“So tell me I’m good as gold
Tell me I’m beautiful
Tell me you won’t get old
And leave me alone ...”
(Good As Gold, Dala 2012)
I had no idea when I got out of bed that the day would be so overwhelming. I should have known what was to come. I should have seen it coming. From the moment my feet touched to floor, the day was set. Fate took over and so did chaos. I can only recall the groggy world I awoke to. Like a zombie I rose without direction, without anything but the fog that greets me every Morning. My medication works very well. Coffee works even better. I sat for a moment lingering on the edge of the bed. My partner ground his teeth for that moment but fell back into his very own rest. Movement meant coffee, but it seemed to take forever to just fill my cup. The traditional coffee maker dripped and dripped in an endless display as I waited, then waited some more. Frustrated, I emptied two sweeteners into my favourite mug and poured out all of the coffee that had percolated. Of course, my cup was half empty. I fed the cats and fed my rodents, then I filled my cup to the rim. I sat down to watch the local news.
Be careful how you walk through life, there are many obstacles on the path you follow. Around every corner another hurt, another pain, another moment of abandon. Something wicked approaches, it is just around the bend. You won't see it coming either. On Thursday, April 29th, 2010, I faced one of my greatest fears. It came in the silence of the morning and tossed me straight into a fresh hell. After my third cup of coffee, and the departure of my partner, I sat down at my computer. I was in a happy place, I had been for awhile. My relationship wasn't perfect but it was much better than most. My family seemed alright to me, my mother and my father content with the life they have shared together. For even the briefest of moments, all seemed right with the world. The process flowed through me, almost as quickly as all that coffee. I sat engrossed in the outpouring of my spirit into digital glory. For a brief time, I think that I found my otherland. Most of all, I remember thinking how fortunate I had been for escaping all the doom and gloom that my journey had heaped upon me. Finally, I could see beyond the tragedies that seemed to have defined me. I was finally, somehow, starting to feel like I could breathe again. At 10:11 AM, the phone rang.
“You chase me like a shadow
And you haunt me like a ghost
And I hate you some,
And I love you some
But I miss you most”
(On a Bus to St. Cloud, Trisha Yearwood 1995)
It was so cold that I had to turn up the thermostat. I moved from the bed towards it. I left him laying there, face against the far side of the bed. He didn't move, he didn't make a sound. He remains frozen in that state, frozen in that time. The rise in heat did not warm the coolness I can see between us. I should have known when he didn't get up to see me off that something was amiss. He always came with me when I went out of town for the weekend. Work was work, and sometimes it meant relocation, if even for a few quick days. I had my coffee and I jumped in the shower. I checked a few times to see if he had stirred. He was lifeless, and distant, so I leaned over him and whispered his name. He was unresponsive but at least he was moving, at least he was breathing. A weekend in
Toronto was not uncommon. The strange part is he refused to come with me, unlike he had many times before. Hindsight is 20/20 but I swear I could see the sadness in him just the night before. I watched him, watching the television as I laid down the hall from him trying to get to sleep. The last thing I remember is the clanging of beer bottles as he returned from a trip to the fridge. The first thing I remember was the warmth of his back just before I faced the cold. I sometimes close my eyes and transport myself there, to the moment I awoke. I am found in the otherland but I still cannot touch. I will myself to go there, to turn up there in spite of reality. I open my eyes so hopeful, so willing to bend all time. I never get to go, not really.
There were warnings signs, I just didn't see them at the time. I suppose I could blame sheer blindness for the not knowing. I used to curse myself for not waking him, not shaking him until he got up and came with me. On Saturday, February 11th, 1995, I left the apartment at 7:32 AM and headed towards the big city. I grabbed my wallet, my keys and a thermos full of coffee for the journey. I had no idea where this weekend was going. I had no idea the creature lurking just around the bend. I never saw the fresh hell coming, I swear I never saw it at all. I was a fool, a non-medicated Bi Polar running around like a chicken with his head cut off. I couldn't see what was happening because I could only see me, my fury, my fate. I didn’t stop to pay attention to all those warning signs. Still, I am responsible. I walked away thinking everything would be okay and returned to nothing would ever be okay again. That’s the thing about my direction back then, No matter what road I took, I always ended right back in the same place. I couldn't see where I was going, let alone anyone else. Sometimes I wonder if I was leaving him all alone. Maybe I got so lost in my own world that I failed to see his was crumbling away. I walked down the hall that morning. One last kiss, then one last look, until I see you again.
“I toss and turn and scream,
I try to do everything
With two feet on the ground
I just keep falling down again
I feel so far from home,
Completely all alone
And then I hear You say
I am here, I am here”
(Beautiful History, Plumb 2009)
“Oh good,” I said this to myself as I sat down at the kitchen table. There was almost nothing I liked more than a Saturday Morning bowl of Cap’n Crunch. Except for Saturday morning cartoons of course. Since the first day I can remember, I remember sitting in front of the boob tube, hooked on it like it was candy. I got lost in this type of otherland. The escape was always so enthralling for me. I still get swept away when I watch animated television. Back when I was 12, my life revolved around Saturday morning. I waited and waited and waited all week. I much preferred superhero-based tales like Spider-man or The Herculoids, even Space Ghost, but I settled for almost anything if it was fantasy and illustrated. On the fringe of puberty, my loyalties to this genre had started to wane. Dirty books, friends and music all seemed to replace Hong Kong Phooey, Land of the Lost and even the Superfriends. By approximately 11 AM on Saturday, January 28th, 1978, I had grown tired of my regular Saturday morning schedule. As Kaptain Kool and the Kongs played out on ABC, I headed upstairs to record music using my brother’s stereo system. It was rare that none of the older boys were home, so I took advantage of the restricted airspace and invaded. I readied myself and the large red record button on my Panasonic Cassette Tape Recorder and let the music play. I popped my brother’s 45 RPM copy of How Deep is Your Love?, from Saturday Night Fever, onto the platter mat, lowered the stereo arm and walked down the hallway to a fresh hell. There I went about the business of singing, the recording was simply my accompaniment. I still know every word of the tune. It always takes me back. I had engaged the recorder and captured, just for me, every note of the song. At the top of the stairs, heading down to the first floor, I sang like the fifth Bee Gee. As the music played, as I got taken away by the melody, I finally saw it coming. In that moment, all was lost.
Every time I hear that song, and I hear it an awful lot, I flash back to that landing, and the villainous steam radiator sitting there waiting for me. I can still hear the thunder and I can still feel the pain and the agony. I had no idea when I got up that day the fate that awaited me. I may have only ripened to a dozen years but I should have known better. If you’re going to dance with giants, wear heavy shoes. At the time, I didn't see that my path was primarily rather chaotic. Even as a child I felt neglected and abandoned by a God I had been convinced existed. Standing there all those years ago was a pinnacle, not only in a physical sense but also spiritually. I believed God was with me back then so I had no idea how little that would matter in the long run. He never healed me. He never did a thing that anyone might have noticed. The moment I met the monster at the bottom of the stairs was enough for me. If God is supposed to watch over us and if He has control over all things, then why did he let the falling beast consume me? For the first time, I could not find Jesus. He wasn’t anywhere to be found. It’s just logic, at least it was to my 12 year old mind. If the righteous man is covered “by the Blood” then calamity, consequence, all these things and more must be from abandon. I was left there, cactus in my back and heavy metal pressing down. In between the tumble and the damage, and somewhere between the act and discovery, I think I thought I heard His voice. I have never been sure if it was Him or insanity. I was only a mortal boy so what did I know and how could I possibly discern such a thing? Unfortunately, any voice has long been overshadowed. When I look back now, all I can hear is me screaming.
Feel it on my finger tips,
Hear it on my window pane
Your love's coming down like
Wash away my sorrow,
Take away my pain
Your love's coming down like
(Rain, Madonna 1992)
Every day of my life, I wake up to the fog. It lingers briefly but enough to make me seem rather dazed and confused. Once it lifts, I am left with only the day ahead of me. It doesn't matter what I plan on doing. I could be at home, out on the road, working somewhere, existing somewhere else. It doesn’t matter my schedule and appointments for that time period, I am always unsure what the day might bring. I cannot help but notice my dread, a constant struggle with what may happen and what is to come. I can trust in God all I want but I have been there and have I ever done that. It does me no good. All the Faith in the world won’t stop the rain from falling. I am once bitten, thrice shy. My biography reads like a fresh hell. Things have always gone from bad to much worse. Often, each day is anti-climatic. More than not, my days are just a blur. Nothing happens to put me out of sorts. Nothing to speak of is an understatement. Perhaps it may be a good thing to worry about what the day may hold. If we focused more on prevention versus damage control, we might not have a need to dread and worry. Watching for doom may not seem productive but I am rarely surprised. At least, not until another calamity occurs, or another person dies, or I get hit by a truck while trying to cross the road to get my mail. So I wonder what lies in waiting. I anticipate chaos so I am never overwhelmed by it. My glass is never half full. I must constantly be aware of what may come in order to maintain what is. I have always been this way since I was a child. Regrettably, bedlam always comes with no warning, no matter how prepared you think you are.
“Life can change in the blink of an eye
You don't know when and you don't know why
‘Forever Young’ is a big fat lie
For the one who lives and the one who dies.”
(Shovel in Hand, Amy Grant 2013)