I'm back from a couple hours with my friend Debi I've not seen in a few years. She's been through it and came out the other end. I've known Debi since she was sixteen, worked with her dad and her uncle on the farm putting up hay in the summers. Debi was a fire-haired hillbilly girl then, and now the fire has gone from her hair, but she's still a hillbilly and wouldn't be anything else. It's odd to see her aging. I see her taking on the look of about all her relatives past a certain age. I could have put several names to the face I saw this evening, all of them her cousins, aunts or uncles. She's a Pruitt and a Crouse by birth. Pruitts are special people to me. They are the first people I knew, the ones who taught me mountain ways and my way around. Debi is one of the last of the Pruitts I know, as the generations I have known are largely dead. The younger ones went to cities for work. She has become my thread that keeps me connected to her kin. And similarly, I am her thread to her relatives that are gone. I'd been in the hills about six months when I decided to check out a nearby church. I went a couple times. The third time, I was talking with two men out front before the meeting. One came over and one of the ones I was talking with asked him, "What was that shootin goin on up at your place yesterday?" Answer, "Aw, It was them Pruitt boys." He looked at me, turned and walked away. My thought at the moment: Anybody too good for a Pruitt is too good for me. I have carried this maxim the whole way along and it has served me well. The Pruitt boys were rowdy and I rode around with them on weekends. They were the best education I could have had for introduction to mountain culture. I worked with two of them during the week and on weekends we ran the back roads throwing beer cans out the car windows. I kept my empty cans in a paper bag on the floor. They thought that was funny. I could not toss a beer can out the window. It wasn't possible. Even if my mind wanted to do it, my arm would not allow it. A .22 rifle was always with us. Sometimes we shot at the cans I saved. Never went back to the church.
We did not talk about these people who have a place in my heart and a place in her heart too. They are initially our bond. For her, I'm a witness to the wonderful people they were. The Pruitts are one of the mountain families that has a reputation for being either preachers or drunks. Such families tend to have at least one bootlegger in their near past, like daddy, grandpa and greatgrandpa. Liquor makers tend to be drinkers and many of them drink all the time. Heavy drinkers tend to be terrible husbands and parents, keep dysfunctional households and raise dysfunctional kids. The boys aligned with daddy tend to be rowdy and the boys aligned with mama tend to make preachers who condemn drinking. This becomes a social dynamic. A couple of generations down the line, one will have kids that stay in trouble, and another will have kids that go to church. When I run through the names of the families known for preachers and drunks, they tend to come from bootleggers just a few generations back. Throw in good and evil and the judgment begins. It has nothing to do with good and evil except a belief system that allows only one or the other. We don't call it good and evil anymore. It is black and white now. I hear it called gray in between. It is colors in between. In pigment, all colors mixed together make black. In light, all colors make white. It is colors between black and white, not gray. Duality is the nature of this world of experience. Duality makes the colors. We meander in the color zone, not at the poles. On the earth, nobody lives at the north or south poles. We live between the poles. Who is to say a handful of brothers and buddies are evil because they like to free their minds of their frustrations periodically? And who is to say a preacher who looks down his nose at drunks is good? In the culture we have the divide, drinkers and non-drinkers. The drinkers are bad and the non-drinkers are good. I go with the company of the bad, because I have experienced the hypocrisy of the good.
ai wei wei
An old-time square-dance tune is playing in my head, Have a drink on me / Have a drink on me / Aw Lord / Have another drink on me. It's a funny song. One of the aspects of traveling my own path that I especially like is seeing how limiting either/or thinking can be, caught up in the poles, ignoring everything in between. A walk to the waterfalls for me is the whole trip there and the whole trip back, the falls the turn around point. I love being under a canopy of trees. In conversation with my old deceased preacher friend, Millard Pruitt, Debi's uncle, I said I can worship God the same in the woods among trees as well as in the church. No you can't. I'm glad my mind is not locked down in yes and no, right and wrong, good and evil. I don't even think about good and bad anymore. I'm happy to note that kind of thinking is gone from my head. I find that I personally prefer the company of lovers of God, but they're only a part of the whole. I know and like some people whose names make about anybody around here shudder. One in particular comes to the front of my mind, whose name I'll not mention to protect the innocent. Everybody shudders when they hear her name. I don't. I like her. I'm not going to push her buttons or piss her off, which can have a way of being lethal. Pushing other people's buttons is not my style, so I'm in no danger around her. In fact, I feel safe around her. When she's not giving herself a bad name, she has a great sense of humor, and is a no bullshit kinda woman. I respect her. I respect everybody who has been to prison. I respect her for what she's been through and I respect her character. Where trust is concerned, I would trust her and not most others. Debi too. I'd trust Debi to the grave. I want to be somebody Debi can trust. If need ever arises, I pray that I have what it takes to be there for Debi. This is how I feel with the people I call my friends.
A month or so ago, Debi had an experience with the Holy Spirit. She told me the experience and I believe her interpretation of it. It brought to mind a day I remember several years ago, a day when I was in the spirit from the moment I woke in the morning unto night. Memorable day. I listened to Debi's experience happy for her. She needed an upliftment. Like I say, she's been through it and came out the other end. This must have been the quasar at the other end of her interior black hole. She said she's happy for the first time in her life. I saw it. It was in everything about her, her movement, her attitude. She wasn't new in that it changed her away from being Debi, but took her closer to Debi. She had the misfortune of being born with an incredibly fast, retentive mind in a social situation that had no place for such a mind. She had to dumb herself way down. The dumbing down took her with it. She brings to mind a Van Halen song, "Ya know I been to the edge. There I stood and looked down." Debi would say, Amen, to that. She came home to take care of her mother unto dying, then made her way for a few years taking care of an old woman with dementia, the shit on the walls variety. Since the year 2000, if you don't have a job in Sparta, you're out. The mechanics are having a minor boom since fewer people are buying new cars. She has dental issues, Social Services issues, poverty issues. She's getting by without a car, which is mighty troublesome. She's at the bottom where poverty is concerned, yet in her heart she's the best she's ever been in her life. She has a good dog, got rid of a loser man, is losing weight by cutting out soft drinks. She's had her hard times and she's had her good times. I asked her what church she was going to. I was gladdened to hear she was not going to church. She has the real thing, I was thinking, don't spoil it. Live it, enjoy your new perspective. I don't like to advise, but took a moment when she was talking about different interpretations of the Bible, to say, The red letters is the only part that's important, the rest of it is a history book, don't worry about interpretations. If I could leave anything of value with her, I felt like that was the best value I had to offer at the beginning of her path. I allowed myself to say it because it arose spontaneously, flowed from the moment.