Memory is a tricky thing. It can plague you or it can inspire you. Everything depends on how you see the unfolding of events, as well as the transformation of people over time, not to mention the way they can phase in an out of your life. In one moment they are everything and in the next they are gone. Were they supposed to leave so suddently? Why couldn't they stay a little longer? What did it all mean?
A sense of failure can often accompany memory, or at least the feeling that enough was not accomplished. It always could have been different, but it reality it was always just as it was supposed to be. If the past did not unfold the way that it did, then the present would not be possible.
And so it was as the Jack of Hearts was guided back to the place where his greatest success and greatest disappointments came to be. The memory of these things was strong. He would fight his way back from the edge of madness, and from death, to return once again. Perhaps he could find his lost queens. Perhaps there was more to be learned, more to be explored, and more to be realized. He searched for Tina the Impossible, who he had found once before through dreams, but now had seemingly vanished from the face of the world. There was no trace of her, even as he contacted those who had known her, all of whom described her as he remembered them describing her before: aloof, mysterious, and unknowable.
The ancient kingdom was now just ruins, and he was merely sifting through them. Tina the Impossible had disappeared. Christina the Martyr had long since passed on. Tammy the Acolyte was still missing, lost into the sorrows of a life she had not wanted in some place she did not want to be. There was nothing but a desert of sand and memories. One cannot recreate the past from wishes. It has been, it was, and it is no longer, but it lives on eternally in memory.
And those memories can be inspirational. They can give us pause as we greet new situations, new people, and new surroundings. We can learn something from memory and experience.
He was guided to "Find what has been lost and begin again" as he fought his way back from the edge of physical death. He had fought his way back before, and that struggle had brought him to this place, this place where he had found the Three Queens. He had changed them, they had changed him, but there had been mistakes. It was those mistakes he hoped to rectify upon his return, but how can you avenge the past when the board has been cleared of all the players? You are left to howl at the wind.
For a mythologist I have a terrible habit of falling back on literal interpretations of messages received in dreams and visions. Alas, the infinite has a sense of humor, and takes advantage of this to have fun with me. We should never take ourselves too seriously.
Life moves in patterns. The most prevalent pattern in my life involves what is known as The Riddle of the Three Queens. It was long a source of misery in my life, leading to my suicide and rebirth in 1994. It works in such a way as presenting me with one seemingly perfect option that is unobtainable, then a second option which is obtainable but seems to pale in comparison to the first option, which results in the second option always feeling like a disappointment or booby prize. Then a third option comes along to console me and help me put things back into perspective, at which point I realize I have screwed up everything.
The reason it is called The Riddle of the Three Queens is that the pattern most often manifests itself in the women who come into my life. They are not just any women, but those which genuinely enchant and fascinate me. In my younger years when I was guided primarily by lust when it came to women, the pattern was disastrous. I'd throw myself ceaselessly at she who was, for one reason or another unobtainable, usually to the point of making a fool out of myself.
Tina the Impossible is remembered as such because she was the truest of all One Queens. She could not exist. She called to me in dreams for three years prior to our meeting, insisting that I find her so she could "give me the answer" to why I had survived my own death. With a sparse supply of clues I was guided towards, and eventually to her, a miracle that cannot be explained. And then she stayed me, keeping me at arms length, while I told her my story and professed my devotion to her. For two years I sat at her bar, at the place now known in my mythology as The Church. And she never let me in, except that she did, in ways I could not have known until her final confession. I had touched her soul, given her faith, restored her damaged confidence, and given her the strength to achieve her goals. She said she never dared to so much as touch me because then, she feared, I might cease to exist and she would then never see me again.
Those two years I spent engaged in a spiritual battle, the rules of which I did not comprehend. I tried to woo her, to win her over, to cause her to fall into my arms. And when I realized such a conclusion would never come, I was frustrated and felt myself a failure. It was then that Christina the Martyr came to me as I sat at the bar wondering where I had gone wrong and why I was failing in this mission I had been sent on. She gave herself to me and there was a short, but almost perfect love affair filled with incredible passion and understanding. In the end she walked away, unable to reconcile herself with the fact that she was basically my booby prize.
At that point the walls were closing in as the result of other aspects of my life I had not been paying careful attention to. Tammy the Acolyte, who had been there almost from the start, began to shine. She had always greeted my stories with understanding and a yearning to know more. She was a fellow traveler, a believer in the miraculous, who was devoted to understanding the deeper nature of my story. Tammy tried to tell me I was reading my own mythology wrong, that I was blaming myself for things out of my control, and that she admired me for who I was. She held me up, she was there for me when I needed her, and in the end I was unable to help her when she needed me most.
And I have carried with me all these years the memories of how I failed to understand the nature of the puzzle in time to be who I could have been in all three of their lives. I left Tina believing that my goal was us being together as a couple and that, despite everything, she had to disappear because that wasn't possible and she couldn't bear to disappoint me. I wept at Christina's gravesite knowing that she never thought she was good enough to be anyone's "number one" because her only other serious relationship was with a man who had told her he was leaving her for his true love. And my last memory of Tammy was her standing in my church looking at me and sadly saying "You're too late" after I told her that I loved her.
And the sands of time have turned these things to dust, except in memory, and in my mythology, where all three women are now immortal.
The literal interpretation of "Find what was lost and begin again" led me to try to track down the surviving queens and they were gone. Months of time spent searching by all possible methods, but not even a lead. Perhaps simply returning to Orlando would cause me to cross paths with them, as unlikely as it seemed.
Enter the Elf Muse, a woman so in tune with my wavelength, a enigma and a riddle in and of herself, that upon our initial meeting she inspired me to a depth I had not experienced in over a decade. I was immediately driven from my initial comeback plan of maintaining a full time job and my independence while accepting that I had grave limits because of the chronic illness I now carry amongst my other weight. I had to do better than that. I was who I am and I cannot merely go through the motions.
And thus did I come to tell the Elf Muse the story of The Three Queens and how she was a One Queen, a queen of inspiration, a muse, and that it was her job to frustrate me and remind me that our relationship was not a romantic one. She already knew that. And thus I was able to put the One Queen into perspective, to avoid the pratfalls of the past by learning from the errors of the past. I have come to love the Elf Muse deeply and to depend on her being who she is in my life. Love, I now know, has many forms. We intrigue, challenge, and mystify the other all while secretly knowing more than we lead on. It is the stuff of magic and wonder.
I was pleased with this and satisfied. There was no more I needed but to have this special relationship in my life. There was, however, someone else. I was deeply attracted to The Rainbow on so many levels, but I put it off as fantasy. One of those pitiful yearnings for someone just because they seem to be so wonderful and so right. She was too young. She had to have a boyfriend or something like that, perhaps even a girlfriend, I didn't know. I didn't want to be silly, so I put it in my back pocket and tried to forget about it.
I worked with her, although on a different shift, and one of her friends also worked with us. Her friend sometimes worked nights with me and she was very good at her job. I kept telling The Rainbow that her friend was the best of all the staff I had worked with, excepting my sidekick and faithful associate who always had my back, a woman I like to call Spock. After the friend left the job I told Rainbow, after hearing reports of her outstanding work, that she was better than her friend. She responded by saying, "Good, because I'd never want to be second best."
A week after the shooting massacre here in Orlando, I went to the candlelight vigil with Spock and Rainbow. I started to realize that Rainbow had come, in part, because she knew I would be there. And I stood in the crowd with Spock and Rainbow listening to speakers when my cell phone beeped with a message. It was the Elf Muse telling me she had run into someone strange at the vigil and thought I would be amused. It turned out she was just fifty feet away. Later, as I stood there with the three of them, the sun was setting and the sky turned partially to gold. The sunset framed the three of them as they stood in front of me.
"Wow, I am really stupid," I told myself. I began laughing like an idiot.
"Are you okay?" Spock asked.
"He's having an epiphany, he'll be fine," the Elf Muse told her. "How about we all go out for a drink."
All night I noticed how Rainbow kept looking at me and smiling, and once we found a quiet bar and ordered drinks, I turned to her and said, "I have three queens, and I do believe that you are the queen of passion. You are my two queen."
She asked what I meant, but as in needing more information, not as in thinking I was completely insane. "What do you mean by passion?"
"He has three queens, I know the story," the Elf Muse told her, as if it was perfectly normal and ordinary. "I'm the One Queen and you are the Two Queen."
"Yes, but it is too complicated to explain right now," I said. "As long as I'm not creeping you out or anything."
"No, I just want to understand," said Rainbow, never ceasing to smile.
"I will explain it all to you, but I might need a little time."
"Then I have something to look forward to."
"I have no doubt."