Posts Tagged ‘marriage’

The realization came so slowly.   Like a particularly vivid LSD trip, the awareness of the truth threatened to overwhelm him.  A visual so all-encompassing he couldn’t see the sides of it.

As a small child, he was aware of his limits.  Though he wasn’t conscious of it,  those limits made him feel safe.  He would always have food, always have a place to sleep.  He had parents who saw to his every need.  He expected them to look after him.  It was his right.  He knew nothing else.  That’s just the way it was.

About ten years later, he began to realize how precarious his existence was.  His mother, filled with fear and foreboding, simply had to tell someone, so she told him.  Their home might be repossessed.  They had received a Sheriff’s letter, stating as much.

In the week dark hours of the late night/early morning, his mother had stared out of their large living room window, frowning.  He had been there to see the worry.  The glowing golden ember at the end of her cigarette provided the only illumination in the living room, as she confessed her fears.

They would lose the house.  Maybe their large family would have to be split up.  She didn’t know where they would get the money, as her husband (his dad) had squandered it all away on booze and the racetrack.

Somehow, a few months later, he learned that they had retreated from their fiscal cliff, somehow.  Maybe an angel had intervened, he didn’t know.

He just knew that somehow, despite his bad credit, his father had secured a second mortgage.  They would have to move, this time to an older house.  The difference in equity would bring a small measure of relief.

A number of years later, the boy had finally grown up.   He found a girl, got engaged, got a job at  a factory, and had finally moved out of his fear-ridden home.

The pursuit of that elusive safety he craved looked like it was coming to an end.  The factory paid well, and he could afford to get a modest apartment with his young bride.

He remembered a hand-drawn sign he had seen during the first week of his job at the factory. It read “ya wanna eat, ya gotta work”.

That thought had stayed with him during his years working at the factory.  Its truth was depressing, mostly because of how he interpreted it:  “you have to live in hell, if you want to live at all.”    At the time, he had no awareness that work could be something about which he could feel passion.  No one gets passionate about working at a factory.  Especially not a factory that was as oppressive, demanding and as soul-killing as this one.

The search for safety took on a different hue.  Years of marriage to someone with whom he could not relate began to poison him.  Toward the end of that relationship, he had begun researching methods for committing suicide.  He didn’t think he could go through with it for the same reason he couldn’t separate from his wife:  his religion forbade it.  He knew that tension would end somewhere: it was impossible to keep pulling at both sides without something popping.

One night, on a dark road, he drove towards his home.  The small highway was empty, with nothing on either side of the road to see except trees.  For just a moment, he had a visual of turning the steering wheel abruptly and crashing into one of them.  Everything would be over.  It could happen so fast, and he’d find relief.  He thought “I could do it.  I could just do it now.”   The thought was so compelling he found himself frightened.  He knew he really could do it.

The next day he saw his doctor and told her about it.  After first checking him to see if the impulse was still there, she referred him to another GP – one who specialized in cognitive therapy.

Talking really helped.  He was always cheerful with his therapy doctor, seemingly bright and unconcerned about anything.  She wasn’t fooled though.  She kept asking leading questions.

One day he arrived at her office, anything but cheerful.  This was the moment she had waited for.  He finally opened up, revealing the torturous angst he had harboured for so long.

“What’s it like when you arrive home from work?” she asked.

“It’s like a living hell” he replied, honestly.

“So” she said, “you realize what you’re doing, right?”

He looked at her.  “What?”

“Every time you go home to that living hell, you’re making a choice to go home to a living hell.”

At first, he was confused, then slightly offended.  Then he realized the truth about what she said.

She was right.  There was no safety at home.  There was only hell.  And no one was holding a gun to his head.  That hell wasn’t being enforced on him.  He was making a choice to go into it, every day.

He turned that truth over in his head, several times.  He looked at all angles of it, tested it for accuracy.  It was deadly accurate, and his ignorance of it had almost killed him.

It took a while but then he decided that he need to start making other, better decisions.

So he did.  They did.  His wife agreed that they shouldn’t be together anymore.

When he picked up the keys to his bachelor apartment, he felt a measure of excitement.   Then, when he opened the door and looked around the small one-bedroom place with the shag carpeting, he breathed in the peace of it.

He was surprised by his own tears.

(end of part 1) (part 2 is here at Swimming in the Uncertain Ocean – Part 2)

Release

Posted: June 24, 2011 in humor, Life, living, writing
Tags: , , , ,

The capricious breeze sauntered carelessly through his stubborn hair, pushing this way and that until the dogged gel that was holding everything together finally sighed, shrugged its shoulders and gave up.  Whereupon, the follicle company, mimicking the primordial warrior dance of the galaxies, began its mad performance.

The hair’s owner, oblivious to the upper level drama, scanned the street carefully, as he watched for a car with a lighted roof extension;  a kind of hands up “here I am!” indicator of a vehicle that would serve to transport anyone almost anywhere, for the right price.

Eventually, a taxi appeared and the tight-lipped guy with the day-old facial stubble raised his hand urgently, eyes flashing a message to stop; and so, duly warned, stop it did.

“Take me to 25 Blaker Drive please”.

The driver, who was sporting a ridiculous porno moustache nodded, as he reached forward and started the meter.

The moustache twitched a little bit; a hairy snake trying to rouse from slumber.   “So.  All done for the day?”

The passenger looked down at his black leather knapsack.  This was no ordinary taxi passenger.  This was a man who deduced things, and did so quickly.  He realized that the cabbie had leapt to a quick conclusion.  There was the knapsack.  Ergo, his passenger was coming home.  It was a little presumptuous, he thought.  He could have easily been wrong.   Maybe he was heading out somewhere.  Maybe he was on his way to a coffee shop, there to write the greatest Canadian novel ever.

But wait.  No, this cabbie obviously was aware of the city.  He knew 25 Blaker Drive was nowhere near a coffee shop.  Further, he likely realized it was an apartment building.  Apartments generally serve the purpose of providing homes for people.  Except for those who use them to grow drugs.  Maybe the knapsack was used to transport drugs, he thought to himself.   But no, the cabbie had likely seen many drugstore afficionados in his day, and so he knew his passenger looked nothing like any of them.

Ergo, the cabbie had guessed correctly and knew his passenger was heading home.

All of this passed through the passenger’s mind in less than 2/10 of a second.  Finally, in grudging acknowledgement of the cabbie’s deductive reasoning, he rewarded him.

He sighed, looked out the window and mumbled “yup”.

Below the hairy snake there suddenly appeared a satisfied smile.  “Well now you have the weekend at least.  Got some big plans for the next few days?”

The passenger shrugged.  “It’s kind of a long weekend for me.  A ten-day weekend actually.”

The moustache twitched, and the yawning maw beneath it opened long enough to suck in a breath before expelling its next particle of thought.   But the passenger preempted it with “and no, I have no real plans.”

With the that, the maw snapped shut.   Other forces were now at work, diligently determining yet another course of discourse.   Wheels within wheels turned and jerked, mixing just the right combination of reasoning and query.

Small talk was no easy endeavour.

Eventually, the only thing it could arrive at came forward.   “Really?  No plans?”   It was a pathetic attempt.  The cabbie, along with his moustache and maw knew this.  All three of them shivered in unified embarrassment, while waiting patiently for the contemptuous reply.

The reply came, but left contempt at the curb.  Contempt would have to find another cab to sit in.  This one was going to have two riders, and no baggage.

“Well I’m glad you asked, actually.”

The moustache began to move upward, just a bit, while the maw clamped down fiercely, determined not to display its sudden joy.

The passenger continued.  “I’m just really happy we’re going to have warm weather, because I want to walk as much as possible.  I’ll play each day by ear, and see what happens.  I might go away, but right now I’m not going to plan for anything in particular.”

The maw opened, which surprised the moustache and the cabbie both, who were not expecting it.  “So is this your only holiday for the year?”

The passenger shook his head.  “No, I have a few more weeks coming to me.  Not sure when I’m going to use them.”

The maw opened again.  It was obviously on a roll.  The moustache and cabbie both decided to sit back and just watch.  “Maybe you’ll use them at the end of the year.  Maybe at Christmas”.  This wasn’t a question, so much as a statement of fact.   One that was rewarded with a nod.

“Yes, I think I want to head out west during the winter.”

The maw was silent, so the moustache churned and rolled over, thinking.  The cabbie cleared his throat, the maw took notice and the moustache went along for the ride.

“Out west?  Oh that’s good.  How far out west?”

“Vancouver Island.  I have some family out there.”

The maw had gotten its second wind.  Before the moustache knew what was happening, it creaked open yet again.  “Are you married?”

The passenger looked at his watch, and then glanced out the window.  They were still a long way from his apartment.  There was time.

“No, divorced.”

The maw barged forward, determined to see this thing to its end.  “I hear you my friend.  I’m still married, but things are not going well.  I’m hoping we’ll end it soon.”   The moustache had no idea whether this was a good thing to admit or not.  The cabbie was sure it wasn’t.

The passenger, oblivious to the conflicted emotions of the cabbie, found himself in ignorant agreement with the moustache.  He felt his face starting to glow.  “Yeah, well.  I wish you good luck with that.”

The maw knew no embarrassment or sense of appropriateness. Moustache and cabbie both were horrified and helpless before the wave of thought.   “Well, for the past seven years I’ve wanted out.  They say seven is the number for release.’

“Um”  said the passenger.

“Oh yes.  I’m really hopeful that we will have The Talk soon.  I’ve had quite enough.  We both have, actually.  Every time either of us opens our mouths, the other rolls their eyes, and I say to myself ‘here we go’.   Was it like that for you, before the end?”

The passenger’s eyes looked up and to the right, pulling down some dusty irritated memories.  Memories who just wanted to be left alone.

“Yes, it was.  I ended up working later than I had to….”

The maw jumped open quickly.  “Yes, yes!  I know exactly what you mean.  So that you don’t have to face another argument when going home.  So you put off the conflict as long as you can.”

The passenger sighed.   “Yes, that’s it exactly.”

“Oh, I hear you my friend.”

The cab turned into the driveway, having arrived at last.

The passenger opened his wallet and took out a twenty, deciding then and there to overtip the cabbie.   Perhaps it was because of an unconscious sympathy.  Or maybe it was because he had enjoyed the scintillating conversation.  Quite possibly it was because he recognized a kindred spirit; he saw himself in the cabbie, only a few years earlier, while still in a tremendous state of despair.

The passenger twisted his mental arm behind his back and finally gave up the truth to himself:  he just wanted to get out of the cab as quickly as possible.

As he stepped out of the door, the moustache turned itself up in a grin, dragging the maw with it.   “Remember:   seven is the number of release!”

The passenger was certain that today, the number was twenty.

After receiving a prompt in an email message today, I’ve elected to respond here in this blog. Please feel free to do the same.

In fact, I kind of insist on it.

Don’t make me whip out a can of thousand-yard googily stare on you.

So…what would you say to your 16-year old self?

Well, here are some things I’d say to myself at 16:

———————————-

“Son, that 28-year old married babe isn’t interested in your chaste Christian friendship. Turn the lights on, boy! She’s got something else in mind. (Maybe her feeding you Southern Comfort late at night while she giggled and laughed at your jokes while making coy suggestions should have been your first clue.)”

———————————-

“Dude – ride the bike, or walk and enjoy the scenery. You can’t do both. If you try, you’ll end up having an accident when you ogle that girl. Trust me, the embarrassment is worse than the pain.”

———————————-

“Um – look. I know your hormones are racing and you really want to have the babes pay attention to you, but I gotta tell you: checkered pants are not the way to go. You look like a fooking dork. Gnome sayin’?”

———————————-

“See a doctor about your inability to pay attention. This is treatable.”

———————————-

“That girl you saw at that Christian crusade? The one you complimented? You know the one I mean. You said her dress looked pretty. Yeah. That one. Lose her phone number.”

———————————-

“You’re right to be concerned about being an alcoholic, because your dad is. I can tell you that you’re not, though. Just be aware of your intake at all times and you’ll be fine. If you ever feel you need it – then stop.”

———————————-

“Look, I know it’s a chintzy job at a library and it doesn’t pay all that well. Still – pretend that 10% of your pay doesn’t exist. Put it in a saving’s account. Make a habit of it.”

———————————-

“There are all kinds of people who want you to think exactly the way they do. There’s peer pressure, and there’s dad pressure and there’s pulpit pressure. Don’t give into any of it. Think for yourself. Trust nothing they say until it can be tested so that you know it’s true for yourself.”

———————————-

“You know how you fart around every morning and end up leaving so late that you have to run to school? Well ….the late thing? Not good. The running thing? Awesome. Keep it up and make a habit of it.”

———————————-

“Remember when the math teacher was making corny jokes, so you folded up a paper airplane and you launched it at him such that it flew perfectly right at him and parted his hair? Remember how his face turned red and he laughed with the rest of the class? That was awesome. Do more stuff like that.”

———————————-

“Don’t be so quick on wanting to settle down with one girl. Date as many girls as you can – just so that you can get an idea of what works and what doesn’t. You can’t know this until you’re out there.”

———————————-

“Also – make a promise to yourself that you won’t get married until you’re at least twenty-five, ok?”

———————————-

Finally – and this important son, so pay attention here – make sure you write down three things:

1) Microsoft 2) Apple 3) Google

Even though that last thing sounds ridiculous, it’s going to be important someday. Watch the news, and when their stock goes live, open up that piggy bank and spend like a drunken sailor – buy up as much of all three stocks as you can. Especially Apple, because at the beginning it’s going to be cheap. Very cheap. But by the time you get older, it’s going to get extremely expensive, and you’ll do well.

Trust me.

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YOUR TURN