Honey, i sold your motorcycle.

20131015-083258.jpg“Sell the damn thing. It’s okay baby I don’t need it where I am, I’ve got one that runs great!” That’s what I hear him saying. It’s just weeks before what would have been my beloved Max Middleton’s 63rd birthday. He was a Halloween baby, the spook. I’m wondering if per chance he will show up this year to go trick or treating on a new motorcycle, a six pack of Bud in his saddlebags, with him wearing his signature tattered black sweatshirt and cut off jeans…yes he wore daisy dukes whenever he could, after all he was from “goddamn harlan kentucky”. Just watch him here for a good ole boy audition… http://youtu.be/cBuQyhi_VvM

Max used to say it was kind of cool to have everybody dress up for his birthday. I just didn’t have the heart to tell him it was for the pagan holiday, though he was a sort of pagan. Fitting. Such little things are better left unsaid anyway, don’t you think? Anyway Max’s 1984 Honda Magna was sold on ebay and got picked up Saturday morning by a guy who wants to restore and ride it. He lives in Santa Monica and commutes to LAX where he works for Delta. Thank the Goddess Honda it runs. I was blessed with my friend Dan’s offer to put the bike in top running order which I immediately took! 20131015-081851.jpg After having the seat reupholstered and replacing a few very necessary parts, paying 2 years of delinquent registration fees (ouch) and posting the bike for 3 weeks on ebay, it sold. Did I get the amount I was asking? No. And for those close to me this would come as a big surprise. I’ve been known to drive a hard bargain in my favor. But after the guy had signed the papers, the money was exchanged, I handed him Max’s infamous rarely worn Honda Magna tshirt and blew through an entire box of tissues as the guy rode away, I breathed a sigh of relief. 20131015-083020.jpg
A lot of my sweet Maxie’s and my history revolves around his being on the road, his vehicles breaking down and me coming to pick him up at the mechanic or on Benedict canyon, laurel canyon, mulholland drive…or at the theatre 68 parking lot near sunset and western. Max was not big on finding the time to do the mechanic thing before the jeep or bike broke down. Of course most people don’t visit their grease monkey until its too late, so my guy wasn’t alone in the “later-on” club. The sale is bittersweet, but that ain’t bad…bittersweet chocolate is my fave.

Letting go of my sweetheart’s stuff may be a challenge for me, but in my heart I know he is always with me, even if the stuff triggers memories like an AK-47 at a carnival shooting booth. Bullseye! Kapow! I get the pity prize. Each piece of memorial hoarding has the capacity to knock me down, then invariably I get up and Bam! I pick up another this or that and throw it in the box to donate or sell if I can…You’d think that I’d be done after 14 months, but you see, my dear one was the proverbial pack rat. I should have capitalized that name but instead…now I am selling off stuff to Capitalize on the clutter that still surrounds me.

Yes, I know you can hear me sweetheart, wherever in the great beyond you are these days. And I know you agree. When we were first together I offered to help him organize his messy Beverly Hills adjacent apartment. I foolishly thought it a fun challenge since up to that moment I had never seen such organized disarray. He just had a shit load of stuff. We donated then too.

When he moved from his one bedroom apartment into my, then our home, I was shocked at the amount he had amassed and stored in that small space. Weeks after his passing my kids helped me send several truckloads to charity. Actually I now believe Max’s stuff still has the power to regenerate… its as if the damn stuff grows back. Pop! A jacket appears. Hot damn, I thought I got rid of that at the garage sale. Wham! Another pair of sunglasses or reading glasses surfaces as I find myself cursing the 99cents only stores! I am still uncovering items in rooms I thought I had already cleared out …you’d think I lived in a multi room mansion filled with winter and summer wardrobes, hunting gear, skeet shooting paraphenalia, like Downton Abbey! Or did I maybe Only dream I had sorted, boxed and donated? No. I did. Where is this stuff coming from? Creepy.

Then there’s the 1984 Jeep Renegade cJ7, Max’s other “ride”. You could take the “boy” out of the country, but not the country out of the boy. I truly believe there was a part of Max still stuck in late 1960’s rural Kentucky… Every now and then it would surface like sporadic reruns of the Dukes of Hazard, Mayberry RFD or even Gomer Pyle. I found it endearing, Because I love/d him deeply. Funny how I see it more clearly now. Ah, how grief and time gives us perspective. Back to the Jeep.

I used to muse about reupholstering the seats, installing new belts…tires, plus our new and improved regular maintenance schedule. And he’d respond with, “…Maybe later, when I book a film.” And I’d shut up about it, because I could see he kinda liked the funkiness of the Renegade, just the way it was, him being a quasi renegade himself. The man who touted “Embracing Sacred Change” was contradicting himself and I wasn’t about to call him on it … Even though I REALLY wanted to. Why? Cause I loved him for his friggin idiosyncrasies, but sometimes he was deluding himself, that’s why!

Anyway. Max died August 2012. Then, Last year, in October, I hired a friend who said he could fix the Jeep. He didn’t. I won’t go into all the rotten detail about the money or the mess or the sadness I felt when I asked him exactly when he knew he was in over his head and he said “November”. If I talk about the fiasco I want to cry. I know better. Lesson learned. Besides I’ve said more than enough already. Yawn. Thankfully, my friend Dan came on the scene in time to to make things right, and he does know what he is doing…and he is methodical about it. The saints be praised.

Now I really AM restoring MY vintage vehicle. The Jeep was in both our names…for now it is mine and I’m fixing the damn thing up so very, very nice. It’s even got a brand new rebuilt engine, carburetor, timing belt, water pump, hoses, wires, interior, tires, wheels, roof, blah, blah, and more blah…Almost everything is either new or restored and when I’m done I’m going to sell it too! To the best buyer…someone who will get another 30 years out of it. Them darn things are built to last. God I’m now sounding like a hillbilly myself. Too bad Maxie wasn’t built to last …well his body wasn’t…his spirit is still going like the Energizer bunny…and will probably go on forever if I know Max. Such is life, loss and the zen of Jeep cj7’s.

Letting go is the sacred change I have embraced, sometimes tentatively and often with the not-so- gentle-cosmic-push Max’s passing has graciously provided. And still I embrace it. Dealing with transforming and letting go of these silly old manly “to the Max” vehicles is transporting me into my own new life.

I’ll keep in touch. That is if you follow me. Go on, I know you can do it. Until then…

Is anybody out there?

Hi again. It’s me calling out from this island in the Aegean Sea. Are you there? Are you reading my words? Do you care? WTF? What is so important you can’t respond? Are you so busy with your iPhone, checking Facebook, googling Syria-GMOs-radiation leaking from Fukishima, wondering when you can might get your nails done, walking the dogs, sitting on the freeway, yelping gluten free pizza, paying bills, selling on ebay, occasionally seeing clients, making your art from trash and crying about your dearly departed sweetheart…you can’t even take a moment to hear what I have to say? />20130828-052036.jpg

Oh shit, that was me, just weeks ago. Well, sort of. What can I say? I was very busy at once living my life and ignoring my self, even though I thought I was paying such good attention to my inner being. Oh. Yeah, maybe I was. Actually, I was doing the best I could do at the time. I suppose it takes removing ourselves from the familiar, or having the familiar removed from us, as in the case of having your partner leave, as happened to me, to give us the opportunity to “see” what has been in front of us all the time.

When Max moved from here (life as I thought I knew it) to there (death/the great beyond/heaven/the planet why?) I was, for months-maybe a year, in a sort of stupor. “Wait a minute,” I asked, to no apparent being, “where did he go? Where is this man, you know, Max Middleton, the one who says he loves me, who is fighting the good fight, who talks his 125%, promising he’ll stick around… Where’s he now? How do I live now he’s not here to hold my hand when we go to bed at night, who wakes in the morning and thanks me and I him, for being here. I can’t see him. Really, where the fuck did he go?”

Max and I were lucky. We spent almost every day of eight years together and really liked each other. The love thing? It was natural, almost eerily so, as if we had known one another for years, maybe previous lives…even though we met, through match.com, on a whim… when we were both over fifty. He’d thought he wanted to just “play”… I knew better. Oh, sure we did play, but exclusively with each other, after he finally got over the fact he didn’t need to hide his feelings, those were safe with me. “Life is good” he’d remark to friends when asked how he was doing, and he meant it. Those same friends would tell me later, in confidence, they’d never seen him happier. And me? I was at peace in a way I’d never felt before. I was finally in a relationship with a man who loved and honored me, himself and others, who loved dogs – we had 4, and my kids, my friends, my home- all now ours, and he loved travel, gardening, the theatre, movies… we could talk easily with one another about everything, even what we were actually feeling! The only occasional argument was over in seconds, with one of us offering the other a hand, a kiss, a look, maybe even one word to say, “I love you, no matter what.” Magic was with us.

Sounds like a dream…and now it seems as if it were only that, a dream… except I’ve got pictures, and a little scroll in a bottle he had made especially for me one valentines day, which remind me “I love you.” I’m thankful for that, and other stuff too. Like the habaneros he planted in the garden two years ago which still produce bushels of “god-they’re fucking hot” (understatement) golfball-sized peppers, which might only get removed, should i ever decide to re-landscape, with a permit from the city’s hazmat department. I believe Max is still tending them from whatever plane he is on, since I swear they are the biggest habaneros I’ve ever seen, and they weren’t that size when he was alive! Can he eat them in heaven without crying? Has he reincarnated? Does it matter?

Yes, there are a few things I’ve thought I could’ve done without, like his 1984 jeep cj7 and 1984 Honda magna motorcycle – these I’ve attempted to restore, to sell, to pay our bills. I thought it would be an easy thing, restoring the jeep, that is, but it’s still sitting in my driveway awaiting our angels (and my willingness to finally quit waiting for Max to show up and give me a big hug) to help complete the project. The bike is ready to sell when I return. I’m not rushing now. It’ll happen…selling them and other stuff I need to shed from our life together.

My grief is finally transforming into another word which begins with “Gr” and it’s not my “gritting” my teeth, or “growling” at people or things who piss me off, or even “grinding” my teeth at night as I attempt to hold back my tears. Nor is it “grasping” at more stuff to keep me busy so i don’t have to feel sad, or angry, or even slaphappy. I’m sure those things will still happen from time to time well beyond today.

My transformation is my entering my own sense of divine Grace. Somehow, someway, through angelic intervention, or a trick of the cosmos, I have been given the chance and choice to now be here for me. I can be here, alive, on planet earth…with Max, wherever he is. I’m learning to love someone else now… Me. I let you know how it goes. I promise to keep in touch.