Saturday, February 12, 2011

The things I think about when the power is out

It's been a rough couple of days. The toilet broke, requiring a plumber and a gigantic hole in my bank account (and the bathroom floor). Then I had a medical problem that sent me to the Emergency Department at 9:30 on a Friday, and I was there until 3AM on Saturday. Then today the game I was going to play in was cancelled, and then the power went out for my block, and then the Internet was out until 10PM. So I spent most of the day either hunched over in pain, reading, or staring at the flickering of candles in the dark. And because I wasn't feeling well, I wasn't really at liberty to get out of the house and drown my sorrows in profligate behaviours.

It's strange what runs through my head sometimes when I'm not paying attention. I thought, for the first time in a long time, about Sarah. I'm not really sure I've ever gotten over my first real honest to goodness love. She was brilliant and beautiful and funny and honest and I could never figure out why on earth she was with me. Eventually, she asked herself the same question, and then things blew up, and then we never saw one another again. But I still tell stories about her, and I still remember little things in the odd moments, and I still think of her once in a while. I hope wherever she is, she's happy. My life is a series of abandoned empty chairs, when I saw something on the horizon that I thought would make me happy, and so I sacrificed myself and everyone I knew to make the move. Looking back on it, that tendency to run away from (or towards) life has caused me some amazing levels of difficulty, pain, heartbreak, and distress. But it's also given me a lifetime's worth of stories to tell, and I suppose that's not nothing. It's also given me some amazing experiences to remember, and that's not all bad. It does tend to be hard on my relationships, though. And I wonder now and again how on earth the younger me ever managed to meet anyone at all, let alone have a surprisingly large amount of sex.

Part of it is that, now that I'm older and have a regular job and a real home and two ex-wives, I'm not nearly as adventurous as I once was. I'd much rather stay home and play videogames or watch Netflix than go out to a trivia night or see a band or ask some random stranger to dinner. Fear of rejection, maybe? Watching every relationship I've ever been in be destroyed one way or another I suppose puts a damper on my willingness to make myself available for others. And my intellectual engagement in my new work has been significant enough to consume most of my energy, which I don't have much of because I'm out of shape, and getting into shape takes more commitment than I seem to be able to muster nowadays.

I'm not one of those people that thinks that High School was the pinnacle of my life (in fact, I'd be willing to bet that my life is going to continue to improve over the next ten years or so, barring any sort of horrible, horrible incident that derails things entirely); I'm also not one of those people for whom High School was a living hell. I had a good time, tempered by the fact that I was pretty sure that the relationships I found and formed then were almost entirely ephemeral, the result of being locked up with one another for 40 hours a week. Which is not to say that I didn't love them and weep for them and wail with them at the time, just that I knew that our time together was finite. But I do sometimes wonder about whether that particular gossamer effect was at least in part a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I often wonder if at least part of my isolation is a result of each successive relationship I've been in being less and less an emotional investment for me. I loved Sarah with all of my heart. So how much was left over for Whatsername? Or for Michael? Or for Cheryl? And now, what's left for me? It can't be a coincidence that my emotional maturity has suffered, that I'm concerned enough about myself to start therapy in the hopes of working on some of my issues. I used to joke that I liked my life but I didn't like myself much. I'm not sure that's a joke any longer.

I'm feeling melancholy enough that I may even write a Story of M. Sadness and isolation seem to be my muse where that work is concerned.