She said “Everyone is sick.”
In a moment I instantly had nothing to say to my other half.
I wanted to tell her - “no, it will be ok” or “it just seems that way…”, or or or.
Truth was, truth is, she was right.
The country, the budget, humanity as a whole, the world as we both know it - is sick.
It is unwell and in desperate need of the kind of clouds that have been blanketing the sky as of late (that is in Southern California). We have been experiencing the kind of humidity that lays claim to New Orleanian beignets, and Gainesville moss trees. All to say, indigenous to places that aren’t the west coast.
I digress, most certainly because I am having trouble writing this blog post.
I don’t want to give real estate to the tragedies around me.
I don’t have any desire to give space to the silent realities that I am bearing.
Alas, I am hoping these letters clumped together as words, will reach clear across the Atlantic and find someone, maybe 27 years of age, dreaming of the day their career as an artist will burgeon, and finding the resolve that they too, are not alone.
Her name is Alisa.
Newly gracing the aggressively elegant decade of her twenties.
She is the perfect cross between a NASA consultant and a manicured hippie.
Her crush, former President Dick Nixon.
Her major - divinity.
Her guilty pleasure meets pipe dream - to become a bartender on a gap year between undergrad and post grad.
I know - dynamo.
I met her when she was still in high school, she stood out even then.
Like a sunflower in a sea of roses that bloomed just enough to play it safe.
In a flurry of adolescent fleeting idolatry, she was among the few students mounted forward through the crowd, firmly shook my hand and introduced herself. This was concurrent with the “fangirling” that made this poet feel like a Beatle or the 6th member of One Direction.
Alisa was steadfast in her unknowing, polished in her knowledge and unapologetic for her candor. For me, I remember thinking - 'my life would be so much easier if I were self arrived at her age’. During the course of her collegiate attendance, my career and lack of humanity time - we lost touch. However, many thanks to social media we were always a click away on Facebook.
One day the messages chimed, my dynamo had written me.
In her brief message she told me she had Lupus.
For the heft of her confession, the post was far too short and the words inside were the kind of devastation that comes when you survive a natural disaster, and the only memories that you saIvaged were water logged and inoperable.
To be a human that pays her way with language, I had no a cent to my name.
Burning through the seconds that felt like moments and the minutes that neatly dressed as endless, I funneled the uneducated rage I had, and asked her the stupidest I could pull out of these lips, “Are you ok?”.
Candidly, she told me “No.”.
I said something conciliatory, like ‘totally' or 'for sure'.
We sat in the silence.
I talked with her a while, the conversation ended. I smashed my eyes together, folded my chapped palms, and attempted to tell God to please keep her.
Be it safe, in his eye line, in his grace - whatever, but KEEP HER.
This past June, Alisa came to work for my company.
Within a matter of hours, I could see the stained glass window she was erecting inside of my infrastructure. The window was full of detail, procedure, efficacy and intention.
It is a sight to behold - the once mismatched scaffolding, which was nothing to stop and admire, has suddenly become, progress.
Handsome even. Girl next door type, cute.
In one month, she had executed a standard operations procedure manual, streamlined an email auto response system and created the skeleton for an engagement flow chart. These elements may sound mundane to the average creative, however I, your atypical poetic CEO was fascinated and thrilled, equally.
Last week, Alisa let me know that her health, the condition rather, was siphoning her “normal” from this theology scholar moonlighting as a scripture toting bartender. She told me that she regretfully would need to take time for herself, and attend to her physical wellness. I told her I loved her. I told her, worry about nothing regarding work, that it didn’t matter and the only thing I wanted to discuss was when we were having tea.
When we met she told me that she needs some personal accountability, not in those words, but that is my interpretation. I told her, in the words of the late Frank E Wilson, that she “needed a village”.
She said “I know - but…”.
I cut her off, and let her know that I would be the president of her fan club. That we would write, journal, that I would type because Multiple Sclerosis robbed me of my passion for holding a pen and guiding it through shapes on paper. We talked guitar, chords, and finding a melody that was louder than the awkward. A melody that was thunder above the drizzle of the nuanced “How are you?”.
I told her, the next time someone asks you that - do me a favor, and just tell them the truth. That is all we have, and you know dynamo, that is good enough.
Dear God, please continue to KEEP HER.