Everything is distance. Love, salvation, companionship, In ‘n Out Burger, that cherry pie in North Bend a friend posted sending me back in time.
I took this picture at “the beach” in Edmonds when my son was around two, three years old, I was 10 times bigger than I am now, and all I thought about was the love that eluded me, and whether my son would find enough of his own — all important issues at the time, now with the confidence of hindsight, a bittersweet memory.
So much has changed, yet in many ways, nothing at all. I’m still sitting here by the shore of this beach in the screen of my mind … most nights … staring out into the distance as if love waited for me just over the horizon, waiting for love to wash up.
What kind of love? It changes, depending on situations, the people who drift in and out of my life at any passing moment. It’s no longer the romantic love Hollywood stokes for ratings (a remake of “Beauty & The Beast” is coming out, hooray), or I’ve read about in books like Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone With The Wind” or even Stephen King’s horror stories.
Mostly, as I enter the twilight of my life, it’s a vague pain in the center of my gut for a home that may not even exist except in New Age books about the afterlife and soul groups. Every so often, I experience moments of pure bliss, which convinces me soul groups, spirit guides, and my original home beyond here really do exist.
A few friends — one or two, really — will wander into my life to ask how I’m doing. I don’t know how to answer; I never do. Do I scare them off, tell them my deepest, darkest thoughts, the ones that keep me up at night? Or do they just want a “Reader’s Digest” condensed version of what everybody else in polite society talks about? My son’s doing well in school, he broke his finger playing soccer, hoping to make tryouts, husband’s finished with his last BCG treatment, I just made twice-baked potatoes for the first time and only forgot the milk.
What does it mean when I feel the pain of other people so acutely that it almost feels as if I’m going through the same turmoil? Am I in love again? an empath? multiple personality? figment of their imagination? a fucking ghost in the machine? The older I get, the less I know for sure.
I feel responsible for a lot of the pain a lot of people I know are going through, whether I’m directly or indirectly to blame. I can’t bear to see anyone, even someone who’s dissed me in the past, in pain, stuck in an emotional pit and agonizing mental purgatory. I’ve been there, that’s why, and that’s no place for anyone, not even an asshole arrogant douchebag.
Then, there is the matter of my own personal pain, a minor matter. I may read a lot more into the reactions or lack thereof of others, I don’t know. But I’ve had to distance myself from a few “friends” lately, because I’ve sensed they no longer want to hear about the drama we once shared together as allies. I keep it cordial; I just don’t elaborate on any more info than necessary. Yeah, my son’s doing good with his new cast, the doctor takes it off on Feb. 23. Arm’s length, as the wife of a pastor used to say. They don’t ask, I don’t tell.
I fucking hate that. Eventually, I will tell. It’s just in my nature, to let it out rather than have whatever it is eat away at me. Perhaps that’s why I became a writer, perhaps it will go into that novel I’m working on (am I working on a novel?), I can’t help myself. Sure beats the alternative.
I’m not going anywhere in particular with this. This started out as a poem, maybe, and then turned into a rambling diary entry prompted by the new “Beauty & The Beast” trailer, a note to add more to the “Origami” novel in progress about “Mulan’s” effect on me, a sixth sense about a guy I know whose wife left him two years ago, and killing time before I can safely go to bed and not trigger heartburn.
Burying the lead confession time: Late last night, instead of logging off, I did a familiar Google search of that ex-wife, stared at her beaming face with her beaming husband, and fought off the worst heartburn of my life. And I’m not talking about Rolaids.
Some of it’s empathic stuff. The rest is firsthand experience with this captivating, powerful, all-encompassing woman who I let take over my life. She’s everything I wished I could be: beautiful, sexy, popular, intelligent, ambitious, respected, commanding, intimidating, loved by all the right people. She does everything right. She grabs happiness by the fistful, doesn’t think twice about the cost, and goes for broke to fulfill her dreams.
All her dreams seem to be coming true, at least from this humble vantage point — my urchin face pressed against the window, scraping by on the occasional compliments of strangers, $3 an article, my husband’s allowance, 10 cents a dance. I gave up my dreams 26 years ago. At least, I think I had dreams.
I can’t remember them now.
I stared at her impossibly beautiful, beaming face and wondered how she could get away with whatever she wanted, leaving so much wreckage behind without a backward glance, and then be rewarded with the kind of love and attention and prestige that us mere mortals could only dream about.
She used to put her face an inch away from mine and project the most humiliating things to me in front of an audience, always an audience. She made me feel so small, so ugly and insignificant, exacerbating the sense of failure I always carried around with me. Standing next to her, I simply didn’t exist, I wasn’t important.
She has the best of everything. She had the love of some of the best people, good people, and threw them away for better. And GOT IT.
I don’t get it.
Meanwhile, I’m typing on my computer keyboard in a blog nobody will read.
Life’s not only strange, but terribly unfair.