The Emperor IV

The Emperor IV
By Bonnie Tarantino

When I was in my early twenties my family hit a brick wall at full speed. The reckless driver of this disaster was addiction & mental illness. It was truly a shit show but as it turns there was now a big hole in the wall and eventually every single one of us was lucky enough to squeeze through. During one of our many family interventions, the counselor suggested I go to Alanon. “You need to go and live your life. You are powerless here.” As the oldest, and empath with an aversion to drugs or alcohol, I believed myself to be “the most responsible”. I was sure I could help. I was sure they needed me. The truth was though, I was utterly exhausted. The Emperor often finds out what he is powerless over before finding his true power.

I entered my first Alanon meeting as all do, heartbroken and powerless. By this time, I had already trained in Reiki and had learned how to see auric fields. In a church basement on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, I squirmed in my folded chair. One by one as each person introduced themselves. I watched a dark heaviness drain from each of them. The serenity prayer was read and with this, each seat became illuminated with the strong pulsing light of truth. Here among me sat people of all faiths and all walks of life. The simple prayer and invocation of a higher power stripped us of our cultural differences. Underneath we had all grown up with the same deep sadness and shame. I knew after my first meeting that I had found the “room” I needed. I had found a way through. A heavy sense of obligation drained from me. I would be ok even if my family didn’t survive. The Emperor has the strength to take down his life to rebuild the one he requires based on his own truth.

After 2-3 meetings a week for over a year I broke up with my then boyfriend. Though very kind and very cute and on a great track to being a lawyer, he loved his pot more than he loved me and I just was not up for an unconscious partner. At the suggestion of my Alanon sponsor, I committed to being single for a year. Since my first real kiss at the age of 15, I had always been in some type of serious relationship. One of my safe places was in the arms of a boy but I often found boys who needed fixing and holding. I tended to do more of the holding and my arms were tired. In Alanon, I learned how to wrap my arms around myself and in this, I became centered, in this, I began to feel my feelings and heal. Alanon taught me to FEAL, Feel everything, and learn. At this time, I was 23, living in my own studio apartment in Manhattan. I was financially independent with a master’s on the way and had a good job teaching high school English. It also didn’t hurt that I had a really cute 110 lb vegetarian yoga body that could wear anything I could find at a sample sale. With this, I stepped fully into my masculine for the first time and Sex In The City strutted down the dazzling streets of the Big Apple, feeling for the first time that the world was mine. I began to let go and let God. I barely contacted my family for almost a year. The Emperor would rather stand alone than compromise his truth. He also understands and respects his field of attraction.

On the corner of 83rd and East End where I lived was a great bar called “The Mill”. Late night they played irresistible dance music. This was the early 90s and admit it, we still can’t resist this music, no one can. This bar became my go-to at the end of a weekend night. Mostly sober I loved being on the dance floor where I could feel my newfound sexy and sovereign independence. One night a guy with a Long Island accent came over and handed me a drink. I took it, looked him straight in the eyes, and dumped it out on the sawdust floor. The Emperor is willing to disappoint others to stay true to himself.

His name was Scott and I didn’t recognize him nor care. As far as I was concerned I didn’t see the drink being poured, I was not drinking, and I didn’t even believe he was in med school. (It didn’t help that he was wearing what we called a “Guido tuxedo.” A jean jacket and jean pants.) Standing strong before him, I was one month shy of my year of not getting serious with anyone, but this guy was serious. He was insistent, he would not go away, he wanted my number. And there was something about him that made me feel like he would find me again even if I didn’t give him my number so I gave in and wrote it with the bartender’s pen on the back of a cocktail napkin, confident that I would not go out with him if he called. The masculine holds a steady energy. It is present and clear about its intentions. The masculine goes after what it wants even if it takes time.

Back then if you gave a guy your number, it mattered what day he called you. If he called you on Sunday he was desperate. On a Monday or Tuesday, he really liked you and wanted to take you to dinner. Wednesday was on the edge. It depended on the excuse. If it was a Wednesday call you had to consider that you were probably not his first call that week. Chances are he had been turned down by someone and moved on to try you. By Thursday or Fri however, there was only one thing he wanted, to meet in a bar. This was not a date. This was sex. This is the kind of shit you learn in Alanon. I am not kidding. On my phone, (the ones we used to have that was connected to the wall with an answering machine) I had a sticky note with the words. “NO is a full sentence.” Another Alanon trick. Scott called me on a Wednesday and had a good excuse. Turns out he really was in medical school. I unapologetically used my “NO” and sent him off. I had a month to go of my commitment to myself to not have any serious relationships for a year. He would have to wait. And wait he did. The masculine is not desperate. He is deliberate. He will wait for what it wants and not settle. The Emperor keeps a tenuous eye on the mark.

A month later we had our second date which ended up back in his apartment. He wanted me to meet his roommate and some friends who were in a band together and practicing to perform at a school event. My first surprise was that his medical school dorm was a really nice apartment with a kitchen with big windows looking out to the flickering city lights. I noted that there were no plates in the sink. No dirty pans on the stove, no beer bottles laying all around, no posters of impossible boobed girls in bikinis, and most importantly the bathroom was one of the first boy’s bathrooms I entered that did not require flip flops. This place was not just clean it was downright sanitary. Gradually his friends packed up their instruments and took their secret cue to leave. Scott kept his bass guitar on his lap and played and sang to me a quiet and cute version of Van Morrison’s “brown-eyed girl” (Have you seen my brown eyes?) He then put down the guitar, stood to his full 6.2 height, took my hand and guided me off the couch and into his arms. There we rocked back and forth as he hummed “your myyy brown-eyed girl.” I felt small and safe. He felt like pure power. Pure controlled power. He was in no rush. I ended up spending the night. The next day our bodies woke intertwined all arms and legs to an unexpected 6am alarm clock playing “Two Princes” by Spin Doctors.

Marry him or marry me..
I’m the one that loves you,
baby can’t you see?..
I aint got no future or family tree, but
I know what a prince & lover ought to be
I know what a prince & lover ought to be.

Little did I know.. Prince? Emperor? Love? Marriage?

Apologizing he said he had to go do something, but he would be back by 9 am with breakfast. I should just go back to sleep. He quietly got up, showered and shaved, ironed his white shirt, tied his tie, and put on his white coat and ID badge. Was that coffee brewing? He leaned over, kissed me with minty breath, and said in his deep voice which I still just love love love, “Wait here.” The masculine knows how to ask for what it wants.

When you live in NYC the direction your apartment faces is a big deal. If your main windows face north or west it often means a dark apartment. If your main windows face east or south then you can expect to wake to the sunlight filtering in. Scott’s bedroom faced south. I got up, wrapped his button-down shirt from the night before around me and cracked the blinds to let in the light. We still have this shirt and Lucia wears it all the time. I noticed his organized bookshelves, his cd collection, a desk with medical textbooks, yellow legal pads, and his tight neat writing in long technical words I did not understand. (Maya has similar handwriting.) Scattered about the room were nicely framed pictures of friends from Hopkins and his family. Again, I felt safe and warm. I decided to stay. As I climbed back into his bed to sleep it occurred to me I had found a man or rather, a man had found me. The masculine comes to you. I woke to the smell of Scott making me chocolate chip pancakes. The sacred masculine wishes to please and serve the sacred feminine. He wants to offer her the world.

Flash forward a year and a half later and I quit my job and moved with Scott to Hawaii. With a big diamond from the diamond district on my left ring finger and a wedding date set for the fall of 1995 we are engaged. Sounds amazing right? Nope. At this point, Scott began working what was then still a legal 120 hours a week for his surgical internship. Hands down this is the hardest year for a surgeon. Being on call every third night made him dangerously sleep-deprived, kind of mean, and mostly miserable. This left me feeling very far away from home and very lonely. Had I made a mistake? To cope, I turned back to the “rooms” (Alanon). In Hawaii, the climate is so predictably perfect that instead of meeting in the basements of churches, people just pick a big tree on a public beach or park, bring their beach chairs, make a circle, open the big book, and begin. In general, I found Hawaii a very hard place to meet people which was part of my deep loneliness. It did not help that when I finished work it was often 1,2 or 3:00 in the morning on the East Coast which left me with no right time to call friends or family. I easily make friends but almost 5,000 miles from home and way out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, I could not find my people. Hawaii is a very transient and a very culturally complicated place. Instead of Irish, Italian, Greeks, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Blacks, and Hispanics sharing in the circle, I now had Hawaiians, Polynesians, Samoans, Japanese, Chinese, Koreans, Filipinos, and a wild mix from the military like, “Hi, I am Georgia.. army brat from Louisiana. My mother was Irish and Cherokee and my dad was German and Nigerian. I met my husband when I enlisted. He is a raging alcoholic and also an army brat. He is from the mountains of Tennessee and we don’t even know who is daddy is”. … Hi Georgia.” Every Alanon meeting I attended had different people sitting in the circle. There were no coffee pots or doughnuts, nor invitations to check out the latest place for dinner. Unlike my Manhattan meetings, there was little community. Still, I found comfort and wisdom. The Emperor is worldly.

One December day, with the famous Diamond Head volcano glittering in the distance, I learned the most important lesson I have ever learned about The Emperor. When it came time for me to share, I shared about a very hard decision I had to make. Should I move back home to NY and put off our wedding or stay here and stick it out with the person I loved formally known as Scott? Scott was clear, “I have no energy for you.” And he did not. My fantasies of frolicking in the water in the endless sun and taking all-day hikes to a little-known waterfalls to make love were pointless. Scott needed to eat, sleep, and f…well you know. I needed more. The Emperor has needs.

During any 12-step meeting, you are not allowed to cross-talk, meaning you are not allowed to comment on anyone else’s share. After the meeting, you are also not supposed to break anonymity. But on this one day after the meeting a very small Asian woman came over to me. Looking up with scrunched eyes she said, “Tell me… you want to marry a cow or a bull?’

Looking at her, I noticed a golden glow all around her. Was she even real? Why did she look like an ancient version of the holy Bodhisattva Quan Yin? Had she been at the meeting? I got quiet and considered the options. I was empty. I was thirsty. I wanted milk.

I thought about Niya, a bartender where I worked as a waitress in Waikiki to make extra money beyond my teaching salary at the local University. Niya was very California calm and cool with a Charlize Theron beauty vibe. One slow night, we closed early and she invited me over for a swim to the house she was house-sitting, which was just houses away from Oprah’s compound. The double glass hotel lobby-sized front doors had two large geckos carved as the handles. When we opened them and stepped inside you could see straight through the open floor plan to the back lanai. Beyond the lanai, a perfect kidney-shaped pool glistened. Beyond that, the full moon hung in the sky over the ocean casting beams toward me like a white diamond carpet illuminating the house. Niya walked through the house not even bothering to turn on the lights. She stopped at the little bar, put ice in two Waterford bourbon glasses, and poured straight tequila in them with some lime soda. “There is no way I am cutting another fucking lime tonight”.

She handed me a glass and then opened the big sliding doors all the way making the whole back wall disappear. The ocean breeze wrapped itself around me. Niya chugged the tequila, placed the glass down a little too hard on the glass table and then began taking off her work clothes starting with the yellow regulation tie we both had to wear. I too felt the weight and stink of my stained white shirt and Kakis covered in the splashes of mixers, alcohol, and other people’s slops.

“No need for a bathing suit.” She said turning around invitingly.

On weekends she was part of a women’s outrigger canoeing team that she had asked me to join. Her arms and abs were strong from rowing and her legs were shapely from surfing. She had no tan lines. She was not girly girl, she was not boyish. She stood before me strong and confident. I was grateful she had not had her boobs done up like melons as was the trend at the time. (This was the era of Bay Watch). I chugged my tequila, dropped my clothes and dived naked after her into the pool. I swam the length of the pool underwater careful to keep my distance, careful not to brush against her as if she were an exotic octopus that might entangle me, a mermaid offering me another life all together. The Emperor is incredibly alluring. And can feel at times dangerous.

It was more milk than I could handle.

I missed Scott. I wanted to be full. I wanted him. I wanted his children. Even with all the shit going on, I wanted to marry him and have his children. He was no cow. He was a bull. She was lovely.. so lovely…but

I decided, “I want a bull.” I told the old woman.

“Yes.. Yes, my dear, you want a bull… so… stop… milking… the… bull.”

With that Kaun Yin left the beach and disappeared never to be seen again and I stayed by Scott and dove in. The Emperor is in all of us.

Stop milking the Bull. This is a mantra I still use to this day. The Emperor knows what he can and can’t expect from people. He does not source from other people’s energy fields. He sources from the universe itself.

I leave you with this deep message about the Emperor. The Emperor has balls. Meaning he knows how to grab his balls and get shit done. He does hard things. He doesn’t give up. He takes on a lot and gives his all. He not only finds a way to go to college on his own and pay for it, he also finds a way into an Ivy League medical school and then into the best orthopedic surgical residency in the world. All on his own. He keeps his bathroom clean. He makes his own coffee and serves you breakfast in bed. He knows what distracts him, what is in his way, what is bullshit. He removes obstacles. He does not dwell long in the emotional stuff. He sends people packing. He clears shit up fast and moves on. He paves the way, and nothing can stop him. While the Empress is fertile the Emperor is virile. The Emperor is potent. The Emperor does not serve milk. The Emperor can knock back a shot of tequila and stop there. The Emperor senses danger, knocks the tray of milk out of your hands, pushes you to the floor, and covers you up while bullets fly. Once safe The Emperor will take you in his arms, hum an enchanting song, and land an unexpected kiss on your frightened lips. Make you believe you have died and gone to heaven. (In the series 1883, a spin-off from Yellowstone, during Episode 7 there is a tornado. If you want to watch the Emperor and the Empress go at it, I suggest you watch this series. To me it is hands down one of the most electric and sensual scenes in a TV series.)

So I ask you this, when was the last time you held yourself in your masculine, got your shit together and just got the job done? When was the last time you sensed bullshit, found the hole in the family drama, and got yourself the out of there before all hell broke loose? How do you say “NO”? With a period or a question mark? Have you found a way to finance you dreams? When have you ever kept going even when it was hard, even if it meant you had to send another packing? When have you put yourself first in order to take care of the most important job you have ever had? Living your best life to its highest potential. When was the last time you cracked the blinds open, opened the doors as wide as they could go, stood naked in the full diamond moon, stood at your full height proud in your brilliant truth? When was the last time you dove in, drank your own beauty, accepted your throne and got down to the sacred job of unabashedly being you?

This is The Emperor.

Scott and I in Hawaii

The bar were we met

The shirt we still have that Lucia loves!