2 My Witches (Happy Independence Days in the Life)
To the Ladies of the Coven
(Lara, Lily, Kali, Netheria, Clara, Julia, Becky Thatcher, Susan, Red Moon Walking, Miss Mayweather, Aurora, Wendy, & Cordelia Calliope Meadows);
When I began to write this it was the Solstice and you were scattered across the globe; I meant to write you over the weekend but it was a busy 4th of July this year. This was the best 4th since I watched the fireworks from the rooftop with you, Kali; I haven’t watched them since without thinking of you. This one started when I checked the mail and found a lovely letter and a collection of postcards from Florence that Becky sent me from San Francisco. I have them next to the postcards from Greece that Wendy brought me along with a lovely candle that had been made by the monks of a remote monastery. I haven’t burned it yet. Wendy is taking me kayaking with some other friends from the Clown Factory on Friday. I promise to let you know how that goes.
We had Little Tony for the weekend and took him to the local festivals and fireworks. He loved ‘boom’ a lot and couldn’t stop talking about the ‘big park’. I never thought I would experience transcendent joy at a petting zoo but when he stroked the ear of the pony he had just ridden and gently thanked the creature years of cynical rime evaporated from me and I saw the world as new.
I know you’re probably curious about my relationship with his mother and all I can say is that as difficult as it is to explain it is better than it has ever been; to say that neither of us is interested in each other romantically but we remain excellent partners in raising and caring for Little Tony is accurate but renders it in too cold and sterile terms. The problem is that there aren’t traditional words to accurately describe the roles of our relationship; Little Tony calls me Papa, he calls his bio-father Dada, and he calls Julia’s partner Daddy Steve. It’s a thermonuclear family. For me, it’s been the best of both worlds; I see Little Tony every day and don’t have to stay in a relationship that was finished. She’s definitely one of you Secret Sisters of the Blue Sky Mind.
Right now he is on my knee eating multigrain goldfish and occasionally feeding me some. We’re watching the Whacking Day episode of the Simpsons. Awesome.
It’s a few days later. I really haven’t even been near my computer much lately.
There’s a story I want to tell you. It’s from an Independence Day about 25 years ago. It’s one of my favorites and it’s about Lily and I’ve told it a thousand times but it’s been a while and I think Wendy will like it.
So when we were 18 Lily got married to a one toothed sailor in her backyard and moved to South Carolina. To be honest, he was only missing one tooth right up front but once I typed it that way I laughed too hard to correct it. So they left and were gone and we missed them and then two years or so later he shipped out to sea for six months and she came back to Chicago because she really didn’t have much holding her down there. It was a great six months but as June approached she was like Persephone preparing to descend to Hades. We went to Bluesfest and had a field trip day through the city where we acted liked tourists and saw the sights. It was a blast even if we occasionally felt like we were putting clown makeup on a corpse. Then she left and only briefly answered one letter that indicated things weren’t good in SC. She had no phone. Weeks went by. The night before the 4th of July weekend Persi urged me to drive to Charleston to check on Lily with her. I was working as a bouncer and got off my shift at three am on Thursday drove home and woke up Persi at 4 and we were on the road by 4:30. Persi had Epstein-Barr and so I would have to do most of the driving but I needed to sleep so I crashed out in the back and woke up around 10 am as we were leaving Indiana. I pretty much did the driving. I called in sick to the bar from North Carolina. Actually I didn’t call in sick, I called in being in North Carolina. Tony, the petty mobster that owned the club that was illegally employing me had difficulty comprehending that I was over a thousand miles away from where he had seen me earlier that day. It was a sublime conversation.
Persi and I engaged in a conversation that ranged across half a continent; I recall vividly arguing about Relativity in the Appalachian Mountains when she insisted that it was possible to travel faster than light. That moment was not nearly as frustrating as when we were driving into Charleston around 11 pm on Thursday night and I asked her which exit I should take and she said, “I don’t know.”
To which I replied, “What do you mean you don’t know”?”
“I have her address, but I don’t know where she lives.”
This was a faraway time when our favorite show as a couple was Star Trek: The Next Generation, where the characters had these flat touchscreen pads that seemed to replace the function of paper and be connected to a vast information network that could also instantly determine their physical location. We did not have one of these things that toddlers carry around now as they were science fiction then, so not knowing where the hell we were going presented a greater challenge then than it does today. We were in a city we didn’t know looking for someone who didn’t know we were there and didn’t have a phone number. So we figured we’d stop at the 7-11 near the Naval Base and get a map. The 7-11 near the Naval Base had a 12 foot tall security fence with barbed wire and the scariest looking flock of thugs you could imagine around it. I got the map and went back to the car. We found the name of the tiny Charleston suburb but not the street that matched Lily’s address. There was a large blank spot on the map and we remembered that she said that the Navy had built the housing complex very recently so we thought maybe that it just wasn’t on the map yet so we drove there to see if we could find it. We really had no other choice and while it would turn out we were right it would turn out that the last five miles of the trip would be the most unimaginably brutal.
We drove on a road cut through a swamp for fifteen minutes to find a subdivision which consisted of identical houses on chaotically arranged lanes, cul-du-sacs, and turnabouts that had been designed by elves to confuse and confound visitors and leave them trapped to wander in the realm of faerie for centuries. We were frustrated literally to tears as we passed streets with bafflingly similar names and a house numbering system that had been developed by a process similar to Bingo. Around four am when the sky was turning pink Persi commanded me to stop and stand guard as she sat on the rear bumper, hiked up her skirt and peed in front of someone’s house. She finished just as a car turned the corner delivering newspapers. As I waved them down she told me to stop and get in the car but I said that this guy had to know the address, right? And she was all like, “he’s going to see what I just did!”
And I was like, “So what?”
And so the guy sped up and drove past the crazy people arguing in front of the huge puddle of urine steaming in the morning fog.
Eventually, about an hour and a half later we pulled up in front of Lily’s house and the expression on her face when she opened the door made it all worthwhile. We were a perfect circle of delighted joy. Over the next few days the nastiness of the situation withe sailor had become clear; he was on the boat for the weekend so while I slept the girls packed everything we could not bring with into a storage locker and by the morning of the 4th of July we were speeding back to Chicago with Lily and her cats and clothes. We had a vague plan of returning when the sailor was out at sea but the storage locker would be flattened by Hurricane Andrew along with most of the rest of Charleston. I remember that because it had been a spur of the moment trip we only had a handful of tapes with us, one of which I know was Prince’s Batman soundtrack. I’m listening to it now. The ride back was like lightning and I remember feeling full of the future. We hit the city just around nine when the fireworks were bursting everywhere; the whole city was celebrating Lily’s Independence.
I adore all of you more than I can say; you bring out the best in me and make me a better person.
My Unlimited Love 2 Y’all. Lily, I think you might like this song.