I’m not sure where this post is going to go. I suspect it’s one that i’ll come back to at some point and modify or perhaps eventually forget.
I had a dream two nights ago. It involved perhaps the three most important girlfriends that i’ve had in my life- Betina, Michelle and Heather (now known as Auburn). Actually Auburn is a bit of an outlier but important nonetheless.
I don’t have dreams like this often and when i do, they’re never good. I don’t remember much of this dream but it struck me as odd that these three were in it. It wasn’t a good dream nor was it as bad as they usually are.
It’s twenty years later. It’s twenty years since the woman i thought i would spend my life with came home to tell me she no longer loved me. In my profound ignorance and frankly, my arrogance, i thought it was a passing phase. I simply could not conceive of a life without her and for her part, she could not conceive of a life with me.
I was such a different person then and for more reasons than i care to acknowledge. I don’t have to live in shame but i certainly feel ashamed at some of the things i said and did. Some of it was due to unresolved issues from my childhood, having been deprived of years of normalcy as a teenager (i was sent to boarding school that was run by both religious and behavior modification rules) and i was years into the obstructive sleep apnea.
Talking about OSA is one of the few things that i’m a bit evangelical about. I know i’ve said it so many times but it’s worth repeating. I should be dead. I should have died violently in my sleep many years ago. Snoring is one thing but when someone stops breathing for extended periods of time (my breathing would cease for up to 2 minutes at a time), it stops being ‘just snoring’ and becomes a serious health risk.
It’s twenty years later. The wound never closed but i can talk about it. I can talk about what my failings were. I can talk about what her failings were without being cruel or malicious. For years, she would tell me she loved me and considered us to be married (yes, it scared the hell out of me but i did love her so). Then one night she comes home to tell me she no longer loved me. When i asked her why she never said there were problems, she said she didn’t have any obligation to.
Why does this event have such deep scars in me? That’s easy. She was very culturally literate, she was hurt and innocent at the same time (something we had in common), She was amazingly beautiful and she was the closest i’d ever been to anyone. But those aren’t the reasons why two decades on, part of me still feels that loss.
It’s because Michelle was the only woman i took off all of my armor for.
In the aftermath of that loss, i found it did two things to me. It set an expectation of what i looked for in other women and it set an expectation of what i’d never tolerate again. There are several reasons why i’ve never married (i don’t make enough money to attract a mate, i don’t have any desire to reproduce nor will i become involved with someone with children, etc…) but i’d be lying if i said those two expectations haven’t played a part in it.
There’s also this: what happened to me afterward? Could they have happened had we managed to stay together?
Would i have fallen in love with house music? Would i have gotten over my fear and learned to dance with absolute fucking abandon ? Would i have had lived, having never learned to appreciate drum and bass, jungle, techno (Detroit, minimalist)? I know that i made some amazing friends in the time i spent in Austin before I left it- Mikey, Chris, Eliza, Jeff, Ernesto and others. I would have never known them had i stayed with her and my life would have been diminished because of it.
Would i have ever moved to Portland and known Dave, Amy, Scott or Alicia? No.
On the other hand, i wouldn’t have lived in Seattle for a year. Oh boy. I really wish i could wind the clock back on that one. I really hated Seattle. Strangely, one day on the bus as i was going home, there was a woman that sat across from me that looked like it might have been Michelle. All i had to do was ask her but i didn’t. Why? I don’t know. Perhaps because if it was her, i would have owed her more apologies that i would have time to say- and certainly i did and maybe i still do. Not just the hubris of a misspent youth but being wholly accountable for my failures and explaining what it was like getting less than two hours of REM sleep every night for years on end and what that did to me intellectually and emotionally.
I’ll always live with the spectre (sp?) of the years i lost due to apnea and the swath of destruction it left in me and the wake of others around me in that time.
But would i have eventually found myself here had i stayed with her? I doubt it. I mean, it’s possible but I doubt it.
The sun is rising earlier every morning. A salmon colored horizon behind the shadow of Mt. Baker. Icy winds that bite my skin and smell of brightness and life itself. Countless mosses that hide in the texture of roads, turning them into sheets of burning emerald when the sun is out.
To be continued…