There are no centers. Each rhythm takes me closer to another distant fringe, a figure 8 orbit from one gravitational pull, out to its weakest point, pulled by another around so fast my brain throws up, slingshot back into the darkness, dragged around again and again and over. Every time I pass that spot, a place where I should just sit, spinning, equally between them both, I never hover, I never slow. Strange how despite everything having happened already and going to happen again, everything looks different every time.
I can brush the same fourteen hairs (in an imperfect strand) again out of your eyes as you look down at me, hard-water tears clinging to your eyelashes. I can scatter arpeggios up and down your spine while you lay still on your stomach, head turned to the left, even breathing, even perspiration, the smell of after sex, after crying, after dissatisfaction. Still, that warming can help us forget that it is again snowing outside, or that the months have pressed past us again, that there is no ending to this succession.
There is always another face.
I am somewhere else, this kissing taste of spearmint and cloves, removing glasses to places they will always be misplaced. And you are not blonde, but asymmetrical and burgundy, nothing compromised. The music from noise reduction headphones, the perfect digital silences between songs, the stealing of whatever made this meaningful, I have been here before, without her. Now I can look straight down her shirt to her toes, painted purple for the springtime fantasy. I will promise her nothing.
I do not feel fractured, though when I look around everything seems to feed off everything else, bleed into everything around it, connect to everything about it. It is as liberating as realizing how un-unique everyone really is; a sympathetic searching for understanding. I do not believe in empathy. I do not believe anything that I say.
One thing I have never been very good at is journal writing. With the exception of the first year of my LDS mission experience, where I wrote nearly every day for close to 14 months, I have very little in terms of life experiences recorded by my own hand. What frustrates me the most is, I love reading that journal. Yes, it is written by a 19 and 20 year old person who could not spell and was barely able to construct a complete sentence, but these pages are a window directly to my past.
I am leery of memory, as it is always a bit deceitful. Every thing I recall is clouded by time and recreation. I have spent enough time in my recalled past to know that my version of it cannot be trusted. This journal is different, however. In these words I am able to recreate and almost even see the events I wrote about. There are exceptions. When I first started writing that journal, I was worried that if I recorded my exact thoughts, they would serve to damage me later on. I was concerned that if I wrote too much about my doubts, my fears, or in some cases, my actual experiences, people who might later read them would be disappointed in me. The person I believed everyone thought I was depended on following a certain path, and needed to do and say certain things. I can see this coming out in some of the early pages.
One example is an entry written just after Christmas. I go on about how fantastic the day was, how I felt so close to everyone and everything, when the reality was completely the opposite. I was 19 years old, away from home at Christmas for the first time in my life and I distinctly recall (again I know the ability for the mind to distort) hating every second of that day. All our food had been pre-prepared so that the workers at the missionary training center could be home with their families. We spent most of the day sitting by ourselves in these terrible narrow rectangle rooms, talking to people we had only known for two weeks. I missed my family and friends horribly, but not wanting to say those words aloud, or write them down where they would be permanent, I wrote what I thought everyone wanted me to write.
After the first 14 months, I found myself in a situation where I was attracted to a sister missionary who as it turns out, was very skilled in manipulation. As this kind of relationship was against mission rules, I couldn’t very well write it in my daily journal and as those feelings (mixed up, filled with agony, joy, torture, misery) were dominating my thoughts, I decided not to write them. I did write some horrible misanthropic poetry that still makes me cringe to this day, but the journal writing stopped for nearly five months.
I would occasionally throw a cryptic passage in, hinting at my moral dilemma, but mostly I stayed silent.
Something interesting happens after that. I start to write much more honestly, if still infrequently. The pages start to be about what feels more honest as I read them. Much more is said about my misdeeds and failures and it is these pages that I regret not having more to read. Not that I want to read over and over about my mistakes and failures, but that purely honest writing is addicting and over way too quickly.
Often, when I read this journal, I get inspired to write again and I do have some notebooks from college with some events, some writing fragments and some really funny events recorded. I treasure these words, and perhaps that is why I am trying to write this blog. I dont record my day to day events, but they make their way into the words and pages, my feelings and ramblings come from those events, those moments spent pondering what it is I think and why I think that way.
I have a new journal. I am just beginning to write in it. I am unsure what it will look like if it ever gets full, or if I will ever even fill it. I am excited to try though.
Share with me what you think, if you dare!
Another older piece…
From two thousand miles away I hear your voice change. A subtle click that turns every sound you make unnatural, like you have become someone synthesized, fabricated from vibrating wire and silicone, every utterance bringing with it a high-pitch of metal.
Dug up from the asphalt of the road, the scars are never as deep as the thought of them, the remembrance, the counterfeit recurrence of reflection, where even the most deliberate lie, told enough times, becomes the truth.
I have convinced myself that my indiscretions are not. I have hidden every face, every kiss, every illicit touch behind a shield of ambiguity, as if that alone made them intangible, insubstantial, ethereal. Instead they render themselves elusive to everything but 2 AM recollections. Another line up of regret after regret after simple sigh as the hours of darkness slowly urge on. Always on the nights when I must sleep, when I must escape these memories.
I could ask your forgiveness again and again and never feel free of this.
And now the chemicals reach my senses. I feel the burn in my throat from the open sores, covered in the flow of alcohol and pills. Soon none of this will matter; soon you will see the mirror that tells no falsehoods. Soon, voices in the film, the burning echoes will set us to running.
Yesterday, while returning home from shopping for milk, my father was hit by an SUV making a right turn. He was in the cross walk, crossing legally and if he had not seen the driver of the SUV was not going to stop, he most likely would have been seriously injured. As it is, he broke a wrist and suffered a few other minor injuries. The driver sped away, not even making sure if my father was alright. For all this driver knew, he could have killed my father.
Typical for my dad, he decided that he was too embarrassed to call the police, feeling that he should have stayed on the curb until he was sure it was safe. He felt foolish, he told me while getting his wrist looked at, foolish for getting knocked over by someone’s poor decision behind the steering wheel.
Everyone makes mistakes and perhaps not looking and being sure before crossing the street, even with the light, was my fathers error. Maybe the driver was not paying attention, or driving too fast, or perhaps he was drunk. Regardless, mistakes happen, accidents happen. What frightens me, sickens me even, is the total disregard for the human being this driver left behind in the road.
Another driver who witnessed the accident, followed the SUV as it sped away, calling the police. The driver said he had no idea he had hit anyone, which makes me wonder of this person was roaring drunk at the time. I cannot imagine how he could not notice he had at least knocked my father over and even if he knew he did not hit him, he could have at least stopped and made sure there was no injury. Regardless, I still find this driver to be a complete coward.
There have been a rash of these type of incidents this past year. A nurse was hit and killed while riding her bike with friends this last summer. The driver completely ran her over and sped away. To my knowledge, this person has yet to come forward or be located.
Another woman was swimming in a lake when a boat hit her, causing massive injuries. Witnesses said they could hear the woman moaning, begging for help. The men in the boat spoke to her, asking her if she was OK, then just left her when it was obvious she was not. She later died form her injuries. These men have been identified and proceedings are pending.
A local news anchor was riding her bike near the Hogle Zoo, travelling down hill at high speed when she was hit by a car leaving the parking area. The woman was thrown from her bike, most likely over the hood of the car and into the street where she suffered neck and head injuries as well as a dislocated shoulder. The car sped away, she survived.
What motivates people to run from incidents like these? Is the fear of the consequences of our actions so great, that even when something accidental takes place, we cannot own up to it? What does it say about our culture, our civilization when someone leaves another person injured or dead? Surely there have always been those in every society that are cold and callous, lacking a sense of right and wrong or just not caring one way or the other for anyone or anything. But I doubt the individuals driving these boats and cars fall into that category. These are most likely average, everyday people, driving home from work, home to families. In the case of the boaters, it is presumed they were drinking and while criminal, it is less so than injuring someone and fleeing the scene.
It seems a childish reaction, running away. Something I would have done at 11 years old when I broke a window, or was caught trespassing. That type of behavior is something one should grow out of. Taking responsibility for things is what being an adult is supposed to be about, though I am more disturbed by the lack of compassion than anything else. We certainly live in a cold world where it is easy to be detached from each other. These incidents have struck me in a very meaningful way. I find myself being more careful, more aware of those around me. I take comfort in knowing that those I associate with are compassionate people, who care for others and would be the type of people to rush to aid someone like my father, as many did, making sure he was alright, following the driver home. It is still only a few people who act so despicably towards others, but even a few is too many.
As always, your thoughts are encouraged and welcome.
And my father is recovering nicely…none too worse for wear.
Another wonderful Christmas season! Funny, but until I watch “Love Actually”, it really doesn’t feel like Christmas at all. This year, we waited until the 23rd to watch it. The second the opening scene started, it was time for Christmas. Sheryl even stayed up for the entire film, which is amazing for her (to be fair, she gets up much earlier than I do and works much harder). It is one Christmas tradition we both really enjoy.
My boys surprised me with their patience this year. Usually we have to wake them up (often after 8 in the morning) to get started with presents. This year, Sheryl told them we would come and get them when we were ready to start. They took this to mean they were to stay in their room until we came to get them. Destry woke up at 5 and Dylan at 6:30. They both stayed in their room, perfectly quiet until Sheryl woke me just before 8:00 and we walked downstairs, thinking they must still be asleep. I have really good kids!
Sometimes, as a parent, it feels that you just survive Christmas. What with all the noise, the travel, the gatherings, the crushed and realized expectations, the holiday can be on overwhelming experience. I remember the first year with the boys. We had no idea what to buy them and they really had no idea what they wanted. We ended up with a great many things that were appreciated at first, but really not things that fit their personalities. Plus, they were still quite new to the extended family and both Sheryl and I really wanted them to feel welcome and for them to fit in. I felt a great deal of pressure in that regard and the entire month of December wore me out, physically and mentally.
This year, we celebrated Christmas with Sheryl’s family on the 24th with a huge breakfast, presents and football with the older kids. After a successful campaign at Thanksgiving, My team was soundly defeated by a team of Kammermans on Christmas eve. I woke up Christmas morning with two sore hamstrings, a tight shoulder and an odd pain in my side. Add this to the overabundance of eating, and I am feeling spent! It was all I could do to keep my eyes open at our visits on Christmas day. An quiet evening at home, watching The Love Boat (which holds up much better than I thought) was a perfect way to end things.
My legs still hurt and my house is a bit trashed, but that is Christmas. I am worn and weary, but happier than I have been in quite a while. Sorry if that makes my weekly rant a bit less, well, ranty, but no worries. Give me a week and I will surely be back to my old self, complaining about the weather and whatever else crosses my mind.
Something from the archives…
I drove past your house today, not out of any deliberate thought or intent or any need to just see if, by chance, you were out, standing in your front yard. It was just the course of the day, the drive, the places I had to go or see or run from. These random sighs as they pass, the time in the car when you know you’re connected, finding ten minutes to spend so that I have a memory of us to cling to. I know that our fabricated relationship has more to do with lust and thought than any real connection. Still, I cannot help but wonder why it is that despite those leaning in, perfectly quiet, perfectly still seconds always end with you walking away.
Someone I know only online creates the most amazing photographic images. I am in love with this persona, knowing full well this is not anything or anyone. Yet really, thinking one knows anyone beyond the things they create in their minds is where the lie really is. I do it everyday. I look at you flirting with the frame, and you know that every time you scrunch up your face I think of myself in that room, smelling of age and time, slipping up from the floor with a Johnny Cash record from the early 60’s vibrating in the corner. I am forcing my way to your lips and tasting the imperfections of your teeth, the slightly dried out whiskey taste on your tongue, the breaking.
Then I feel the heat and sweat on your back from the drive over, letting my fingers linger perhaps too long and revealing my intent. You are casual as ever, still I demand that every stare be followed by a flash of your smile. When she waved at me from across the fountain, crashing through every carefully constructed illusion I had spent the last year and a half creating, forcing me to remain focused and staring, as if past her there on the cement, dark glasses always and ever between us, I decided to hate her just as much as I pseudo loved her; my mistress of persecution, my deceitful lover, my absence of truth.
A few weeks back, a woman who for several reasons could not get food stamps to feed her children, went into the welfare office and shot herself along with her children. She had often been seen begging outside local fast food establishments for the items they were throwing away that day. Her family lived in complete squalor. Her neighbors would often try to help, but this community is extremely poor and no one had any real help to offer.
During the standoff, before killing herself and her children, she was said to have been ranting about how the system had failed her, had let her down. A few people I know pointed to this as her sense of entitlement, that she thought she deserved assistance, deserved to have someone else (presumably someone who did deserve the things they had) take care of her.
And maybe these people I know are right. Perhaps this woman did feel like she somehow deserved to be helped, that she should matter enough, that her children should matter enough to someone that they might have something to eat, or some running water, or a better, safer place to live. Maybe she did decide that if the government wasn’t going to help her feed her family then she would take that family away.
Yet, how many of us feel the same way? Not so much about the government providing for us, or reaching a unstable point of wanting to kill ourselves or our families, but that because of our efforts, or our choices, or who we are that we are entitled to things.
It is a nice sentiment: Hard work equals reward. But that is all it is…a sentiment. Nothing about the work itself entitles any of us to a reward. Often we get something for our efforts, but isn’t that more chance and luck than any entitled consequence? If hard work were all it took then I doubt there would be starving people, poor people, at least not in the numbers we currently have.
It is easy to see the failures of others, to look at them as lazy, somehow deserving what happens to them and being annoyed or angry at their wishing or expecting the rest of “us” to take care of them. The truth is, just like you, I am entitled to nothing. Not one single day of existence is owed to me. I am not entitled to food, or shelter, clothing or security. Yet, everyday I am shocked by how much I feel I am owed the things I want or should get to keep the life I live. Evidence abounds that most everyone else feels the same way.
As an American, I have been taught since my childhood that God has granted me certain rights, the right to life, the right to be free and the right to (and this gets to be all sorts of things, depending on who you talk to) happiness. I think this might be one of the most dangerous lies ever told. Sure, these are great ideas and being free and being happy are wonderful aspirations, but there is nothing naturally inherent about them. Children are stillborn every day and people are oppressed and live in poverty all over the world. Even without governments or tyrants to enslave, the world, nature does not promise us any of these things.
I am grateful for what I have and try to appreciate it, understanding it could all be gone in an instant. We are lucky to have anything. And that is all it is, luck. No God given blessing for faith, not a capitalistic reward for hard work and tenacity, just plain dumb luck.