Tag Archives: love

The Precipice by Matt Carlson

Elledge stood there : once again. On the precipice. The precipice of making a decision. The precipice of what was important in his life. He had looked up, he had looked down; he had looked all around. Had he missed something? Because to make the best possible decision, one had to have the key elements in hand. He knew that. But if part of the equation were the people he cared about – where were they? And if he knew where they were, why were they acting the way that they did? Maybe his ‘carrier-pigeon mentality’ hadn’t been the best method, you know: the returning to the places of life before… To see ‘it’ again and look it straight in the eye  – to talk to it even, just to make sure that they recognized each other. The problem was that no one spoke, or was even available to have an eventual conversation. It was: “I’m so busy. I’ll call you.” The phone calls never came.

Then he remembered an old concept that he had held close to his heart (and head) in his dating days : when you start playing the guessing game in your head about what’s in someone else’s head, that usually means the person is not direct, is complicated,  not a good communicator, or absent because they want to be and or DO NOT WANT TO SHARE in the way that you need them to share. So ‘bye bye baby, bye-bye’ (Madonna song refrain…)

The little brother incident had been an emotional blow. While there, he had known being in their home was a potential ‘bomb’ of sorts,  he hadn’t known what the missing pieces were. Now in retrospect, he understood them. His psychiatrist had pointed out the abandoned Father issues that dominated in that household – that Elledge couldn’t have done anything about it even if he had wanted to. That all potential Father symbols had to be destroyed ! Elledge hadn’t  thought of any of those things – though he had considered the father role he had played – still a child himself- with his little brother many years ago: a poor substitute perhaps, but it had been a loving one.

Arriving in California, he was on a life trip while there – still was in fact though now back in Paris – and the people facing him had been on a completely different roller coaster ride. There was finally no ‘meeting of the minds’ so to speak. For that, there had to be openings in peoples heads, the desire to be open to something new, to have conversations together. Instead, there had been ‘people too busy,’ defensiveness, parody, moodiness and recriminations – games within games. Even lying. There were false smiles and “Awesome!” this and “Awesome !” that; followed up with “Your the boss!” But when a miscommunication happened it was, ” You’re a mother-fucking-liar” and “I’ll never trust you again!” with “Why did you do that?” Elledge was still waiting for an answer from an email in May, a sent birthday card and postcards sent over the summer. But no, he had been killed off. His Father symbol was now dead to them. Back then he’s been told by his little brother, “People in the states don’t answer emails!”

The other brothers and their absences too were confounding to him. But maybe that shouldn’t have been so surprising concerning the past.  Elledge had some gaps in his memory and distance did play a role too – still he was very disappointed. He’d truly wanted to connect with his brothers again and on a close level.  but he supposed, that in order for them to understand the efforts taken to return, one had to have ‘sat upon the subject’ a bit, to mull it over and consider those steps necessary for a trip like that; to care enough about someone else –  your brother – and what that meant to you. And if it meant something then you would do something about it, right? Like jump on a plane and go and see him, or if you were in the same city, run over and see him, right?  If not, you wouldn’t have done any considering at all just, “Oh, he’s coming back?…Why? I hope it works out for him..”(end of story ).

The good side to his visit upon returning to his ‘roots’ had been connecting with his nephews and niece, three of his cousins …and some nice virtual messaging with at least one of his second cousins. And he had made a friend or two, gotten to see his best friend in Washington and her family. There were connections with her family too – that was all very nice….

But still, what to do? Which city would he return to? Or maybe it would  be a new place? New faces? And more importantly the ‘what to do’ with ones life was actually secondary to the ‘why’ we do something…Hmm, maybe it was time to develop that ‘why’ question….




2036 North Maple by Matt Carlson

Home. A sweet place to grow up. Where one wakes up to the sound of birds singing, loved ones nearby in soft whispers, hot coffee in the kitchen with huge windows that open up to a forest and the swimming pool…oh yea, and the tennis court. Your still wet bathing trunks waiting for you on the line…”Hot cakes with maple syrup?” someone asks.”What? Of course,” you reply. And there are those incredible new cool looking clothes in your closet and a beautiful car in the garage. Oh yea, and there are dogs, cats, and fish & lots of wild animals nearby too. Nice…

Probably lots of other things or details we could add in this scenario of what might make the perfect home to grow up in. The picture of this house says it for me: I would’ve loved growing up in this kind of place surrounded by lots of love (with a loving Father in the picture) of course and Mom not always at work.

Love: we had it, me and my three brothers. And no one (I mean no one) loved their Mom like we did! On the day of her strange burial: complete with a nightmarish  24 non-stop journey with several connecting flights, sleeping at a strangers in San Francisco, lots of amazing people I did not know – being awesome- a few not so much –  a trip from Lyon France to Fresno California. There were, in my head, long hours of a seemingly never-ending film of childhood, of her, our last words, our closeness, her incredible sensitivity and warmth. I would never know that kind of love again. I would hold the memory of it to my breast; I would shake it, squeeze it, wring it around in my brain, meditate on it, revel in it, wrap it up around me closely like a warm blanket when everything else was falling apart around me. At least I had been truly loved once by one person AND that for 40 years! That wasn’t nothin’.

The memories of that tractor with a load of dirt crossing the cemetery to put on top of my Mother still flashes in my mind now ; me running from the car like a madman yelling at the tractor to stop, “Stop that tractor !” I yelled at my brothers who too were all running like madmen towards her grave. The tractor did stop and I ran up to it expecting what? To see her of course, but someone (something) had placed an immense cement block on top of her coffin. (Who does that?!)…”BOOM-BA-DA-BOOM!” went my head…

‘A thousand doors slam a thousand times; a thousand needles in a single eye.’

Later sitting around together with my brothers (I realized how much they meant to me) we counted 23 addresses in all. Yep, we moved a lot. Mostly staying in the Fresno area, but twice moving away with one new Daddy to San Jose (1 out of 3) and one potential Daddy in Morro Bay (it didn’t work out)… But the one place that was home for me was that house : we owned it. Dad had worked out a deal helping Mom get into that house and for the first time I knew what it was like to be home. It was 2036 North Maple.

There was a backyard, a front yard, nice neighbors like Mr. and Mrs. Stewart and on the other side the Hernandez’s (an entire family of Mexican Americans). Mrs. Hernandez bringing over home made Mexican food to me on the day Freckle’s my dog had been hit & killed by a hit & run driver. Her 3 week old puppies requiring full time care, my brother Kurt’s face flushed with pain as he told me how she had crossed the road and been run over.

Mr. Stewart was a 70 year old handyman and his white house and perfectly pruned yard made ours look a bit wild. He could do a perfect swan dive in his perfect pool and invited us to come and swim whenever we wanted to. His wife always hid out in the house, but he was always chatting with us. His sudden death by a heart attack grieved all of us; it would be my first funeral.

I had a nice room which I shared with my little brother Michael. We could watch the busy main street from our beds. There was a tree outside my window… Outside of Mom’s was Mr. Hernandez’s driveway and gas guzzling car. Every morning he would warm the motor up for the longest time. “Vroom, vroom,” it went. Drove Mom nuts. Then at least twice a day, the ‘crazy Aunt’ (his sister or his wife’s?) would be out there sweeping the driveway. She could only speak Spanish and I could only speak English. We hardly understood mutual words, but we communicated anyway.

I created an incredible garden in the back of the large backyard: tomatoes, carrots, egg plant, even Armenian cucumbers that twisted and turned in unusual shapes on a chain link fence… I planted Zinnia seeds under the kitchen’s back window – they grew up to be huge and beautiful with orange, pink and lavender…I built an underground fort too in the very back of the backyard with dirt walls (even a dirt chair in the wall) and you could access it from outside the back fence… With my other brother Mark, we collected tad poles from a nearby rainwater reservoir and in a stylish dry well in the backyard, made small pools of tin for them, planting small green plants in the sand around them to make a tropical paradise…Surprised was I to find less and less tad poles each morning; that is until one day when I spotted a cat sitting there!…

I discovered hair for the first time under my arms while leaning against that dry well, started learning how to play tennis against that back wall of the house (for hours & hours) imagining I was a famous tennis star in an international tennis tournament. I even whipped at thirteen, my eighteen year old brother’s butt 6-0 one day on the tennis courts at McLane High School. That didn’t go down well with him. I began discovering my sexuality, my attraction for boys, awareness that I was different.

In that house I learned how to birth puppies, saw my brother build a doghouse, played basketball (with Dad and my brothers) with Dad’s high school basketball net AND post brought all the way over from Kerman; made & ate pop sickles from Kool-Aide; made my first chocolate cake -later saw flies making a nest in it too; read comic books at the table with my brothers at dinner – cracked up by Mom who would on occasion tell us to stop laughing – we would of course laugh even louder while trying not to.

We did a yard sale for the first time; I learned about skin care from our step Mom Patty (Mom number 3) who would come over with Clinic products and do our faces; I discovered masturbation for the first time, got hit in the wind pipe by my brother Mark for the first time – he wanted to watch something else on our black & white television; learned that Mom actually went to the bathroom (though there was never any evidence of it) & saw her get crazy once too (that poor coffee table) ; learned how to stain wood (we redid the bathroom with Mom) and build a table in workshop; learned to edge & mow a lawn; learned about schedules and work detail! ; about party favors on New Years Day (Mom would always bring us fun colorful hats and whistles for the next morning) watched my oldest brother fall in love; listened to our Pastor speak out against homosexuals and feeling that was wrong – I made a choice to be agnostic; saw my second brother discover new friends away from me; took care of my little brother and scared him once (just in order to repeat what my older brothers had done to me) ; learned to care for my little brother Michael – once cleaned off hundreds of ants off his feet, fed him dinner when Mom was late and we played a lot together;  learned that junior high school kids could be cruel & how to fight and protect myself; learned that I liked to write & sing; got home schooled with Mononucleosis; learned that I loved fairy tales and anything to do with imagination; saw the first man walk on the moon on that huge old black & white telly – and became totally enamored with being an astronaut; I experienced death & loss for the first time…

So many important life experiences in that house…2036 N. Maple

Well, finally, I guess it wasn’t so bad after all. Even the oblong mailbox was special with its small metal red flag which would be raised on the side when the postman dropped off mail. Even the olive green front terrace was a safe refuge from the heat during the summer (we actually painted the house from yellow to green); Mom had tons of rose bushes in reds, yellows, & pinks running all along the brick flower bed that lined up from the sidewalk up until the garage. Oh yes, how could I forget the heaters in the floors or the cooler in the hallway ceiling? During the winter, we stood on that heater, during the hot summer months, we would grab our blankets and sleep under that cooler with our pillows. It had a rather loud sound that even to this day, if I hear it, I will fall asleep almost instantly. Planes have a similar noise, so often on planes I simply fall asleep…

Anyway, so many priceless moments. One of my favorites:

Mom would come and give us a kiss, smelling of White Shoulders, tell us she loved us and would call later before stepping out to go to work. We would turn over and fall back asleep feeling safe & loved.

A Faulty Kiss (A chapter in the FRESNO TIMES CHRONICLES) by matthew h. carlson

A Faulty Kiss


by Matthew H. Carlson

She had a large mouth and big lips which were red and wide, an entrance to the snake-like tongue that lived behind them.

The beast was now hard at work, slithering with slobbering, searching those intimate places in my own mouth, hungry for more. But more of what, I wondered? Cathy had stayed late – a kind of last minute date on this, my 18th birthday. Mom had politely gone off to bed leaving us alone in the living room.

Within moments, the lights were out and Cathy and I were on the old lapidated couch, me lying on top of her. We were kissing fervently, or at least she was. I wasnt really kissing as much as imitating a mechanical movement of kissing. Her huge mouth seemed to be engulfing my own.

I was  doing what I thought was expected of me, but it was a faulty kiss.

As she continued withering her snake-tongue within the perimeters of my poor mouth, she produced extreme levels of saliva. How was she doing that and WHY was she doing that?! This was not my first kiss with a girl either, girls loved to make out with me. But this one had mistaken some ancient spitting or ‘slobber – exchange’ tradition with actual kissing! For all the good it was doing me, I might as well have been kissing a refrigerator that someone had begun to clean with a water drenched sponge…I was a good kisser too, but what do you do when someone is trying to swallow your face? And that tongue!  It seemed to be a living creature with a mind of its own.

I did the best I could. Moving away from her lip soaked orifice I pulled down her flimsy top to get a titty out and gave it a good lick bashing. She seemed to really appreciate that, twisting and moaning underneath the weight of my young athletic body and apparently already expert tongue. I was quite pleased for a moment – it was after all my first breast licking! I had a go at the other one and the response was the same, though her snake-like tongue tried to have a go at one of my ears during a short tit-licking-break… I tried to imagine her sexual organs and their location and though I had no intention of actually going there, for the sake of decorum, I give it a quick massage with my hands through her jeans. To my amazement, she was wet! I wondered if that was normal but quickly decided it had to be, otherwise shed be up, embarrassed and apologizing for being incontinent…

Getting more and more uncomfortable, I wondered how was I going to get out of this? She wasnt stopping me! Girls I dated always stopped me before it got this far. Cathy apparently was ready to go through all the bases (though I had absolutely no idea of their order of tribute). First base? Second base? Pure theory and belonging to another species of boy.

“Cathy,” I said sitting up suddenly with a brave face, one that I hoped conveyed a natural expression of sincere disappointment. “We can’t do this here, my Mom is in the next room”.  She sat up holding onto me.

“But I want you so much,” she said glassy eyed. I wasn’t sure exactly what she meant.

“Its better we stop before things get out of hand, okay?” I felt at a loss  hadn’t she noticed that there hadnt been any awakening in Big Red aka big Dick and the twins?

“Of course”, she said she understood. A few minutes later she was out the door (another kiss) and I watched her drive away. I hadnt wanted her sexually. I realized at that moment that I hadnt wanted any of them. They were friends, but anatomically they didnt have what I was looking for and much, much more

I needed to be alone to think, but first I needed a towel.

Fresno Times Chapter One By Matthew Carlson

joanie and kids#1

Fresno Times                   Chapter One                   By Matthew Carlson

2036 or 3636 or 3036 Maple street…  I cannot remember the exact address, but it was on Maple Street and there was the number 36 somewhere on that mailbox, which was sitting on a metal pole of some kind, a horse shoe form with a flat bottom, its’ little door that creaked when you opened it. The mail man would put up the little red flag on the side when he had left mail. The flag was made of metal too.

The mail box sat in a claimed garden area, fenced off  by a small wall of red bricks surrounding it. Inside, there were lots of rose bushes,  lots of Four o’ Clocks too with  small reddish-pink flowers that were very pretty and would always close their blossoms at around four.  That’s where the name came from, Four o’ Clocks.  Of course, as a child I wondered how the flowers could tell time like that…

The house itself was yellow when we arrived; it became olive green with brown edges afterwards, though I have no memory of painting it. How did that happen? Who painted it? It must have been us, three boys with our divorced Mother. But I can only remember painting the bathroom and learning how to stain the cabinet furniture with a sponge. The bathroom was a unique one, with two doors, one from the hallway for us and then one door which was direct from Mom’s master bedroom. She even had a dressing room that led to the bathroom. I remember that bathroom so well, have no idea why. There was nothing special about it, there was a shower and a separate bathtub, it was I suppose a kind of ‘communal  hub’ in those days, where the family crissed and crossed with our many activities: showers, baths, brushing teeth, hair, going potty, peeing;  Mom putting on her face, spraying hair spray,  and as kids do too (like their parents) lots of looking at ourselves in the mirror; checking out teeth and pimples, hair styles, clothes that we wore and so on. It was also a library, for reading: our favorite comic books never far from reach: Superman, Batman, The Avengers, Casper The Friendly Ghost to name a few.

Mom worked every day of the week, so when she would come home, her arms would be full of groceries in paper bags. If we didn’t get up off our butts and help her, there would be hell to pay! Star Trek would have to wait, or Lost in Space. Too, our weekly chores had to have been finished beforehand. The schedule was on a wall in the kitchen and it was divided up into 3 specific tasks: kitchen, living room and bathroom. Each of us was responsible for one of the three tasks and for a period of one week. Then it would change. If you were cleaning the kitchen one week, then the next week, you would clean either the bathroom and then the living room. Keeping our bedrooms clean was an individual obligation.  Merk was the only one who was incapable of washing a spoon so that it was clean and had no notion of how to keep his room tidy either. His regular occurrences of spilling milk at the dinner table were often explained that “so and so had dropped him on his head when he was a baby”. Thinking about that statement now, I realize that that was certainly a comment coming from my Dad in ‘all his splendor’, probably saying that my Mother had dropped him when he was a baby and of course saying that in mixed company so that he could reap the rewards of his provocative ways…. “Oh I did not Hurb!” from Mom.

Of course, how that worked psychologically on Merk, I have no idea. I’m sure that his absences or distractions during mealtime were more likely that he was growing so fast, or perhaps thinking about sex, or maybe both.