Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Where I am. and where I'm going

This post would be better suited with the title, "Where I am, and where we're going.

I am with love.

We will be going somewhere like that which is beautifully described by my favorite web blog of a family sailing:

Sailing to San Francisco – Day 6
We finally got a break from motoring this morning as we rounded Cape Mendocino, the last of the tricky spots. We’re on the home stretch now. If we can keep our speed up we may be in Sausalito by tomorrow night. Most likely we’ll stop at Drakes Bay in the late afternoon and then pass under the gate Saturday morning.
We had a lovely 15-20 knots from the NW for several hours as we rounded Mendocino this morning, really fun sailing. However the winds abruptly shut off as soon as we got around the cape and underneath the land. We’re back to motoring again in the fog, surrounded by undulating gray seas and a misty white sky. It’s been foggy for the most part of the past three days and we haven’t even seen the California coast yet and we’re only 5-10 miles offshore. Hopefully we’ll get a little scenery before we actually reach the Golden Gate.
When we’re traveling like this, hour after hour after hour you can’t help but think about how nice it is to have so much free time. I’ve spent literally hours just watching the sea go by while the children nap or play below. It’s been a long long time since we’ve had this much time to just be. I’ve even felt bored and that’s not something that’s happened in years. This morning while the guys were outside sailing the boat I cuddled with the girls in our bunk. Surrounded by blankies and stuffed animals and pink pillows we read stories for about two hours. No pressure to do anything else or be anywhere else because there just isn’t anywhere else to be. I could get used to this.
Of course, we’ll be in San Francisco in a day and a half; we’d better relish all this time while we can.
Total miles at noon: 568

Saturday, March 23, 2013


.. went much like every other day, recently.

It ended as I told you [my BFF] in a message: with my daughter sleeping peacefully in my bed.

In the interim, however...

I was packing my books into boxes. There is one - and only one - that will not fit into a standard "box pack" box. It is the illustrated history of the United States Navy. The book is leather-bound. It has always had a place, albeit at the bottom of a stack of irregulars, perhaps fronting my normal bookcase.

For some reason, I leafed through it. Perhaps because it was so unique. 

Within the first cover - it's hardbound - I found email after email between Shina and her then-lover Dan. Dan, the Second. 

Because I had stolen Shina from Dan, the First.

These emails exposed my most intimate emotions, raw. Yet... so long ago. It seems like a decade ago. Perhaps it was.

And still I read them. Well, at least the first couple pages.

I was nauseated, all over again. Not like the first time I discovered them, but I was sick nonetheless.

I remember placing them there, for safe-keeping, when I moved from our home  -Ours to just mine - to one of so much doubt. A friend's. One that would ultimately betray me, and send my father's service revolver to the smelt of the Baltimore Police Department.

I can remember the emotion I felt. Certainly the emotion I felt when I printed all those emails out and buried them in that book, for... I want to say "safe-keeping", but I'd be wildly inaccurate. Who wants to "safe-keep" the treasure of their world being torn asunder? Not me. But I needed something that would later remind me of the pain. Perhaps I was prescient, deciding unconsciously that the pain would eventually recede, but for whatever reason I needed to remember this. The facts, unadulterated.

Having made-up with Shina and since fallen-out again... for the "permanence", I was struck - upon discovering them yet again - by the insanity, the fruitlessness of keeping them still.

The book - it was bare before me. I hadn't even bore the time necessary to leaf through its expected appeal to my service. I perhaps have just assumed there would be a time when I wanted to document it. Perhaps share it with someone who has no idea.

It hasn't happened yet.

But what did happen is my re-discovery. I scanned the first few pages of this illicit romance and was unimpressed, if not sadly circumspect: "Neither of you children knew what the fuck you were doing." But I did.

I found myself yet again at a cross-roads: should I discard of this pack of printed-out email that I'd absconded with when I was burned, mortally? Or should I keep it, as a marker of some sort?

I kept it. I placed it all back within the leaf of my book - knowing that when next I consult it I'll be either near-death or certainly in another, truly fulfilling relationship - at which point I'll casually disregard it and see it burned in the trash.

Yet... a very profound part of me... doesn't believe in the "pre-life." I don't think it will ever leave me, so I have this compulsion to keep it near me -forever-, as I would evidence of God. My first and only touch - my first and only evidence -- that something truly was bigger than I.

So it remains on top of my bookcase, an orphan. The bookcase has been sold. All its neighbors have been boxed, but for this obstinate book. And this one ingratiating book remains... an orphan, again. Sitting there. Waiting for me to decide how I'll deal with its existence.

I like to think I can put it in a box - no matter how irregular - before I move. Before I say "goodbye!" to my current, convenient and comfortable life.  

But I don't know.

It is the talisman I do not know how to dispose of. It sits, and mocks me.


the end of S

Today is the end of the very Requiem that gave this blog its nature... and its name.

Though I've considered myself healed for some time now, today I pounded the last nail into the coffin that was my relationship with S.

Because I started this blog -- this Requiem -- with a letter I'd sent exposing every ragged edge of my freshly rent heart, I think it is fitting I end it with another letter, this one exposing to the world the mended wounds and puffy scars.

I don't think you -- or anyone -- will ever understand how extraordinarily difficult it is for me to read what you've written.

S. -- you're not dying. I died. For almost a year. A year, S.. I cannot -- for the life of me -- think of why you'd come to me a year after you left me in the way that you have. I feel foolish for even having devoted all that much thought to it, S., because it doesn't really matter, not in the end: I do not want to get back together. I want to say that I'm sorry, that I'm so sorry that I know it hurts you to see me write that, but I feel foolish. Because none of this is my fault.

None of this is my fault. Its not my fault that you left me. Its not my fault that you "hated" Nichole. Its not my fault that you were scared. Its not my fault that you cheated on me. Its not my fault that you let me suffer. Its not my fault that you let me let my daughter -- my blood -- depend on you and then suffer her own crushing disappointment because you left us. Its not my fault that Nichole trusts me as a father even less now. Its not my fault that I've had to pray to be a good enough father to Madison to explain that just because she's now twice seen people who say they love one another suddenly -- and in her child's mind, willfully -- disappear.

It isn't my fault, so I'm not going to say that I'm sorry. I have nothing to be sorry for. Lest you be convinced otherwise, though S., I am not angry, either. The only thing I am feeling is that I've moved on from the darkest chapter of my life.

And this is most certainly not about having found someone else, either. This is for me. And me alone.

Though much of what you wrote in this, your latest email bothered me a great deal. Because as I was reading your words, I had no control over the thoughts that sprang up inside me -- simultaneously as your words sped past my scanning eyes. Even my subconscious mind is aware of the senseless pain I suffered and works to protect me, even now.

You write of re-discovering your faith... yet I recall prayer books and Ketab-e-Agdas and Feasts and all the trappings of our faith being a very poignant part of our relationship, but no matter how many Feasts we attended in any of three states, you still did what you did. I cannot imagine how going to a conference now is any different than what you -- and we -- had already been doing.

Oh -- but there is one thing I will apologize for. And sincerely, too. I did, in fact, forget your birthday, S.. I'm sorry. Yet there will never be words that you can understand to explain what it was that I was doing or experiencing or feeling that day -- the 11th, that made it just another day in this hell hole. That it was the birthday of the woman that tore my heart out nearly a year ago was the last thing on my mind. Still, you remembered mine, and I didn't give you the same courtesy. Again, S., I'm sorry.

You tell me that you've been re-reading emails and letters and re-watching old videos and rummaging through your memories bag and pondering all it was that you had. That is the point... had. You had them all and you chose to live without them. All they are now are memories, S.... they are not the present, as they were then. That bag of memories stored in our office closet was within an arm's reach while you were writing letters to Dan. They didn't mean anything to you when they were right next to you.

Because I've spent so much time deployed this year, it was all that much more important to me that you loved Madison in my absence. You've told me about watching that old video of her and me playing together in the living room... yet for me, my only consolation in being separated from the both of you was that you were together, even if only sometimes. Yet now -- despite all the efforts I'm making to be her dad -- I've had her for likely not more than 15 days all year. Her soon-to-be stepfather has been more of a dad to her than I, and part of the reason for that is because my most significant link to her -- you -- marched out of our lives.

You've written about all these questions you suppose I have... oh, I do have them, but I no longer need an answer to them to survive. More importantly, I have come -- over time -- to painfully realize that there aren't answers to those questions. The "whys" that haunted me all that time will never be explained to me, and I'm okay with that, now. Certainly you'd make your effort to explain things, but even you, S., don't know the real reasons. Only that your actions led to me being gone...

Of course you remember my Pinning night and the fight that resulted from your unbuttoning that random guy's shirt. Its very much like the situation with Dan, or with so many other things... the fight never really properly ended because you honestly didn't know why you did what you did. Only that you had. And for so many hours I was unwilling to accept it. That you just had to know. But you didn't. In the end, of course, I just decided that I loved you too much not to forgive you, even without a reason. That by placing my heart in your hands despite you having almost willfully wounded it -- by trusting you -- that somehow -- someway -- you would realize something about yourself... you would recognize something within yourself... and you would deal with it, forever erasing your ability to hurt me like that. Certainly, though, it was just a sign. Of so many things to come. Yet I don't regret my choice... I don't regret chasing you down and insisting you get in the car so I could take you home. It's not my fault. And as I've said that that memory is very much like this... well, its because though you may now regret everything that has happened, I am certain you still don't know why. But what is important is this: I have accepted it. It's okay that you don't know. And it's okay that I'll never know.

Its a little amazing to me that you still remember the mug... and that you were tried so hard to get it fixed. It doesn't matter, S.. What matters is that while it sat unattended in a box, you were leading a love affair with another man. It could have sat there forever -- and I would have been disappointed, but not crushed -- had it just sat there while you lovingly pined for my return and afforded me the same loyalty that I gave you. But its a symbol for me; I hope you understand that. A symbol. Something that was so dearly important to me gave you no pause while you pursued someone else. Like me, I feel it was violated.

You wrote about that first time telling me that you love me... and as I read it, do you know what I remember, S.? Sending you that email describing my memory of you telling me that you love me. And your response to it... how it seemed wrong. But the part that kills me about this memory? That I later came home to discover that on the same day I'd sent it to you -- the same moment that I was pouring my heart and soul out and into your hands -- you wrote Dan, and lovingly. That memory, now, is forever tainted for me. Forever.

Another memory for me is also ruined... you write about Baha'u'llah telling you something? Showing you something? Do you know that it took me months, even after you'd left, to delete that text message you sent me from Israel? That loving, beautiful, poetic message you sent me after morning prayers on the mount? Yes. In it you wrote about your belief in Baha'u'llah having fated us together. Oh, and I believed it, too, S., I did. But somehow this divinely-ordained fate we imagined was not to be... this inspiration you found while facing the new day's sun over the most holy of our sites was forgotten. Invoking His name now in evidence of your feelings for me almost physically hurts.

The loudest voice, though -- the emotional defense which just swept over my body as would rage -- is reserved for your notion that I understand you. For so many reasons this is hurtful... I most clearly did not understand you. And the idea that I'm the only one... well, it doesn't fit... not even for you. You'll remember, S., that shortly before I left for this deployment you so cavalierly told me that Dan understood you as "no one else ever will." That would be me. But I'm okay.

You write of crying for weeks after leaving me. I don't know what this is supposed to mean to me... because I cried for you months after you left me. I would go on a mission and be shot at, S., and I would come back to Camp shaking and furious and my body and my will and my heart would just break and I would have to shuffle off to some place no one could find me and I would just lose it. Months. You will never, ever know that kind of pain. I say kind, S., because of all the things I do know about you, I do know that you have suffered tremendous pain. My point is that they are all different... all that pain you suffered -- though no less significant, it wasn't because your then-thought soul mate discarded you. I hope, at least, that you never come to know it.

Ah, another voice inside my head... that your email is supposed to be validation of a sort of change for you... that your love for me has transformed things... only a week or so after you sent me an insulting email in which you derided me for being a "grandpa." S., among all other things -- and something that I lovingly tolerated and ignored because of my love for you -- you were, sometimes, uncontrollably mean. You said terrible, terrible things to me when we were together... and every time, I forgave. I still forgive. Even "grandpa" -- though that is certainly the tamest insult. But I know you remember. I know you remember me coming to you vulnerable and open and hopeful and telling you how you were making me feel.

In those brief six weeks I was back in the States over the late part of Summer, I attended a work barbecue. There was a guy there that I was introduced to, and I was very interested in him, because he had recently gone through a course that I'm scheduled to attend, myself. In passing, he later mentioned that he worked for the same agency for whom you work. I asked him if he knew you, and of course, he did: "Oh, God, man, yeah I know her. She's fucking hot." He asked how I knew you, and I told him, briefly, that we had been together for nearly two years before you left me. I wasn't proud. His response? "Man, I hope you got one last one in; I would have." I was fucking. sick. I wanted to kill him. He, too, S., is a symbol. A symbol of the endless litany of men that paraded themselves past you hoping to attract your attention, attention you often gave. Especially at work. And in at least one notable case, you consummated. To be told, now, that pictures of me and you and perhaps my daughter adorn your computer makes me very uncomfortable. Because now, S., those pictures don't mean what they were supposed to have meant when we were still together. Now they're just some sort of tribute. Before, though... they were supposed to be a sign of the family whom you loved and to whom you were loyal. Now they are but images of the family to whom you weren't loyal.
...could you look at me and never question?

No, S., I could not. I can forgive you, but I could never, ever not question. And I won't put myself in that position, ever again. I don't deserve it. Nothing could ever happen between you and I that would convince me that it would be okay. For me to deploy again. For me to go to my work while you went to your work. For me to sit at home making dinner while you were on a weekend TDY. That I could leave the country safely knowing that my family, my love would be honored and cherished. I cannot trust you, S.. It is forever gone. And I'm sorry for that, but not to you... I'm just sorry. Which is funny... given that I started this letter saying that I wouldn't be.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Forgetting. Living. And Fourogh Farrokhzad

Alas, another night in which it was my first intention to forget. Everything else - and anyone else -- a bonus.

I sat alone at the bar. I was not uncomfortable; this is my place, though it may be ridiculed by those that know me.

It permits me a quick exit (on at least most occasions): I'm  just sufficiently  attractive that I will draw to my attention by those whom subsequently ape the stereotypical Sorority Girl... worse, the ... desperate Sorority Girl , clearly shaken by the life she now leads, and seeing nothing that fit within her 15-year plan. Lastly, there are the drags of Irish Bar civilization in Arlington - or as close as we can get it. Sorry. I was all of those, though all of them are a part of me, intrinsically and inexplicably.

My BFF (female) left the night - at my encouraging - with a meathead physical therapist that apparently pushes her buttons enough... All the while being bombarded by someone - Mike - that has made every effort to be her Beta conquerer. This never works well - and I suspect he knows it... but it would seem he's in in for the long game.

My .022: unquestionably, I'm in love with her. She's so called me out on it, months ago. Yet I am old and observant enough to (1) know a friendzone for what it is; (2) her particularly ill-informed and ill-advised choices when it comes to suitors whom do not meet at least the minimum of so many variables - previously an insidious skill only in the quiver of the one man that broke her...

A public shame.

Lots of us have been cheated on. Some - like myself- accepted step-Mom back after a good, silent track record.

At that time, I had deluded myself into thinking that whatever I'd become would be good enough. It wasn't. Despite my best efforts.

I haven't found this - ever - since I stared looking specifically for it. It evidently falls in your lap, or so I am to believe both from observation as well as participation.

So, really... I've stopped trying. I'd rather spend my working performance tix at the Kennedy Center with someone that would enjoy the music rather than my company.  That person is likely myself. These are unforgivably bead odds. I've resolved to them.

Her - on the other hand - is still feeling what it is to be alone, all the goods and bads.

I bleed for her, as do I bleed for myself. Fortunately, I do not have the self-discipline she does. Bulleit Rye bourbon, please, straight up!

I am compelled to end this self-pitying post with some poetry, from Fourugh Farrokhzad:

The Gift
I speak from the deep end of night.
Of end of darkness I speak.
I speak of deep night ending.

O Kind friend, if you visit my house,
bring me a lamp, cut me a window,
So I can gaze at the swarming alley of the fortunate.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A window into my psyche

Tonight, I abandoned all pretexts of not drinking alcohol during the week - otherwise an effort against calorie consumption, not out of concern of alcohol abuse - and I went to my neighborhood wine bar. It is a short walk.

Between then and now - as I write this - very little genuinely remarkable occurred. But for two things:

1) Before deciding to generate this post, I observed that my last was in August - and that it proclaimed that I may have met someone. How silly of me. I did not. Such is my story, I suppose.

2) On the long walk to my apartment down a winding corridor in my building, I heard - much before I actually arrived at it - a woman (a girl? I still call them that, because "woman" seems so mature, so old, so plain and librarian-shoed) arguing vehemently with (presumably) her boyfriend.

The reason for my post. Insight.

I liked her voice. I was dismayed at her protests. The closer I got to her apartment - I've never met her, mind you - the more enthralled I was. Once I'd passed it, and was sufficiently out of her door's peephole's field of view, I leaned against the wall and just listened.

She was angry, and disappointed. I gleaned that from her tone, and from the occasional word I could make out. Whoever the recipient of her anger was, he had clearly not met expectations. Though - to be honest - I couldn't make out her actual argument. I don't know the impetus, the subject.

I listened for only a pause. Then I left - home perhaps six doors down.

But while I listened - I was so close to being that Alpha. That White Knight. I imagined in my head, in a flash of craziness, that I would knock on her door, interrupt her argument - ("I've gotta go. Someone's at my door. Goodbye.") and say something like, "I'm sorry. I don't mean to interrupt. But whatever he did, I'll never do. Maybe...)

And that's where it ended, the lunacy. Maybe what, fuckhead? Maybe you can have coffee with me?  HOLY SHIT this is creeper behavior. HOME.

And here I write.

Yet as the subject indicates - once I've had time to take my nighttime medicines and change into my pajamas (cookie pants!) - I have had sufficient time to reflect, however momentary. My action and my insta-fantasy is a window into my psyche.

I want to save, and by doing so be saved.

Unhealthy. Alone.

C'est la vie*.

*Aside from obviously knowing what this means, I'm also trying to teach myself French as a fifth language. Nous allons voir comment il progresse.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

An impossibly unexpected today

Somehow, today needed to be documented. I met someone.

As it is for the moment - ever the optimist, mind you - the cylinders seem to fit the holes, and the boxes the squares. The puzzle's corners found.

God willing.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Twice Bitten, Thrice Shy

Perhaps two years into my marriage, my then-wife and I attended her sister's wedding. Among the preparations was an introductory class in tango.

I grew up in Crescent City, California. It's population in 1990 - when I moved there as a sophomore - was just over 3000. Since then, they've annexed the state prison for purposes of state funding allocations - a nifty accounting trick if ever I've seen one, and it's just over 7000.

Consequently, we had no clubs or dance halls or generally fuck-all to do as teenagers. Dancing didn't exist. It was the Pacific Northwest's version of Footloose, only no Baptists. My town's population that resided outside the prison walls was almost exclusively white with the exception of two Native American tribes. Again, dancing was not a culture.

Our "things to do" were either illegal consumptives or very Mayberry-ish activities: fishing, camping, hiking. There were beach bonfires and Wild Turkey. Going up into the mountains and stealing gas from the golf course at night.

I immediately joined the military once I became an adult, and dancing was not exactly a skill taught at basic training. By the time I made it to my first duty station in Monterey, California, raves were becoming the scene. What little time not spent studying and what little money I could scrape from an E-1's paycheck would go to trekking up to Berkeley and dancing the night away - notably minus the ecstasy. A point needs be made here, though: rave dancing is not dancing. It is white people just wobbling around to the sound of music. It's what we otherwise naturally do when asked to dance and we are untrained or unskilled. It was perfect for me.

The only thing easier is headbanging.

I was only in Monterey for a year, and then off I went to a bigger and scarier world where I spent perhaps 70% of my life deployed in a combatant role. No dancing in the Persian Gulf, no dancing in Iraq, Afghanistan or in the Horn of Africa. Coming home was restful and essentially became just a run-up for the next deployment.

In the meantime, however, my then-wife and I found ourselves in DC attending a tango dance class. Even before we arrived, I was nervous. I expressed this to her; I do not recall if she allayed my fear or ignored it. Importantly, this class was one of those where you stuck with your partner. It made sense -- we were going to tango together at her sister's wedding.

I focused intensely on every instruction the leader gave. I tried desperately over and over and over again to get the moves right. I repeatedly stepped on my partner's shoes. I apologized to her profusely, red-faced, but she stared back at me in anger. I knew this woman, even then. No more than thirty minutes into the session, my then-wife - tired of my two left feet - loudly interrupted the class and asked, "Can I switch partners?!"

I was crushingly humiliated. It cut me to the core. I tried to make a good social face of it - I in fact traded with another couple, but only after a minute or so of fumbling around with a blue-haired lady, I hurriedly excused myself and bolted across the dance floor and outside the building, where I waited for the class' conclusion.

Our marriage ended five years later.

Earlier this year, I was dating someone I met on OKCupid. She was aware of the story I've just recounted. On a late, drunken night returning back to my apartment, we walked by The Salsa Room, a cavernous and evidently extraordinarily popular dance hall less than a block from my home. She wanted us to duck in. I was surprised, to say the least.

We entered, and approached the bar. I tried to get a feel for the room; I would not be surprised if my mouth was agape at my admiration for the skill I was seeing -- the brilliant, flashing colors, wheeling and whirling and moving and thriving and syncing... it was all so beautiful. Not long after our arrival, I let the "fuck it" take over, and toed away from the bar and onto the floor where I just tried to move with the music. I asked my date if she would join me. "No."

"Why not? You wanted to come here."

"Because you can't dance. I'll dance with anyone here but you."

The night did not end well. Perhaps two months later, I left her. For that reason and many better.

Dancing has always been my achilles heel. Even before I became sick and everything became harder.

I used to believe (and still sometimes do) that I can do anything. That 12 mile run in the desert? Done. Qualifying for airborne? Done. Be selected for such-and-such? Done. Beat Zach at basketball? Crushed him.

But do anything other than that sort of white-guy shuffle/bump&grind? No. I cannot do it. Aside from having tried it, I've been kicked in the side enough to now be afraid to try. Which sucks, of course.

Maybe some day.