Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Twenty years and counting…revisted..

The paragraphs below, I wrote in March of this year – long before I was really sure what was going on – and what I really felt, and how much I really mattered – I suspected for a long time that the answer to the questions above amounted to very little and nothing – but I still thought it a healthy exercise to write these things down. Seven months later – I am not so sure. You learn a large amount about a person during a trial when there is pressure – you also learn too much about your own limits and boundaries, and occasionally you fall across them in raging and brilliant fashion. You lose your temper, you lose your objectivity, and in the end, you come very close to losing all and any compassion that may have been left. Marriage is a tough trade – Divorce is just as tough – but through both, they test your strength – and from my perspective, you come out the back end much better – anyway – you can read on if you like – they are memories and maybe one day, my kids will read them and know that it was just not a phase or a fad – but that time and distance and apathy can do strange things to two people…most of all they can also do good things to people, and I can confidently say that although the memories below are good ones - the bad ones are there as well - and for the most part, those are the winners, the good ones are too few and far between, but everyone needs a reminder every now and again.

That is a long time. Almost too long to remember many things now that there is a torrent of water that fell under this bridge that I am crossing, now – that I am crossing with and without Christy, and it is certainly got about as much stability as an old rope bridge that you see in those Indiana Jones movies – something always creates the fall, burns the ropes, and a few natives get fried in the process (or run through with really sharp painful jungle weapons). The past six months has been about negatives – all of them are highlighted, all of them have the ability to send me into fits of rage and confusion and pain – but none of them, and I mean none of them, right now overshadow the past twenty years – people grow together, people grow apart, and then people have the ability to destroy one another – and that is an ability that I never realized I had – until recently.

Anger is not a very fair way of dealing with divorce – and even if it is a misunderstanding, it is not the place to seek any refuge. I have, twice now, gone into an evil, dark, disgusting place – and let myself do it – why, because it was easier – and frankly, that’s why I am getting divorced now – it was easier to ignore things, bottle things, distract and confuse – and not face the issues head on – that was the easy way out. Letting my anger take over the parts of me that are good – is where I have been – not where I want to go.

I met Christy (notice I say I met Christy – she had no idea who I was) while I was skinny dipping in her swimming pool the night before the first night of classes at Florida State. She peeked her head over her fenced in porch (where I would later spend a great deal of time) and yelled at all of us butthorns to quiet down – it did not work – but little did I know that I just had my first encounter with my future wife. One of my friends lived in her apartment complex – I don’t know that I would call him a friend, he was a little cheesy, a little weird, and a little too old to still be in college – his name escapes me, but obviously it was not that important – what is important is that we went out one night to Club Park Avenue – a trendy college nightclub – just to do what us community college kids did – waste both brain cells and time – but I met a beautiful girl – she was wearing a black skirt, and a white broadcloth cotton shirt with embroidered black lines on the shoulders, and she came up to me, and we giggled – good giggling – both of us had enough to drink that we were able to get over that initial nervousness and lack of confidence that I had, and we danced – she wasn’t a great dancer, and I was not a great conversationalist – but it worked well, because she asked questions, I told nervous jokes, and tried to make it light and easy. How she could have picked me was beyond me – but we ended up going to my home (which was conveniently and wonderfully located across the street – considering I had no car, no income, and pretty much no future….more on that later) – and she crashed on the couch – I still remember Dru Jensen coming out and saying, “Who is that girl out there on the couch?” – well, little did we know that blonde haired, blue-green-grey eyed girl would be my wife, the mother of our children, my best friend, and now someone that I need to work with and through to get us both to a healthier, happier place.
Tallahassee was a fun time. It was a new time to all of us, I loved going to football games, I loved going to the Late Night Library and dancing and laughing for endless hours – we fell in love in an easier and simpler time, but we did it together – and miraculously, being with her made me a better person.
Moving from Tallahassee to California was a new experience for both of us – Christy was in Fernandina doing her internship at Amelia Island – and taking care of the dog that spent fifteen years of his life with us – and we must have talked for hours on the telephone about what was happening and where we were headed and how things were going to work. Before I left, her parents threw a huge birthday bash – and that was the start of our new life together – I got on a greyhound bus, Christy went to finish her internship, and Bell South was happy to have us as customers…I still have photographs of that puppy and Christy in a gold silk shirt and blue jeans on the dunes at Hannah Park- still one of my favorite photos and memories – our last day for both of us before we moved on, we moved on together, but in completely different places. California for me, was a world of new experiences. I spent six months there living with my parents, going to school, working, trying to get things together, trying to prepare – and it was a wonderful day when Christy moved out there – granted, my Southern Baptist mom charged me every time I stayed out at Christy’s little apartment behind the Wienerschnitzel, but it was worth the five bucks – I got to spend time with Christy and we got to be a couple.
Some of my favorite times were skiing – we drove to Big Bear almost every weekend, the most memorable was the first time – I stood atop a green run that now to me would look more like a speed bump, and pouted, took off my skis and proceeded to storm down the hill – by the end of that weekend, Christy had me skiing like a true beginner – and laughing about my fear – early on, I had easy confidence, but a great deal of fear – Christy had no fear, and some tough issues with confidence – but together, we got through it. We stayed at the Robin Hood Hotel in Big Bear – the Davy Crockett Lodge – complete with coonskin cap – I remember laying in the ice in the 7-11 parking lot and trying to figure out how the hell you are supposed to install tire chains (we, both being the Floridians that we were, eventually figured it out, but not without both of us being soaked to the bone and very very cold…) times were difficult in California, but it was never too difficult to go camping, hang out all hours with Eilleen and Todd, go to the beach, it was just living – almost like a summer camp for older kids – Christy actually worked at a summer camp for underprivileged children in the mountains of Julian, we used to ride up, she would cry about the children who had parents that had less skill than Warren Jeffs at creating a safe environment – we made love in the desert after driving by the Salten Sea – it was eerie – abandoned, but beautiful – one of my fondest memories – and road trips. Christy and I were different then – we were younger, more adventurous, thought we had the world by the balls, and in all reality – we did. California ended about as quietly as it began- Christy moved to Orlando to start a paralegal class at Rollins College, I stuck around for a few more months to finish school – and with Christy’s help and support, I actually made it into a four-year college, found a job, and had my first real taste of responsibility in Orlando….
It was always clear that Christy wanted the best for me, I did not necessarily always want the best for me, I just wanted – but Christy had a gentle way of moving me in the right direction – I have the photograph of us sitting on the infamous love futon (most of our relatives, friends, co-workers, etc at one time or another did the nasty on that futon, I actually still believe it is in my brother in laws house). We had a great little place, Uncle Bud and Aunt Joe – the gay couple, were our landlords and neighbors, we both worked hard, Christy at an Insurance Company, me at the Olive Garden and CF unloading trucks – we made ends meet, we fixed the car when we were broke, we did what we could to have as much fun as we could – we would go to Howl at the Moon at Church Street and Christy would laugh – not a controlled laugh – but big healthy laughter that filled the bar – she could not sing a note – I used to joke that it hurt my teeth – but in a way, it was good to hear her sing – she always smiled when she sang. I played rugby, Christy was patient with that, I worked too much, Christy was understanding of that, I slept most of the other times – Christy was patient with that – I did not have the traditional college experience – but one spring break, she took me to Big Daddy Don Garlitz’s Drag Racing Hall of Fame – to give me a more traditional experience – it was good. Most everything was good then – we were in touch with one another, loved to be together, and were growing closer and closer and closer….Christy and I were worth the time. Christy deserved the time – I saved money in a sock for not the best diamond – but for a diamond – the biggest thing I had ever purchased in my life – too bad the sock smelled like Olive Garden Soup and Salad – but she was worth every penny – we had a life together – I knew it, was confident, and I loved what she was, and I loved the way we felt together. It was a good time in both of our lives – we were in love. Deeply in love, and ready to be husband and wife. We were ready to spend our time together – Christy made me a better person, I made her a better person, and together we were happy, strong, and most of all, we were just together.

First Coast Grill is no longer there, and last time I drove by, the swing on the front porch is gone – but that’s where it happened – that’s where I got down on one knee, and asked Christy to be my wife. I asked for her to be my wife forever, to be my friend forever, to be my companion forever. I wanted and needed that – there was never any force or questioning – we had been together for about three years, and it would be another two before the bells rang – I remember how wide she smiled and that smile, although not there as much – time and pain has a way of taking that away, still takes me back to that day – the reason why I asked – the happiness that we felt together. Even now, with all of the things that have been said and done, there is that smile – and there were plenty of them years ago – we both smiled, we both cared, and simply put – there was a We. That day was one of the most important days of my life – I was afraid, overwhelmed, in over my head – I had a beautiful woman, who loved me more than anything, who was willing and strong enough to challenge me – and was soft enough to work with me – and help –
You know, writing about these things make me happier – makes me stronger – maybe that book I was supposed to write years ago should have been a better book, a more pleasant book, something that I could have reflected on during those times when I asked myself why – but hindsight is twenty/twenty – and much like the twenty years, I can’t change any of those – sure, there are things that I would change – there are things that I would do different – so I challenge myself now to do that – I don’t know the exact time things went wrong, I don’t know when the words above were pushed aside as less important – I just don’t know – that is painful, and even more painful to reincarnate those memories that seem like someone else’s life – not mine –
For now, I have to put this blog down – I need to breathe a little bit – daydreaming about those memories and realizing that in three days I am going to end those memories – not an easy thing to do – they will always be there, and much like moving forward, I want those to be the guide and the gameplan – not ghosts that plague my mind with what if’s and why’s.

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