Searching For Meaning In The Aftermath
Sept 16th 2001

I made one of my sort-of-rare stops at a drive-in in Laguna today to get a fish sandwich and as I pulled up to the drive-thru window, a young Arab kid that I'd seen in there before, pulled open the slider and in his conspicuous accent said, "That will be $2.99 please." I was astonished at my reaction as I sat there feeling my heart pound faster and felt the surge of blood rushing up through my face and into my brain. He stepped back from the window after I'd paid him and I found myself wondering what his story was - if he might be part of some terrorist organization and was secretly and surely infiltrating himself into our culture so that one day he could secure his place with Allah by strapping a bomb to his chest and blowing some heavily populated building in Los Angeles to bits.

He handed me my sandwich and I made a point of lowering my sunglasses so that I could look into his eyes and so that he could see mine. I smiled and drove away, completely bewildered by my thoughts. But I knew that smile I shared with him and it was one of compassion and understanding. I know my smiles and I know which ones come from my heart and which ones don't. This one did.

In the space of a few short days, everything in our collective consciousness has been rearranged and I truly believe that our lives as we've known them, will never be the same. It seems that in the pages of recorded history, some catastrophic event always comes along that profoundly alters the course of how things are played out - a world war, a holocaust, a plague, an assassination - and that such an event has taken place this past Tuesday. For a moment this week, I found myself feeling a little bit of envy that Les had gotten out when he did - free somehow from having to deal with the fallout that these attacks have insured.

Something inside of me has always longed for a quiet, simple life with a beautiful, loving and intelligent man by my side to share it with. That's what I wanted when Les came along almost ten years ago. But given the circumstances of his life then, quiet and simple just weren't in the cards. Since moving back to California two years ago, I've had the quiet and simple but not the man. And now it looks like quiet and simple are going to go away once again - and there's not a man in sight in my life either. Makes me wonder if I'm longing for the impossible.

A couple of months ago a psychic told me that a man named Bob was going to be coming into my life in September. As delightful as it was to consider the possibility, I learned a long time ago that psychics are a lot like weathermen - sometimes they're right and sometimes they're not. So I still carry an umbrella in my trunk no matter what the forecast. And I still carry condoms in my backpack, tho they're undoubtedly out of date by now and sadly, need to be thrown out. And I say sadly because no condom should have to be thrown out unless it's been rolled open, worn and filled with the stuff it was designed for. How sad to be a condom and be junked because you're old and not because you've fulfilled the purpose for which you were created.

All of which makes me wonder if I'm fulfilling the purposes of my creation. I wish I knew exactly what they were so I could go down the list and tick them off one by one and thereby feel some sense of accomplishment. Instead I'm left to wonder if raising a beautiful daughter, making beautiful music and pretty pictures, creating lush gardens and writing funny essays is enough to give my soul a sense of having completed the work I came here to do. I keep searching my soul for some sort of an answer but all I keep coming up with is a this longing - a hunger for something that I never quite seem to find - a quiet, simple life with a beautiful, loving and intelligent man to share it with for example. You'd think I was asking for world peace or something, as seemingly unavailable as this dream of mine is.

I think I need to have a chat with the dispenser of dreams and see if I couldn't get some sort of special consideration for good behavior. A Quid Pro Quo kind of a thing. Quid Pro Quo by the way, as I learned this week, means something in exchange for something else. What an enormous relief to finally know what that means after having heard it spoken on every TV lawyer show for years now.

And is all of this self-absorbed rambling really appropriate considering what's happened this week? Shouldn't I be exploring the deeper issues of politics, religion and humanity in search of answers to what has happened and why and what might be done about it? No, not really when it comes down to it. I think each person is going to have to do that for themselves. I couldn't possibly have any answers anyway because I'm still stuck on trying to figure out why it is I have all of these old, unused condoms in my backpack. With issues like that pressing on my mind, the chances of my having much to offer in terms of world politics are very slim.

From the water's edge as always,
Tom
Pussy Cap