Some days I feel old, and terrible. It is reassuring for me, on those days, to recall that I felt old and terrible in pretty much just the same way back when I was 15.
I have been amusing myself today by thinking about my body as meat on a stick. Here is the set up: you start out as a tiny piece of meat on a stick, turning in the sun, and slowly you get bigger and bigger and bigger until eventually you stop getting bigger. Somewhere after the point where you stop getting bigger, you begin to slump, little by little, off of the stick, until eventually you drop right off the stick and die. You slump onto the dirt, and stay there, until someone fills you with formaldehyde, and sticks you in a box, or disposes of you otherwise.
And in between, during that process, is when you have as many adventures as a piece of meat on a stick can manage to have. Spending much time thinking about the slumping process is one of the more boring adventures one may choose to have.

The teddy bear above is not my teddy bear, and the body in the photo above is not my piece of meat on a stick. I don’t put photos of myself on my blog because I am running from the authorities. I don’t put photos of my teddy bear on my blog because he has some trouble with his ego. He was featured last year in a major motion picture, and since then has been riding the rocky wake that follows such a bout of nationwide attention. I am not kidding. He really was in a movie, and he really has been having a bit of trouble with his self image.

My bear did the shooting for the movie two years ago, and in the time since then he has aged noticeably. I don’t know exactly what brought about the changes so quickly. It’s clear, though, that compared with how he looked in the footage, his nose is deteriorating significantly and he has a pretty big rip under his right eye. The rip is spreading. It has been an emotional two years, and I think maybe all the work that he has put in with me (in private, far from show-business) had really taken its toll on his physique. Maybe I have been asking too much of him? But these last two years have been a real adventure. I couldn’t have survived them without him.

Ok, ok, let’s see a picture of the bear. He deserves it.

It appears that, in an effort to process the complicated emotions brought on by realizing that he is just a piece of cotton on a stick (wait, no stick, just cotton!), my bear decided to go out on an adventure of his own. A vision quest, of sorts. I came out of the house, after sleeping over at my parents’ a few months ago, and found my bear exactly where he is in the above photo. He had spent the night outside, alone. In the city. In the street! His genteel posture made it obvious to me that he had chosen to be out there of his own accord, as opposed to having been dragged out or left there by someone else. He seemed to really need the time out on his own, to get some perspective.

The house in the photo above is not my parents house. It is across the street and two doors down from my parents’ house. From where he was sitting, my bear had a perfect view of the house where he and I both lived since 1975, when I was an infant (and he a fresh new piece of cotton), and the street where I played and came and went until I was 18 years old. It takes a lot of bravery to be able to do what he did, to step out and look at the big picture. It’s a pretty weird picture, if you ask me. I can worry if I look good in a swim suit (multiply that worry by one hundred thousand other potential pieces of physical despair), and then I can step out to get a wider view, and realize that what I am feeling, more acutely, is the awareness that I am definitely one day closer to my death.

Gravity is doing its treatment on me, pulling me down. In Hollywood moments, this can feel like the absolute worst thing that could happen. Luckily there are the blessed occasional nano-seconds, felt elsewhere, where I feel some awareness of what gravity really means.

“Listen Khaela, gravity is the force of the center of the planet, pulling inwards towards its hot metal mass. Pulling pulling pulling! You can’t imagine how big that planet is, can you? Hardly! Gravity is what made our giant planet, and what make us able to stay here in this earthly paradise, swimming in an ocean that doesn’t just evaporate away. Isn’t that WEIRD!? Weird on about exactly the same scale as how weird it is to get to be alive at all. It’s so mother f—ing weird! So swim while you can, Khaela! Don’t waste your time on boring bullshit like worrying if you look cute enough in the bikini, oh my GOD!! And this planet is so beautiful, and that might not last, either! You really don’t have much time!” I think the above is what the night-time sky might have been saying to my bear, on his sleep-out. Just a guess.

NOTE: Thank you to Alyse Emdur, for posing for the top photos, and to Yuri Ono’s bear, whose name I have forgotten, for posing for the middle photo, and to my own little man, for giving it all up for love.

The question of what movie it was, in which my bear had a role (there are no small parts, just small actors), is a trivia secret!

July 20, 2006

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