Over. Talk. (& I will learn the magic of editing, but not today...)
It wasn't the death of Michael that prompted this suddenly palpable sense of mortality. It absolutely wasn't that. Nor was it Farrah. Not Farrah at all.
It might've been the drinks. The drinks on Monday with a friend who, when I mentioned I've had my period for over a month, shouted, "Doyle! Cancer."
It could’ve been that.
Or, of course, the dinner I had on Tuesday, with two women who casually mentioned over appetizers that they'd both been attacked and raped. Not recently, but recent enough.
It might have been the run-in on Wednesday, when I bumped into my boyfriend -- recently ex-ed – who works one floor beneath me, and who would have been a model father to the children we might have had. He’d have supported me, brought stability to my life. He made me laugh and sent story ideas by text every morning. He called me “bug” and gave me a card that played an anthem and spelled out some motivational hockey quote from Wayne Gretzky about going big or going home, and in the second month we were dating, he taped “a key to his hearth” inside of said card. It might’ve been that run-in, with this tender soul who’d put an end to this whole charade, who in his own way meant meaning, perfect in every way but for one intangible something, that inexplicable missing piece, that void, that something, that something, that something.
It may be a fear of being alone.
Or maybe it's just that time of year.
Or, for God's sake, perhaps it’s the fact that I am running into people from my past who are colliding in all the wrong circles of my life. Take tonight. Thursday. A black day. Or, I suppose, vitilago. Farrah and MJ in one final head-to-head match for publicity. And, I am running into a high school friend after a public reading by somebody else from my high school, who has, very obviously -- VERY OBVIOUSLY – written my book. I don’t know how she’s done it, exactly. She has found my files, hacked into them somehow. She has found a draft. And now, she has written my book. And she has written books before, so people will believe mine is hers. Not mine. No one will believe that hers is my book, the book I’ve been working on for ten years, because I have trouble, occasionally, with execution.
And this high school friend says to me – the one I’ve bumped into at the reading, not, not, NOT the one who has WRITTEN MY BOOK – that we should meet up for scotch sometime with the most interesting people we know and talk ideas and shoot the shit, and I think about jumping him right there in the middle of the sidewalk-- but I stop myself, because he has terrible teeth -- because I have spent my whole life wanting to drink scotch with the most interesting people I know. I have dreamt for two decades of meeting in dusty back rooms at brown walnut bars, to exchange ideas and make things happen, to delegate and watch progress, to finally start, for the love of God, to get smarter. And, think about it as I might, I have never made it happen. And, I worry that I’ve made this a pattern in my life. So now I just expect it. I let myself off the hook.
I don’t do.
And life passes by. Me by. And people pass away. Away, away. Like Michael and Farrah, sure, but also the ones who matter. And, suddenly, lives are short, when they used to feel so long. And lives get cheated -- like everything's riding along smoothly, and you might just be onto something, like a "meaning of life" something, and, whoop, game over. Done. End. G'bye. Unexpected. Out of the blue. No chance to really consider this beautiful gift that we all take for granted, because, I guess, you took it for granted. And there it goes, and suddenly you get it. Of course! It's so easy. Now, no time to collect your things, to say goodbye, to have sex again, to ask him out, to write the poetic final words that sum up your life in the way you wish you’d led it, that will stand in perpetuity as the way that others think you did. No chance to appeal.
And so, there we are, in the middle of the sidewalk, ready to finally make it happen, this salon, and we invite the guy my high school friend is with, because he’s expressed interest in an idea of mine, and nobody’s expressed interest like that since my mum was around, and we decide that we’ll meet next Thursday, at a place still undetermined, and the friend of my friend (who is my friend by association, I suppose, since we appeared briefly together in a play in Grade 12) says that he is occasionally a part of this particular salon group, which will go unmentioned in these pages, because it is simply too painful.
Too painful. This particular salon group.
“Oh,” I say, “the particular salon, the very same one, that my ex-boyfriend began with two friends and barred me from joining, even though it was my idea and he still allowed his ex-wife to attend? That salon?” I ask. “That? Salon?”
And, let me point out here that we are now talking about my ex-ex boyfriend, not my ex-boyfriend, who swept in to help me over the menacing fellow we can simply refer to as, ex-squared.
And my real high school friend – the original one – says with glee, “yeah, that one? Huh? That one?” And then he says, “Oh. Shit. that one. The one she was in.” And there is this silence – wistful—while my real high school friend remembers her in full, a blonde Norwegian beauty, as it turns out, who sends a flood of memories I’ve suppressed through months of failed therapy and years of near-constant self-loathing, springing forth like the beagles at Eton.
Because, as a matter of course, the gorgeous blonde is the ex-wife of the ex-squared, and the gorgeous blonde did, naturally, date my high school friend, who swept in to help said blonde get over her then imminent ex-husband. And isn’t this supposed to be a big city? And wasn’t I supposed to do more with my life than just meet the people who further integrate me into a networked labyrinth that appears to offer little room for personal development, or anonymity, or, frankly, the hope of ever finding a new boyfriend in this climate of amiable incest.
Because, it’s occurred to me I can’t point to one thing in my daily routine right now that makes me truly happy. Not a thing. I realized this in the bathroom five minutes ago, because it occurred to me that jogging to NPR in the mornings makes me incredibly happy, but suddenly NPR’s not working on my IPhone, and consequently I can’t even make it a block without breaking stride and falling into walk.
And I was in the bathroom because my wide eyes, which are a beautiful metaphor, are full of stuff these days, which is natural I suppose, precisely because they’re wide, but in pollen season it means they prove a bit of a hazard and prompt a significant amount of time spent in front of the mirror picking at them with Q-tips and fingertips – which strikes me as vaguely Oedipal. And I’m very aware of the fact that if you’d ever told me in high school that I might have a difficult time finding happiness in life, I’d have laughed at you, because happiness is everywhere, and I spent years in its merry grip, and to not find it now sounds lazy, or weak, and I figure that if I took the time I spend picking my eyes in front of the mirror and bundled it up and really devoted that time to something useful and meaningful, like writing or volunteering or doing, just doing, there would likely be many things each day to fulfill me, to make me happy, to get me thinking about now, instead of about soon, which is precisely how life has felt of late.