it’s late, i know. i’ve been thinking about heaven. i never was a religious person but these last few years have forced a reckoning with the man upstairs. God.
my dad was jewish. my mother is protestant. was and is. something simple. i wasn’t raised on anything. didn’t feel the need to push. i assumed god was something other people needed to hold onto for hope. i had no hope, so i didn’t see the use.
when i was a kid, i played basketball. sunrise to sundown. one night, it rained. my friend richie and i got invited to a local spot that had an indoor basketball hoop. why not? we got inside and there it was. a rim on a rug. i paid no mind. we set it up and played a few games. eventually a nice lady asked us to sit down at the table and join in prayer before eating a dinner together. we were in a church. i didn’t understand.
i know you know this, but i’m an addict. one morning, in my early-twenties, i was coming back up from a downer. i was driving a car. the road was wet. i shuffled through the radio stations and landed on a station that sounded nice. all upbeat songs about hope. i remember feeling good — maybe too good. after a few songs, they cut to break. you’re listening to blah blah blah. christian rock, all the time. oh no. i thought about leaving the station on. the songs were fine. they made me feel better. but i didn’t. i wasn’t ready. i didn’t understand.
i have friends that have had bad experiences with God — well, to be fair, with folks who are haphazardly playing God. good does bad, bad does good. you know, aa is basically christian rock — but uh, without the melodies. whatever. it’s a thing i’ve had to come to an understanding on. i do find myself lucky, tho. God is one thing that i was able to come into on my own. it wasn’t forced. my family didn’t shun me.
still, when i got sober, there was a bit of pressure. at first, i was fine to say that i was surrendering myself to the care of God. generally speaking, there’s not much to lose when you don’t got nothing. but then i got to thinkin’. what the fuck?
you know that movie, hook? yeah, the one with robin williams and dustin hoffman. there’s this scene where peter pan needs to find his happy thought. he can’t fly without it and without flying he can’t save his kids, who were kidnapped by hook. so check this: peter pan’s son, jack, hits a home run and the baseball smacks peter pan right on his head. in this moment, pan finds his happy thought. it’s his kids — his family. soon enough, he’s flying and off to save the day. hook gets eaten by a dead alligator. idk.
k.i.s.s., keep it simple, stupid.
after that article came out — you know, the one. i had a sober person tell me that i wasn’t right with my higher power or sobriety. that no spiritually fit person could have written what i wrote. that i shouldn’t go to the meetings they go to because they felt unsafe. they told me i needed to talk to my higher power and have God set me straight. what the fuck? i’d been sober for about nine months when that whole thing happened. i couldn’t believe i had spent the last nine months sitting in a room with strangers willingly talking about handing my life over to the care and grace of God, just so some shit-head could throw their bag of shit on me? i didn’t understand.
i’ve been thinking about heaven, too. have you noticed how when people talk about going to heaven they talk about doing and seeing and having conversations with everyone they want? well, what if your pal up there in the big blue sky ain’t too keen on catching up? are there duplicates of people — just sort of being the exact person someone else needs them to be?
last christmas, i went home. i found this letter my uncle had sent my dad when he realized my dad was gonna die. in it, he mentions a name i’ve never heard of. i know — rationally — my dad had a life before me — but also, and again i’m doing the em dash thing — what if me and that dude die on the same day. is my dad going to want to talk to him or me first? is his body duplicated to give everyone what they want?
are there millions of different versions of amy winehouse just chilling upstairs, ready to talk about how much rehab meant to some dead body? what about amy? what does she need? maybe she doesn’t wanna waste waking hours of her dead days helping process another dead person’s shit? i know what you’re thinking right now, and you’re right. what the fuck?
so after the third debate, my mom called me to tell me good job. on the campaign, we ran our war room out of a hotel near the el paso airport. embassy suites, baby. nothing but the best. on the call, she told me about a relative my dad had. a man who had escaped the russians during their genocide of jews in the early 1900s. so, hold up? maybe i’m… jewish? why am i whining about God then?
i try to light a candle on the anniversary of my dad’s death, but sometimes i’m in a place that doesn’t have candles. also, there’s this whole thing about a very specific candle and when i was in el paso it wasn’t like i was gonna find a jewish store filled with that specific candle and my apartment couldn’t take packages so i couldn’t have it delivered so look the rub here is i didn’t burn a candle. i don’t want to be a bad daughter.
tbh, the first few years i just had a few shots of whiskey. when i drank, i preferred whiskey to chill on ice but on the september 6th’s, i drank it neat. i wanted it to burn. almost as if — if i were to be in pain, he’d come and rescue me?
when i watched that scene in hook, i had my own epiphany. God is a complicated thing but a happy thought is not. it’s simply a happy thought. that’s what helps. that’s what gets us through the day. a simple happy thought — a simple higher power.
is a child anything more than a puppet? i’d ask God if i could.