Late November 2020
There is something to be said for packing up most of your Stuff, putting it into Storage for three years, and then slowly, bit by bit, unpacking the morass in your newly-built Dream Home.
The dust perhaps dates back to Nebuchadnezzar, but once the air clears, along with your sinuses (sinai!), a vast realization overtakes you.
There is no going back to where I used to be.
And where I used to be was not just a physical place. In reality, Where I Used to Be was always an emotional location, often a hole, sometimes a vista, rarely a mountain peak. All of that has changed now, in ways that are indescribable — and, for a Writer, that sensation is a phenomenon.
Yesterday, I was overwhelmed by wonderful, wonderful memories of my Annabelle. That little sprite of a black cat was sending some messages to me from her Celestial Cachette, and I struggled to hear them, no less understand them. I vividly recalled the Christmas of 2012, when she’d stuffed at least a dozen of her prey — BIRDS — into hiding places in the barn-garage at Peach Lane. They may have been The 12 Birds of Christmas.
There were perhaps 15 of the small stiff gifts — just for me. I wouldn’t know. I discovered two of them, and that was my limit for Gifts from the Black Cat. She was so sweetly and majestically proud of herself, though. I praised her, trying to understand how to rejoice in the massacre of so many adorable little birds that I treasured.
There is a lesson in life to be learned from the gifts that come your way, unexpectedly, and you do not realize at the time that they are gifts. The loss of my Annabelle this past spring was not truly a loss: It was a gift in many ways, a gift that continues to this day, and shall always continue, because that set-up is how love works. My writing work of essays, novel translation, and preparing that fertile field — tilling the soil — for composing the Westerns — all took off. My own special powers began to soar, and I hesitated only once or twice to “go with them.”
My Annabelle was a rare feline creature of whimsy and special powers and magnificent beauty. With her one white whisker (because all of the other whiskers had been singed off through her crouching under the newly-parked and very warm vehicle), she commanded her domain. Her domain was the tall grasses in the front parcel, way up at the top of the private drive of the Peach House. She was regally and rightfully dubbed The Miniature Black Panther of Newcastle.
On St. Patrick’s Day 2020, just eight or so months ago, Annabella was taken to her Reward. I know this seemingly unknowable event to be true, because of an epiphany that I received this past summer during my translation work of a scene from the English into the French of THE DAWN/L’AUBE.
In this pivotal fictional passage, Gisèle the Black Cat heroically mesmerizes a Gestapo officer while she is lounging on her rock wall. The Gestapo then interrogates Camille in her bedroom. Gisèle seeks the safety of her Cat Cave. That hiding place is within a hollowed-out rosemary bush that this cat hollowed out, all by herself. This extraordinary feat of burrowing and nesting was, in fact, accomplished by Annabella in the huge rosemary bush atop the rock wall at the Peach House. Whenever my Annabelle became terrified of yet another intruder (UPS truck, goat, raccoon, turkey, or the much-reviled feral Thing-Cat) on the property, that space was where she hid.
I believe, fervently, that the Lord took Annabella home on St. Patrick’s Day 2020, which was 12 years from when I first “adopted” Annabella and Gabrielle from the Next-Door-Neighbor Abandonment on my property. On 21 June 2018, after she was spooked outdoors by a large animal (most likely a deer), she’d run to safety in the great-grassy-expanse downhill from the property of the Rental House. She established a cat cave for herself, for safety, and as a home-base in between her much-beloved expeditions and explorations. The likelihood that My Black Cat would let a Stranger pick her up, or go into an unknown structure was, I knew, zilch. And so, during the Feast of St. Patrick 2020, God brought Annabella home to the safest place anywhere.
I’ve spent the past spring, summer, and autumn moving into my safe place — my Dream House. I’ve also been moving in my heart, and my mind, even my soul — boldly — forward to the life that I was born to live. It is only from within the security of home that anyone can even attempt the valiant mission of an authentic life.
I’ve undergone a parting of the ways many times in my life. During most of those times I was not aware of the fortunate and glorious watershed event that propelled me into a whole new world. Those bold steps can best be achieved without your awareness of them.
Perhaps I am not aware of those earth-shaking events in my life because I have had to do battle with so many horrifically damning and damnable messages from a sorrowful childhood. In between the Dutch Reformed-Calvinist prayer-for-points system of The Elect and the Select getting into Heaven, and the penny-pinching Scots certainty that miserable sinners will be hounded to their deaths, I’ve had to battle to try to figure out the truth — of life and of people and of God and those uncertain intangibles that will always be uncertain and intangible.
Lacking the firm foundation of family that others around me might have had, I possessed “only” my instincts, my artistic sensibilities, and the gracious voice of God that, all too often, got drowned out by my doubts and fears and the emotions of scarred memories, along with the savage scarring of those memories. There comes a time in everyone’s life when the past and all of its ugly baggage have to be put where they belong — in the past — before you even begin to head toward the future, and reach to the stars.
This morning, I reached to the stars. I visited The Colonel online, Colonel Littleton. My Annabelle sent me there to hunt for some decent writing materials. For some people, it's a little bird that told them. For me, a bird-hunting black cat, meowing CAW, tells me.
I spotted a sale item that told me: There is no going back to cheap thin foreign-made paper for This Writer to write on.
Part of my method of composition is to tear up the pages of journals after I’ve extracted the necessary info and materials from them. That part of the Process for Writing the Westerns will be joyously achieved, now that I have found the Quality Journal that holds paper to match my prose. The Imported Pages of my past, the only commodity they possess of any quality is the import of my written words! I can hardly wait to sift through those scrawled notes!
Of course, while on the go, I still make use of the Memorandum notepad from Federal Service Supply. Those military-issue tablets have now been joined by The Number 30 for quality-control-composition. My U.S. Army Colonel is getting some stiff competition from Colonel Littleton, but jousting for dominance within the Arena of Creativity must be not only expected, but encouraged, in any sane, fertile and productive poetic-justice world!
For me, sorting through the boxes and containers and repositories of my previous life, or as Annabella would want me to put it — My Lives — has brought to me one very singular and sublime conclusion:
There is no going back to globalist crap!
Made In The USA is how I work; it’s how I have always worked — at the top of my game. That game is just getting going. Cause I was born and made in the USA.