Today, one of my oldest friends, who happens to be a plumber, drove all the way from San Diego to rescue me. Well he’s actually rescuing me from my failing septic system, which is leaking daily into the street. But it’s so much deeper than that.
Dennis Barnett was the very first friend I made when I started first grade. He and I have known each other all our lives. We grew up together, practically members of each other’s families, our lives intricately intertwined. His oldest sister used to babysit me, I was best friends with another of his sisters, then as we got older, he babysat and helped raise my little brother. We used to watch his super cool mom Vi sing at the Beef N Barrel with her band Applejack. God, she was cool with her Angela Davis afro and her long colorful caftans. The world lost a bright star when Vi left us.
Dennis and I have a rich complicated history. He was there to witness the good, and the very bad times in my family life. Recently he sent me an email, just one line. “You were my Jenny from Forrest Gump.” That’s how it was back then, two little kids trying to find their way, each being a touchstone for the other. And now he is here to dig up all my crap – literally. Oh the metaphors of life.
Dennis and I had lost touch for many years. When we turned eighteen, he joined the military, and I fled my mother’s house, never looking back.
But in my forties, as I started to write my life story and “own” my life, one by one the people who were the bedrock of my foundation began to show up. Dennis, Dani, Laura, Beverlee, Scott, Karen, Bret and on and on. It was miraculous. I realized then that they were my strength. These bratty little kids who were in girl scouts with me, pulled pranks with me and later shared joints with me, in a way raised me. We leaned on each other, all us little kids.
In my attempt to finish writing this damn book, I’ve been excavating some really deep stuff from the past, and wouldn’t you know it, as life imitates art, my septic system starts backing up into the yard. My shit is out there for everyone to see (or actually, smell). Dennis sees a sarcastic post I make about it on facebook, calls and says “I’m coming to save you.” He knows me, knows everything about me, my family, my mom, my brother. He knows our past, our family secrets, all the pain and all the shame, so who better to witness all this than him?
As I write this, jackhammers are blaring outside, ripping up my patio and my entire front yard, exposing the bubbling cauldron of sewage underneath. The sound of jackhammers, and the clickety-clack of the keys as I write…Drill, drill, drill….type, type, type….create a crazy heavy-metal symphony which reminds me that I can’t run from the past. It’s always right there under the surface, bubbling and brewing and at times spilling over into my life.
This computer is my jackhammer. I, too, am ripping up the surface that has held all my memories, secrets, and pain suppressed for so many years (hold your noses, everyone) in an attempt to rescue a part of myself.
The stench of sewage is now wafting through my open bedroom windows. The wounds are open, let the excavation begin. The typing part may not be easy, but somehow I feel safer doing it while Dennis is here.