Wednesday, November 14, 2012
This summer is when we finally woke up from all the trauma and despair. For me, it happened in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. I went with Amanda Bales to help her move her worldly possessions to Columbia. We drove down together, listening to Radio Lab podcasts and commenting on our parts of the world. I was reminded that I had a brain, that I was interested in things. That at one time, I was going to be a writer.
That night we stayed with her buddy, Murphy. He had a pretty typical bachelor pad. A couch from the 80s, all that woven plaid stuff. Some fake leather recliner with the ass part all worn, the kind that makes you sweat even if it isn't 99 degrees. Which it was.
It was that night when I bought, for the first time, Shiner Bock in a can. Also that night, Murphy got me high. We sat in his yard, some scorched earth and grass, while he cooked havles of chickens on his rusty grill. There was music coming out of the window, from the ipod player, and the wind was hot. The kind that steals your breath. Or just feels like someone's breath. I looked at Amanda and told her how much fun I was having. How happy I was at that moment. And it was happier than I'd felt in two years, or two and half years, or however long it's been. She laughed at me.
As the night came on, I smoked more. I drank more. I listened as my artist friends talked about life; they talked to me like I was one of them. And then I went to bed. There I was, all boxers and tank tops in some dude's bed with an oscillating fan blowing that hot air up and down my tingling body. I smiled. And I cried. I could feel again. I was relaxed again. And I looked at my body on those mismatched sheets on a crooked bed in a hot house. I was sexy. Or, at least, I felt like having sex.
This may not seem that amazing to you; you probably want to have sex all the time, like most people. But I haven't. I haven't felt that in years. I've wanted to feel that, and there were times when I got close to nearly feeling it. But not the intense hunger I had before. When I was 21 or 25. Something about that night made me come back to life and feel like the me I used to be. The Traveler. The Artist. The Human. The Individual.
Not too many weeks later, Cyrus went into the hospital for what we thought were seizures. Mindy and I turned into preemie parents again. She stays with him while I feed the cats, pack some clothes, swig some whiskey, and buy everything on a McDonald's menu at 1:00 a.m. Then we sit in darkness and stare at our son. Nurses and doctors come in, so by the time we get to that disgusting pile of calories, it's cold. So we have to eat it faster to get it down. Then we sit on those long, uncomfortable couch beds and stare. Stare at our son attached to cords and tubes. We don't look much at each other. When we do, we cry and say not again. We can't handle any more. Please. No more.
But then he was fine. Again. And school was starting. And that feeling came over me again and maybe more than before. I was tired of hospital rooms and heavy eyelids. And crying and worrying. I decided to let myself feel all the things I'd wanted to for years. I allowed myself to be myself.
I looked at Mindy and saw her as my hospital partner. Cyrus' other caretaker. The person who lived in my house. The one who was sad with me. The one who made me sad.
I bragged during the whole experience that our relationship stayed in tact, that we were unscathed, that we still loved each other. And we did. We do. But we had to. We couldn't have done all that alone, without someone to understand or cry on. Without one to be strong when the other couldn't. How could anyone do that alone? But now that it is over, or mostly over. Now what?
For months I've been withdrawn because I'm lusting after you. I'm falling in love with you. All of you but my wife. Some more than others. I've destroyed friendships and burdened others with too much talking, or too many awkward looks. I've brought our marriage to its knees. I just wanted to feel again. To feel young and unburdened. To forget everything.
Then things were okay.
And then daycare called today to say that Cyrus "checked out" for 40 minutes. To say that he wasn't really even looking at people when they said his name. That he just stared out from behind glassy eyes. To say that he just decided to try to sleep on the cold tile floor.
You all say that we've gone through so much more than most people. You all say we're so strong and that we're great parents. We are great parents. But we are no longer great friends. Or coworkers. Or daughters. Or lovers.
So, just like that, we'll all go back to sleep.