Friday, June 29

Dear Jim,

It’s a hot morning in Sacto. I’m writing to you at my favorite coffee shop where I’ve written to you so many times in the last year.

I need the place. I’m lucky it’s here for me to regroup, or to smile on the world when I’m inspired.

That’s the way I feel about you. You were there when I was down. You were proud of me when I was up.

A guy just sat down at my table. He has an 8” x 5” x 11” bible. We looked at each other. I said hi. He didn’t. I’m sure he feels he is on a spiritual path.

I’m trying to be on one, to be the passionate truth seeker I was as a kid, to be born again, this time without arrogance.

So I’ve sought you with these letters. I needed you to help me make changes I ache to make, to feel great before I die.

It’s been an incredible year. I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t written to you.

I’m scared. Next year I have to make it on my own. If I become great, you won’t be here to laugh with as we sit on the lawn in the back of Sis I’s breathing the country air.

It will be sad for me. It will be sadder for you. You always admired me – your younger brother with unforgettable passion.

There’s lots of regrets. With all our pain, I wish I had prayed for you, for us, for me.

Dave

Copyright © 2021 by David Vaszko

Friday, February 16

Dear Jim,

I’ve got two Fuji’s in the window to finish ripening. Somehow I remember you used to have bowls of fruit on your table. I think you meditated on them. You loved the still life’s of fruit of the old European guys that we saw in museums.

I don’t meditate on the Fuji’s, but I love to glance at them. There is nothing rich or subtle in the appearance of most apples. I remember you telling me that an orchard man in Wenatchee said that when he was a kid, his dad grew apples to taste good; but nowadays he doesn’t carry on his dad’s tradition. He grows apples to look good so they will sell. But that’s just it, they don’t look good. They look flashy. They look phony.

Even though I don’t meditate, I am becoming more centered. When I am doing something, I look at my hand or I look at the door knob as I turn it. I want to get to where I naturally meditate. Just have Fuji’s sitting around so I can contemplate them.

In the seventies or early eighties there was an article in Harper’s. It was about a guy in Vermont who lived in the mountains with his wife and kids. The guy would contemplate for two hours at a time.

Dad used to do that every morning before Mass for an hour. What a great combination – meditating then going to Mass. And of course he prayed before meditating.

I’ve thought of taking a yoga class or doing Tai Chi, but it doesn’t feel right. I would like to go to a meditation group where the leader doesn’t talk about peace and tranquility and all that Eastern shit, but says ”Contemplate Justice, Truth, Beauty, Freedom, Love, Lust, Hate, Fear, Confidence, Youth, the peak of your powers, falling apart.”

You are going to find peace and tranquility whatever you meditate on. It always amazes me that the chic seekers of Eastern wisdom don’t give the slightest shit about Western values. Except Prosperity.

Wednesday was Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday. What an interesting combination.

I didn’t get ashes. I hardly ever have. Dad can’t remember if he got them this year or not. I think getting ashes is an admittance that you are a sinner.

I’m usually self-conscious so I do not get them. Maybe next year I’ll swallow my self-consciousness and do it. It’s a way to acknowledge we are a bunch of sinners without getting hysterical or saying ”I was a…” But we are still sinners even if we don’t have our old bad habits.

Then there is St. Blaise Day. I used to like getting my throat blessed. In these disgusting times, it would be good to get my throat blessed as I ask God to help me not to speak profanely or with hate.

The other day I got together with my friend I lived with for eleven years. She is going through a very difficult time.

She’s a year older than I am but is always sick. Her sister is 73, an invalid. But as pale and stressed as she looked, there was something good I noticed: ”Your eyes look great. The colored parts are real luminous and your whites are really clear.”

She prays and meditates. She prays to St. Anne. She did yoga every day for at least fifteen years, but hasn’t done it lately. She listened to the same yoga tape every day. It broke after I moved out.

February is her favorite month. She loves camellias. They are looking good this year.

February has always been my least favorite month. This year, even with all the sun and wind, I have not gotten as many headaches or been as down as I usually am.

I remember a lot of times coming home in the daytime in February to go to bed because I felt so bad. Do you remember, I guess it was the late eighties, when a friend of mine moved from Sacto to the Marina? You and I and her spent a sunny drought year Sunday afternoon in February on the Marina Green.

I felt like shit. I had a sinus headache all day. I couldn’t eat. When the outing was over, you and I went to mom’s and dad’s. I was in bed the rest of that day and at least all of the next. I wondered what dad thought of me.

Tonight is the crescent moon. I’ll have to step outside to watch it.

I’ve been thinking a lot the last few years about our cousin who committed suicide. It’s something I struggle with. I was too self-important to attend his funeral. After mom died and I was grieving for her by writing her letters, I decided to write to each of our dead family members. I wrote to him. I assume I apologized to him for missing his funeral.

He was a gem like you. Everybody loved him. I’ve told some of the family that the two best of our generation died young.

Mom thought he was gay. She thought he might have killed himself because of it. When I think of him, I remember thinking that something wasn’t right, even though he was a great guy and full of goodness. I wonder if he was pissed off at our aunt and uncle and our cousins.

That was a tragedy. If I ever see our cousins, I will apologize for not being there for them.

That’s it for now Jim.

Thanks for letting me get this off of my chest.

Love,

Dave

Copyright © 2021 by David Vaszko