Going through some old files, I found a thick folder, my divorce file from the demise of Donna, the second Mrs. Logan.
The bloody thing must weight 15 pounds. It’s 4 inches thick. We were only married 2 ½ years, had no children or property together and still, it took 3 years to get divorced. I was thinking of tossing it out but I just know, if I do that, the book keeper or tax man will come looking for some obscure receipt I can’t produce, so I better keep it.
If I’d killed her, I’d be out by now.
I shouldn’t talk about that. But 3 years to divorce after 2 ½ years of marriage! I could have saved the legal fees and lived off the state for a while. Three squares a day, a place to sleep, work to do and no commuting . . . it might have been better that way.
But it wasn’t. I’m not down on women, really. Quite the opposite. My marriage to the first Mrs. Logan lasted 17 years, produced two wonderful children, a business and lots of good experiences. And a business failure. And alcoholism. But I got sober, I got out, the divorce was relatively amicable. And I moved on.
There were two other lived-with relationships along the way, but when I do the math, 19 of the last 25 years, I’ve been alone.
That’s a lot of solitude.
I’ve often wondered how many people have a sequential logical story of their lives – the kind that burps along according to plan, error free, that then fades to black at the end – idyllic life, soft music playing.
It seems everyone I encounter wants that perfect fairy tale.
Winston Churchill said “Never, never, never give up.”
He also said, “A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.”
I ascribe to the former. Can’t seem to shake the latter, when it comes to my affliction.
I sit here.
In my lonely room.
My empty living room.
That’s a stupid name, isn’t it?
No bars on the door.
This is not a prison.
I can go out any time I want.
I stepped out to get my morning papers.
That snow-whipping breeze had died, leaving splats of white, on my chocolate door resembling confectioners sugar sprayed wildly like an accidental spit-out, from the whipped cream dispenser – splattered everywhere but not enough to coat anything completely.
Sunny, but not dazzling.
Bright enough for 8:00AM at this time of year.
I paced. Raced, fetched, carried, filed, packed, sorted, trashed a hundred things.
Room to room. Keep, or not – put away, or throw away.
Fingers newsprint ink icky – shuttling laundry loads, vacuuming another room. Chores, work avoidance in high gear, procrastinating the projects that really needed my attention – I’ve become the manifestation of domesticity.
For what I hoped would be the inevitable phone call.
Or knock on my door.
The phone didn’t ring.
Nobody rang the doorbell, or knocked.
And, I poured another cup of coffee, waiting to get my act together.
I had only eight things to do.
Three were easy.
Two could wait.
Two would easily take thirty to forty hours, so finishing them this weekend was overly ambitious of me.
One will, I am afraid, take me all the rest of my days.
I let trouble accumulate.
Not trouble so much, as the trouble that builds from letting important things slide.
I’ve done that lots, so it isn’t surprising I suppose, to have the delays pile up – the work accumulate to the point it becomes gargantuan.
I’ve accumulated a lot. I’ve been on a kick lately, throwing away old things – clearing the clutter, reducing my footprint, shedding the trappings, moving on . . .
Throwing things away … going through them, trashing old things I’ve hoarded like a pack-rat. The bonus, aside from getting rid of things I don’t need or want, is the by-product percolating of ideas, but what comes with that is the stirring of memories. Stirring up emotions, old shit, unresolved shit, and a fair amount of self-involved chickenshit.
Or maybe, in middle age, it’s the memories more than the troubles that accumulate – so many recollections of great times, opportunities and fantastic women, that slipped through my fingers.
Why wasn’t I holding them tighter? What did I do wrong? I’ve lived, loved, played and been enthralled by big brains with spectacular women wrapped around them. Loving women. Caring women. Kind women. But not, sadly, the keepin’ kind.
Near misses, too many to count; most like asteroids missing earth by 80,000 miles, a precious few crashing directly into my world, on target.
But they are all gone.
Some remain friends. A few.
One shuns friendship, won’t reconnect and won’t exit my life – but the truth is, I haven’t been able to let go. “It’s not you honey, it’s me!”
I want my honey.
Middle age sucks.
My old buffet is sagging.
So am I.
I just noticed it – from where I was sitting on the couch, it has a little sag in the middle.
Not like an old mare, but more of an elegant gentle dip.
A sign, I suppose of mature furniture, a cabinet with a sore back.
Like me. My back goes out more than I do. Not really, but that seems an apt description for my social life lately.
I can’t imagine how old age will feel. At least, in the home, I’ll have people to talk to. Half of them will be senile or just plain crazy, but at least they won’t run off . . .
Hopefully, that scenario is a quite a few years in the distance, but the more I have friends getting cancer, having heart valve bypasses and reading obituaries of people I missed getting to know well enough – it makes me question my choices and how I venture, or adventure, out in the world. And reminds me time is a commodity in short supply.
That old saying about ‘if I’d known I was going to live this long I’d have taken better care of myself’ seems true. But I’ve always thought I would live a long time. I just felt invincible. Strong, healthy, active, good teeth, good eyesight and hearing that only falters from wax build-up.
But, you see, I have contracted something.
Many of us have this, I believe.
Something we carry around. Once infected, there seems no cure. I’d like to think I’m just a carrier – and hope I haven’t infected anyone. I’ve had this issue for a few years. It’s not generally contagious – not a skin condition, but an emotional condition we’ll call the lonely virus.
I’m not talking about solitude, or solitary time.
Everybody needs some of that.
Privacy, alone time. As an only child I had plenty of that early on. It isn’t something I crave as some people do, but I understand the need for a healthy balance. If I’ve craved anything in this regard it would be people.
But lonely, that’s another matter. Lonely won’t touch you, talk to you or give you any kind of connection. If lonely reaches out to you at all, it is to envelope – to house, cloister, hide away and segregate you from the whole world.
I hunger for connection, need connection, crave touch, thrive on intimacy and, like anyone – like everyone, I need reciprocal love and caring in my life. And I need someone to find me, someone to call 911, if I don’t get up when I fall.
So, really, how can we avoid this virus?
You can’t catch it from a toilet seat, or standing in line at the check-out?
Well, at least not with your clothes on.
Sure, it might be benign – harmless really, something you carry around in your system but never give to anyone else unless you are truly depressed and coughing it up on everyone . . .
That’s what people used to think and the medical profession – what they hell do they know?
Experimenters who diagnose by ruling out things until they find it, unless you die before they get to the thing that was really going to kill you.
An old carnival barker with a Ouija board has as good a change as most of them. I read the other day that most patients over 65 know more about their diseases than the doctors.
To be fair, docs have to stay up to date on everything which seems impossible, whereas the patients have lots of time on their hands to Google everything ever thought or learned about the problem, so they can bring their doctors up to date on the latest breakthroughs, items from WebMD and New England Journal of Medicine stories before the doctor’s copy can arrive in the mail.
I Googled my ailment. I got 381,000,0000 results for LONELY in 0.21 seconds. Thanks Google, I needed that. Then I Googled PAIN– for which I got 1,060,000,000 results in 0.09 seconds.
Suddenly, I felt more unique by a factor or 381/1060 . . . and in 9/100ths of a second!
My problem is lonely and the most obvious manifestation thereof – loneliness. I swear, if lonely was a virus, we’d all be contagious at some point.
I’m a carrier.
And lonely, to be clear, is not solitude. Solitude is good, right? Solitude, alone time, space – we need that so there can be privacy and peace.
But, enough already with the solitude!
That ceased to be solitudinous (my invented word for that), morphed into the most despicable of ailments known to man, or woman, or boy or girl – this condition of loneliness-itis (another word I invented because there wasn’t one for it and I don’t have a Latin dictionary or thesaurus kicking around).
Mark my words, one day some guy with a needle shaped nose and spindly glasses in a research park in San Diego will find a cure – and be paraded around as the next Jonas Salk, saving us from this scourge.
But don’t hold your wheezy breath there old timers, it won’t happen in your lifetime. Hell, they can’t cure AIDS after 30 years or cancer after a hundred, so how can anyone find a cure for lonely. Not in a lifetime. Not in mine.
I was laughing at a friend’s story. Gail is 58. She bought something the other day – it doesn’t matter really what it was (I think it was a pot. Something for her kitchen) – she was bragging it came with a lifetime guarantee.
“What a waste of money, to pay for a lifetime guarantee at your age”, I told her, “you should have bought that when you were 20”.
Besides, she doesn’t cook!
My lifetime . . .
Just when we figure it out, or think we have, it can be gone or unalterably changed in a heartbeat. OK, in the case of a heart attack it’s that quick.
Each morning, when I read my paper, I scan through the obituaries. I look to see how many were older than me, how many were younger. Too often I don’t like the split.
How do you measure longevity?
Is quality of life measured by length, or by depth?
Dreamy daydreaming on sunny hill, laying there staring at clouds as a teenager or staring at the ceiling now, what is a lifetime?
With or without a guarantee, I think it is something we ought to understand better and learn more about. We should teach little kids in school to think about it. Before you become an adult you should have to take a test – get a permit, like when you learn to drive a car – to test-drive your life under someone’s guidance before entering into adult life.
Maybe we’d screw up less that way.
I could tell you the twisted tale of my path, from way back then, until now, but would it make sense?
There ought to be a word, not a corny word, that says both gorgeous and delicious at the same time, not a come-on, but as a description of how she looks. Looked. I still remember.
But each week, I forget a little bit more. I can open up a photo album, and there she is, as if frozen in that time, those moments, there and then – and memories flood back and overwhelm the logic in my brain. I put on that CD, her oldies, her voice . . . so rich, so pure, intoxicating. But I know . . . I know she’s lost to me. And I to her, and even if we could find each other again – or both want to, you can’t go back, can you?
I’m a bit like a teenage girl, sitting at home on a summery Friday night waiting for the phone to ring.
Only, I’m not a teenager, I’m not a girl and it’s a wintry Sunday afternoon.
I feel like a song lyric . .. ‘here I sit in my lonely room’.
. . . as if rooms get lonely.
Maybe they do.
A chair can’t be happy if nobody sits on it, can it? And what joy can there be for a couch, or a carpet or art on the wall if there is nobody home to inhabit them?
I wonder about things like that as I sit here listening to old tunes given me by old flames that only flicker in the distance now though I can still feel the heat.
It takes a long time to become young. I guess we grow into it.
Urge to kill her . . . should be suppressed. Suddenly my mind flashed back to thoughts of the first Mrs. Logan. How can I commit pre-meditated murder and have it look like a spontaneous act. I’ll have too make sure I don’t write it down anywhere. Oops!
Or maybe not.
I’d written her recently. Her name is Amanda. That’s not her real name. She’s not the first, but for now she fits the description of the last in a dwindling series of precious women in my life.
We’d been an item last year.
Several times we’d discussed re-connecting, she waffled, but I wouldn’t take her NO for an answer. I kept trying. She kept rejecting. Each time she would tell me what a great guy I was, how wonderful her memory of our times together were, and – like driving a stake through me – emphasize once again, that she didn’t love me. Anyway, I sent her an e-mail, again, inviting contact – again. It included this bit:
Love, endlessly teasing mistress, temptress, goddess of intrigue personified by awesome lovely creatures I’ve met - I’ve had good fortune to meet, date, marry, divorce, live with and know spectacular (I use that word a lot) women in my life. Changed me, taught me, folded, spindled, mutilated – they’ve touched and held and melted me, they’ve been my best friends, over and over and still, alone again, I am so grateful.
. . . not so much to entice her back to me. I could hope! But, rather, to describe my posture – my status – if you will, in seeking love.
And yes, I sent it to her hoping she might un-slam the door she’d closed on us. I invited her to call, or knock on my door, anytime. I moved recently, so I sent her the new address and confirmed that the phone number hadn’t changed.
It didn’t succeed.
Well, not yet anyway.
But one can hope . . .
Until she called the other night.
But I shouldn’t complain, should I?
Because if she hadn’t been drinking she wouldn’t have called.
“What we had, that’s intimacy.”, she said.
Discussion roamed – wandered is a better description – widely, from 11:30 last night, until nearly 2:00AM.
We signed off, a mutual “good night” which neither implied further conversation, or not.
I don’t need a lifetime guarantee.
I need a knock on my door.
I completed my tasks, the easy ones.
The difficult ones will take a couple more weekends of heavy slogging.
Shedding this virus will take me all the rest of my days.
The phone rang. I sprang from my chair, sped to answer, “Hello, hello, Matt Logan speaking.”
It wasn’t Amanda.
It was Jo Ann. She’s coming to visit.
“That’s great. Come when you can. Stay as long as you like . . . .