With the Gorilla dead and buried, I continued keeping her blog warm seeing as how her posts had become sporadic in nature. In the early going of this particular arrangement, I felt really good about it. But as time passed and her posts became less frequent, I felt like I was just getting in the way, so I ceased and desisted. From there, things settled into a predictability that was likely driving us mad. We were passionate people playing out the string, and so it only made sense that the end was a matter of when.
By the time 2009 rolled around, I’d started a new blog and then trashed it in short order. And then I tried another one, figuring out something that looked and felt light years different from before. Rooting for Laundry was the predecessor to Drinks Well With Others. My writing had become crisper, more poigant and poetically honest to my writing bones. The Dame was such a magnificent Goddamn writer, it was a slam dunk proposition that she would push me into these Everest-like discoveries. Her influence provided me with with the muster to quit holding back. She taught me that good writing will comfort your soul but great writing will unleash it.
On a personal level, she resented the fact that I never brought up marriage in our second go round. The truth was, our first breakup had provided me the cautionary tale to which I was in no hurry to return. It may not have been fair to her, but there was the matter of self preservation to think about as far as I was concerned. And with that fresh perspective, it occurred to me on more than one occasion that I was plenty fine being single for the rest of my life if push came to shove off. Being a man of a certain age does indeed have its privileges.
I didn’t want us to go away, mind you. I simply didn’t feel an urgency to plant our feet in concrete boots, what with all the many variables we were both toting around. Not the least of which were our respective battles with depression. She wasn’t a crazy bitch who wanted to murder me in my sleep, even if there were times when I swore it was true. She was just a small town rich girl who’d lost her north star existence to death, domestic abuse and a shattered family tree.
It wasn’t her fault that she couldn’t make me happy. In the end, I left her scavenging for tiny little pieces of me, as if scavenging for clearance bargains. What it comes down to is, when you’re never happy, then you have to find a person who at the very least gives you peace of mind.
She wasn’t that.
We drifted in and out of delirious moments interspersed with insanely provocative scenarios and corruptible silences that only served to push us further apart. We believed in something, but we stopped being so certain as to what that something truly was. We were weighted by the debt of our mistakes, we were constrained by the indifference we wore in order to protect ourselves. As a result, our rhythm listed and our swim became fractured under the strain of it all.
Our love story became a double edged sword in which every precious yin begot a forgettable yang.
For every exhilarating tennis match where she kicked my ass, there was a stone cold shoulder moment that pushed us further into the deep. For every hot date night where we got busy lighting the match fantastic, there were nights when we didn’t talk at all. And for every romantic Italian dinner at a joint we found by accident, there was the return visit where she stormed out before the entrees arrived.
If you were to ask me for a microcosm of our time together, I would tell you it came some time after midnight on Easter morning of our final spring. We’d gone Machiavelli on the friendly drinks and with her kids away till morning, we decided to cook up our feast. We started things late night and finished them sometime after who knows what in the very early morning. Drinking and smoking and dancing to Elvis Costello and Wilco, Neil Diamond and Al Green and Aretha Franklin. Bickering and laughing and kissing in between the smoke and fire and ramble of clinks. And when it was done we had roasted lamb, a museum grooved ham, green beans with pancetta, cornbread stuffing, honeyed carrots, garlic mashed and a divine asparagus/tomato/mozzarella salad. We made ourselves mussels with blue cheese and some crumbled bacon for the trouble and we dug in, toasting our dirty, rolled up sleeves whilst clinking Sams. And then we fucked like mad and fell asleep.
We did Miami in June and as great a time as the Clevelander was, that Easter Sunday was really our last great night together. Because the zip code doesn’t make up the rules on a good time, yanno?
And before we both knew it, it was late August and our forever after was being called on account of rain, again, this time for keeps. I would spend Saturday on the couch, watching Ted Kennedy’s funeral whilst keeping company with one part coffee to whatever the fuck parts vodka and a couple packs of smokes.
You have to be a writer to understand that shit.
Next Week: The Epilogue