Saturday, January 19, 2008

Love In Vain

I lost you in a flash
paper afire aflame
the same wind
licking me
pushing me
with cold

So, here I am to save the day, only the victims have left the building. The smoke has cleared. No heroes are needed. Too bad for me.

I think I have this nasty habit of making monumentally poor choices about monumental things. Rather than list my very poor track record, I am reminded of that great 1991 movie starring Albert Brooks called Defending Your Life. The premise of the story is that he is a stressed-out yuppie underachieving worrier that gets killed in a collision with a bus after picking up his new BMW and hunting around on the floor for a CD (then a new thing to have in a car.). He goes to a place that's a waiting room, in essence, where souls are reviewed and the decision is made for them to "go forward" or to be sent back for another go at it. If you haven't seen this movie, please rent it or download it (legally, for Cripes' Sake) and come back after you're finished.

The assumption here is that you've either seen the movie or you did as I commanded and are ready for the rest of this entry. Let's continue.

I strongly identify with Brook's character Daniel. At one point, his life is being reviewed in his "trial" and a scene is played back from his past where he's in his twenties, having lunch with friends, talking about investments. One friend talks about Casio, a Japanese watch company as an exciting investment and Daniel responds that it's ridiculous. People buy Swiss watches - who's going to buy watches made in Japan? When the clip finishes, Daniel turns around from the screen with a dour look to face the tribunal. The Prosecutor points out that Casio is now a multi-billion dollar company and that his investment then of a few thousand dollars would have made him a multi-millionaire many times over.

Being that you've seen the movie now, you know how it works out. But the key for me is that Daniel existed on the edge, in a way, between life and a safe life. Life for his romantic interest, played by Meryl Streep, by the way (who was more than perfect for the role,) was open, daring and easy. Daniel was in wonder of her demeanor as if it couldn't possibly be so. She shrugged it all off and just lived. Just lived.

I'm at a major crossroads today, right now, at this moment. I feel as if the decisions I make in the near term will have major impact of the short balance of my life. In the past, this would have resulted in endless worry without resolution and finally, paralysis. Now, I have a different view. The question is - which path to take? I can go the "safe" way, where I can control not the outcome, but the level of pain I'll inevitably have to endure or . . .

. . . or I can take that chance, that chance that's an opportunity, that I know is dangerous, that I know might put me out at the side of the road with both thumbs cut off, because that is the better choice, the bigger risk not with the better return, but the more "right" possibilities.

So, this is about you, really. Well, not about you but about me and you. And though I say the words, I can't describe in words how I feel about you, no matter how I try. Funny thing for a "writer" to say, or write, I guess. Yup, even now I draw a blank. And I want you, to be with you, to laugh endlessly with you, to follow you around like a love-struck puppy, to say to people, "This woman is mine and I am her man, for now and for always, no f*cking matter what, so you best not mess with either of us. Get it?" So, you make me so happy. And worried. And happy about being worried. And, in the end, if we could be together, I just feel in my gut that it would be good, decent and fine.

How would it play? What's the frequency, Kenneth? I know: we'd start out the furthest thing from newly-weds. I'd be working excruciatingly long hours and struggle in my free time to spend time with my kid and with you and yours. Somehow, it would work out - not perfectly, but sort of okay, with no one either too impressed nor too miffed. We'd start getting our money situations together, solve some immediate problems and then, begin to cast a path for the near future. A year of so down the line, we'll have had some bad fights, but not that bad and they'll have always ended up with us, no, not making love, but with a clearer understanding of each other, with acceptance and an even stronger bond, as soul-mates are wont to do.

In the summer of '09, we'll have stabilsed our household and families and we'll decide to go away as a kind of mutual reward. Oh, money will be tight, but we can swing it and I did okay in the prior few months with my investing stuff, so, we book it together. We'll dwell on a tropical beach for a week, guzzling strawberry daiquiris and simply admitting that we've done okay so far, or, at least, good enough for government work. I turn to you on that beach and I say, "It's settled, then. I want to be married to you. I want to make it official. I can't love anyone else like I love you and I've never loved anyone else like this, either. Would you be kind enough to agree to meet with my lawyers and then promptly consent to marrying me?" You would laugh, and say, "I'll think about it." I would settle back in my lounger and continue to be broasted by the Costa Rican sun, satisfied inside and out that a good thing happened there that day. I would reach for your hand and your fingers would dance teasingly in my palm. And there would be silence, except for the tentative water, and it would be quite good.

When we returned, it would be right back to work and house schedules and paying bills and rushing around to do this thing and that and you would visit with your mother for a bit and your kids would continue to love you as much as they do and you would look at me across the kitchen and I would look back over the rims of my glasses so that you would be a mild, red blur and your smile would glow and you would glow, ever so slightly. We would have that moment and then others, and our lives would be bound up by the glue of those moments. We will have got to a better place, together, and no man could tear what was in our very souls asunder.

Our kids would grow up. They would have kids. We would work and jump in our eco-friendly Explorer (my idea) and hit the road in Friday evening, pointing ourselves in whatever direction - it simply wouldn't matter. Maybe we'd have a little cabin upstate on Golden Pond . . .

After a few years, my knees would give out and my long-standing heart problem would catch up with me. Oh, I'd exercise and eat better, thanks to your persistence and annoying-ness, but I'd start to slow way down. Your health would decline insipidly. Diabetes, a heart scare and high blood pressure that would finally convince you to eat Rabbit Food exclusively and take many, many supplements. In fact, you'd become obsessed with your Juicer, which would make you all the Juicier, I might add. But that's just a dirty old man talking . . .

So, our money and kid struggles would be replaced by health struggles BUT, we'd keep on keepin' on. And, in the twilight of our time, we'd be together, in that cabin, and I'd still be peering at you over my rims and thinking, how fortunate was I to have leaped onto that freight before it made its last trip across the Plains . . .

That's a fantasy, though. It's not going to happen. Just look at my track record.

So, you'll be gone soon enough, in a flash, practically. The right guy will come along presently, hopefully with some of my extraordinary qualities, but without all of the luggage. He'll love you, in his way, sure, and take care of you and be a good friend to your kids. He'll be passionate at the right times, buy you flowers and he'll be on time. He won't keep you waiting and he'll be your regular Friday night date. He'll come over and stay over, when you're ready, able and willing, and he'll make you feel like you're floating. He'll laugh with you and enjoy you and you, him. Oh, he won't get you and you'll only be a woman capable and useful for womanly duties, but, you can't have everything. You'll feel normal and whole once again, glad to be away from the craziness, glad to be on track, glad to know you can call him and make actual plans, like normal people do. And I'll be a bittersweet memory, fading, fading over time, much more quickly than you thought, left behind at the station, where I belong.

Love In Vain
by Robert Johnson
And I followed her to the station
with a suitcase in my hand
And I followed her to the station
with a suitcase in my hand
Well, it's hard to tell, it's hard to tell
when all your love's in vain
All my love's in vain

When the train rolled up to the station
I looked her in the eye
When the train rolled up to the station
and I looked her in the eye
Well, I was lonesome, I felt so lonesome
and I could not help but cry
All my love's in vain

When the train, it left the station
with two lights on behind
When the train, it left the station
it had two lights on behind
Well, the blue light was my blues
and the red light was my mind

All my love's in vain