Friday, July 24, 2015

A Vertigo of Sorts

It is often discussed in the blogging community - what to do when you haven't posted for a while.  The consensus seems to be just ignore it and move on.  Don't acknowledge your absence or make excuses or write an extremely long post to make up for it.  Just move on...


See there, I already pointed it out.  It has been a few weeks.  And, I have been very busy... doing, uh, stuff and going, well, places and, uh, seeing people and, like, stuff...

Listen, the truth is I haven't wanted to post.  Well, that's not true either.  I haven't been wanting to think and writing is thinking with letters, so, I guess I haven't wanted to write much.  I've been trying, here and in my other writings, to go deeper - to find the layers under the ones I have already exposed.  You know what?  That's hard.  It can hurt to make fresh the wounds and joys and sorrows and confusion that is our emotional past.  And, here's the really hard part, it can expose and wound others and I am unwilling to do that.

I wish I wasn't.

Sometimes the past, my personal past, the miasma that is half memory, half imagination, rolls over me so hard it nearly buckles my knees.  It is not the sadness or happiness or guilt, it is not the strange details mixed in with the smokey vagueness of it all, it is not even the weight and scope of the memories a long lifetime contain that bowl me over.  No, it's the speed of it all.

I went to a college reunion of sorts, people I knew from my theater days.  A rock band was resurrected and played for fifty-some people in a conference room in a college inn.  It was fun.  Guys and gals I hadn't seen in twenty or thirty years filled bars I hadn't stood in in perhaps longer than that.  It was all so familiar, the wood grain on the walls, the yeasty smell of beer, the sound of a band I'd heard so often I knew the words to songs I hadn't heard in forever.

It was hard to deal with, honestly.  It wasn't just the memories, it was the memories mixed in the now sloshing over the ice of what was to come.  At times an emotional vertigo panicked me.  Afraid and confused by the flood of images swirling in the sadness of lost and forgotten dreams, I wanted to jump in, or off, or smack into them all at the same time.  It was as though I wanted to be those memories again, but, I knew that was a dangerous idea, a folly, an illusion.

To put it simply and, well, unoriginally, "you can't go home again."  Oh sure, you can go to Tony's and see old lovers laugh and cry at the loves lost and listen to music, still too loud, and shout 'til your voice is raw.  You can do a couple rounds of "Hot Nuts" and marvel at the pleasantness and warmth that your pal alcohol offers.  You can return to the sticky floors and brick dorms and smell the theater in which you performed and built and flew and fornicated.  You can go to the same college bookstore again and get your obligatory sweatshirt - more expensive than you'd have ever paid as a student.  You can do all that - you can relive, revive, resurrect, reconstruct, revisit, rearrange, reinvent it all you want.

But you can't do it all for the first time ever again.

I think that's why the memories came so painfully and sweepingly.  When I put it all in context, when I realize the importance the past all plays in my present, I feel pulled, physically almost, both ways and stand, flummoxed by the irreconcilability of the two sharing the same moment.  This is what it looks like:

It is somewhere between a a smile and a grimace, between a regret and a hope, somewhere between now and then.  In fact my old friend Bob posted this image on FB with the caption "The look of past, present and future happening all at the same time."  That is exactly how I felt all weekend.

I suppose I am glad I went, it was nice to see my old friends and all that.  As a parent in this new century - hell, as a person in this new century - we, I, get so caught up in the "now" of it all I forget I have a past, a place that I came from, a person I once was, and it is certainly nice to be reminded of all that.  It is also nice to hear the success stories of all those you once knew, but, but... it is hard to feel the heavy melancholy in dreams unfulfilled, in youth lost, of time past and the heartbreak and sadness inherent in the aging we all must suffer.

I am not sad because I feel old.

I am not sad because I feel regret.

I am not sad because I am not what or who I once was.

No.  I am sad because I understand it all now a little better and the tear in my eye is for my former self for not recognizing the beauty in those moments as they happened and yet, somehow, seeing their import and laying the memories down so gently so that I could get to them later... this later, now.  I think the sadness comes in seeing the perfect beauty of it all.  It is the sadness of understanding, I think, that catches in my chest and wells up in my eyes.

I wonder if that makes any sense.

I joked in opening this today that one should not write an overly long piece when one has been away a while.  I did that jokingly because I was going to write more on this topic, this "emotional vertigo" I feel sometimes, and I figured I'd go on and on about the reunion and...  I stopped, though, when I realized that I was telling stories that were not mine to tell, but I am sure glad I got to hear them, to be a part of them, but to leave them in the heart of the teller, that is sometimes my job as well.

Thanks for coming around again.  It's funny and bit hard to explain, but, well, I've missed you.

Oh, and from Marci's "...things you don't expect to hear from the backseat..."

"We have never drowned in our lives."

It's a valid point, but...

Peace to you, come back again if you can.