Friday, November 03, 2006


Ian posted the following on his Outlet, and claimed that anyone who didn't cry needed to see a doctor. That certainly puts me in my place, especially as I had just been, but I found the song rather nice whether I cried or not, so here you are. With a tip of the [leather] hat to Mr. Outlet: it's called Moving On.

As some of you have heard, I have been making a major investment in the good will of my friends Back at What Used to Be Home. Several couples whose kids have left home have adopted me as they might a stray kitten or abandoned child, and are showing me a similar degree of compassionate attention. How this is playing back at the Homefront itself is a bit unsure, but so far no one feels like they are being forced to take sides. This weekend I am hitting up the Bean Curd Bunch again, but last week I gave them the weekend off for good behavior and stayed with another couple who not only took me in, but offered to let me meet my children there, etc. A heart-warming event all around, enlivened by a lengthy discussion of box wine, which my hostess had decided to invest in, and a delicious apple pie which not only crowned a great dinner but showed up again for breakfast. Heaven.

That got me as far as Sunday morning. Then I had to go down to the studio and begin the packing and stuffing and loading. And sure enough, at some point I hit on something that set me bawling again.The only place I seem to be able to allow myself to cry without strangling it after ten or fifteen seconds is The House. And it happens there with pretty deadly regularity. I no longer allow myself the freedom of stopping off in the house itself -- it seems that my presence is like a physical wound to the Lady of It, and I see no reason to inflict one. I know she is gone most of this weekend, though, so I may actually go so far as to invade, removing some of the remaining things on my side of the asset ledger and, if the heat is on, even making myself lunch... we'll see.

Every item I remove from the house makes my claim to want to leave it as much as it was as possible, ring hollower. So it is all rather fraught. And I can't help wondering how our children will feel, for all their mother's protests that none of them care. That wasn't my impression. But then she actually lived with them while I was only seeing them for a few hours a week around dinnertime, and seeing some of them at least get pretty antsy to depart after not too much time at the table. Who can blame them? It's bad enough having to deal with our separation, but having the whole issue of Horrible Old Fat People and Sex rubbed in your face must be torture. I distinctly remember wondering what my parents could possibly know about it... they were about my age now, I am afraid. But of course, as Dr. Bigg would be the first to point out, I don't know anything about it, so there we are.

In any case, I packed and juggled boxes and loaded the car and it was only three o'clock -- so I took some mail I could have forwarded over to my grandmother's. There are several things to consider here: she's not going to be around forever, so I try to stop off whenever I get the chance; she believes that people who "call" need tea and treats, so there's always the likelihood of something more than a visit; and she always cheers me up, not least because she is 95 and gave up on horse-shit years ago. She just says what she thinks, and so when she says something that cheers you up, it really CHEERS YOU UP. And this time, when I got up to leave and thanked her for cheering me up -- she knows how the studio-packing process wears me down -- she replied that I had cheered her up by being so visibly better off than I had been. Now, that I regard as an achievement, on both fronts. I had spent several hours there, because I like to and because she doesn't feel the need to "entertain," so you don't have to be careful of overstaying your welcome. But I was meeting a friend from out west for dinner at the local pub, and she was willing to loan me her roof until it was time to leave.

As it turned out, he was delayed, and I was well into my pint of red ale by the time he showed. I could not get over the fact that he had insisted on driving five hours to see me, even after finding out that I was not, in all probability, still the person he thought he was driving to see. "John" and I go way back; he was my good friend Jane's lover almost all the way through college, and sometime after, though it began to unravel as Jane's parents got sicker and sicker and she got more and more roped into their care and the rest of her life began to come unglued...

Anyway, I thought driving five hours to have dinner [OK, two-and-a-half each way] was a vote of confidence, but had to tell him that I doubted his sanity. He remarked that as an Other-Coaster, he did not consider driving two to three hours for dinner the least bit out of the way. [I knew there was a reason I could never find happiness west of the Pecos...] But after repeating [many times] that all the recent news made no difference, and that he had a lot of nerve to presume that after thirty years he could just walk back into my life and think he was a friend, he told me this:

You are in a world of shit. [No argument there.] It doesn't matter how you got there, or what the shit is, but there you are. I too have been in a world of shit. And I am here to tell you that it does get better, and there is life on the other side of it, and the only thing that matters is not to let the bastards win by giving up and going down for the count.

I was accused of embezzling money by my partner, a totally false claim he made because some new venture capital friends decided they didn't like the way he stepped on their toes; I had to either lose the investors or my partner. I chose the money so I could keep the business afloat, and he chose to set the local newspaper, the regional newspaper, the cops, and then the Feds on me -- essentially for the pleasure of ruining my name.

I decided he was not going to be able to do that, and I told my kids, once things started hitting the papers (and the fan) that they could help him win by acting out and getting in trouble and letting me know how they resented what had happened to their lives, or they could help me keep this guy from ruining our lives. They stuck with me. My wife stuck with me.

In the midst of all this, I got picked up for drunk driving and spent several months in a county jail. I got to talk to my wife on a phone through a plexiglass shield; I got to tell her not to look to the left because my neighbor's girlfriend had lifted her top to expose her breasts, and he was masturbating. I got to avoid trouble by keeping my mouth shut and lying low and finally avoiding having to join one of the warring gangs that ran the place.

Troll, hear this. You just have to get through this. And if there's anything I can do in the meantime, call and let me know.

Tableau. He insisted on buying dinner, I finished my beer -- he was not drinking, for reasons due no doubt to the recent date of his release -- and then he climbed back into his car and drove back to the city to which his business trip had brought him the day before. I got in my car and drove the hour and a half or so home, thinking of the double trip twice the length of mine that lay ahead of him.

How crazy is that?

So all in all, it was a good weekend.
But a little tough on the head...

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