My first slightly shocking health crisis. A lymph node swollen like a fig on the right side of my neck. My first thought is that I may be diagnosed with some hard whiskey, even harder drugged, heavy metal black leather cancer while here in Paris. Good a place as any, je supposé.
Paris is a smoker’s paradise. Aperol spritz first thing in the morning oughta smash this head cold from its foundation. Strange how a cigarette from another room brings me to places I once forgot. Lonely houses in North Portland, soft girlfriends from decades ago, their blonde arms and plush bedrooms.
People don’t eat in the morning in Paris. They drink coffee and smoke. They don’t eat in the afternoon, they have a pastry, a cigarette, a conversation. They don’t eat in the early evening, they drink wine, sit on the street front and smoke. At night, however, they eat. Late and heavy, talking, laughing, drinking, smoking. City of Lights? City of Night. City of butter, smoke, booze and vice.
My first true French interaction: walk into a bar, a cute, blonde hostess greets me at the door. I commence to absolutely murder the French phrase of “I don’t speak French” in such a way she grins and says in perfect English, “One for the bar?”
“Oui,” I nod, with a very American smile of my own.
Pantera, Dio,The Melvins and then Pearl Jam all play and I’ve had a bourbon, a scotch and a croque from the striking, unsmiling, dark eyed punk rock girl bartender with a neck tattoo.
Just scheduled a month to regroup by putting myself on perpetual edge while also relaxing in between moments of being lost and alone.
Carried the room I worked in through the holidays with fellow soldiers and brought the bar into the new year with new stripes and shiny medals of honor. Now that the pressure has subsided, I hopped a plane to France.
Here we go. Finally.
June 5, 2015
He got Hillsboroed. Straight up Century Highed. However they address their problems in the west suburbs is how he got his penance.
What part of this woman thinks that upending his life is ok? What possible retribution does she get with him suffering this way? How does one reason with her actions to justify making his life a dumb cliché as she pursues this mad union with one of his best friends? Now a towering and painful awkwardness that permeates both his social and professional life. Purely wondering.
If she had immediately jumped into a relationship with some random guy it would have definitely been hard for him to handle. But it would have been palatable. If she had immediately jumped into a relationship with a guy he knew, that also would have hurt but he would have dealt with it. If she had immediately jumped into a relationship with his friend, yes, that would have sucked. His closest friend, however, is a step over the line. His closest friend whom he hung with daily side by side. They had pulled one of the most awful maneuvers people do to each other. The oldest trick in the damn book.
Not only could he hardly swallow the fact that she was already in a relationship 10 minutes before theirs “ended”, he now has lost the friend he would be leaning on during a time like this. Whatever those two have right now is born from his misery so it’s assured that it likely won’t be a smooth ride. There is only one person in this world she could’ve bedded that would have been worse than his best friend: His father.
His personality is gone. He is now short-sighted and straight jawed, sad and silent. His boisterous character is all he has and all he’s ever had. Almost seems like she sought to exact some twisted vengeance by hurting him in the most basic of ways and it’s turned him into a sullen, downward man, a tearful, angry, lost man. He is now a man who has to look at the guy who was one of his best friends and confidant who now is bedding the woman he had loved so much. Loved enough to know that things were hard, too hard to continue. Loved enough to evidently know that she would eventually become the beautiful bomb that comes screaming from the sky dressed in wicked devastation.
The powers that be asked him what was wrong with his demeanor of late. He didn’t know what to say. They asked him why he wasn’t his normal exuberant self, if there was something wrong, was he feeling ok? He didn’t know what to say. They asked him if he wanted to hurt someone, or hurt himself. He still had nothing to say. They asked him if he needed to talk to someone. He just didn’t have any words. He was just quiet and seething.
If he ran into her on the street he would have no clue as to how to act. Never in his life has he been a sullen and downtrodden man, never had he not known what to say, or at least known what to do. His character has been decimated, his identity has been stolen, it’s the deepest of attacks, the core of who he is now questioning itself and it’s apparent to the outside world. Everyone who thinks they know him now sees him weak and suffering. Anyone who actually knows him knows this is his wide awake nightmare: Not being able to hide who he really is in front of people, not being able to perform the act that lets him slip by the crowd so he can be comfortably alone with his thoughts. Now his personal life is becoming fuel and fodder for the cruel and hungry gossip monsters.
They took that. Those two took those things away from him. It’s a betrayal beyond words.
While he’s being assimilated.
The ridiculous suspenders. The dry cleaning. The same job. The
girlfriend WIFE. It was all him a year ago! So weird. Like a terrible sci-fi story, soon they’ll be going by his middle name and learning how to drive without running into things.
It’s like hating the homeless person that goes through your recycling and finds a half full bottle of whiskey that you put out there because you knew you shouldn’t be drinking. But you really love that particular whiskey so not only does he swipe it, he follows you every day at and drinks it in front of you.
So many talks with the dead, even see their faces in cars, walking on sidewalks, sometimes blatantly in the person in front of me.
Too many memorials, wakes, midnight phone calls, strangers by one degree telling me in the street some dark news about someone I love, hardening these veins like concrete in my hands.
Every day, Every year, these bones become more and more invincible.
Desperate for a date for a funeral. That specific moment where you’re strikingly alone in a room full of humans, it’s like a frightening dagger through the roof of your hand. Standing, seeming foolish yet no one even realizes you’re there in the rain. Hate coming to burials alone, heavy-footed with dark, downward eyes, mouth wishing to be wordless for the rest of the day. Small talk with distant acquaintances torture my soul unless I’ve someone by my side. Whaddya say?