On "my nights," after I finally get the kids to
bed, I usually end up out on my back porch. It’s not a big place, just a small
raft of worn-out wood that no one ever bothered to paint. When I get out there on the porch, I dig down deep,
Lately, I’ve been wrestling with my failed marriage in new
and twisted ways. Everyone will tell you that you can’t blame yourself when you
find yourself in the middle of a separation or a divorce — or any kind of
breakup, actually. But let’s face it, people don’t know what to say to
you when your life is all tangled up, so they just say things they think might
make you feel better. I appreciate that, I do. But only to a point. I mean, you
end up hearing white noise after the first couple-dozen times. Plus, to be
honest, I think the truth is that you do have to blame yourself a little bit
when it comes to these kinds of things. It’s like, hey, it took two people to
start this little fire, you know? And then it took the same two people to let
it burn out, too.
That goes especially for me, I suppose. Our marriage wasn’t
torpedoed by straight-up cheating or knocking somebody across the kitchen in a
drunken rage or anything like that. Those things are horrible, of course, but in
a strange way they might make the whole decision-making process a little
easier. If you screw somebody else or use a couple karate chops on the person
you’ve married, then you both know that there are a lot of glowing neon
reasons to call it a day. But when you just slow-burn your way half-blind, in
complete denial, towards some far-off murky part of outer space when the entire
galaxy is just held together with Scotch tape, it seems worse to me. It seems
harder to deal with, although I’m sure that’s it’s probably not. Maybe I just
tell myself that to make myself feel better, huh?
The damage is real, that’s for sure, no matter how the hell
you managed to create it. All of the hurt and the pain and all of those old
clichéd feelings that come with realizing you and her (or you and him) just
don’t work somehow, and that you’re through/it’s over/good-bye forever, it all unleashes
this sort of Alabama twister on your self-conscious ass.
You start to wonder about you. You start to wonder why you weren’t good enough — not just in the role you played and the way you dealt with things, but also, and maybe more importantly, why you weren’t good enough for someone else, for the one you chose and who chose you.
The way I see it, you need to get tossed around in the arms of something thunderous before you can ever finally wake up
It’s pretty goddamn exhausting and while I wish I didn’t
feel this way, I think I’m beginning to understand that I need to. I wish I
could just look forward to moving on, to a "better tomorrow" or some crap, but things
aren’t that way with me. The questions won’t quit. I won’t let them, I guess.
Or I can’t let them. Hell, I don’t even know if there’s a difference anymore.
Still, I remain. And I keep wandering out on my back porch with
my juice glass of Chianti, moving out into the gloaming when the neighborhood
is winding down, when the only racket coming out of my baby monitor up on the
microwave is the slur of the air conditioner's hum. That’s when I can tell from down
below that my kids are out cold. That old door slams shut then and I sit down
on my block of wood and it’s dark.
The buzz of other people’s air conditioners cuts through the summer
And I unleash all of it at once: sadness/fury/confusion/and
guilt. I think about how I messed up/I blame me for being me for so goddamn
long — for too goddamn long. In the light darkness on my porch, I beat myself up:
quick jabs/power hooks/sucker punches thrown below my own belt. I tell
myself I’m not worth it, that love ain’t worth the hassle and that no girl is
ever going to wanna kiss me again. And I believe it all too, at least until the
second glass of wine comes around. Look, when you move through all of
this stuff, man, you almost have to be brutal to yourself here and there if you
want to rake in the perspective you’re going to need to move on. You can’t
blame other people or it’ll eat you alive and ruin your chances.
The way I see it, you need to get tossed around in the arms
of something thunderous before you can ever finally wake up in the middle of
the damn high school football field six or seven blocks away from who you used
to be. You have to get swept up in something fierce and overwhelming before you
can get to that place where it’s OK to rub the dust and grit out of your eyes.