Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Noir et bleu

Everyday, if you search hard enough, is an anniversary of something, or some one's birthday, or sometimes both. There are way too many things, and way to few days for it to be any different. Some of these things or people are important, and some are only important to one, or maybe (if you are lucky) two of you. Some of the occasions are happy ones, some are sad, some are tragic, and some just really should never be celebrated again. Today falls into the latter category. Thus, the image above. It is, quite obviously, a cemetery a place where things, usually people are buried. However, cemeteries can be useful for the burying of all sorts of  other things, and they don't all have to have a physical address. There exists cemeteries of the mind, places in the dark corners of your brain that need never to be explored again. Wastelands that would made T.S. Eliot proud. Doors that the part of you that still likes to pretend you are sane have locked, and hidden the key in a far, far away place. And speaking of Mr. Eliot here's a bit of his "The Waste Land" just for dramatic purposes.

The awful daring of a moment's surrender
Which an age of prudence can never retract
By this, and this only, we have existed
Which is not to be found in our obituaries

Of course, that is said much better than what I have to say, but I am going to say it regardless of my lack of skill. Most things undertaken in a moment of awful daring need not be found in our obituaries. Some of those moments need to be written out of our (shared) history, and never spoken of again. Life is, in the main, a series of unfortunate events, with the occasional flash of brilliance to keep it from being entirely as black as Monty Burns' heart. Sometimes the things we can't remember suddenly become the things we can't forget, and the gloom descends even further. But, and it is a rare occurrence, sometimes those flashes are just as bright as the summer son of York, and they rehabilitate the gloom

I have written about cemeteries of the mind before (see "The Third Time"), they are places in my mind where the past, failed relationships of my life are buried. There are many gravestones in that cemetery, and each has a name, and some dates engraved upon them. The dates are tricky, sometimes there are four dates. The date I first met the occupant of the grave, the date we first decided to hitch our wagon to each others star, the date that it all went terribly wrong, and the date of the actual burial. Sometimes those dates are the same, or very close in time, sometimes they are years apart, sometimes there aren't four dates. The fourth one is the hardest one to engrave, and many times I avoid doing the engraving due to a combination of moral cowardice, and foolish hope. But as with most things it must needs doing, and the time always comes where the fourth date has to be engraved in stone, not merely penciled in, in the vain hope of some Lazarus like resurrection of a dead relationship.

Therefore, like Antony, I have come to bury you, not to praise you. The praise I gave you was mostly ineffective anyway, let us hope the burial has more sticking power. Not to say you didn't have praiseworthy qualities. You were fond of saying that when I "looked at you, it made you feel as if you were the only person in the room." And that wonderfully lyrical statement, so unlike your usual prosaic view of the world, was spot on true. During the time between the second and third dates, you were the only person in the room, even when you weren't even in the actual room. The first date, and the last date on your particular gravestone are quite far apart, and that speaks volumes. It speaks to both the foolish hope I mentioned earlier, and to the "large R" romanticism that afflicts me. It was that romanticism that made second date possible, it was the over bearing usage of it, that made the third date happen way too soon. Now it is the realization that the monopoly on my romanticism that you once possessed has been broken by another, that makes engraving the fourth date necessary.

The ground in the above picture looks hard, baked by the sun and as tough to dig in as concrete. It was soon to receive a wonderful, softening rain, but that came too late for the burial that I was there to do.  I know all of this because I took the picture with just this burial in mind, and was later drenched to the bone by the softening rain. However, just because something is hard to do is not a reason to postpone or cancel doing it. In many situations it is the opposite, because something is hard it needs to be done, and sometimes it needs to be done with all deliberate speed. The spadework had already been done, shared between us like the partnership that we once were. You dug with real determination once you came to the realization that we needed to be buried. All that really remained was the lowering of your figurative body into the yawning hole in the ground, and some talented soul to say a few remorseful words as the band played the pipes and the chorus.

 But, maybe that is where I am missing the boat, maybe the graves in my cemetery contain not just the memory of the second party in my relationships, but maybe they contain a little piece of me in them as well. Maybe in the neat little row upon row of (mostly) silent graves there is the sum of the parts of my soul buried as well. It is a soul made black and blue by the bruises you so skillfully placed upon it, when you were inspired, and I did inspire you (at least in this context.,You could make someone (i.e. me) feel very, very bad about themselves. Flaws that seemed to be merely quirks of ones personality, became the San Andreas fault line under your careful, painful tongue lashings. Those remain, in many ways, the most enduring memories of the history of "us".  The fact that, no matter what I tried, it didn't seem to be either the right thing, or good enough. I eventually realized that was your fault not mine. It wasn't that I couldn't make you happy, it was that you didn't want me to make you happy, and that made all the difference in the world. Figuring that out is a painful memory.

That particular brilliant insight was not easy to come by, and it took more than the three wise men or four horsemen to help me to obtain it.  Some considerable thought, and distance both of the physical kind, and the figurative kind were necessary to allow me the sense of depth to make  this decision.  Things begin to look smaller as they fade away into the distance, and as you put more distance between us, you eventually reached your vanishing point. You didn't flee out into the night after some turbulent argument, and leave me staring off the balcony after you. No, your disappearing act was both more subtle and more obvious than that. Some doors, in spite of our best efforts, just aren't made to slam, they just click with what is (when you think about it later) some awful finality.

It is blessed finality that I desperately seek as I pile the last sod of dirt upon your grave, and  as I hammer the fourth date onto the tombstone that bears your name. I seek the finality that will allow me to dust myself down, and not have to reopen this grave anytime soon, or maybe ever. That is clearly yet to be determined, because one day's resolution is sometimes followed by the next day's weakness, and a third day's folly. Finality is as hard to obtain as zen, and it remains a struggle (mostly uphill) that I fear I may have to fight for a long time to come. It makes no sense, nor is it going to anytime soon, but it's just the way the world seems to be working. Time causes as many wounds as it heals, but it is time for me to close that cemetery gate, and face the fact that it might be time for someone else to have the chance to wound me, hopefully they won't, or hopefully that won't as badly as you have, but without me closing, and locking the gate to your grave they won't have the chance, and that is unfair to them.

When they come to write my obituary, if they can be bothered to do so at all, I can only hope (at least for now) your name is not even mentioned in passing. I suppose the timing of the obituary may have something to do with whether it is or not, and truth be told, I'll be dead, and passed caring. I rather suspect you feel the same way, and look back upon this all as a mistake, a rather large one that you rather wished you hadn't made. We may be able to bury each other in mental cemeteries, and whitewash ourselves out of each others history, but full blown erasure is not really possible. Whatever stage upon life's way we reach after this funeral, and I figure you are a stage or two further down the road that I am, there will always exist an us (even after we stop existing). This cemetery may become overgrown from neglect, and the sands of time may wear away the tombstones, but the graves are eternal.

Therefore, I will, with as little regret as I can manage, lock that gate, and turn away to face whatever future awaits me. That is yet to be determined, but the good news (if there is any good news) is that as I walk away so hurriedly from this relationship graveyard, I am not exactly alone. However, that is a story for another day. A day that you won't be around to celebrate. I am in many ways, truly sorry, however I am also, in many ways, blessedly relieved to have reach this stage upon my life's way.  Bon chance.  




No comments: