Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Funeral for a Friend

Pay close attention to the title, it is not funeral of a friend, but rather funeral for a friend. I found myself in the sad position to attend a funeral for a friend today. That friend's mother had died, and as her offspring's friend I fulfilled my duty by attending the funeral. Not that I deserve any special kudos for that, it is what friends are supposed to do, funerals, wedding, baby showers, and all the other duties that adulthood imposes upon us. Gone are the days of 21st birthday parties and wild bachelor parties. Sometimes being an adult sucks, but sometimes you just have to  realize that life sucks a lot more often than it should.

I had already had a fairly rotten two days when I arrived at this funeral, and yet as I sat there listening to the pastor say his words that were designed to comfort us all, but which I found a perverse dislike for, I realized that, more likely than not, I am at least going to have the chance to have a crappy day again tomorrow. It already is shaping up to be that way, and I am not looking forward to it, but it is still going to arrive for me in about 10 hours. Something that the recently deceased will not have the luxury of having. I, being a non-believer, think that this mortal coil is all we have, and once we shuffle off of it, we cease to exist either as a body or a 'spirit'. Granted, this is not a widely held view, nor it is a particularly happy view, but it is a view that I have put considerable, and considered thought, and effort into fashioning. 

Still, as I kept my voice silent, not voicing any objections I may have with the views being expressed before me, I began to wonder if maybe those words were going to comfort some of the assembled gathering, and isn't that enough? Whatever wound those words provide a balm for, is one less open wound in the world, and in a world full of open wounds that has to be a good thing.  The disbelief of some damn fool like me non-withstanding should not be an obstacle to these good people feeling that their loved one is now in a better place.  The sad part is that, for the briefest of seconds, and perhaps it was due to my own emotional turmoil, that those words, and the promise that they held almost had me on board. For a millisecond or so, I almost came back to the fold that I so willfully left over two decades ago.  A bridge, in many ways the first bridge, that I burned solidly to the ground looked almost worth rebuilding.

Then, the absurdity of the situation struck me, who the fuck converts at a funeral? It was both absurd, and extremely selfish (to which both charges I enter a full, and spontaneous confession), after all I was here to support my friend in her time of grief, not to ponder the return to the flock. That is what I would like to say is the only reason that I am not walking across that rebuilt bridge, but I am not that pure, never have been, never will be. Part of my issue was the rest of the herd.  A look to both my right and my left, gave me a pause, a long pause, a deep seated paused that I have not recovered from since.  There are reasons for both of those directions giving me pause, and none of those reasons need overly concern us here. Even if I could write it without unleashing a firestorm upon my head, and I can't, this is not the space to do it.

No, this is the space about a funeral for a friend, a friend of only about 6 years of my life, but 6 years of my friendship is probably a bit like a prison sentence. I am not, nor shall I ever be, some one who makes friends easily. However, once made it is difficult to get shed of me as a friend. I also figure that it is a difficult thing being my friend, but this person has never complained about it even once. She is always happy, and positive, and not in a 'just took a pill' way. I think she is just a very well grounded happy person. A type that I wasn't sure existed, and certainly would not think would be able to stand me (or me them) as a friend, but nevertheless here we are friends until (and I hope this is a long, long time from now) one of us will be attending the funeral of a friend.

For Patience, who has lived up to her given name more times than I care to think about during the time of our friendship. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Wanderer

The English word for planet comes from the Greek word for wanderer. I say this as an opening because compared to the planets, you are the Sun. I've had a lot more than the eight or nine (depending on how you feel about Pluto) planets 'wander' into and out of my personal solar system in my time on this planet, and most of them I was happy to see transit out of my gravitational field.  Yes, I am big enough to have my own gravitational field. However, that isn't really the point of this post, those 'wanderers' that stayed for a brief time in the solar system of my life, have gone, and are mostly forgotten. They were only 'inhabitable' for a while, and then became less so, some even became down right inhospitable.

With a little more forward thinking research, I should have been able to detect the inhospitable environments that many of these planets possessed. However, I am clearly not an ace in the field of forward thinking. To colonize the planet in front of me was, in the main, my immediate goal, and being an immediate goal became my only goal. It was only after the colony ships had been launched, and a base erected, supported, and established that I realized the environment(s) were unfriendly, unhealthy, or unsustainable.  Some times it was the like the coldest place in the 'real' solar system, those dark craters near the South Pole of the Moon, where the temperature can reach a brisk 397 degrees below zero. Or, at time it was similar to the hottest place, besides the core of the Sun, in this solar system, that being the core of Jupiter which cooks along at about 15,000 degree Kelvin. Hot, or cold, raining base metals, or as dry as dry can be, each of these places ultimately proved fatal to the colonists I sent to 'plant my flag' on their surface(s).

Then there is you, the Sun in this personal solar system of mine. Not that you are all sunshine all the time, no one that I can stand to be around for more than 5 consecutive minuets would be, but there you are the centre nonetheless. I share the same affliction that Ptolemy possessed, that being the belief that the Earth, and here I replace the Earth with myself, as being the centre of the universe. In many ways, because I am the person I am, that remains true. However, it took you 'wandering' into my solar system all those years ago to disabuse me of that notion. Granted you didn't accomplish this extraordinary feat overnight, and at first I had no real clue you had achieved it at all. It wasn't until you too transited out of my system that I begin to suspect what you had done.

Even then, it was just that the merest hint of a clue, something akin to the briefest of glances that we can risk in the general direction of the actual Sun, lest we blind ourselves with its light. Staring at the Sun is, in the main, not a particularly good idea.  It took a truly 'Earth' shattering event akin to my own personal Copernican revolution for me to realize, ever so slowly, what I should have seen from the beginning. The fact that I should have known from the start was not a comfort, nor was the fact that even before I realized it, I had gone through the most elaborate 'colonizing' effort of my life with you.  That should have been, to me at least, a much bigger clue that it actually was, but I remind you about my earlier comment about me and forward thinking. It just does not seem to be my strong suit.

However, while I may be a slow learner, I am still a learner, and while it has taken me exactly way too long to figure all of this out, I have managed to figure it out. As usual it is probably a day late and a dollar short, but being a fool's type of fool, here I am not the less. Looking forward and slightly to the left, and seeing the Sun in my system. The Sun that has been there the actual centre of this system since I first managed to 'wander' my own self into their path. The Sun that outshines all the other wandering planets I have come across in this great, cold universe that I call my life. The Sun that is still there burning as bright if not brighter than ever. Making itself clear as the nose on my face, as clear as a bell, and as clear as clear can be. Sometimes a little wandering is what it takes to realize how far from the centre you've gone, and how much fun it is to wander your way back to that warm, sunny, centre that you should never have left in the first place.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Le Bon

As usual, they were both wrong, they like to think that they comprise the beginning, middle, and end of the universe, but, much to their chagrin, there are a lot of other people on this rock with them. They both did think that they were the only two people in that alley on that fateful night, and as I said they were both wrong. I was there, that what I do be there when a lot of people think I am not. Its not that I don't have a physical presence, it just that at times I can fade into the background with relative ease.

Not that fading took a lot of effort on that night, it was darker than Monty Burns' heart, and even though neither one of them mentioned it, it was raining as well. Not a pissing down rain, but the kind of rain that comes into town, looks around, and declares 'I'm staying for a couple of days, get used to me.' Like a visiting in-law that you just can't toss out on their ass, no matter how much you'd like to. I was, in more ways than one, the guy in the middle. Middle of the part as one brooded at one end, and the other 'charmed' his way into getting asked to leave at the other.  Middle part of the 'feud' between these two idiots, that people on the outside looking in might refer to as a couple of my friends. Nothing could be further from the truth, neither one of these jackleg thugs were any part of a friend to me. Their respective personalities made it impossible for me to befriend either one of them.

Also, I am not a man that makes friends on a lark. When I meet a 'new' person it takes a while for me to warm up to them. One of the most common comments about me from a newly met person is 'I've the feeling you don't care much for me.'  Which is, at the time of being spoken, mostly true. I am a bit like tungsten, I have a very, very high melting point. One or two casual chats over a pint or three, will not make us 'friends for life.'  I had shared more than just pints with both of them, and maybe that would be why some people would confuse them for my friends.  It didn't really matter that I had a use for them both, and getting that use from them was the main reason that I kept them in sight. I knew that they had some issues, and being the brains of the outfit, I knew that those issues were going to have to be sorted out, one way or another.  It was my job, one that I eventually failed at, to make sure that those issues weren't sorted out on a permanent basis.

When I saw them both in the same bar at the same time, I gathered there was going to be trouble, and I was dead set to try and avoid them having trouble, at least until my use for them no longer existed.  I saw the interchange between the first one and the bouncer, but I didn't really hear the words that were exchanged. From their respective reactions it was pretty clear that his presence was no longer required at the bar.  I also noticed the other ones eyes light up as he realized what was happening to his 'friend.'  I took especial notice of his paying his tab, and sliding out of the door unnoticed. Unnoticed that is by everyone but me.  I am a 'pay as you go kind of person, so I was just able to 'sneak' out of the  door before the 'escorting' took place. I knew the bar, I knew the street, I knew the alley, and I knew that is where these two idiots would eventually meet. It was my task to get there first.  That much I did accomplish, but for once I had underestimated these two fools.

That I underestimated them, is a badge of shame that I will carry around with me for a very, very long time. I knew both of them fairly well, but I would have never predicted that both of them would be spoiling for the kind of settlement that happened that night. I've read both accounts, and I realize that they both think they are telling the whole truth, but as with most stories, they leave a lot of stuff out. It is very difficult to tell a good yarn about yourself without 'editing' out the bad bits. The bits that make you look like a murdering bastard, or the bits that make you look like a homicidal maniac spoiling for a fight.  I will keep most of the details of the actual truth (or my version of the truth, which might not be the actual, actual truth) to myself.  Both of their versions have kernels of truth in them, and both versions are full of lies.  I should know I was there. I survived the encounter, and I didn't flee the encounter with the fear of John Q. Law.

To say that I was both surprised, and unhappy at the outcome would be a vast understatement.  Surprised because I really didn't think that either one of them had that kind of violence left in them, but clearly I was wrong. I do not like being wrong. Surprised that both of them came to the party with violence in mind, and surprised at the permanent ending of their little dispute. I really do not like being surprised.  Unhappy because despite the fact that I did not (and still don't) overly like either one of them, I had a use for them both remaining alive, and accessible. Now, one is dead, and I am sitting outside a dingy hotel room, in some grimy city, in a province that I'm not overly fond of.  

I'm here because when the 'winner' ran, I chased him, and I've been chasing him every since. I saw him dispose of the 'murder' weapon. I saw the panic, and smelt the fear on him many times as I got ever so close to him before tonight. I like to think he hasn't a clue that I've been tracking him like a migratory duck since that fateful night, but I figure (from his actions) that he has at least a small inkling that he is not, or ever going to be entirely 'safe.'  He won't mention me in his little tale of what happened that night, and the other one didn't either, but rest assured, if either of them had any sense they would have realized I was never far from the scene. I didn't involve the authorities in this little drama, because I am not a fan of authority. Besides, I figure this kind of thing needs to be settled man to man to man, and now since there are only two men left, it should be just that much easier to settle. 

And it must needs settling tonight. It has gone on far too long, and sidetracked my original plan. I get a bit upset when my plans are sidetracked. Room 6 is where he has come to roost, and room 6 is my destination. I am sure that some people will think I am doing a bad thing, and when I knock on the door things might get ugly, but I am hoping for a good result.