March 18, 2014
Saturday was Emma’s birthday. She was born on the Ides of March. I’ve been working Saturdays, after I visit Bogart, which has been especially cool since Sharly started the coffee house. But this Saturday she gave me off because Emma had invited me to her birthday celebration.
Basically, as usual, it was a family celebration for Emma. Her immediate and some extended family go to her parents’ house for a day and evening of eating and talking. All the time Emma was my best friend, she’d invite me. Last year I didn’t go, she didn’t invite me, and/or I think I was in Boston. Either way, I was pretty fucked up then. The year before that was when Kathy committed suicide and I don’t really remember much how the early part of the year played out.
So anyway, first off, it was hard to figure out a perfect gift for Emma, but I got one. I borrowed my mom’s car to go to the party and I left the gift in the car. I was hoping for an opportunity to give it to Emma when we were separated from everyone else, because I didn’t want a bunch of “awwws” which is what would have happened. I also wanted it to be a private moment between us. So I waited for that opportunity.
When I arrived, her mother answered the door and gave me a big hug. She touched my face and said “oh Valente, how are you doing darling?” Her parents call me Valente because they knew me since I was 14, when Grimm was more of a nickname given to me by Emma, though it was more like Grim, and I didn’t legally change my name until I was 18. I knew her mother was asking how I’m doing because she’s aware of all the stuff that’s been going on with me, particularly the most recent thing, the death of Valentina. I told her I’m fine, but I was feeling both content and awkward that Emma likely had conversations with her mother about me. I know this is true based on my accurate psychicisms. But was Emma emphasizing what a loser I am or was she expressing concern and genuine sympathy? It’s often difficult to have an objective perspective when intuiting things pertaining to yourself. Doesn’t matter, either option sucks.
I went in and her father shook my hand and all her family seemed to be glad to see me. It never felt awkward before, seeing her family, but it did Saturday. The awkwardness was coming from me though. I just was uncomfortable in my own skin. I was feeling ashamed of mistakes and I also felt scrutinized as if everyone knew everything about me since they last saw me. My own suicide attempt, the substance abuse, my stupidity, Valentina. In order to be comfortable, I was forced to accept these things about myself, take them on, take them into me, and let them be what they were. They were parts of me, the real me, and I’ve grown from all of it. Instead of feeling ashamed, I chose to feel proud about how I’ve come to be where I am in life, and the fact that I’m making good progress.
For some reason, I hate when people use the word survivor when they’re just talking about life. I mean, life in itself is surviving. And if you’re alive, you’re surviving. Survivor and victor are not synonymous, the way I see it, apart from the connotative sense that is the norm, but that’s not the definition that applies to my way of thinking. Everyone survives their own obstacles and traumas, some people more than others. People who get cancer or things like that are survivors, in the victorious sense of the word, especially since most of that entails the will to live, above and beyond what medical science is able to do. Survivor means to me, simply existing. In life, with all the circumstance from childhood on, surviving is expected, so it’s obvious. There are the people who have been through natural disasters or wars, perilous circumstance beyond the trials of life such as extreme cases of victimization. Yeah, those people are survivors if they live, victors if they come out ok, mostly from a psychological standpoint. The meaning behind it all though, is overcoming something that would have otherwise killed you or destroyed you in some way, which I think is more of a victor. I mean saying “I survived” sounds much less powerful than to say “I am victorious”. In terms of the word survivor, the way it is tossed around, as for me, I guess I just don’t feel worthy of calling myself a survivor. Basically, I’m just like an animal, doing what I got to do. I just keep living and moving on. I’m a striver, I guess, not a survivor, as in I’m not yet victorious. And other than when I was a kid, I guess all the peril in my life I imposed upon myself. Obviously I can’t be blamed for the deaths I’ve experienced, but that’s not surviving, that’s grieving and going forward. I guess there’s the survivor who is the person who did not die from peril or was not destroyed mentally, emotionally, or psychologically, all circumstance imposed upon him or her, who is really a victor; and there is the survivor who got through life, who is all of us, with varying degrees of opposing situations. In the end, when it is our time to die, we’ve all survived in one way or another until that moment, and some of us die victors.
Anyway, we were eating and talking and Emma’s grandmother speaks very little English but she was asking me why I was being so quiet. Emma said to her, “Abuelita, èl nunca habla.” And she responded, “Un chico tranquilo.” “Sí, sí, muy tranquilo. Èl habla mucho a veces, pero èl puede ser muy timido en compañia de muchas personas. Recuerda?”
She said something like that, my Spanish isn’t great. And of course, timido translates as shy, not timid. My name is Wall Grimm and I am not timid.
The evening progressed and it was time for gift giving. When it was my turn, I told her I had something else for her later, but for the moment I was going to play the harmonica for her. So I got up and just kind of jammed a blues medley. I’ve gotten pretty good at jamming on the harp. Everyone started rooting me on in a bluesy kind of way and then the center of attention aspect of it got to be too much, so I said, that’s it, and sat down. They applauded. Emma was impressed.
Eventually people began leaving. I decided to be the pain in the ass that they had to kick out later. I intentionally planned to overstay my welcome. But then as the last person was leaving, they invited me to spend the night. Emma was spending the night. They said I could sleep in the guest room. I wanted to, but I opted out because, well, I guess I didn’t want Emma to get sick of me. I also kind of wanted to leave before I no longer was able to control myself. I imagined her parents would go to bed and she and I would stay up talking, and then I’d borderline sexually assault her by coming on too strong, and she’d get pissed off, and I would end up ruining what would otherwise have been a perfect evening. So yeah, I wasn’t going to set myself up for that. That’s called wisdom. Not only learning from your mistakes, but utilizing the knowledge you’ve acquired. I’m getting good like that.
I said no, but stayed a little longer, and her parents did end up going to bed. Then I decided to get the gift out of the car, give it to her, and leave. But that’s not how it played out in the end. Yet I’ll have to continue this another time because I’m going upstairs to have coffee with Howard. If I don’t get up there in time, I miss the awesome breakfast Daisy prepares.
My theme song is “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” by Eric Idle/Monty Python from “The Life of Brian”, hopefully for obvious reasons when elderly Grimm reads this.
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