14 October 2018

Disappeared (Part 10)

The urgency in search of an anchor lowered the threshold of care I should have exercised for acceptance. Is it not obvious, the flaw in this servitude to a hole in the psyche? Grass is not water. Yet I chose to overlook that in my search for comfort, for meaning. For something to fill the gap in my blood memory of home. To be honest, it worked in the moment. It put the brakes on an accelerating slide into disquiet and depression.

It slowed. Not stopped. Just slowed.

Life in the heartland and on the coast continued on, like the rivers in my head and the ones I crossed on a near daily basis in the pursuit of my new budding photography career. The work suited me, especially when I was let go by my employer and I went out on my own. The marketing aspect sucked, but it was quite a pleasure to gain control of my time and work independently. Gadding about the region, driving higher and yon, that was gravy as we said back in the old neighborhood. Time on the road offered up a wealth of time to think. To meditate on the flow of rivers and tide, time and life. Trucker songs carry the truth in their talk of the world through a windshield and the sound of steel belts on the asphalt. Eventually all the roads led me back to the sea of grass. I succumbed to its anesthetic effects. Numbness insulated me from acknowledging the changing nature of the soil below the forest of my life.

A vignette. Thanksgiving holiday back east. I’m kneeling in wet sand at the ocean’s edge awaiting another wave to glide up the strand. An edge of Belgian lace kisses the toes of my shoes. I dip the fingertips of my right hand into the pale green water and raise them to my mouth. Drops of cool brine make their way across my tongue. Salt and iron, akin to the taste of blood, sends a bolt of energy to electrify my heart. In those beads of saltwater can be tasted the history of eons, a hint of creation, the possibility of rebirth. I have visions of myself wriggling from the breakers up onto the sand. It is from the sea, I think, that I was born. The land took me in and taught me to walk. Briefly, my eyes were clouded with double exposure of rolling hills of grass over the swell of ocean water. The confusion swayed me where I stood panting, tears leaking from the corners of my eyes. The water and the sky asked “Where, then, is home?” That questioned was not answered on the beach. Seeds were planted that day and the sprouts grew with a languid inexorability.

Errors replicated under cover of civility and in service to maintaining social fictions. Life maintained itself through inertia lubricated by fear of change. A false courage propped up the story I continued to tell myself. This artificial bravura provided enough impetus to my tottering ego to inspire me to ask a question that, in hindsight, turned out to be a most foolhardy request. With no small irony, it happened on a beach.

Good fortune visited us in the form of a vacation in Mexico. A lovely resort on the Caribbean Sea, with water blue enough to make a good soul weep. It was the kind of blue that could imbue a good soul with enough contented courage that he could ask for her hand in marriage. Which he did, at sunrise on the beach looking out over the water. She said yes. But even the bright orange-gold of the sun over Quintana Roo could illuminate for me the flaw in the information that would underpin much of my decision making in the months following that fateful question.

Chaos theory. Edge effects. Dependence on initial conditions. Life diffracted into clouds upon clouds of butterflies, swirling, enmeshing me in fractal puffs of emotional air self-amplifying into tornadoes spawning tornadoes. There were clouds. The water torture nature of never enough money and work combined with a slow disintegration of mental wellness, itself exacerbated by the glacial inroads of a burgeoning love affair with alcohol.

Still, the life I had imagined back in Mexico held promise. Numbness spiked with anxiety-based optimism shored up my convictions even as life was greatly and sweetly complicated by the pending arrival of a grandchild in the house. A wedding was planned and held, but not for the fiancé and myself. The mother, a daughter of my partner, moved into the house along with her new husband. As spring melded into summer we all began to look forward to the baby’s birth.

It did not happen without severe complications. Health scares. Hospitalizations. All was done to ensure the baby and mother would make it to term. There was much stress and agony all around. Thankfully mother and child made it.

My own wedding plans began to gather dust. Someday we would sit and do it. Someday a date would be picked, a setting obtained. But not just yet. Not just now. Outside the rivers flowed on. Seas of grass and oceans continued their respective slow rolls, patient, inexorable. Inside, the clouds of darkness gathered on my own horizon. I felt cut off, detached. Depression was ratcheting up its grip even as I told myself it was not a problem (yet my trips to the doctor told a different story). Up the medication. Up the alcohol. I was in new territory. One drink every other night had turned into three or four before dinner, multiple times in a week. Tension and arguments on a regular cycle. The worst was the feeling of loss of connection. Strangers in their own house, we were. I told myself it was retrievable. My actions worked at odds to that notion. Some beyond my control, as I discovered later that year.

The baby arrived to upend life as everyone knew it. No surprises there. A beautiful child she was, and no greater force existed that could make us all push our individual issues to the back burner.

Here’s the thing. The location of a burner on a stove has nothing to do with is current operational state. The flame can hurt you from the back just as well as from the front. It can bring a simmer to a boil that way as well. I went from staring into a pot of constant churn to peeking at it on the way past the stove. Life continued to crumble inside and out. This I knew, this I tried to ignore out of desperation and fear. That worked until the bottom fell out.

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"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...