Closer Issue 13
Three A.M. And Bleeding
I'm not sure where to start, but I know where all this ends so I suppose that makes as good a beginning as any that I can think of at the moment. It ends in friendship. Loyalty. Faith. Hope. Perseverance. And joy. And in the meantime, it's the taste of salty tears on my lips as I try to hold it together. It ends in raising our glasses and toasting, perhaps for the last time. It may eventually end in goodbyes. In the meantime, let us celebrate the love and the madness, the sorrows and the disaster that is our past. Let us sing until we raise the roof with our voices because these are the only days that we are guaranteed; this is the only life we have. Let us make the most of these tattered remnants of our dreams; let us see if we may yet weave something new from their unraveling strands.
The Desperate And Divided Years
I want to throw everything away, leaving the table as clean as if I had pushed everything to the floor in a clamor of shattering porcelain and glass, a clatter of falling metal. I want to burn everything down, leaving nothing more than piles of smoldering ash dotting a blackened landscape, suggesting lines that could be drawn to form connections between our legacies of brutality and hatred and an absolute rejection of that behavior. I want to annihilate my past as thoroughly as if I had fixed a nuclear weapon to it and pushed it into the desert of the real, as completely as if I had waited for the blinding flash of pure white atomic light. I want to eliminate history and all the ideas that tie us to the past, all the links to a dead culture that transforms us all into zombies of consumption, all the small-minded ideas that limit our possibilities. Everything must go. I'm sick of the little lies and betrayals that we convince ourselves are necessary to get through the day, of everything we never say because we can't bring ourselves to voice it, of these outrageous slings and arrows which fortune sets against us, of all the poisoned knives protruding from our backs, each one representing another breach of the trust we place in others. This is about nothing less than what my life has become of late and my desire for vengeance, to make a funeral pyre for my past out of the wreckage - the lies, the bitterness, the treacheries - of my present.
Sad Going On Pissed
And how many more times will these shallow foundations crumble? How many more collapses will I have to endure before I finally learn how to mix the concrete so that, just for once, it stays together? I didn't have much to begin with and, once again, it seems like even those meager scraps have been snatched away from me. My immediate family is now down to my dog and I. My family, such as it is, is broken - has been for a long time now - and small. And it remains to be seen how long I can keep the dog. My life seems to follow a curious pattern - just when I finally feel like things have somewhat normalized, just when I finally feel like I have a measure of stability, everything falls apart. It's as though fate enjoys pulling the carpet from under my feet while I'm carrying a heavy load. I've said a few times recently that if I ever catch 2002 passed out in a dark alley, I'm putting the boot to this year, but how exactly does that work? How can I ever hope to get even with a year? How can I try to pull even with these intangible things? How do I go about squaring these things up? It seems like every time that things have gone well for me, life takes a turn for the cruel and mean-spirited, like it's a small child poking a chained dog with a stick. I may not know how to even the score, but I know this - sooner or later, the dog always breaks loose. And next time, someone's losing a fucking hand.
Revenge Of The Sallee Rovers
As punks, we are outcasts, irredeemable bastards, the wretched scum of the earth, beneath the notice of polite society. And since this is the case, let us also be pirates and revel in raising the black flag of rebellion, in flying the Jolly Roger and striking fear into the hearts of those who are too timid and fearful to join us in our liberation. Let us be captains of our own destinies, sailing our vessels into unfriendly harbors and sacking their settlements for the sheer joy of it, just to prove that we're still alive and that we haven't forgotten how to have fun. We needn't put anyone to the sword - we only need to celebrate in the face of repressed emotions and dreams, providing an example to respectable citizens that there is another way to live, a way beyond luxury cars and expensive clothes, beyond the superficial trappings of a life lived only in catalogs and advertisements ... if they're brave enough to relinquish their creature comforts and recognize that each passing moment is an eternity of possibility. If we must be renegades who, like most insurgencies, society consigns to its dustbin, let us leave a sigil, a seal that later rebellions can break to reveal our mysteries, our culture, our ideals. If we are to be forgotten by all but a few historians and academics who search for the few remaining traces of our existence, suggested only by conspicuous lapses in the historical record, let us scar this damned world with love and hope so severely that our wake of destruction will serve as proof that something once existed here, something so powerful that it cannot be spoken of, so powerful that the culture as a whole relies upon eradicating every last vestige and memory of its presence. We shall let that destruction and that amnesia serve as our monument, for such things inevitably lead to questions ... and, fundamentally, is questioning not what we exist to do?
Lemon Shark Puppy Fuck
People will always miss the little things when a relationship ends - the absent details that only reveal themselves after weeks or months. It's always the pet names, the in jokes, the sly asides that only lovers understand. It seems like every couple speaks in code, devising their own language so they can speak intimately in public and still maintain their privacy. And these little things are ultimately what make a relationship. It's never big stuff like vacations or road trips - those fade in time. Daily life sustains a relationship - fresh-picked flowers from the garden, bringing home ice cream or renting a movie. A relationship consists of the small gestures and tokens of appreciation that truly signify abiding affection.
I'm 30. I'm unemployed for the first time since I started working. I'm single. I'm in physical therapy again. And I can't figure out where it all started to fall apart. I have a sampling of dysfunctional relationships that suggests it's time to start thinking about my complicity in their failure, all these bitter little shards of broken red hearts like curious cat-batted Christmas tree ornaments knocked to the floor. In the wake of another failed relationship, I have to wonder if staying single and not dating was the best thing for me. I got so used to my freedom and independence that I can't give as much of myself to someone else as I should in a relationship and I suspect I'm too committed to my life to sacrifice anything for romance. Love forces people to surrender things - I'm beginning to realize that word isn't in my vocabulary. After all, being single wasn't bugging me. I worked. I went to shows, I drank, I laughed, I had good conversations. I didn't feel any lack of a girlfriend or anyone in my life. My girlfriend didn't complete me; I was already complete. She didn't fill any gaps in my life; there weren't any. So what should I call it when I fill a void that didn't exist in the first place?
A Disaster Of A Girl
It's been years, but the dreams still linger, bitter and angry, like an old drunk in a bar facing a weaving walk back to a room rented by the week. Everything has changed since then - I've moved repeatedly, I've changed phone numbers more times that I can remember. I've forgiven her for what happened, but as I've learned, forgiveness does not yield forgetfulness, nor does it remove the sour taste of betrayal from my mouth. And this has forced me to acknowledge something about myself, something I have always known but haven't said, and it is simple - vengeance is in my blood. I struggle against it and I resist the temptation to get even ... but still it lingers, heavy and palpable, like the atmosphere in a deathbed room.
The last time I was at the Old Globe on my bike, I called her and asked her if I could have six Sundays of her time. You see, I had the idea that buying season tickets to the theatre for matinee shows might be a good thing. She laughed and told me I could have every Sunday for the rest of her life. Apparently, she underestimated her lifespan because the rest of her life turned out to be about two years. At least, the rest of her life with me. Perhaps she began a new life then; perhaps those words and moments drifted away, fleeing like clouds or scattering like sparrows before a storm. It was only about two weeks ago that I saw her for the first time in about five years. I was driving and it was only a glimpse, but I don't doubt that she was walking through the parking garage. I never forgot how she moved when she walked. She was thicker in the hips but she looked happy. For some reason, I felt better about everything that had happened. Just the impression that she was okay seemed to make everything less sour, less bitter. There wasn't any joy attached, but at least some of the lingering maledictions seemed to finally lose their last shreds of power.
We really couldn't spoon. For some reason, I've never been able to deal with it. At some point during the night, I need to turn my back and face my own direction. I need to not be touched. I need to be as alone as it's possible to be when I'm sharing a bed with someone else. Yet she and I somehow managed. She would lie on her side, I would lie on my back, my arm underneath her and holding her close to my body. She would fall asleep like that while I stared at the ceiling, waiting for a moment when I could turn and face the wall. She called it our way. We slept like that. If you can call it sleeping.
Break In Case Of Emergency
I've spent the past four or five years trying to pretend that the obvious isn't true. The obvious is this: there are some people who you can love so completely and who have the ability - whether they intend to use it or not - to break your heart so perfectly that, no matter how carefully you gather the fragments, fit them together and glue them into place, you will never be whole again. After such an all-consuming passion, maybe there's little or no need to experience it again. Perhaps it's also the case that the heart must be broken in such a way to allow mature, lasting relationships to form. Perhaps it is the case that we must sacrifice passion, or a measure of it, to obtain any degree of security in love. I do not believe that being shattered, devastated or destroyed by love prevents us from loving again; it merely requires us to learn a new way to love and new ways to express that sentiment. Perhaps after such a relationship, we are more considerate and caring. More attentive. Less jealous. Perhaps we are less likely to be so careless with the heart of another once we have experienced such a blow, such a romantic Waterloo. Perhaps it is the case that, in losing such romantic passion and yearning, we are better able to steward a relationship's growth, nurturing it to its full potential without losing ourselves in the process. And perhaps it is only though obtaining the clarity yielded by a lack of infatuation that we are able to do this. What I know is this: she broke me in every way that mattered. And I let it happen. Richard Ford once wrote words to the effect that life is only worth something if the person living it has faced down terrible regret and lived to tell the tale. I'd like to believe that I have managed to do both. I have faced down my failed romances. I have lived to learn from those experiences. I just feel distanced from it all, as though I'm separated from these emotions by a thick glass wall. I'd rather drown in love than be comfortable in this dry warmth. Life is wet; we are meant to be so. Perhaps what I need to sacrifice most is my current detachment and apathy. I can think of worse things to lose.
Obligatory Pick Slide
Someone once told me that you can't forgive yourself until someone else forgives you. And maybe that goes for believing in yourself too. So for what it's worth, I believe that you're better than you think you are and better than you think you can be. And I don't yet know how good you may become. I just believe in you ... and your possibility. About everything else, I wish that I could tell you that everything will turn out like you want, but I can't and it won't. Life will throw curveballs at you until you learn to hit them; then it will start throwing sliders, knucklers, etc. until you can hit those too. It's filled with surprising turns and they aren't always pleasant, but what I can tell you is this - your life is exactly what it is supposed to be. You will face choices and challenges and your responses to them determine whether you will grow and be a better person or whether you will have to learn that lesson again. I can also tell you that the world is kind. It may seem harsh, but when you see the sun rising in the east and the sky explodes into bright golden rays, it's impossible not to believe that it is kind and just, that it loves you and that you have the capability to triumph over whatever difficulties you face. You simply have to know it.
The Past Is Not Through With Us
So here I am at the end of the last year and change of my life. I spent the first night in my new house five years to the day after my mother killed herself. I had hoped that I'd never move again. Instead, I'm leaving everyone and everything behind. I had hoped that I'd be settled; that perhaps, for once, I'd have some semblance of stability. Instead, it looks like I'm going to have to place the dog. I'm moving more than 2,000 miles to a town in the middle of America. I am starting over. If I have to leave the dog behind, it will break what little is left of my guarded heart, but survival demands hard decisions. I keep looking for wisdom in these days, some sort of relief, but I don't see any on the horizon. I've been finding solace in the little things - in bike rides and spending time with my dog, knowing that these may be the last days I spend with him. These moments echo 1997 when I had no choice but to leave my dogs behind, when I buried everything and walked away, but I'm treasuring them anyway. I would be foolish not to. There is a bittersweet sadness and joy present in these seconds as they pass, never to be seen again. Each second that my dog sleeps on the bed is one less second that he's likely to be in my life; each second is like another fucking nail driven through the back of my hand while I type. There is a wealth of pain in each passing clock tick. And there is nothing joyful about that. These moments don't seem to last long enough. Time seems compressed. It seems compromised. It seems that my efforts these days are all futile and stymied. I read over these pages and my bitter words all seem fractured, anger seeping from their cracks. I am painfully aware of how this story will likely play out, of what the characters are likely to say. And I don't like it at all. I know that this story will eventually end well although its plot may demand suffering as tribute for its dénouement, that the end result may be the same but what the fuck is so wrong about holding on to hope for a few more hours, no matter how fragile or fleeting that hope may be? If hope is all I have - and at this moment, it seems to be the only thing I've managed to salvage - then I'll hope and be damned. These are the darkest hours; I have no choice but to stare at the only light I see. It may glimmer and fade, but in the meantime, it shines like stars.