You can't say I didn't ask for it. I'd been wanting to take stock of my life. Things have been rough lately. Very, very rough, pushing me to the edge. The random crying has started again. The screws from the work-mare have turned even tighter, forcing me back to the brink of the shelter. It's a roller coaster ride between the fire and the frying pan. I dread sleep most of all, my mind racing without harness.
I guess this is what happens when you take the road most traveled.
I shouldn't be expecting things to get better, I tell myself. How could that ever be when heading down the wrong path? That's hoping against hope.
So the question comes up: Just how far off am I? How badly did I screw up? Can I even bear to face it?
When I first came here twenty years ago I got a temp job while I searched for something more permanent. Ronald was a co-worker of mine. He taught high school English and was naturally quite literate. (Since this was summer he did temp work to make ends meet). We got on right away being of the same temperament. Each was a breath of fresh air to the other in the world of day labor.
At that point we both could ask: what dreams may come? I was attached to nothing - but wished to be. Ronald was attached to something - but wished not to be. That's where our common ground lied. I didn't feel threatened by him having a career because he was not happy with it. And he did not envy my freedom because I had yet to find my true direction.
So in a way, we dreamed together, talking of life, wondering of the possibilities. It was a unique time - a time before I settled into the nothingness that was to come. I ended up moving into these very bland apartments, life seeping out of me like a slow puncture. I didn't much want Ronald to see me now. My talk of dreams was nothing but hot air.
But last week making a delivery for a high dollar designer door I found myself back at that same apartment building and memories of that time came flooding back. For a reason I can't explain I was excited. "There's something here," a voice said inside. I knew I should be going but I was compelled to explore the place.
Climbing up the old stairway I was shocked as I entered the inner hallway. This part of Dallas has gotten so old it's become chic to remodel the inside while retaining the outside charm of 1950's art deco. When I lived there I just thought it looked like shit. As if a rope were pulling me in I peered in the windows of these amazing condos (surely they couldn't be apartments as each one was so unique).
I stopped still at one, with its artsy Mondrian like interior. I felt I'd stepped into a dream. Part of me fought back, to get away and not torture myself with how the other half lives, but the other part of me won out. I wanted to see. And truly I discovered a world that expressed me. Did this mean someone with a soul such as mine had survived?
"Why, hello there!"
The man's voice was friendly and inviting, coming down the hallway. I'd expected to get chastised for my rude peeking but was willing to take the abuse if caught. But a welcoming voice? I turned my eyes in confusion.
"I wasn't sure it was you at first. Can't miss that hair! Do you even remember me?"
Ronald! Son of a bitch! Of all people. He was genuinely glad to see me and we shook hands in a mild shock. He invited me inside and I immediately started gushing looking wide-eyed at this Hobbit-like dream world of a modern Bag End.
Ronald explained a lot of its decor was to due to his wife Elizabeth. She was a freelance writer - he gestured to copies of Texas Monthly on the table - and he was regional director for a large retailer. They both shared many of the same passions, pursuing their artistic indulgences freely and fully. The whole vibe of the place had a healing air to it.
The gorgeous soft white couch begged me to curl up and sleep on it in sweet succor. Everything about the place said "sanctuary" to me. Elizabeth was not there but I knew if I were to meet her I'd like her and get along with her naturally. That's a rare feeling for me. Ronald then explained what I already knew: it was the meeting of Elizabeth that changed his life. He didn't know where he'd be without her.
Well, I fucking know. Boy, do I know. He'd be sitting at home in the dark with a revolver in his mouth unable to think of a reason not pull the trigger. He'd be trapped, buried alive in one dead end job after another living as cannon fodder in the front lines of an economic war already lost. (No one really falls for all those phony "solutions" out there, do they?)
I see signs of life scattered about. A renewal notice for season tickets to the Winspear Opera House. Art books. "The Vision of Van Gogh". I remembered he was both of ours favorite artist. Correspondence on a submission from Elizabeth being accepted. Jesus, what a life! I didn't know this was even allowed.
For me, this was all too much. How could I ever compensate? My only thought was to immediately make amends by using that fatal bullet waiting for me. I wasn't just far off. I was light years away, thrown to the lost corner of the universe. A life that had arced upward while my life arced downward. Everything inside of me collapsed. Please let me die.
I too had met people - very, very special people I'd stack up against anyone in the world, famous or not. But I had not accepted the love. Each passing put me deeper in the hole, my debts and doubts piling higher. To finally see what I am missing out on - the shock and horror of it - did at last clear my mind. It was as I suspected - and wholly devastating.
Yes, Elsa is mind-blowingly hot -
but can she make me laugh?
I demurred on my own life's "progress". Ronald was sensitive enough not to press, probably thinking, "There but the grace of God goes I." No, God's grace visited me too, Ron. But I had not the wisdom nor the courage nor the heart. On the way out the door I saw the kicker: an invite to a charity event benefiting - what else - the Dallas homeless shelter. Dear God, I'd been partly living off his money for who knows how many years.
I parted secretly vowing never to come near this place again upon pain of death. Ronald mercifully did not ask for any contact info. Not that I didn't want to be there and hold discussions deep into the evening with both him and his wife, but...I just couldn't. I felt like a dirty interloper walking around dripping failure on their carpet with my unfed dick hanging out. The thought of them making allowances for me - people I respected - well, I'll just have to stay in my hole and hide.
What's got me most curious, though, is I've felt a sense of inexplicable peace since that visit.