Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fair Weather

There are a lot of snapshots in my mind, moments that are forever frozen in time via a mental image that I am carrying around in my head. Some are good, some are bad, and some are (wait for it) just plain awful. Today's visit to my mental picture gallery is going to focus on two such images. Neither are particularly old, nor is either particularly unique to myself. Both of are myself, and a group of friends, each taken at different times, and in both I am the only common denominator. No one in snapshot number 1 is present in snapshot number 2 except yours truly. This should be a warning sign as to what kind of person I am, and the kind of life I led.

I hesitant to provide too many details of either picture, due to the federal witness protection guidelines, and various other reasons not to give away too many sordid details of my life. Suffice to say that one image is of a group of fellows at a bar (that's not too sordid, but notice I did not say what kind of bar). There are maybe 5 of us, drunk as lords, and drinking like there is no tomorrow, and who knows there might not be. Some of us would have to be up very early the next day, because this snapshot is taken on a weekday, and some of us did not have a job to worry about getting out of bed for. We are at various stages of drunkenness, but none of us would be considered anywhere near sober.

It is late, very late, like 2 a.m. late, and we have been tossing them back for several hours already, and the night isn't quite over yet, but it is on its last legs. It wasn't a special event, or any one's birthday, just a normal night for this groups of wrecks that bonded together over alcohol, and pub grub. Of course, none of us know it at the time, but this night would not be repeated many more times before the demands of "life" would began to weaken the bonds holding us together. It would be a subtle change at first, and barely perceptible to most of us, but for the thoughtful of the group (i.e. me) a pause during this night's revelry would contain the germ of the idea that 'this can not last.' And it didn't, two of the group moved away, one to one coast, one to the other coast, two decided that the charms of the opposite sex were much more interesting that our merry band of brothers, and one decided that alcohol had lost its allure.

That left me, uncharmed by the opposite sex to the same degree that my pals were, unable to pack my shit and just move away to part unknown, and I was certainly not ready to become some dangerous teetotaler. Fair weather comes in all sorts of disguises, and you never know when a spot of it is about to break over the horizon of someone's (some other one) life. You can't really blame any of them for their choices, in some cases they did not really have any choice, but as you sit there on your bar stool, alone now in the bar, you can't help but wonder if maybe you've made some really bad decisions in your life.

The second snapshot has similar issues, except it is taken at a wedding, and not a bar. Though a couple of our smiling for the camera faces are a little flush from the joys of an open bar, and there are similar stories here as well, kids, marriage, and movement tore this group of merry adventurers apart like a hurricane battering an creaky, old sailing vessel. Dashed upon the rocks of other commitments, the bands holding this group together soon snapped like a mizzen mast under full sail in a full on gale. Neither of these groups had any overlap (except me), and both have dissolved like a snail under a fountain of salt, and left me here sitting here in this storm in hopes of my own fairer weather.

The trick to fair weather is knowing it when you see it, it isn't like pornography, it doesn't just shock your system, or bash you over the head with a thunder stick proclaiming itself clearly enough so that any damn fool can see latch onto it. There is no dress rehearsal to fair(er) weather, you have to be in the right place, at the right time, and have to be in the right mind set. I am of the opinion that most fairer weather is a mirage, a temporary illusion that pulls wanderers off their chosen path. It is there in the darkness that it lurks, whispering its siren's song to those of us too drunk to ignore it, or too willing to listen out of sense of hope, promising us all sorts of things that we know, in our heart of hearts, that are just simply too good to be true.

Of course, we have all had this, or something similar happen to us, and perhaps it is just our fate to be left for fairer weather until we, ourselves, find fairer weather and then disappear from the frame like the ghosts that we called friends did before us. Until that day comes, if that day comes, all we can do is ride out the storm alone, but somehow content in the knowledge that somewhere out there this cold rain is lashing down on other people in similar situations, and secure in the thought that above all, misery loves company.

1 comment:

Celia said...

Well, 40-yr-old living in Memphis TN (how romantic!), how on earth did you find ME - 70-yr-old living in Maryport, UK (not at all romantic since the Romans left some centuries ago)?

But isn't the Internet amazing? I thought I was probably the only person left alive who would know or care about the tragic Stanislava, but no, there you are, reading the same book. It's the sort of story which could possibly depress one if read at the wrong time in one's life.

I started out as a lawyer, too. A long time ago. Admitted to the Bar of the Middle Temple at the Inns of Court. Luckily, by the time I was approaching 30 I realised my mistake and got out to live more impecuniously as a teacher.

Just read Richard Yates's Revolutionary Road - one of the best novels I've read and completely justifying all the rave reviews it got. THEN, I read Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth. Interesting parallels there: two takes on American society from two completely different angles, seperated by about 70 decades, and yet, and yet.....

'Dreaming when dawn's left hand' was in the sky - by which I mean awake at 5 am and dwelling on the fate of the tragic Lily Barton, I log on and find - you! Strange, eh?