Last night’s post is my last “real” post of the year. It’s a better, less raw, version of an earlier-but-now-deleted post.
It’s not a secret how terrible second half of the year has been. From not getting the position I wanted to the devastating loss of three beautiful people. Not that the first half wasn’t terrible, but it pales in comparison. Losing stuff to some punk kids doesn’t hold against some punk kid taking people from my life.
It’s not that I took it well in the months that followed; it’s that I had Shaun living with me to distract me from falling into that black hole of despair. Sometimes I slip into the hypothetical realms not getting that phone call that night because no one survived. And I remember my words to Monica echoing from the past—I can’t lose her. Not like this.
While life goes on, it’s hard to reach a sense of normalcy. Especially when your life changes abruptly. In that sense, old characters started snaking into my mind. When someone started reading my blog, it just so happens it was a Mackie/Anderson post. It seemed almost too coincidental. That the characters that resurfaced would appear again on my notifications. And I wondered what they’d be doing now.
See, their story never ended. They just weren’t needed anymore.
Mackie and Anderson will return in 2019. I’ll be reworking my “Letters of Resignation” in 2019. I’ll be Bullet Journaling in 2019. I’ll be keeping a book log to write reviews again. I’ll be quitting Tumblr in 2019. Whittle my distractions in 2019. I’ll be making an attempt to be a more mindful human being, living in the moment and making memories with those I love. It’s an an attempt to be a better person, son, brother, father, worker, friend (boyfriend?).
What follows between now and then will be fragments, unpublished material saved in my drafts, and excerpts from my personal journal.
God sits at the end of the bar, nursing the strongest whisky he can muster. Boozed breath evaporates sobriety the moment I walk into the place. God isn’t a man, though he prefers the male pronouns. He isn’t a woman, either. He isn’t much of anything. Just an idea that we all have regardless if we believe in him. He is a state of gender confusion. The gray tinge between what’s binary and what lays beyond my comprehension.
I’ve spoken to him several times in the past, but speaking to god is like speaking to the void. It offers nothing in return to your confessions. Offers not consolation to your misery. Creates more questions than it does answers.
He pulls a bar stool out with his free hand while nursing the drink with his other. “It’s been a while, kid,” he says. “Thought you almost forgot about me.”
“It’s been a while,” I agree. “I haven’t had a crisis of disbelief in a while.”
“It rarely goes the other way,” he sniggers. “Take a seat, kid. You’re making me nervous.”
“I don’t plan on staying.”
He peers at me through his peripherals. He scans me, reading the creases of my face like a hand on Braille. He pulls the last of his whisky and sets the glass down on the hard wood. He wipes his mouth with the back of his coat’s sleeve. “If we’re doing this,” he continues, “then I guess we should be doing this correctly.”
“If everything is part of your plan, I need to know why. I need to know how any of this plays out. I need to make sense of it all, because it’s been months and I can’t for the life of me understand how something like this happens.”
Getting up, he shakes his head. There’s that smirk again. That infuriating smirk. “That’s not how it works.”
“Then explain it to me. I need to know.”
“You, of all people, understand that no one steers the ship. That it’s rudderless.”
“They were my family. They were my friends. He was just a child. You didn’t even give him a fucking chance. Explain to me how that’s benevolent.”
It’s crushing. The whimpers that escape my lips as I speak. He places a hand on my shoulder, forces me backward. “You act like you’re the only person who’s lost anyone. Think about the others who lost more than you. Ever think about them for a second? Ever wonder what hell they’re going through? He lost his son. He lost his wife. Just like that—” he snaps—”and she lost her mother, her sister, her nephew. Do you ever see past your own grief to understand the hell they must be going through?”
And he’s gone.
The lights decorate the houses of the neighborhood. It’s Christmas, but it doesn’t feel like it. I’m partly bitter because of all the shit going on at work. Mostly, it’s the adjustment of life after the accident. It’s adapting to the new normal. It’s the marking down court hearings on my calendar of events. It’s worrying about who’s going to take of Shaun next summer while both Jeanna and I work.
A beat up, 1960 Cadillac convertible speeds by. Its occupants frozen in a permanent state of youth. It swerves, colliding with the light post farther down the road. The world goes dark. A low rumble vibrates beneath my feet. Cracks in the asphalt, the pavement, and earth stretch out. I try to run, but it’s useless. The world devours me. And I fall. Deeper and deeper. And before the world pinholes, I see his face looking down at me. His words echoing as I’m engulfed. It’s rudderless.
I come to. The world is a shade of gray. My fall was broken by the mountains of bodies of those I loved and those I’ve lost. Those I hated and those I’ve fucked the pain away with. Those who took up chapters in the book of my life, and those who will remain footnotes.
I move to get up, but their hands take hold. They pull me down. Wrapped themselves around me. As I cling to whatever leverage I can, a hand reaches down for me. Grips my wrist tight, and pulls me out.
“Shit,” he says. That voice. That smile. Those eyes. “You’re lucky that we found when we did.”
He turns back, shouting towards the figure in the distance. “Hey, Anderson, I found him.”
“Anderson?” My eyes go wide. They haven’t aged a bit. Cassie and Chrysanthemum dig themselves out of the mass graveyard. And the four surround me, looking down upon me. Each of them smiling.
“Missed us?” one of them says.
“Oh boy,” Mackie smirks. “We’re not done with you yet.”
I speak to ghosts like one would a higher power. But sometimes, just sometimes, it’s the demons that come out to hold communion. And I’m powerless against their whims. I look up at them and shake my head, “It’s about fucking time.”
I speak to ghosts like one would a higher power. The difference is, I acknowledge the people I speak to aren’t there. Not really, anyway. They’re just coping mechanisms when things get too tough. When the world is much too big for me to grasp. When I know the answers to the questions and the solutions to my problems, but I just need to hear it from the loved one I’d turn to in that situation.
In my youth, my grandmother came to me in dreams. She acted as the guidance I needed to navigate my post-adolescent life. As I reached my thirties, she began to fade. There were no lessons she needed to teach me that I couldn’t grasp on my own.
Whenever the stress wound me up, my cousin paid me visits to remind me to live a little. Within my realm of comfort, of course. Though sometimes, I took a chances that broke barriers. Like kissing a girl in a Whataburger parking lot late one December night.
And when life gets too heavy that nothing else seems to work out, Teddy brought me comfort. Reminds me of all the privileges he wasn’t afforded.
A year before her death, Marci and I had a conversation about my situation. See, there’s this woman that I like. And I mean genuinely like. This isn’t just me trying to fill some void, or getting tangled up with a married girl. Not since falling in love with Jeanna have I felt this strongly about someone, and it fucking scares me.
I don’t know what I’m doing here. A year after the conversation ended, I’m still without an answer. A solution. Because her touch doesn’t bring me discomfort. And her company can lift any mood.
So what do I, Marci? What happens if I manage to screw up the next good thing in my life like I did with your sister? Do I bite the bullet? Do I throw caution to the wind? Do I stop asking questions when I already have the answers?
Do I let the voices fade? Do I stop talking to ghosts and start living?
It’s the comfort of uncertainty. Of the not knowing where this is going. Some people live in the moment. And for too long, I found myself dwelling in the what-if and the what-might-have-been. And neither brought me peace of mind. Except, now I live in these fractured moments. The in-between. A gray area. The moment before the kiss. The muted conversation of smirks and all-knowing eye glaces.
So long as I keep you at arms length in order to prevent myself from ruin what we have. And maybe I’m selfish, but I’d rather have you in my life in such a simple way. Because the gift granted me at birth was self-sabotage.
And who said that happy endings were the only endings worth having? Sometimes I think the open ones bring the biggest comfort. And maybe I already had mine, so why go off seeking another? I knew love before you, and I’ll know it again after. But what if this road I’m walking down is just a dead end to the same result?
And maybe it’s the fear of being hurt again. But I’d be doing the hurting no matter how this plays out because that’s just who I am.
So maybe I don’t understand the point of any of this. And I don’t know know how this will all pan out in the end, or if it even matters at this point. But in the quiet, empty moments of your company are the happiest ones.
What’s that old adage? Choose a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. Yet, I love what I do. On paper, it’s the best damn job. At the end of the day, week, month, year, it’s taxing. Draining. My mental health is on a decline. Think my blood pressure shot up tenfold this morning alone. On the brink of tears, I sat on the cold cement bench pondering the repercussions of just walking away. Just leaving. Not tell a single soul where I was going, what I was doing. Just walk and not look back. I haven’t felt this low since the field manager of a baseball team threatened to choke me. The fact that the harassment endured matches the level of the threat of physical harm proves the toxicity of the workplace.
When I think about it, I overspent my time in the pursuit of happiness. That wasn’t living. I overcompensated for my shortcomings. Held on to dreams after they reached their shelf life. Not every dream is worth chasing. I learned that too late.
I kept wondering when I’d start feeling like an adult. And the answer is, whenever I stop worrying about it. When I stop asking about it. Maybe I’ll never shake the feeling of being a child playing dress up, but who cares? I have half my shit together. That’s better than some people who still strum their guitars and dream of making it big on stage. And if that’s your life and you’re content with it? Who the fuck cares what I think, right?
Happiness is clutching a new book. Buying the new Kindle Paperwhite because you can afford to make a small splurge. It’s surround yourself and building memories with people you love.
And it’s ok to feel like you’re growing out of your comfort zone. Sometimes I wonder if it’s not time to divorce myself from this blog. From my apps. Maybe a trial separation? Or maybe it’s time to return to my original pursuit? Return to my roots.
Sometimes it’s fun to just explore what’s out there. Find a new experience. Allow yourself to just take a risk. Damn the consequences.
Does that mean what I think it means?
The more I hold back, the less likely it’ll lead to ruin. That’s what I tell myself, right? Because would it really be that bad if things don’t go as planned? The best laid schemes usually don’t. What is worse—the failure or the wondering?
These movie nights are less about the films we agree upon. They’re just my way of being close to you. Spending time with you. And maybe that’s all I need right now. And maybe somewhere down the road, it won’t be. And I wonder if you feel the same way.
If I’m really honest. There’s only one way I’d like this to work out.