The One

She’s “the one.”

Has been. Always will be.

Much maligned over the years, she always accepts me. Not in spite of my faults, but because of ’em.

The Whore of Babylon. The city personified as a woman full of Biblical wrath. Washington, D.C.

I have been there nearly two out of the last four months. Both times to fulfill my destiny as the servant of a fellow man. To do what he could not. To be what he refused to be. To give him one last send off that would solidify his legacy.

Fitting. Fitting that it was service that sent me back to the city that has swallowed me and spit me out twice. Spit out, because I refused to serve the Whore. That is what “she” (funny that we call cities and boats “she,” but it works) demands. Once you stop serving her and all that she is…well…you find yourself alienated and lonely and agitated. It takes participation, being one with the various aspects of her vanity and power. I was always rubbing up against her vanity and power through the media and an obsession with politics and history and “justice.” My vanity and search for some avenue to exert my own power, those things brought me to her.

Once things fell apart, from health or fire or some other sort of random brimstone, I no longer served her and she spit me out. Perhaps because I made myself so distasteful.

I just could not face my own vanity, and my lust for her wily ways. I left for good, so I said, last Summer and immediately came apart at the seams. My vanity was left behind, my lust and what little power I did have quickly mutated. I wasn’t serving her. I wasn’t serving those around me. I was self-serving insofar as I retreated into denial over my lost opportunity. The opportunity to make a stand. To not retreat or be spit out.

Going back to help my dying friend became a salve. My wounds, mostly self-inflicted but some also inflicted upon me, felt the soothing coolness of gratitude and love and appreciation.

Felt the feeling of home.

For DC…the Whore of Babylon…is my home. One of them, at least. But the one home that strips me bare and causes me to face the reality of who I am and what I have given up over the years. What I could be. But it also is a place that has embraced me through the people I know there. The people who open their homes and hearts and families to me. People who actually care about and who know me. They do. They know me. And they’ve shown me my value. My worth. And shown me the self-serving indulgence of feeling worthless.

I gave. They returned the favor. By showing me that the Whore of Babylon is not just a mythical frame for the self-portrait of my persona, but it is also a place I have made a name and identity for myself…the family I have found there has made DC more than a tricky one-liner or a catchy title. It is a place I will return to again and again. I will never be free of that embrace, not fully.

I have slept with the Whore. And, dammit, I have certainly paid. Paid dearly. But it was a transaction. Not a mugging. I did so with free-will. Still am.

So, here I am in NorCal. My native land I love so much, and it occurred to me to move back to the Whore! I will not, but it didn’t seem so strange an idea. My burned apartment is shiny and new. My family there, the people who I have grown to love and respect, allow me to be who I am and don’t mind my idiosyncratic ways. I am not quite the crazy uncle, but I am always welcome to stay in more than one basement.

I guess the upshot is that I live in more than one place. I live on both coasts. And will. Because the Whore of Babylon, with it’s enraging drivers and bad service and slimy sycophants and tax-payer troughs of money and mammon worship, that Whore is “the one.” The one I am destined to embrace. As one who looks into abysses as a matter of course, as a man perpetually outraged…as a digger of dirt and overturner of rocks…and as a man who simply wants family and a home…I cannot deny that she, the city and Biblical bitch, has forever marked me.

And no, I am not going to take this metaphor to its logical conclusion and say I now have the Mark of the Beast! Rather, this metaphor has me as the one who refuses to take the Mark…but returns to the belly of the Beast because it is the one place that I can feel it all, everything I have inside me…every political, moral, philosophical and emotional wound throbs…occasionally bleeds…and is also salved…all at the same time.

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