Skitz, Acceptance - Infante's Inferno
Aug. 21st, 2010
02:46 pm - Skitz, Acceptance
I'm in a foul mood today. Mostly about Steve, still, but that's sapping my strength to deal with other things. Thinking I may go hide in the living room, hang out with the ferret and watch old episodes of Doctor Who. Hell, I was almost going to give up on my daily counters to Is There Anything Good in the T&G Today, except that I can't pass up an opportunity to point out that they obviously don't think an urgent call for blood donors is important to know. But whatever. They've said their piece, and I've said mine ad nauseum. I think I'm ready to let this drop.
Steve's condition is mostly the same. He's off the respirator and the feeding tube, and there's no discernible brain activity. According to people near him on Facebook, they're keeping him comfortable. Some people have taken his relative stability as a cause for hope, but I'm afraid I understand what all that language means. Essentially, he's a clock winding down.
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross is hanging out here in the office with me, consulting her charts and watching me hawklike as I transition into acceptance. It's not a stage of grief I'm particularly good with. I can hold on to emotional baggage for years. Oddly, denial was very brief, and bargaining didn't really come into the picture at all. I'm much better with anger. Anger and I are old friends. I hold it at bay well, most of the time, but I always feel it settling at the back of my throat. Old anger, born of even older pain, as it always is. The kind of anger that threatened to consume me as a teenager, until I found my salvation in punk rock and poetry. As I've said before, Steve was a piece of that salvation. He was a compass.
I've learned a bit more about Steve's life in the years since I last saw him. It seems San Francisco was good for him, that he was surrounded with a lot of people who loved him. The words "sweet" and "gentle" are being used a lot to describe him, which might not have been diction I'd have ever chosen to use, but then, his and my relationship is suspended in another era entirely, far removed from the people we are now. And as I think about it, I think one of the reasons I was so drawn to him was that I could see a lot of the same pain and anger reflected in him, except that he had an outlet for it, and I didn't have one, yet.
Oh, don't get me wrong. He could be a powder keg, when he wanted to be, and was romantic in all the sometimes charming and sometimes horrendously stupid meanings of the word. But he was alive, and I didn't really feel very alive at 16. I felt life was a race to the finish line, something to be endured. The object lesson of Steve Skitz, for me, was that you could create yourself entirely from sheer will. That you could be someone entirely different -- the person that you want to be, the person that you respect. And you'll fuck it up along the way. You will. He did, certainly, and Lord knows so did I. But it seems, as I look at the torrent of love being expressed for him on Facebook, that he pulled off the trick. He became who he wanted to be, or at least, someone who was more-or-less at peace with himself. And really, so did I. That's a blessing. That's not been lost on me.
It's not been lost on me, either, that he's been going by the name "Stephan Wilson." A little bit of his birth name, a little bit of the person he created. That's significant.
And maybe that anger is lifting a bit. Writing it all down is helping, certainly. But I keep thinking back to that 16-year-old kid I used to be, and remembering that slow, piecemeal decision to make myself into the person I wanted to be, and realizing that what I'm feeling in that anger is the kid who was hurting a lot from a lifetime of early losses, who didn't know how to stand up for himself and didn't feel he had anything worth standing up for. And sometimes, when the world seems intent on putting you in what it feels is your place, intent on belittling your work and essentially eroding hard-won self-respect, it seems so easy to just lash out again, to start throwing punches. But that's a dead end. I knew it when I was 16, and I know it now. At 16, I found places to put that anger, to make it work for me. And maybe I need to find that again. "Anger," as John Lydon once sang, "is an energy."
Steve was an amazing man, and I'm blessed to have had him in my life. And maybe it's time for me to remember the first thing he taught me. Maybe it's time to be someone new. I don't know who that person is yet, exactly, but wherever it lands, I'm thinking it's time for me to start building.