I wanted to capture something. Instead I captured everything.
I have had a few blog entries sitting in my almost finished queue for months, but I have not been able to move forward with a single one of them for quite some time now. I have been blaming my lack of completion on work, life, and overall busyness, but the reality is that I just can’t figure out how to complete any of them. They just stop. Dead. Like doodles in a notebook that are beautifully drawn and expressive, but in the end go nowhere. I can’t even progress through them anymore. There they sit; just snippets of text; a non sequitur or two; ideas; fleeting imagery and floating words…
I suppose it is symbolic.
Maybe the enormous amount of transition, discovery, and change that has taken place over this last year has finally taken its toll. (I can barely remember January at this point.) Even now, I have yet to form a cohesive final thought…
The worst part is that I feel this immense amount of bloggers guilt. Like a mother who has abandoned her child. All of this makes for a dangerous mix of apathy and anxiety.
• • •
A few months ago, I was kissed on the forehead by my work weary husband as the sun slowly peaked through the drapes. The front door slammed and I was left to my own devices. I laid there semi-motionless on the bed, staring out the window, pondering my ponderings, thinking my thinks, and relishing in the time before everyone else in the house (i.e. Jack) begins to wake. I was tempted to stumble out of bed and check the days happenings on whatever hand-held device was nearby. Instead, I laid there and continued to think.
I began to labor through the imaginary “handwritten” list of all the things I needed to do for the day, but that quickly evolved into tedium and annoyances. So I closed my eyes and tried to focus on something else.
…the word just hung there in the Technicolor darkness behind my eyelids.
The ridiculous monotoned drawl of Mr. Tom Hanks’ “I’m not a smart man, but I know what love is,” dialogue from Forrest Gump annoyingly played (and replayed) in my head as I lay there. This word. A word I keep coming back to every time life breeds the most important, eloquent, and frustrating questions.
Do I know, Mr. Gump?
The L – O – V – E word…
It sits there like a lump in my subconscious. And at its fundamental core it is a enigma that I am not sure I truly understand.
I mean, I really don’t understand it. Like really, really, really, infinity.
My dirty little secret.
I have never been great at deciphering love, or telling when it is real, or how to handle it when it is given to me. This 4-letter word and all its nuances plagues me. The search within myself this past year or so has brought me towards so many questions about my way of thinking, and my true thoughts on this word have very much been avoided until now.
• • •
My father was full of nuances. I think love was a disconcerting thing for him. He coasted through life on what he thought worked and tried to aggressively control the uncontrollable aspects that didn’t. He was a tough person to live with. He could be very unkind and conversely he could try way too hard. He was emotional, bipolar, angry, sad, and unhinged. He tried to make memories but mostly got lost in the minutia. It always seemed to me that for him existence was torture and his brain was in a constant state of torment. We never really talked about these things. I wish we could have.
I think I broke vase or maybe I lied or maybe it was something else. I can’t remember now. He looked at me and his angered response to my actions were, “I don’t know if I can love you when you act like this.” At the time I believed him.
He moved away when my parents divorced in the early 90s. I only saw him a few times after that. He had since remarried. I found out later that his wife’s son had special needs and that he and my dad had had a very close relationship. They enjoyed their movie nights and he was a good caregiver and companion. I used to think dad was just one of those folk who were ill-equipped at being a father, and in a lot of ways he was. It wasn’t his hard-wired, undying destiny to parent. But upon examining this now within the clarity of my age instead of in the midst of my burning emotion, I think I believe he was just meant to be someone else’s father, as sad as that is to write. I sense that he finally found the simplicity and purpose he felt eluded him throughout much of his life. His purpose in this newfound something.
• • •
I am an anxious person both by birth and by experience. That anxiety causes me to analyze the stuffing out of every situation and in love there is no exception. I can’t live easily in any kind of love. I am never content and am often caught trying too hard. My anxiety causes me to make a lot of mistakes. Dave gently reminds me to try to be happy within the simple life moments I am given. He and Jack can do this without effort and it maddens me. My own lack of zen causes a certain amount of tumultuousness within myself, therefore I end up retreating inside. I become fearful of getting close to anything or anyone. I clam up. I shut down. Even with the amount of love from friends and family that my life so generously contains, I still associate that word with uncertainty. This “thing” that can be red-hot and conditional; or passive aggressive and dishonest. This “I don’t know if I can love you when…” Where simple mistakes mean the end of love and the givers of “love” could be easily distracted and tempted by the next new shiny thing and move on. It makes my subconsciously protective reservedness rear its ugly, unsure head.
I got lost in this swirl of ideas, of self loathing, and a general ‘ahhhhhh shut this brain off, please, please, please!’ when I heard the pitter patter of little feet… a slight depression of mattress… then familiar arms around my neck.
I settled into that squeeze and forgot everything else.
• • •
I thought back to Dave’s Great Aunt and Uncle’s 50th wedding anniversary celebration. It was one of the nicest events I had ever had the privilege of attending. The weather was great. The water was warm. The many, many kids were happy. And the love of the happy couple was felt. He karaoke-serenaded his bride to the oldies that were playing, while the cousins created impromptu doo wop style backing vocals, complete with choreography. She chuckled at the silliness of her husband and her eyes were filled with love. It was an all day into the night affair.
Jack fell asleep poolside as the evening dwindled. I sat there content and thought of very little. “Sittin’ on Dock of the Bay” began to play. I started to quietly sing along. I caught Dave’s uncle’s eye and my silent solo became a duet. When it ended we went back to our moments. Mine of poolside blissfulness and his to his group of reminiscent chatter.
• • •
My analytical self tends to discourage my emotional one.
But maybe that is all there is. Those simple moments of something where you forget something else and revel in a moment. A badly sung yet beautiful serenade. Poolside chatters. A kiss on a forehead. Those little arms that will always fit perfectly around my neck and smell like my little boy. The same smell that only a very exclusive club gets to know. No one talks. No one has to. It just is. My questions still plague me. My work in progress still haunts me. My letting go of things still chokes me. I know with a very real sense of self that I am simply not very good at any of this, but I am desperately trying to pay more attention to the moments.