could've occupied. It's a heavy weight what he left behind. A heavy weight that has been tossed into my hands and I don't even know what it is made of, what material. As time goes on I need to analyze the weight and resolve it, identify it. Right now all I know is the weight is very heavy.
April 6, 1997 — Menlo Park
Thursday night I retire to our loft to go to bed. When Zo and I started to make love I felt like Kevin was still downstairs on our couch just like he was just over a week ago. Like he was looking over us. At first I felt a little strange about it, like an adolescent boy with an adolescent girl being caught by his father, but then it was almost a good feeling, like Kevin was still with us, that he could vicariously experience some of the joys of life that he missed out on. I've thought a lot about what "Kevin" is. I mean, he was this almost 32-year old guy that died prematurely, but what Kevin meant to me. It's not like we saw a lot of eachother in the years since we fled the coop. France was one time I'm really glad I got to spend with him. And our time together was usually here at the old house where Kevin wasn't really himself. But to me Kevin was a thing in the back of my head. As I write this, I start to think of things and my eyes stop to well up and I have to stop and look out the window at the sun rising the bramble of trees. I look back on all the actions I've ever made and it seemed Kevin was behind every one of them. I don't know how many times I've done something and felt like I wanted to share it with him, and I would in spirit. But when I got together with him or picked up the phone, suddenly there was this cloud hazing our connection. He would launch into his trademark cynical monologue and make me retreat into my shell, our suck my into cynical dialogue. I struggled with this and was hurt by this. But I've always kept Kevin with me in Spirit. He is like this presence in my mind. Not just in the manner mentioned above but I've always wondered "I wonder what Kevin is doing now". And in the later years this was clouded with images of Kevin driven by my fear that prompted me to imagine the worse. And even what I imagined is nowhere close to the living hell Kevin was enduring. Kevin did leave some journal entries behind and I've had mixed emotions about reading these, or especially about having them lying around the old house ([A] printed them up) and everybody reading them. But for someone like me who Kevin could never truly reach out to, it lets me on this very personal and miserable struggle that he was enduring. Something I could never imagine because it was beyond my grab bag of personal experiences. And I know he wanted to reach out, as every opportunity he had he would spill his guts to a friend of mine. I mean some of the stuff he's told Zo blows my mind. And he used to do the same thing to [X]. It's like he wanted me to know but never knew how to tell me. So his journal entries (which I've only found for October thru December of 1995) let me in on his existence a bit. A spiraling existence riddled with this obsession with cleaning up, using, trying to clean up and using, like a broken record wearing a groove, a rut, so deep you can't hear the music. I realized I lost my brother years ago to some demonic possession. This overwhelming force that made him unable to continue on with his life.
I'm being distracted from this train of thought by the harsh realities of this wake. Having to call friends of his I barely know. I just tried calling Jordan but got a machine in french. I'll let the events guide me. We flew to San Fran on Friday morning. The plane trip was very hard. Airports and planes have always reminded me of death. Waiting for a plane in a terminal. Connecting flights, checking in baggage, "the white zone is for the unloading and loading of passengers only", take-off, the skid marks on the runway, rising above the billowy clouds. The bright, diffused white light. I remember the plane flight to dad's memorial as a time when I really to face the music. In anticipation of seeing others hurting, others seeing you hurt. I was imagining how I would feel when I saw D or mom waiting for me at the airport. I guess when you're alone things get out of proportion, and that's why people want to be with other people after a death. When I called J he was crying when he answered the phone.
Our flight took forever. Our layover in Phoenix (there we go again— "layover in the Sky Harbor terminal in Phoenix") took forever. All flights were delayed due to weather. Not that the weather was that bad, but people in Phoenix aren't used to weather at all, they presume the absence of. The terminal was packed. Everybody waiting for a connection, toting their baggage. There are so many stories in airports, people going different places for different reasons. And me and Zo just other faces in the crowd. Begin some of the ugly business. We got discounted tickets for "death in the family" kind of thing, berearement rate, and they were telling us we would have to show proof of his death. "Funeral parlor receipt" or whatever. And we're like there's not really going to be a funeral. "When he gets cremated they'll give you a receipt of that". As E suggested, we should just get his skull and show it to the attendant. My early morning (5 a.m.) session is now being disrupted, as people are starting to wake up one by one and come into the sunny kitchen.
April 10, 1997 (2 a.m.) — Menlo Park
I have change more in the last week then in any week of my life. I have just read Kevin's journal and am deeply affected. More affected by that than by anything I have ever read or seen. I feel like I really have met Kevin and feel at peace with him or feel he is at peace. Kevin, Kevin, Kevin. Kevin, Kevin. Just his name conjures up an image, a dark image like remembering a dream. A darkness I can't put in words, almost like I have seen into his life (unfair to say lived his life for I can't begin to fathom the personal hell he was living). I feel an emotion that has color and shape, that has substance. I'm not sure whether it's the circumstances or whether it's because he is a good writer. I would like to "superimpose" his journal entries on mine [something we sorta did 20+ years later when we published Textiloma], see what he wrote on a given day, which would undoubtedly be something like "used, puked, wondered why I used, broke promises, feel terrible, cried, tomorrow I will begin sobriety", etc. Short and concise, while mine are long and rambling entries filled with descriptions of more external things as opposed to being like an animal stuck in a trap [see last month's entry]. I look back on setting the deer loose from the barbed wire fence and it makes sense to me now. That deer was the Kevin that existed in me. I let him go. I wondered about his broken legs. He wandered for a few more days, but it was inevitable he would die. This has made me think a lot more about where people go when they die. I feel Kevin is still somewhere, but this is probably some sort of psychological behavior on my part to help me cope. I feel Kevin has infused into me. I feel more of a need to write on his behalf. I feel like I could be him right now. In his journal entries he used me as a sort of ideal, an image of stability. Now he can be with me, we can be with him. People were passing around the image of him from the morgue and told me I should look at for closure but I refused. I'd rather think that maybe he's still alive, I don't think that is so unhealthy.
We arrived at SFO. I shouldn't have let so much time slip between this and the last journal entry as back then I felt some pretty heavy emotions and now those seem almost foreign to me. But back on that plane, with Zo by my side I guess I was thinking more of D and Mom who were waiting for me. I thought I would break down in tears but I didn't. Drove to D's house and saw [L] and baby [A]. Kevin's journal entries have inspired a more honest approach to mine. After all a journal is for telling all. My last rained-out day in Cananea before Kevin died (that's still weird to write) I found a little roach in the bathroom and got bored and smoked it. I didn't even get a buzz of it, but it was still a stupid thing to do. Especially being that pot was the gateway drug that led Kevin to heroin. So we saw A and she's cute but god keep me from having a baby and thank god that Zo is with me and doesn't want to have one either. Maybe I'll have a vasectomy. N and S were waiting at the old house. We went to dinner with [family ]. Zo was getting a bad stomach ache. She holds her stress in her gut and think she was deeply disturbed and disrupted by this whole chain of events. Not that I wasn't but I think I was just more in shock than anything and partially numb. And now on this trip out of familial obligation, just wanting to get it overwith. Zo had difficulty sleeping as did I. I didn't sleep much the first three nights, actually.
The next morning (Saturday) woke up and N and S left and I spent most of the day trying to contact Kevin's friends, going through his stuff and what not. We all went on a hike to "cow hill" where Kevin used to run. The mood was freaking me out at times, like a happy reunion, but I guess that's o.k.
I am having a hard time writing as I keep flipping back and forth between Kevin's journal entries and mine trying to see what I happened to be doing on certain days of his miserable existence. He was writing from a very dark place. It's almost three a.m. and I am scared to go asleep. I try to imagine what I could have done to make things different. How could I have been so oblivious? Lacked foresight? I am so enveloped in Kevin that I can't even get to the events of the weekend. I am very hungry and lonely. Zo is not with me.
jumping over our grandmother's pool (evidently part of the grieving process)
April 11, 1997 (6 a.m.) — Menlo Park
My emotions are a swirling cess pool of concrete. There's the risk of that concrete hardening so I need to keep stirring it. I had originally planned on going back Sunday but I feel a need to push on with my life. So I pushed the flight back to Friday morning. But of course I'm way ahead of myself, my chronological reality is being distorted. My sleep cycle severely disrupted. There's no clear distinction between days.
Saturday, who knows. Phone calls to friends of his that maybe I've barely met once. I think we ate Sushi at Miyakes. A bunch of us.
Sunday morning we went to Calistoga. Mom, Zo and I in Granini's diesel Mercedes. D, L and A were supposed to meet us there. It was a nice drive and being with my mom was actually not that bad. She was in good spirits, better than I've seen in a long time. Guess it's her "Everything was meant to be and has a purpose" philosophy. When we got to Calistoga we couldn't check in but we could use the pool. The pool was closed because it was 108 degrees, but we swam in it anyways. They were recycling the water, spraying it like a fire hose into the air to air cool the water. I would float on the hot water on my back and drift under the spray. It was like a hot desert torrential rain without the danger. It felt good. I did it over and over thinking this must have felt what it was like to stick a needle in your vein. It could have been similar to how Kevin felt when he died.
Zo had the first mud bath/massage and she was a freaked out about it as she had never had one. She thought they were going to force her to do things she didn't want to, torture her with hot mud. Unfortunately we had to go separate. My appointment came. Went into a waiting room and undressed and wrapped myself in a large cotton towel. They had iced cucumber/lemon water everywhere. Unfortunately I got grouped together with some dweeb from the east coast who had never had a mud bath and felt uncomfortable with his nakedness. It was like he felt obligated to make small talk when all I wanted was to sit silence.
(There are squirrels scampering around on the roof. I hear cats or skunks scratching around on the roof. I am in Kevin's bed, between white sheets and under his white down comforter. I feel sleepy and may try to sleep a little more.)
April 11 — En Route SFO-->Phoenix
Tired over the Pacific Ocean. Never did get back to sleep. So Calistoga... the weight of the warm mud was soothing. The heavy mud that renders you motionless and almost senseless. Rinse off and then into the mineral baths. Then into a steam bath. Then they (two Mexican guys) wrapped me up in linen and laid me to rest. They put cucumber slices on my eyes and a cold compress on my forehead. I fell into a slumbery yet lucid state until I was woken up by my masseuse. She did the full body massage, ironing out the wrinkles. It was incredibly relaxing.
[D & T] showed up and we hung out by the pool afterward. We checked into our 3-bedroom bungalow, very nice place with wood floors and white walls, kitchen and dining room. D and L showed up with the baby and we went to eat at the Wappo Bar, a sort of South American/ California cuisine. Zo retreated into the friendly banter of D and T to escape the family drama and so did I. I spent most of dinner talking to D. That night the bed was like a cloud. This whole incident hasn't affected our passion thought I noticed that we tended to make love in the mornings moreso than the evenings.
Lounged by the pool/giant hot tub all morning, floating in the sun. D and I went for a hike up in the hills around Calistoga. He talked a lot about his theory that somewhere between Shirley and mom Kevin missed out on nurturing and that's where his problems stemmed from. He's obviously spent a lot of time thinking about Kevin. But he's very non-emotional and analytic about it all, like Kevin was ultra right-brained and D's ultra left-brained and I fall somewhere in between. And J... who knows where J falls. At the memorial D said he almost attributed Kevin's uniqueness to his left-handed-ness. But that's D. It's like he feels a responsibility to fill in the gap that Dad left. He insists on paying for most everything and he is the stoic non-emotional one.
(The snowy mountains below are beautiful, lots of snow.) When D and I got back to the pool, L had left. Just took the baby and left. D couldn't swim because she didn't leave him his bag. But D doesn't get mad about this or anything. It's just like whatever, she just took off. We drove back and Zo and I got off at D and T's in Napa. Anything to postpone the madness at the old house. Then we sucked into their world. D's knitting and T's spray booths. They really don't care much about anything outside of their little world they've created. It was refreshing for a change but then it got very emotionally draining. We ate at some Mexican restaurant in Napa. After a while I just couldn't focus on the new age pyscho-babble that D and T were talking about, horoscopes, denial, "channelers", etc. I would just try to smile and hope that at least Zo was being entertained and enjoying this more than the drama at the old house. By next morning I was getting exhausted and somewhat pissed. T was bragging about his drug-dealing days, about how heartless he was, how many tons of marijuana, coke and heroin he trafficked, how he spent time in jail for first-degree murder, how he took three prostitutes at a time on trips to Hawaii, how he wanted to kill this one guy but settled for torching his ranch and cars, etc... It might have been interesting in other circumstances but in light of Kevin it seemed really insensitive. No tact whatsoever. They're only response to Kevin was like "shit happens, we've seen plenty of people go down to heroin." Then he would talk about how much fun his drug-dealing days were and how he learned so much, etc... By this time we're driving in their Suburban, Zo in the back with D, learning to knit. They said they would drop us off in Menlo Park or at the San Jose airport (J was due in at noon). But then we had to stop to pick up some trailer. We hadn't eaten any breakfast, when we mentioned we were hungry, they made no attempt to stop. He wouldn't say where he was going. Eventually I figured out he was going to the airport. But first he had to stop and pick something up (even though it was like ten minutes to noon). They always act like you're a stress case if you worry about something like that, they think that everything will just work itself out and you don't need to make an effort. When we got to some wherehouse in Santa Clara T hands me a pair of gloves and I had to help him the load the trailer full of complete shit, I mean rusty pipes, industrial shelving and boxes of crap. He was bragging about what a great deal he got on all this white trash collectible shit at some auction. And of course we miss J at the airport and D and T act surprised, but not apologetic. And I ask him to just take us to Menlo Park. And he drives past the exit so I ask him what's up and he's like— "I got this meeting in Redwood City, you don't mind just hanging out and waiting for me and I'll take you guys afterward."
We had plenty of time before his meeting. My brother had just died. I hadn't really seen my other brother in seven years and he's asking us to accompany him on some lame errand to Redwood City? I said drop us off there and we'll call a cab and he finally drove us there like all— "sure, no problem, what's the big deal?" So finally got to see J. He was all jittery and wired after two days of travel. His messy hair and radiant grin. We all got Mexican food and then visited and reminisced for the rest of the afternoon.
The next day was Kevin's memorial. The whole thing was poorly organized and stressing me out a little bit, but no one seemed to care except me. N showed up bright and early with S, J, C and C. All cookie-cutter perfect, clean cut with white shirts and ties like they were still on their missions. Others showed. J G showed. He's a character. Evidently Kevin had managed to keep him completely in the dark about his drug problem. I guess G was too straight and Kevin figured he couldn't handle it or wouldn't think to highly of him. In the book that was floating around for people to sign, G wrote that he hoped that he would see Kevin again somewhere, because "you've got a lot of explaining to do". He went with me, Zo and mom to the memorial. It was just a sort of exodus to the cemetery where Grandpa Cal's at. We all gathered waiting, and then N figured we'd start (thought a bunch of people weren't there). We all gathered around Grandpa Cal and Virginia's plaques and N went into his semi-religious sermon. C started us off with a prayer. I'm sure Kevin would have rolled over in his grave, but whatever, it provided a structure to the memorial. He left it open for people to express their thoughts. J spoke, I don't really remember what he said. People were arriving late. W, T and about a dozen of Kevin's friends from the city. Then D and L showed up with A when it was half over. That kind of pissed me off, cuz I'm sure it was L that was holding them up because D called me before the memorial saying he was trying to get out the door. Then S and M showed up. J was telling stories about Kevin in high school Algebra or how he used to make meow sounds (I meowed and everyone laughed). K said she wanted to speak and was like— "Kevin used to improvise on the piano, The Sting and stuff". Okay, next? I spoke mostly out of obligation, explaining what it was like to be closest of age to Kevin, growing up playing with him and how I felt "Kevin" was still with me. Of course I didn't feel I said enough or communicated what I wanted to say. I told the story about how one summer Kevin and I decided to take a trip to Oregon to retrace our roots, and how we went to our mountain cabin and there was a river running in our backyard, and how when we were little it seemed like a huge river that drowned people and we never fathomed getting across to the other side. I talked about how Kevin became possessed with a desire to get across the river. He took off his Doc Martins and was swinging around in trees and hopping rocks to get across. And he did cross. Then K used the memorial as an emporium to plug for neural linguistic programming and massage stuff. Uh-oh. They say it's going to be a bumpy ride, descending into Phoenix.
April 14, 1997, 2:53 a.m. — Tucson
When E started to speak he got a lump in his throat. That got me and Zo going. There was nothing really to look at. Just the ground where Grandpa Cal and Virginia had their plaques. And the faces gathered around.
I've been debating on whether I should see the picture D took of Kevin in the morgue. Being the physicist that I am it may provide a sense of closure, so I am not thinking that this was all a bad dream. E, A and Ed all asked to see it. I was talking to Ed about it on the phone. He needed to see it. He said it was a frightening image, he glanced at it for a second and couldn't get it out of his head. After thinking about it and talking to Zo I decided that I don't want to remember Kevin dead. It's not like I see him every day so it can still be like he's alive. What's important to me is the memory of Kevin, of what he did, what he inspired in me. The thought that he may still be around is comforting. Almost like he is still around with me.
Uncle D spoke after E. He had on his Delta flying uniform and dark glasses. He started to get choked up and kept clapping his hands together in an emotional gesture. I think towards the end D was get disillusioned and bitter with Kevin. He said that the night before when E was printing up Kevin's journal D really got to know Kevin. After that N cut things off and tried to bring things to a close. But D interrupted him and said he had something to say. That he wasn't a good speaker and wrote something out to read. It was good what he said. It summed up Kevin's life more or less praising his talents. He ended by talking about how K made a last ditch effort to go to Arizona and to see Zo and Derek (at which point we were really crying) and then he came back to the Bay Area, had Easter dinner and was found a few days later in the city in his new truck with a needle and a spoon. (Another point of fact: the truck had exactly 2600 miles on it.)
And then there was a mingling of people and sobbing hugs. I introduced myself to everyone I didn't know, met many of Kevin's friends for the first time or the first time in a long while. We made our way back to the old house. Drinks by the pool. Got a chance to talk to W and that group of friends. Ed calls from the cemetery, flustered and apologetic. Said he was just freaking out and screwed up the time. I gave him directions to the house. When he got there I ended up talking to him most of the time. He came with his girlfriend S and this other guy D, who I know only now after reading Kevin's journal entries. Ed was pretty shaken up as was D. These were two people who had used with Kevin, who have supposedly cleaned up their acts. I wonder if this is reinforcement to them or enough to make them break down and use?
I had to take Zo to the airport but things were wrapping up by then anyway. Got a chance to hang out with Zo a bit before her flight. And then I was driving back alone and I realized I was alone, driving and crying, and feeling like I could look over and see Kevin in the passenger seat. That night I slept but maybe an hour or two (the nights since Kevin's death maybe four or six at most).
The next day I hung out with J. He wanted to go to the city. We drove by Gough so I talked him into going up to Turk. Turk and Gough was where Kevin reportedly parked his truck and died. It was pretty major intersection near a park where he probably made the purchase. I tried to imagine him buying the drugs and sitting in his truck. We looped around the block passed the intersection again. J can be a little hard to talk to. It's like he doesn't spend too much time thinking before he talks and he can be stubborn in his ways. That morning at breakfast mom was going on about Kevin's heroin problem. After reading Kevin's journal I realized how much it was a problem with pot too, and I told this to mom and she freaked out saying I was trying to blame her when all I was trying to do was make her aware that her that she was also an addict (just as they told her in Sierra Tucson). So she rushes off to her room in tears, refusing to listen. And J jumps on me saying I should let bygones be bygones. And I'm trying to explain to him that you can't have a healthy relationship with a person when they are stoned all the time and he's missing the point entirely. Actually what was really scary was he was saying that he has a drinking problem, that he will drink three or four beers, or whiskies a night and he starts saying all the classic lines "but I'm just thankful I have a high tolerance because it doesn't even really effect me". Even weirder in that we were driving in his truck (J's idea). What can you say? Is there not a lesson to be learned from Dad's death? I don't get it. I don't really consider myself that intelligent a person, but what does it take to figure it out? It doesn't take a rocket scientist. So who does that leave, me and D. L told Zo that this whole thing with Kevin wass ruining their marriage. Complaining about how D will now want to see his brothers. Last time J came up L sent him a letter (without D's knowledge) telling him not to come up, that if he came up it would ruin their marriage. J got it right before he left and luckily ignored it, but didn't bring it up with D or L. That's fucked up. Why is my family so fucked up?
Being away from Zo and stuck with who's left of my fucked-up family was not helping deal with the loss of Kevin. I changed my ticket back from Sunday to Friday. J and I ate in the Haight at the Port Store. Being in Kevin's old stomping grounds was freaking me out a little. I watched all the loser dead-head and alternative city dwellers thinking most of those people probably have brothers or sisters. Such a different world than back-country Nevada or Mexico. After Haight we went to the Art Institute and walked around J's old school. How lucky we were. Especially J and Kevin, for having the opportunity to go to art school for four years. I asked J about that, about how he wouldn't just die now for the opportunity to spend four years in an institution that gives you all these mediums to work with and just tells you to create. How I would die right now for the opportunity to spend a few years just writing. And the Art Institute has a coffee shop with about the best view of the bay and Alcatraz I've ever seen. We saw an installation by two Irish artists that was very inspiring. It's just amazing that such an institution exists, with all these laboratories to create "art".
Back to Menlo Park. D came by and we set to the task of going through Kevin's things. Kevin always had a lot of nice things. His Gaultier leather jacket, his Tibetan prayer beads, Hindu statues, Kama Sutra paintings, lots and lots of CD's and books, clothes etc. It felt weird. Kevin of all people who was so private about his possessions. It's four a.m. and I feel very tired now.
I'll never catch up with the events of last week, needless to say by Thursday I was sick of talking to people and emotionally drained. Did I mention anywhere that S and N stopped in for a day? Haven't seen them since my dad's funeral. Bunch of people I haven't seen since my dad's funeral. Blah, blah. Just get me home back to my simple life back in Tucson. I don't know what I did but it works for me. I'm happy with my life. I'm happy with Zo.
April 15, 1997 — Tucson
I finally got my flight back to Tucson. It was turbulent and made me a little sick. I was glad to be back in Tucson, but Saturday I was really depressed, though I tried really hard not to be. I worked out and Zo and I saw a Jim Carey flick, "Liar, Liar". Sather was in town. Went to the street fair and generally just hung out. They (Sather, Gwynn, Joe and that group) would go out at night but I wasn't into that and neither was Zo as she was feeling sick. After reading Kevin's journal I'm sickened to the idea of even drinking alcohol.
Things are very up in the air right now. I got the bee job, but it's a federal job and I had to fill out a mountain of paperwork and being that it's a federal job it can only start at the beginning of a pay period so I can't start for almost two weeks. By then we'll be ready to leave Tucson. Geotemps may get me something but that's in the air. I could just get a job delivering pizzas or something but it's also kind of difficult to work as J comes tomorrow for who knows how long, and the weekend after that we're going to Seattle for 4–5 days and the weekend after that we're going to New Hampshire for 4 days.
Yesterday Zo and I took a walk and I mentioned the idea of packing it up and just leaving May 6 (Zo's last day) and the idea was contagious. We were all set on it and Zo (being the cute little Zo she is) started packing and wanted me to start taking things to the goodwill and selling furniture until I was wow, maybe we should just hold off. We have nothing lined up, no job's waiting for us, not even sure where we are going. But the motivating factor is that May 6, we would be in the same situation here. So what's the point of finding work here if we want to leave, may as well hold off and really make an effort to find work elsewhere. And now that Kevin's gone there's nothing really keeping me on the west coast, seems the time is ripe to just wipe the slate and start over somewhere else. I would take advantage of this downtime as an opportunity to write but I feel so up in the air. I wish we were just re-established somewhere and had a steady job for 40 a week, where I could write a few hours a day. And I'm tired of hustling for work in between jobs, that's worse than working. I don't even feel a need to travel, maybe just a need to live in a new environment.
April 20, 1997 — Tucson
I was on the phone to Granini and Zo was in the crawl space under the stairs going through stuff. Zo had made some lemonade in the silver pitcher that Aunt S had coerced us into taking. It was a Collins family heirloom, silver that was being dispersed and they insisted I take a piece even though I said I didn't want it and would probably sell it. Next thing I know Zo is puking in the toilet. I didn't think much about it as just the day before she woke up in the middle of the night in such a coughing fit that I had to run and get her a pot and she threw up. I was still on the phone to Granini and must've picked up the glass of lemonade (poured out of the silver family heirloom) and drank some without thinking about it. Instantly I started feeling nauseous and realized why Zo was suddenly sick like that. I was trying to pay attention to what Granini was saying but I was sweating and thought I would throw up. We were discussing moving to North Carolina. I had called Aunt M to see what it was like (and fish for an invitation) and Granini is there. Needless to say, I'm selling the dam pitcher.
We're selling everything. Books, CD's tapes, Kevin's coins, etc. . . whatever I can get my hands on that will lessen the load and give us cash. I haven't been able to find work. Well, I got the bee job but it's this big ordeal and can't start until next week and now we've chosen May 15 as our departure date, and half of the next 25 days will be spent in Seattle and the New Hampshire so it's kind of hard to get work. Maybe I will just write, though I feel kind of ungrounded and in limbo. Almost in shock at high lightly I've been taking Kevin's death.
J came a few days ago, figured since he flew all the way up from Argentina may as well visit us in Arizona, even though we just saw each other. It was weird, he showed up in Kevin's old brand new truck. Guess he doesn't feel weird about driving it. But it was weird for me. Another brother arriving from California. The moon was half-full. When Kevin came it was full and it was eclipsing. That was 3/4's of a cycle ago. And Hale-Bopp was in the northwestern skies. The next morning at 6 a.m. was when I last saw Kevin. J drove off in Kevin's truck this morning around 6 a.m. I worry when he says he drank a lot after he and Ñ broke up, or he justifies why he smokes pot on occasion... I just felt this pressing need to get on with my life. The whole time he was here I felt the need to create my space and defend it, create a geological barrier between me and my family. When I was talking to Clarke Arnold, he spoke off a 1500 mile barrier. I don't know how far it is from here to San Francisco, probably about 800 miles, but that's not quite far enough. Well in J's case, he is in Argentina. Not that there's anything wrong with my relationship with J, we both just have a different approach to family hard-ball and we don't see eye to eye on many things. As far this trip, a lot of it was just bad timing, first Kevin here for a week, then Kevin's death, then a week or more in the Bay Area, came back but Sather was here, and I had a few days in between, before J came, but I was unemployed and we're in the middle of planning our move... and through all of this all I want to do is write. I want money so I have the free time to write. I could probably call mom up and ask her to borrow money and then just blow her off but I have way too much pride. I've borrowed money from her and know how humiliating it is. That's how she can gain control is kicking you why you're down. She takes pleasure when you're so far down that you have to come begging to her. This was Kevin's demise.
So the first day J was here we drove around Southeast Arizona. I used this as an opportunity to revoke my Mexican vehicle tags. We stopped in Tombstone and Bisbee and drove back via Sonoita, a dirt road through the Santa Ritas and then to mission San Xavier. The next day we went hiking in Sabino canyon, did the phoneline loop and stopped and swam in the river. A lot of these things I took J to do, it was almost like I was going to for what I knew would be a final visit, so it wasn't so bad. And yesterday we went to Biosphere II, which Zo hadn't really been to and I hadn't officially been (besides the time I snuck in and didn't get the official tour). It wasn't as annoying as I expected, but it was still pretty new agey and touristy. Such a shame as it would be a great idea if they did real science. Last night we did the "club crawl". All the Tammie winning bands were playing at all the various clubs and you buy a bracelet and get into every club and bar. We went to Congress first and saw Greyhound Soul, some obnoxious wannabe Kerouac spoken word thing, the Drakes and some local hard-core metal band that I though was great. They had such a weird image, the bass player was super fat and ugly, had long hair and wore a 666 t-shirt. The guitar player was also fat, had nipple rings and was black. Weird considering they had a confederate flag back-drop. The drummer was amazing. The singer looked like a fascist skin-head teaming with testosterone, but when you listened carefully to the lyrics they were militantly anti-racist. Go figure. We wanted to go to the Third stone and see Greasy Chicken. The line was out of control but we waited anyway amidst throngs of chain-smoking college kids, J actually got through the door (he didn't have a picture I.D.) And it was so packed, hot and smokey that we just left anyway to chill in a mellow coffee shop.
Now he left and it's me and Zo and we have the rest of our lives in front of us. I am more in love with her than ever. She is everything to me. There is no doubt in my mind, I still look at her and feel overwhelming desire and know she is the most beautiful thing on this planet. Our love-making is more passionate than ever.
It's almost a month before our departure date and Zo is already packing. She's collecting all the knick-knacks and bottles from around the bookshelves and windowsills and storing them into boxes. She knows this is neurotic and I let her do this knowing that is giving her satisfaction and ease-of-mind. She came in and sat on my lap and actually, physically finished the end of that sentence for me. I would have worded it "putting her mind at ease" but she said "ease-of-mind". Now she is climbing around trying get some that are way up in the triangular window in the eaves. She asked me to do this and I said hold on so she is going on risking getting them herself even though I tell her not to. It is more important that I write this down. She asks me where I got the batch of bottles, the big score of medicinal bottles. I say— "somewhere in Nevada". Some have white powder still in them and others have little pills. We're dying to know what the substance is.
I have been reading The Anatomy Lesson by John D Morley and am very inspired, enriched with new grass to chew on. A lot of it is due to circumstance and the subject matter of the book, namely a younger disillusioned brother and his older bro that dies. It analyzes their whole relationship, ending with the younger brother's participation in his autopsy. All of it just rings to close to home. Like it's a book Kevin wrote for me to read.
I am very inspired to write and don't know where to begin. Every action going on around me I feel compelled to write down. The medicinal bottles, our move east, The Anatomy Lesson. I sit here picking things up, I just picked up 'SSES"" 'SESS" by Kevin, his master's thesis and get sucked into that. Of course I read it when he was alive, but it's almost like I didn't want to take the time to thoroughly read it. Maybe it was out of jealously. His language was too esoteric for most people to understand. Something I could learn from. He made himself too inaccessible. Reading him was too much work.
Anyways, I keep getting sucked into everything I put my nose in. I feel like I've accumulated all my data and know I'm hording it, more than I can carry in my arms and just want to find a place where I can sit down and make cohesive sense of it and put it on paper. And then there's the story of the border crossing and the dear in the fence which I feel an urgency to write, just because that was what was on my mind when Kevin died.
April 23, 1997 — Tucson
Been working on "Navigating the Senses". Put together a sort of scrapbook of writings, journal entries, clippings, photos, etc... that I hope will inspire me— all organized into 24 chapters, loosely based on the Odyssey. Needed some sort of framework to guide me. I've been working on it for like three or four days straight now and finally have the "scrapbook" done and a pretty good idea about the overall structure of the book. Now to begin writing. [We still have this notebook but never finished this novel] I just took the scrapbook out on the town. I felt compelled to take it out, maybe sit down with it at Bentley's and see how it fares with the real world. But after checking my mail and doing my banking I came straight home. I remember I used to feel a compulsion to always be in a coffeeshop or out to eat, but now I'm perfectly happy not leaving the house. And this is what this book is about in a sense. Besides, we have to save our money and eat up all the food we have in our cupboards.
We've pushed the date back earlier, departure date is now set for May 8 to Chapel Hill. The New Hampshire trip was cancelled. Zo finally realized it wasn't such a great idea being that we could visit it once we're settled on the east coast, that we can't afford to right now, and that she doesn't think she wants to go to grad school in the fall. I've talked to Aunt M and D and there's a possibility that she wants us to house sit for a month or so.
Thursday afternoon we flew to Seattle, first class (had some up-grade vouchers). Been working on Navigating the Senses. So far this weekend has been unreal, a sick joke. Like we're begin tested. I guess I'm exaggerating. We're visiting S and S and there probably as about as normal as it gets, but I still trip out on people. Been working on Navigating the Senses. Got into Sea-Tac, S met us at the airport in the Range Rover. Went back to their place which is in Kent. Very generic place, like an apartment complex or townhouse deal where everything looks the same. But people aspire to this, and it's like Zo and I should be (according to them). But I'd rather be poor and live in an old run down house with class then live in this kind of shit. Luckily Zo feels the same way. We stayed up late watching Kingpin which was pretty funny, but the funniest thing was the hair thing going on Bill Murray. It's like the whole selling point of the movie.
We got up late on Friday and went to Pike's Place and at the pier. Shopped around and ended up at this arcade. Off all the things. In Seattle and S and S want to take us to an arcade with a bunch of 12-year old kids. It was quite the scene. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. I say, but Zo wasn't taking it as good as I and was obviously annoyed with the situation. It's a joke, it really is. The superficiality, the banality. And S considers Seattle "the center of the known universe."
"Really? Where else have you've been?" He's been in the Seattle area his whole life, maybe some fishing in Montana or a trip to Cancun. S showed us the photo album. Lots of pictures of her in a bikini and them in bars or hungover the next morning.
So we cruised around downtown Seattle, lots of interesting people to look at, open market with seafood and crafts, lots of coffeehops, street musicians, etc... went home and watched the Sonics game and ordered pizza. The next morning we went clamming. We got a late start. S and I went to get the clamming licenses and he went into this male bonding mode, like "bra". There all up now so I can't write.
April 27— Seattle
We went out to Aberdeen or whatever it's called. Somewhere out by where Kurt Cobain was born and blew his brains out. I can see why. I can see why dad did too. If I lived in the Pacific Northwest I would probably do the same thing. It's so gray and dismal here. It was forecasted to be sunny all weekend but it's been drizzly all weekend if not full-on downpour. And trees, so what. They block all the light and make it so you can't see the sky. If that's not bad enough, it's hard to get any sense of direction, all the roads wind around the lakes and the sound so you have no idea where you're going. Enough bitching. May as well make do being that we're already here.
wearing Kevin's Gaultier jacker in Seattle
April 28, 1997 — Seattle
So clamming... clamming is cool. I was really excited to go clamming, it's one of the fonder memories I have of Oregon. Then again I don't have many fond memories to begin with. We drove in the rain, S chain smoking, past clear-cut forests that we're trying to be disguised by a swath of trees left along the roadside. His family has a sort of commune in Aberdeen. Grandpas, uncles, in-laws, half-this, half-that, all neighbors to eachother like an inbred society. His.. uncles are married to 2 women who are sisters, that kind of thing. Men talk about fishing and trucks, women in the kitchen making potato salad and pumpkin pie. We had to wait for the tide to go down completely before we could go clamming. There was this sand bar normally covered with 5 or 10 feet of water, but the water was rushing out of the sound, leaving it exposed.
We waded out through the cold water. The "sand" was a mix of rocks, shells and clusters of dead barnacles. Along the shore if you dug it was like sewage sled. Smelled something fierce. We scraped the surface with the rake and sifted out the clams, "steamers" (the small ones), "butters" (the medium ones) and "horse clams" (the big ones). There was also some other really big ones, gooie ducks, but I was discouraged from looking for those. Clams are weird things. The sit in the muck with their necks sticking up like periscopes into the sound. You dig where you see their little holes, but you could really dig anywhere and find hundreds. We took our share within minutes and went back into the shore before the high tide trapped us out there.
It was nothing like the razor clam days at Canon beach. I remember getting home on a sunday night after a weekend of clamming and crying for hours wishing it wasn't over. That the weekend at the beach could've lasted forever. In that sense this sort of a closure for me. Maybe it was because it was the only time our family did anything as a team. Dad would do most of the digging, I would come along and sift through the diggings to find the clams, and Kevin would come along on his chopper with the banana seat and pick them up in a bucket. We were all involved in it. I liked doing it so much that sometimes the only way I could get us to go was to promise that I would clean the clams.
This atmosphere has me thinking of dad, and now Kevin a lot. There's a lot of ads about suicide prevention. The feel here is just like Portland. All the lumber mills with acres of piled logs like carcasses. All the greenery which most people find beautiful. I think this whole area is under a curse. Oppressive and claustrophobic. We went out to eat at this lodge on this lake with S's grandparents. At one point they asked me how many brothers I had and I said— "three. No, two." And it really struck me that now I have two brothers. I tried not to get too sad about it, gazing out over this grey, dismal lake with rain coming down on it. In a log-cabin lodge with lacquered wood, that feel of the northwest. Went to their cabin afterward, saw a huge beaver. S wanted me to paddle him around in the rain so he could fish. I evaded the issue. Then drove back in the pouring rain, everybody in silence.
April 28, 1997 p.m. — Tucson
We watched That Thing you Do that night. It really sucked. The next day Zo and I went off on our own. I think S and S were probably glad to get rid of us for a day. Zo and I definitely were. We took the jeep and drove into downtown. We were going to go to Mt. Rainier or something but it was far, it was raining and we were no that well prepared. We drove around until we found Broadway and ate Chinese food. Cruised around and checked out the hip street. Nothing special. Didn't feel much different from San Francisco, except even more rain and not as hip. We went to the Seattle center after that, where the Space Needle is. We didn't go to the space needle but we went to the Science Center (like the Exploratorium) and saw an IMAX film on whales. Meanwhile S and S went back to their grandparents house, S went to go fishing. They brought back all the clams (they need to sit in salt water for a day to "spit" all the sand out.) We steamed the steamers and fried up the butterclams (after I dissected and cleaned them all) and ate them while watching the Seattle vs. Phoenix game. I'm tired now, I'll finish this later.
April 29, 1997 — Tucson
Back home. Ten more days before we pack up the Trooper and go east. I'm ready to go. I've become disillusioned with the whole "go west" mentality. Much as I'll miss the big skies, it's time for a change.
[... May 1997]