Clinton St. Quarterly, Vol. 7 No. 1 | Spring 1985

Oh God how much I missed that man. I was dying for missing him. For all my embarrassment though, everyone in the bar who noticed—and most didn’t I think— behaved quite beautifully about it. Maybe they thought I was crying about the elections. Ted and Judy were acting like nothing was happening. Danny the bartender immediately ceased his rapacious stare and looked away, very sad seeming. He brought me kleenex and a cup of coffee. Running Dear and Brent and Stan seemed full of compassion and respect too, meeting my eyes now only briefly, enough to show sympathy and their own pain and sorrow. So I guess it was that song that was doing it to me, that song that went on and on, my tears that kept coming and coming. I could hear in the guitars somewhere my father screaming at me, “Better dead than redT which made a new gush pour forth. I wondered if my period had started, or what? I certainly couldn’t move to find out. But oh, Alcatraz in the San Francisco Bay floated right into the sea of my eyes, any day now, any day now, I. Shall be. Released. They say every man needs protection. I noticed that my sister’s best friend, April, had moved near me, in a sort of protective way. It occurred to me, in a new flood of tears, that I was doing this for her. She had cried in my arms a number of times, telling me her sad stories. I was probably trying to make her feel good, to show her that I too cry. It was so new to me to be a single woman, to reveal my most intimate self to folks I’m not intimate with. Ted was making jokes now. I couldn’t hear them well but I was thinking I-was crying because I wanted him and Judy to sympathize a little with me, to know how much that great guy Max had killed me and the kids. He handed me another tequila sunrise. Huge tears splashed off the end of my nose onto his hand. Ted was a man I could marry, have babies with, love deeply and faithfully, but I couldn’t fuck him in a one night stand with his wife and my husband in the same bed. I suppose I knew somewhere that the grief I was feeling in this song was not just for Max and the guys behind bars, but for myself, my deep yearning, to be released, emotionally, to be loved for my whole self instead of being loved for all that I repress. I had been married so young and my husband had quit talking to me on the night of our wedding and never again spoke to me, although I stayed with him seven years and had two kids by him. I'd been married so young, fifteen, I never had mastered—or is the word mistressed?— the art of dating. They say everything will be replaced. They say every distance is not near. And yet I remember every face of every man who put me here. Though I could hardly see any of them now through the sheet of water on my eyes. I certainly couldn’t trust any of them. I knew most of them just wanted to fuck me—and oh God I couldn’tmovefrom my barstool,for tryingtofight them, huge teardrops, great glass)’ balls of water shooting out of my eyes, spraying everything, Icouldn ’tbelieve it,pouring out like rain. did that sound good—and one of them I knew would gladly take all of me, even the poet in me, and my kids and my female pup in heat and her mongrel suitors too, forever to his small, kind chest, but oh, everytime I tried to imagine touching him I started crying. I could see so clearly my whole life come shining, that Max’s leaving me was just like the loss of my country I loved so deeply, unconditionally. The dream was over. Two hundred years. I had loved so greatly and failed so utterly. Heartbroken, I sat there, thinking I’d better hurry and go vote before the polls closed, crying for my country from the west down to the east. A man I didn't know, a wild longhair I’d have thought would have been hipper was saying how lucky we are in America to be able to vote. My tears were like an explosion then. If I could have spoken I would have yelled, vote for what? For who? In all the elections of our lives there’s been no one, no one we could love. “Man,” another very cool looking guy was saying. “I didn’t know nothin’ about politics in the Sixties. All I knew was acid. I took LSD every day for years. I never voted until last time, 72, McGovern, or was it Humphrey, can anyone remember? McCarthy? Anyway, I had a girlfriend who convinced me it was important. We were on Whidbey Island in Washington, headed for the Central Tavern in Seattle for the big victory party. It took us five hours to get there and man, there weren’t no party. The world was coming to an end tomorrow. Fuck, that’s the last time I vote, man. Never again. No way." “I’m crying in public on election day!” I blinked, swallowed, croaked. “It’s the Bicentennial!” But even with my growing understanding, the tears would not stop leaking through. “Oh, thank goodness,” Judy said. “Iwas afraid it was my talking about Max. I felt so bad for doing that to you. But then I realized it was that song playing.” Then she really made me bawl. “Oh, Sweetie,” she said, putting her hand on my shoulder. “You shouldn’t feel so bad. Don’t you know men like to see women cry?” Then Stan was there. He said he thought the song was the national anthem for this generation. So Running Deer came over and said that song was written by Dylan after his motorcycle accident and is about the release from fame, this life, through death. “That song resulted in Dylan changing his career.” April said, “It’s the Aquarian Age. Men think all the world depends on them. If they cry or lose control, all’s lost.” And then Brook came over. Brook, whose long marriage was breaking up too—both of us had been married since we were fifteen. “But that song,” she said, “is about being released from prison." Then these weirdos stood around me and talked about how wonderful it is to cry. God. Wonderful? Crying is HELL. Crying is dangerous. Crying is like being dragged with already bleeding skin across broken glass. The pain it opens you to is very nearly intolerable. I feel I’m dying. And afterwards, when I stop, as if I have died. The bottom. Crying is when there’s no hope left. Defeat. To come back from crying is to come back from the dead. It is not release. Though she is still singing his song, any day now. And it occurs to me now that my experience with crying as hell, as next to suicide, came from the fact that I only cried alone, when I was certain no one could hear me. My crying had never been communication. I was so stupid, just like my country. My whole life, so secretive, so unknown, even to me, though shining, though coming, any day now. And ever since then, whenever I think of the elections, or eveny four years when they come around again, I see myself on that barstool in the old Grey Whale Bar before it burned crying my heart out in public for myself in prison like my country in the prison of its own making. I was so in prison I didn’t even know I needed release, like my country in prison, except for the ache that is pulled out of me every time by that song, which I’ve understood ever since to be my generation’s national anthem, sort of the voice of America, her crying and crying so publicly on the two hundredth anniversary of her birth, for release, all my generation crying, our lives, our whole history so shining. I didn’t get to vote that year. I was crying too hard. Which was reason right there to cry some more. But still, I know, any day now, we shall be released. “Even the President of the United States sometimes must have to stand naked." For Pat Fitzgerald who sits stunned and crying as the results come in, this election night, November 6,1984. Port Townsend, Washington. Sharon Doubiago’s last CSQ story was “Son.” She lives in Port Townsend and makes the West Coast her home. Neo-muralist Henk Pander will debut in Corvallis later this year. BREITENBUSH HOT SPRINGS RETREAT COMMUNITY CONFERENCE CENTER HISTORY In the 1920’s, a man used his ice cream cone fortune to build a hot springs resort on the site of a Native American seasonal village. Sixty hot mineral springs provided water for baths and drinking, for relaxing and “curing” a variety of ailments. TODAYThe Breitenbush Community has created a retreat and conference center by restoring the old resort. We invite you to visit alone, with your family or friends to bring a group for meetings; to attend one of our many workshops. ($30/person/day on weekend) cabin accommodations old fashioned, cozy meals delightful, hearty vegetarian hot springs hot tubs, steam sauna, natural mineral pools $130 weekly rate. Special rates: weekdays, children, seniors Reservations, please Breitenbush Community, Box 578, Detroit, OR 97342 (503) 854-3501 (854-3715 message) Clinton St. Quarterly BARLEY MILL PUB GREENWAY PUB : 12272 S.W. Scholls Ferry Rd. • 620-4699 HILLSDALE PUB: 1505 S.W. Sunset Blvd. * 246-3938 MCMENAMIN'S TAVERN & POOL: 1716 N.W. 23rd • 227-0929 1629 S.E. Hawthorne Portland, Oregon • 231 -1492