There are some who might say that I have had way too many sexual partners in my life. I have been tested and do not have any STD’s, yet I know I have taken chances. I think it has been a rather normal progression of people in my life and I like to think I have played it safe. I look back at the journals I wrote during those times and I wonder what I was thinking. I know I was imagining that this was the way to love. My journey and documenting the stops continue to this day and I feel close to some personal truths. My path is not for everyone but I don’t regret my life.
I had been divorced after twenty five years because the sex was terrible. That really was the bottom line in addition to religious, personality and astrological differences. So when I was free I went looking. I actually found an affair while I was still married. The Internet swept me into a world that still intrigues me. Bruce was my first fellow and he gave me the kisses I was missing. My ex is still a fine friend but I needed more. I found it and never looked back.
The hour after my sister died I found myself asleep in a hospital chair dreaming of a wall sized art painting that featured ugly trolls holding crow marionettes. It was an awful painting and I had no idea why I was there. Right below the painting two lines of words were written on the wall:
Joy in Life
Joy in Death
Now what was that supposed to mean, I asked myself. There might be some joy in life but is there really joy in death? There was no doubt in my mind that I had experienced a lot of tragedy through my life. From the minute I was born, to this particular moment in time, death has always seemed to stalk me. It seems to challenge me at every moment and creates a permanent sadness deep in my soul. I had seen so many people die in front of me that others felt I knew the final secrets just by looking at me and they would ask:
“What do you do when someone dies?”
“What do you say to those that survive?”
I knew I could not stop life or death so I would silently ponder and say to them quietly:
I think Adele’s video, “Set Fire to the Rain,” is a great example of a typical abusive relationship. It is actually difficult for me to watch, but I like this song… It does a very good job depicting the typical dynamics, the physical abuse, the screaming, punching, pushing, but what’s even more important is that it depicts the “making up.” The “making up” part of an abusive relationship is by far the sickest facet of the entire dynamic. In fact it is so painful to be without this person, the very person who causes the pain because, consequently, they’re also the only one who can make it go away- now that’s what I call a dilemna. Try putting up with this awful cycle for months and even years and tell me how your health is faring- non-existent I would say. If they don’t kill you,there’s a good chance you will kill yourself on purpose or by accident. 1 in every 5 female murder victims in the US are first victims of domestic violence.
A week ago, I took the train into Grand Central Terminal. I’ve done it many times before but this was the first time I did it alone and I was a bit nervous, well terrified really. Not much was different from the other times I’d arrived at the station in the past. I walked up the stairs past the dingy basement that withheld the tracks and ascended into the terminal. It stood like a shrine that brought together the history and life of New York City’s past and present creating a timeless existence encased entirely in large bricks of white marble. I stood in awe for a moment as I always did upon arrival, but this time I stood this way mainly because I was unsure of where to go next. All I knew was that somehow I had to find the subway. Somehow. As I pondered, I looked up at the ceiling eternally painted midnight blue and adorned with stars and constellations. They looked down at me as if they were the answer to all my navigational questions; the star map that would lead me to the subway and all subsequent stops on my journey.
The Beach Boy’s “Let’s Me Go Home,” Clapton’s “Blind Faith,” Denver’s “Take Me Home Country Roads,” and countless other ballads sing about going home. These rock songs keenly capture the sense of longing through their message, while many other Gospel songs on the same topic refer entirely to death. I think anytime I feel like I am in a rut or even just having a bad day I get this sense of wanting to go back in time, to revert to a place that gives me more comfort than the the world, the environment I call my home today.
Some of the places we long for aren’t places. Some of them are times, and some of them never even existed. Will a spurned child ever have a mother who loves them? Probably not, but they still hope for one, and spend their whole lives wondering why she hated them; why they were never good enough. They will spend their whole life trying to find the gift of unconditional love; a package that never arrived. They bumble, and tumble and fail and fall until one day, if they are lucky, they might realize that the unconditional love they seek must come from within and can’t be gotten from another person. Not exactly what they wanted. It doesn’t replace the love they missed out on from their mother. No one ever gets over something like that.
Years ago when I was waffling through my own misspent youth, my father quoted me a line from his favorite move, “The Shawshank Redemption.” The film itself is about a wrongly imprisoned man who spends two decades chiseling a hole in his cell wall that eventually leads him to his freedom. This movie is very insightful; the plot alone metaphorically serves as an example for the persistence and human spirit it takes to reach a goal without breaking, no matter how impossible. The movie quote really did change my life, and I’ve thought of it through the years whenever I became hopeless.