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A Tale of Love and Anarchy: For My Gypsy Fiancee
SPN
By Stephen Wallace
02/05/2015

We were engaged for about two weeks, and when I asked her to marry me, I told her that I had loved her since that day I met her, that I would love her for the rest of my life. The question, of course, was if she returned that feeling. She said yes. Her name is Skyler, and she is one of the most beautiful people to have ever lived. I mean that.

We met over the summer of 2014, at a concert. The band was Neutral Milk Hotel. It goes without saying -- this band has obviously descended from the heavens to save us from passionless mediocrity. Magic filled the air of that perfect summer evening. She wrapped her arms around me within five minutes of shaking my hand, and sang her heart out, apologizing in a way that was disarming and genuine: Sorry for being so loud and ridiculous, this is my favorite song, I think it’s the most beautiful song of all time.
Yeah -- Yeah, me too. (Who in the world was this girl? I just had to know.)

She gave me her number and a few weeks later, I made my way to her hometown. We walked along the railroad tracks together for five long, marvelous days. She showed me some more of her favorite musicians -- small independent artists who wrote with grit and insight. Beautiful lyrics. Shakey Graves, Fionn Regan, Elliott Smith. We played a few Neutral Milk Hotel songs together on our guitars. She had a soft, gentle, strong singing voice. We got to know each other, and a string of instances - meaningful coincidences of the most serendipitous character - unfolded through our initial conversations. Soulmates, lost children who had found each other in this, the digital dark age. A moment of silence for our lost generation...

Like me, she had been homeless for a number of years -- not that it was a competition, but I had been outdone by a year. She left home at 16, and started sleeping on friends’ couches, under bridges outside by the tracks, and in the forests around her community. I, in contrast, hadn’t found myself outside much. For me, instead, all the days -- all of them -- were spent in the library, and some fast and clever talking over coffee usually got me a different place to stay at night. It wasn’t always easy for me, though. A dedicated and virtuous friend of mine did what he could for a few months: I was stashed under the staircase of his basement, sleeping on the cement floor (don't gag) next to the cat litter, hiding from his parents; neither of them liked me, or could accept the fact that I was a person who needed to sleep. I needed to sleep  every twenty-four hour period, which must have appeared strange to them. In their eyes, I guess I was simply lazy. I joke about it now, I joke that I was some strange synthesis of Anne Frank and Harry Potter. The boy who lived. Indeed.

Skyler Mingo was the only person I had ever met who understood exactly what a struggle of this sort felt like -- constant disapproval, unnecessary and condescending advice, condemnation at every turn, and, whether we could admit it to ourselves or not, fear for our lives. There was a constant struggle to grip to the dignity that had been robbed of us. She understood exactly what I felt and what I saw, and I will always love her for that.

There were beautiful things we shared together and however small those beautiful things were, they were small beautiful things of magnificent importance. At least to someone as small and lonely as me. We stole the same books from the library. I had a copy of William James’ writings; she, a copy of Soren Kierkegaard’s journals. She told me that she considered herself a philosopher. That was certainly true, even though she had dropped out of high school five years before and had no plans to go to college -- not now, not later, not ever.

She was free, and she told me she would always be free -- though she was certainly trapped in her hometown at the time. I was trapped too, and planning to head in a new direction. We stayed a few nights at her ex’s house. They had just broken up after four years. She told me later how badly she had felt abused. Though, I could see that she meant it when she said that no matter what, she would love her ex -- because love was what we had to do. She said that to me, looking me directly in the eyes with an assured intensity. Unconditional and universal love was not some unattainable ideal to her; it was what she knew, what she felt, it was the gift she gave to everyone she met. It was real.

I told her what my favorite piece of writing was, the one that changed my life and changed how I viewed my homelessness. It was a piece of writing that helped me in the same way that she had helped me emancipate myself from the guilt-heavy shackles that I had carried around for the last four years of my life. It was the literary manifesto of the great Chilean author, Roberto Bolaño. He had told all of the writers of the rising generation -- that they were not just to write -- they were to live. It’s a beautiful construction, ending with irresistible and ecstatic, explosive mania:

Subvert daily life -- make new sensations appear

O.K.

LEAVE IT ALL AGAIN
HIT THE ROAD


And so, I headed to College Park, to live in a student-run co-operative at the University of Maryland. The self-taught dropout druggie, in a house of left-leaning undergrads and graduate students. And Skyler Mingo headed west, to California. A few months later she called me out to be with her -- that’s when I asked her to marry me, and that’s when she told me that there was no other way she’d be getting married in this life, brother.

The only problem with this picture is that she was gay. She was my lesbian gypsy fiancee. I had devised this plan as a vanishing act, because, we had both a history of very abusive relationships, abusive on all sides. I figured that it was a benevolent prank, a magician’s deceitful illusion featuring the magic of love at first sight: I would be a married man, straightened up, and she would be married, meaning -- hands off, and there’s no need to think of me anymore -- I was married and gone, and this way, everyone could go on with their lives and find their peace of mind. Voila! There it is, there you are -- Stephen Wallace, vanished, gone! Stephen Wallace, Gone West.

Gone to be married. Skyler and I had promised each other that we would write our own damn vows. A friend of mine, a journalist for a Maryland newspaper had made a remark about my poetry -- that it was nice writing, but that, since it didn’t rhyme it was more like -- you know, prose with line breaks. So, I wrote my wedding vows as an answer to his challenge -- I wrote my first poem:


Metaphorically, Metaphysically, will you be forever mine?


If it be your will, then indeed I will -- forever -- make thee, thine

From here until that fateful end, you fellow traveler, my best friend I will walk along with you, around the next bend, and the next bend, and the next

and then

On Judgement Day, I will be with you, outside of that Divine Court, consoling and squeezing your hand tight I will see to it, that our love is guided only, only and always, by Our Lord's Big and Bright Divine Light
And when He asks you, did you do Right, did you spread The Message across all seas?
We can say, together, Yes, My Lord, we have showed the world, a Love that we believe.
And then we can -- together -- leave

I thought it was a nice sentiment, that it was a decent little set of words. Maybe one day they’ll be used by someone who gets married (for real). That would be delightful.


Revolutionists in the Golden State: Gypsy Mentor, Pragmatist Philosopher

My fake and gay fiancee and I met up again at a commune just outside of Yucca Valley, in California. Dusty desert honeymoon. I had taken a train over. It was a three day ride with an overnight stop in Chicago. I had nothing but one change of clothes, and four books: One by our Chilean hero, Roberto -- his magnum opus, 2666, Bertrand Russell’s History of Western Philosophy, an anthology of the writings of the Father of Anarchist Communism, Peter Kropotkin, and a funny little pocket commentary by the songwriter and intellectual, Ian Svenonius’ The Psychic Soviet -- a Christmas gift, the best gift I’ve ever gotten. I highly recommend getting a copy. It is equal parts a commentary from the perspective of a dissident, and a hilarious satire -- a maniacal musician’s Jonathan Swift.

I had nothing else -- no sleeping bag, no guitars, no water bottle, no food, no snacks, no haircut. and no money. By the time I had gotten to Yucca Valley, she had fallen in love with a beautiful blonde girl. There was just something about her, Skyler told me -- something ancient, mysterious. She was beautiful and kind, for sure. I suppose the gentle nature of kind people in a world as cruel as ours is a bit of a mystery. So we had been reunited, and the wedding was off! We stayed together, in a yurt built by the owner, named Garth, who had built the entire commune -- over thirty years of hard work, to make a Boulder Garden. The place was deafeningly quiet at times -- only the wind could be heard, I knew the sound of the trees as something inseparable from the movement of the breeze. But out in the desert, there were only the boulder hills, the valleys, and the painted stillness of a cloudless, permanent sky. A (excuse the pun) desert-ed corner of the Garden of Eden

Skyler made the fire, and at night we played dice together. Skyler was with another woman now, and apparently, she had also made an agreement -- some sort of polyamorous arrangement with Lady Luck. I suppose I could justify my own continuous losses by saying that I, like God, do not play with dice. Or, I could say that I have terrible luck. Always missing a golden roll by one -- happens everytime. At least this wasn’t cards -- Go Fish is tremendously boring.

During the day, I did my reading, and we talked about our hardships, our secret plans, and Skyler told me how much she loved her lover. I was so happy for her.  She was an anarchist who believed in the importance of self-sufficiency. She was contemptuous of my lack of preparation. I explained that I had my faith in things working out, that I thought she was courageous for coming out here at all, and that I thought it was a brave move for me, too. It took bravery -- not to mention a heaping pound of stupidity, she said. Maybe she was right. I don’t want to think about it!

She helped me learn something about philosophy as I watched  her dive into communal responsibilities, untouched by any doubts. She learned to make fire in one night, in one try: A prodigy of self-sufficiency. When I finally decided I needed to learn things like this, she called them necessary skills for survival - it was an obvious, obligatory matter. I called it a Lesson in the American’s Pragmatist philosophy. It concerned finding a way to be free and living autonomously, after all. And it was a the reality of this life -- enough of illusions, I was away from all familiar things, so all wandering in the metaphysical world, all epistemological entertainment needed to cease, momentarily, for the sake of learning what was practical. I, too, learned to make a fire, and how to chop wood, and how to cook on a fire. The best thing I’ve ever made is duck with some seasoned vegetables prepared in a dutch oven. Certainly putting into practice the pragmatist’s system of thought: I could learn how to love others more abundantly and more properly, if I could learn to take care of myself. And, knowing how to make a fire, of course, is romantic in the most classical sense.

Ghost Stories Around the Fire: The Specter of Anarchy

Skyler was more like Huck Finn than Karl Marx. We were on different journeys, though those journeys were of the same intense and personal importance. Where I was able to contribute to her journey was in teaching what I knew from what I had read, and what I had seen. My feeling was that we were both revolutionaries, of different genres. She was a rugged bohemian, and I was the intellectual in exile. We were fellow travelers. I had explained to her my own thoughts about the meaning of revolution. To me, it was a series of realizations about the way people treat one another, that the State was not society and because we think that this network of bureaucracies and institutions as inseparable from our conception of society, we are blind, ourselves, to our power, that we have contradictory tendencies -- to want to control others,  and to want to be free to choose (not just what we buy, but what kind of world we build) -- that anarchy was about the emancipation of one’s own soul from the chains -- the artificial obligations of a system of law derived from authoritarian foundation-- that the freeing of the self was only the beginning of a process of freeing others: namely, your friends. And that if you could free your mind, yourself, you could your friends, and so they could free their friends. To me, the revolution meant a realization of the full range of ways to live a life, for yourself and for your friends, and that none of it had anything to do with killing one another over the need to eat, or some childish dream to rule the world.

Leo Tolstoy said that there was only one permanent revolution, and that that was a revolution of morals: the regeneration of the inner man. To me, the need for moral advances surpasses the desire for technologically-inspired utopias. It is more important to learn to be good, than to invent some device that would assure biological immortality. I believe that will always be true.


Fellow Travelers Part Ways: Hit the Road, Jack


We have gone our separate ways. It was not meant to be, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Skyler, the gypsy saintess that she is, will pursue her freedom fiercely, and I believe, forever. She’s fled for India at this point in time, to get married to her true love. I told her and Serena, that they had my blessing, forever, for real, and for all eternity. And off she has gone. Before we parted ways, as she hopped in the truck of her bride-to-be, she looked back at me, and called out, "Get ready to leave it all again, brother!"

"And again, and again, my friend."

Socratesian soulmates.

I have a theory that I like to entertain myself with, that there is a secret contest that takes place within each generation -- a competition between young heroes to become the Messiah of their contemporaries -- everyone wants to save the world, but who will it be? I, myself have opted out of this contest -- I would prefer to write about the potential candidates, who are, or have been my friends. Skyler is a hero, with a hero’s story. It is not mine to tell in full, though. One day, I think we will all know it.

It is currently ten o’clock at night as I write this from inside of a tent in Joshua Tree National Park. I can hear the coyotes’ chorus piece: Howls of Hunger. A few days ago, the journey of what I believe to be my first true love has come to an end. Maybe I will find love elsewhere, one day. In the meantime, I hope to help others emancipate themselves in the way that Skyler has helped me. Peter Kropotkin described the goal of the anarchist revolutionary as “...TO BUILD UP THE FUTURE, AS WELL AS TO DESTROY THE PAST.”

Leave it all again, Peter.

    Skyler taught me one important thing about the revolutionary cause -- regrets of the past are chains. Fears of the future are chains. Though I may not be good at dice, my luck seems to be beginning to change -- it is a blessing to be taught that love is a liberating force.

 


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08/21/2016 9:52pm

I liked Neutral Milk Hotel too, my favorite song of theirs is Holland, 1945. I don't know why I liked it. I just discovered the band on Will Grayson, Will Grayson. I got curious and I searched for the band online. Anyway, that's a nice band and you had a sweet love story. It's like a plot for a John Green or a David Levithan novel. Good luck and have a happy marriage!

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