In Memoriam: My Aunt Baby.

I did not know how to say how I loved you.

Once I knew you had passed, my mind began to map out the area of three-dimensional space you had inhabited in my heart.

I never knew just how much.

And once I had mapped it, I knew its breadth, its height and its depth.

It was vast.

I was sad.

Your absence left a vacuum in my life.

It’s palpable.

My Aunt Baby passed away this past Tuesday. Her real name was Viola, but her family nickname was Baby.

Oldest sibling of my mother’s five – two males, four females in all – my Aunt Baby was a formidable woman – strong like a granite fist, her mind for most of her life, razor sharp.

Yet she laughed at the ridiculous and the absurd – and that’s one of the things I loved about her. She also had her fussy ways and I know that despite the distance that created between us, she loved me.

The love I felt from her was like the love you’d want to feel from your favorite elementary school teacher, or librarian.

It was distant, but it was neither cold nor dismissive nor neglectful.

It was a very certain and specific love, the dimensions of which were easy to comprehend. And yet, maybe, in spite of that, or perhaps because of it, you knew that she loved you to the near-bursting point of those boundaries.

And it was that knowledge that made it good and true.

It made me feel safe, the reliability of it. The security.

It was balanced, and it was nice.

I did not know you that well while you lived, but your presence served as one of a select few guideposts that defined my life:

Be well-read.

Don’t hide your intelligence.

Speak your mind.

Live with dignity.

Enjoy the small things.

I am so thankful that you were in my life, Aunt Baby. I didn’t know that I needed you in it.

1930-2018

All That’s Left …

Beauty.

There is always beauty.

That is all that is left.

So many times in my life, I thought I had come to the end of me.

So many times, I thought I had broken myself, into pieces too brittle and infinitesimal, to ever believe that I could put myself back together again.

So many times I thought I had broken those I loved, those who loved me.

So many times I felt the cold hollow cave made of stone and frost and filled with a chill wind that blew eternal in the pit of my stomach, the sum total of all the lies I told, of all the hearts I broke, of all the oaths I abandoned.

So many times.

But that last, that last was worst of all …

Lost to the dark.

Alone, in a ball, in a hole, in a wall, in the deepest darkest crack I could slither in, and crawl.

So many times.

So many times.

Darkness.

And then …

A glimmer …

A glimpse …

I would open my eyes.

Dry, burning, bloodshot, blurry, and red.

And I would look up.

And the height, the height of just where I fell from.

It was so high.

I had fallen so far.

All that trust built.

Smashed to bits with a single action, a cruel word.

But I would get up, like I had all those countless times before and my spine felt so weak and all I felt inside cold wind and hollow.

And I would get up.

My stomach would spasm reflexively from all the ragged crying and my eyes burned.

And I would get on my knees, scarred and pitted from gravel digging in, from years of gravel digging in, digging all the way into my cartilage.

I would wait there, gasping, until that pain was too much, and I would reach out and grasp that first rock again, with cracked hands that split from countless cold December nights when my hands were soaked wet from bleach and piss and mop water and Fabuloso and Murphy’s Oil Soap, from countless nights of cleaning and wiping and scrubbing, and I would begin the slow climb, back up to the top, back up, to the light.

And so I would grab another.

So many falls.

And so many climbs.

So many promises made.

So many promises broken.

So many scars, from within, from without.

Holding the hand of the one whose heart I broke.

What else could I do?

I couldn’t stay down there.

Not when I was needed up here.

Not when, if I couldn’t make us better, if I couldn’t heal us and make us whole, I could at least help you.

Help you get through.

At least I could do that.

So I did.

And those whose hearts I’d hurt, saw that I did my best to heal.

I left, but I did my best to heal.

I left, and I hoped that they had healed.

And to my surprise, they did.

As sure as spring follows winter.

As certain as day follows night.

As raw and red and as certain as the dawn, or a healing wound.

And time would pass, just as sure as spring follows winter.

As certain as sunshine follows rain.

And, with that passing left the pain.

And those who I made cry, I now made laugh.

I repaired what I could, and now, gray-bearded and older, I keep my vigil.

I watch and I care and I protect.

But I stay away.

And I marvel that in the passing, the pain fades away, like shadows melt away at dawn, and with that growing dawn light, in that shining sunlight, only the beauty is left revealed.

And nights, dark and dim they may be, are now just nights, because now I have the knowledge that the sun still shines on the other side of the world.

Nights reveal starlight, and moonshine, and the reflective glimmer of cats’ eyes.

I know this, and I shall never forget – in my depression I have hurt people, and though it was my depression, it was still me.

I know this, and I shall never forget – in my depression I have hurt myself, and though it was my depression, it was still me.

And I know this, and I will never forget – I have managed my depression.

I have named my demon and I have locked it within a faux-gold-covered wooden box.

And I will never open it up.

For I know this – with time and work and the healing-fevered pain of resetting bones, all the bad fades away.

Fades away, but does not dissipate.

It is always an ever-present reminder.

But what comes to the foreground, what comes into focus?

Beauty.

The pain, the dark fades away.

All that’s left is beauty.

Is it weird?

Is it weird that I’m forty-three years old and I feel the most comfortable, the most “myself,” like this?

Is it weird that I feel like I truly do not fit into any category – especially as a straight male – and so I feel like I do not fit into this world?

Is it weird that I feel like I’m too young to be this old, while at the same time I feel like I’m too old to be this young?

Is it weird that my teenage boy heart that used to beat to the pounding truth of Pearl Jam beats to the pinning, yearning punch of Snail Mail now that I’m a forty-three year old man?

Is it weird?

Or is it me, in my isolation?

Do you feel like me?

Do you feel alone because you don’t feel like you “fit” into any acceptable social “category?”

Is it weird?

Or not?

Am I wrong?

Am I not alone?

If so, I would really love to know it.

Immigrant Rights are Human Rights March – a Photo Essay of Protest in the Borderlands.

I woke up early this morning.

It was around seven.

I was starving.

I got up out of bed and took my meds. I headed downstairs, got a bowl and a spoon and had some gluten free cereal with coconut milk.

I was sitting there on the couch, eating, watching CNN, and waiting for my meds to kick in. Then the coverage came on about the national marches being held across the country today to protest Trump’s zero tolerance immigration policy, where children are being separated from their families and placed in – let’s just be honest here – internment camps on the border, such as the ones in McAllen, TX that have been highly publicized recently.

It reminded me about an event I saw posted on Facebook that Laredo, TX – the border city where I live – was holding a march of its own in solidarity with the rest of the nation. For a moment I felt the tug of laziness about me, but I got up, knowing that I’d feel bad if I didn’t go, and headed over.

I made it to the Immigrant Rights are Human Rights march just in time.
The protest march was sponsored by the LULAC Young Adult Councils from both Texas A&M International University and Laredo Community College, as well as Webb County Young Democrats, Webb County Tejano Democrats, the Webb County Democratic Party, then LULAC Council 12 and District 14.

When I arrived outside of the Laredo Convention Center, there were about twenty-or-so people ready to march. By the end, there seemed to be about forty.

We marched a nine block protesting route that took us straight up San Bernardo all the way up to the Pan American Courts.

It felt good doing something, but a little strange, because this was my first protest march. But in the end it was very satisfying.

The following is my photo essay of this experience:

There could have been more protesters. There should have been more protesters.

There was no one present from the city council’s office. There was no local or state- elected official on site.

How do you define style and age?

What constraints keep you back from being you?

What bearing does age and gender and career have on you being yourself?

What skin that you fit in feels the most comfortable, the most effortless?

Does weight or age or the gray in your hair or the lack thereof make you any less a person? A non-person?

Does it make you less than?

What do you consider “cool?”

How do you define it?

What is effortless to you?

You mean you haven’t been waiting for this age to finally be the person you wanted to be since you were ten???

Your life is short.

There are so many boring copies of the same bland cookie-cutter person – you’re telling me that’s how you want to live?

To be normal and unremembered?

This is me.

This makes me feel good.

I don’t do it for you.

I don’t give a crap about you.

I’m put here on this earth to be myself so I can be happy.

I was not put on this earth to make you feel safe and comfortable – I was put here so I can be happy being myself.

Unfortunately, you don’t get to have a say in how I dress.

You don’t get to control me.

I don’t do this to impress you.

I don’t do this because I want to self-consciously project myself as someone else.

I do this because it is me.

I am Mark Moore.

And I live for myself.

I live to make myself happy.

I live because this is the only way I can live.

Now, who are you?

Who are you, really?

And if you aren’t who you’re supposed to be, if who you are doesn’t make you happy, then what the hell is the point of your life?

Really?

Life is short.

Be you.

Where’veI’veBeen???

“I shut and locked the front door

No way in or out

I turned and walked the hallways

And pulled the curtains down

yeah I knelt and emptied the mouths of every plug around …

I’m in hiding …”

-Pearl Jam, In Hiding.

I am a man adrift on a raft on a sea of my Major Depression management.

It’s funny – I totally believe in medication – prescribed and administered properly.

God knows it’s helped me. But it’s never a cure-all. There’s a mental health saying that goes, “recovery never happens in a straight line.” And it’s true.

I know I’ve gotten better.

I feel it.

My psychiatrist told me he wasn’t worried about me anymore – and that was months ago I’m done grieving – both for my father’s passing away and my breakup.

So I’m feeling a strange kind of numbness.My emotional state goes from numb to even to content.

However, setbacks – predominately at work – really do set me back. I still feel the gravitational lethargic pull to my bed, to fall in, stay, and disappear.

One day I took off from work, I stayed in bed for most of the day. The following day as well. I recover back to neutral.

I go on.

I’ve isolated myself.

People and their problems were too much for me.

I had kind of lost myself in trying to be available to help others – as a way of avoiding my own problems, but also as a way of doing penance for the wrongs I’ve caused others. But people are people, and they’ll do whatever they’re driven to do anyway.

I did.

So I cut off everybody and cocooned myself.

I’d sit outside, smoke my pipe, and think. Sometimes listen to music. Often without, instead listening to the sigh and sway of The Three Sisters.

It’s calming.

Now the school year’s ending.Summer’s coming.

Summer’s coming.

I can feel it.

I’m getting restless.

My energy is coming back, now that it is not 100% focused on my students.

Another change comes with it.

And who I will be after that, who can say?

I just ride the ocean tides.