What do I mean by my re-entry? A satellite does not remain in orbit indefinitely. It gradually returns to Earth, passing through thicker and thicker layers of atmosphere. The compression and friction generates a tremendous amount of heat, which can melt or vaporize the satellite. You might say this describes a shooting star, which would make for a much lovelier metaphor for who I am or how I've lived my life. It does not, however, explain how I've lived my life or what that's done to people who have loved me. The good news is that some satellites do survive re-entry, because of specially designed shields. What you are about to read is about how my shield was built, who build it and the effect my re-entry has had or is having on my life.
God. It has been said that we cry as we enter the world because we are leaving God, the womb, and being placed into the hands of man's world. You might say some leave kicking and screaming. I think I held onto God's leg and wouldn't let go. When I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of seventeen, it was because I had had a sort of breakdown with suicidal impulses. I never attempted. I sought help instead. It never felt like a wish to die. It was more like I just didn't want to be here. In the hours of darkness that followed the Thorazine, I felt like I was facing a malevolent force, the Devil perhaps. It was like a negotiation room, with God as my only companion. But I did the negotiating. How was I going to live?
This is the logo for Outside Looking Out. It features a nerdy looking fellow blissfully unconcerned with the world that he is circling on his satellite. Instead, he gazes out into the unknown. It's a bit of an exaggerated ideal that I wanted to present to kids who felt like they were on the outside. The world still characterizes them as being on the outside looking in, as if that is all that interests or defines a person. What about the great individuals who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetnessthe independence of solitude? Well, that was my intention. I played a few solo acoustic shows and raised a few hundred dollars for my good friends at Attitudes In Reverse. Now, I have a confession to make. The kid on the satellite is me. It has been for longer than I can remember. I have been broadcasting from a remote location.Is this a healthy way to live? Probably not. I guess it just felt safe. It gave me some sort of edge. I look at the world and don't want to be a part of it. Can you blame me? I don't like what you've done with the place. But I do live in the world. The boy on the satellite signifies my relationship to the world. It signifies my relationships, period. So what has kept me in orbit all these years? The simple answer is love but what kind of love? If love is fuel for this vessel, what sort of fuel are we talking about? How do I obtain this fuel without endangering the source? It depends on the source.
Born in December of 1978, I was adopted from a Catholic orphanage by Charles and JoAnn Wilkey, taken home in February of 1979. Who took care of me for those two months? One answer could be the nuns at the orphanage. In my heart, it was God, as if I had a little extra time with Him. One time I asked my grandmother, who was in the last year of her life, who her best friend was. I was expecting her to say the name of a friend she used to leave downstairs watching TV while she hung out with me and my parents. Her immediate answer was God. As a kid, I didn't care so much about going to Church or attending CCD, but I would get excited any time I heard stories about Jesus. Someone had given a name and face to this friend of mine. Once, I showed up at my best friend's birthday party at The Ground Round and proclaimed "Jesus is Our Brother!" Did it occur to me that my friend, her family and most of her friends were Jewish? No. Was it appropriate for a child's birthday party? Not at all. It just thrilled me to know I had this friend. That is one source. THE source, if you will. People have spoken the word 'love' for all of time, in some language or another, but God's love is unconditional, which humans may be capable of feeling, but will never understand. God cannot be hurt. Humans can. Enter the cause of a fear that could very well be the death of me.
Parents. They are the architects of my shield, commissioned by God. When I had my breakdown, I was in the grip of great fear. It felt like I had turned on myself. I had somehow skipped self-destruction all together and arrived right in the middle of an immediate need to cease to exist. What fear could be greater than that? I was told to explain this to my parents. For some reason, I didn't even look at my father when I was told this. Only my mother's face came into focus. I had never seen her cry. It's like watching cracks emerge in a dam. From that day on, there has been no moment I am not terrified of hurting someone I love, or who loves me. I will give humans all the love I have to give, as per my friendship with God. But I'm not coming down. I AM NOT COMING DOWN.
Satellites do not stay in orbit by themselves. They are managed by engineers on the ground. God is great but he clearly left all operations in our hands. Who is going to oversee me? The father and mother that conceived me were clearly not fit for the job and luckily they agreed. What a lucky break, right? I've had oodles of those, trust me. So, during my first two months with God, the orphanage had my parents fly from Queens to Buffalo so they could take tests and fill out paperwork but they had to return home without me. That was followed by the orphanage sending someone to inspect the home in Rosedale that my parents would be bringing me back to. This was 1979 Rosedale, not present day Rosedale. Timing is everything. God really chose well, being God after all. Still, God must have known I would need more.
Stories. Richard Donner's Superman: The Movie was released the month and year I was born. I would not know this until many years later but this fact signifies a great deal. Is it Jesus that's been there for me my whole life? Superman? Superheroes? Allegories aside, the world on the other side of the page and screen has comforted me for as long as I have had sight or could speak. How is that I can vividly remember hearing of a big-screen Batman movie on the evening news and waiting most of a decade to see it, fully making the connection between the two events? How did I get from the urge to write a comic book to self-publishing a graphic novel? Why have I spent upwards of $50 a week for the last 20 years on comic books? Why is the movie theater the first place I go to for solace in anxious times? Why did I apply to film school at the age of 39, after two college degrees and three careers?
Maggie. Just one name. No others. I have to write now while I still can. The burning of the re-entry. Who will survive it? God's fine. My parents will be hurt but I've hurt them before and they have proven almost as indestructible as God. The worst part? To love someone properly, you have to join the human race. That comes even before being happy or loving yourself. Up on my perch, I could see so much and know so much and judge so much. But for someone to love me the way Maggie did, she had to actually be on the satellite. Has anyone else been with me like that? Perhaps, but I kicked them off when I realized what it meant. That they'd be there with me when I finally came down. She was so good at understanding how I've been living. So much smarter than me or anyone else has ever given her credit for. And she loved me more than anyone else. She saw me on the ground, in outer space and most importantly, all the times I didn't see myself, which was a lot. Do you know what I did? I kicked her off the satellite. I stuck her in an escape pod and hit eject without so much as a warning.
She knew our relationship might not survive re-entry but was willing to see it through. I did not have that courage. I failed her.
Success? It took forty years to touch ground. It is hard to form a status report. That is what future posts will be about, among other things. I guess it makes some sort of sense that my health, especially my mental health, has been of primary concern. See, my body has been on Earth this whole time. Did I not make that clear? Operations are handled via satellite. I hope that clears things up a bit. I am not happy with the condition I have left my mind and body in. That alone is going to take a great deal of work. Have I hurt others in the process? I did. Mores o than I could have anticipated. It has been messy and I fucked up. But I landed. Keep reading to see what comes next. I will continue to live my story as I write it...or write my story as I live it. Something like that.
Epilogue A great deal of the above might be rehash but I felt it necessary to bridge between posts from three years ago and now. Could I have offered an actual recount of the events of the last three years? Of course, but that would not be me. Besides, I do have loads of experiences to share with you about the last three years. There's been a band called The Infinite Vacation, with a forthcoming EP. Wait until I tell you about my friends from Silver Oaks. That will all somehow be woven into the seminal tales of my next forty years. I will be reporting to you, from the ground, for the first time in my life.