Not at 12:30 a.m. Not after a long week. Not after the party is long over and you’re sitting in solitude – lightning flashing all around, hot breeze threatening to bring respite to your stretch of the city.
But here I am – begging the wind, begging the sky for a change.
We’re all making the same plea, right? We’re all going to change – for the better, because we have to, because we’ve planned it, because we’ve gotta’ make it for the kids, for our spouse, for something larger than us.
We’re all gonna’ change. It’s the mantra that drives a first-world economy. Not, “We have to survive.” No: “We have to change.”
I call bull.
We have to survive. Period.
Anything else is wishful thinking.
* * *
Today was sort of as it should be, I guess.
I did chores. Bought groceries. Filled the water bottles. Returned unused things to the hardware store.
And then I made dinner for friends.
They stayed long into the night.
Long after they left, I sat alone on the porch. It’s where I am now. On the cusp of change.
Or, maybe, on the cusp of a promise I keep making, but never deliver upon.
The day brings such clarity.
The night is unknown.
The night lacks control.
You think, maybe, I have some reign on all of this?
Quite the contrary.
It pulls me this way and that.
All my efforts at self-control, destroyed by the clock, and the sky, and the stress.
I’m out of my element.
And yet so within it.
The clink of the glass. The rustle of the wind. Lightning flashes on the horizon.
Yeah, this feels okay.
* * *
Tomorrow night, my children come home after 27 days away.
And if all that poetic mumbo-jumbo means nothing to you, let me spell it out: tomorrow I return to routine.
Routine is good in some realms. Routine allows me to do “what is right.”
Maybe it’s easy for you. It’s not easy for me.
Addiction runs through my veins.
Everything I’ve earned, I’ve earned the hard way.
I’ve been hospitalized. I’ve seen family members hospitalized. I’ve watched family members deteriorate under the spell of substance.
So I walk a fine line.
It’s like a tight rope.
Lose your balance? There’s the cliff.
No one can save you now.
* * *
Only, I have walked that tight rope for such a long time now.
In 2006, I spent 8 months in AA and I learned a lot about myself. About my source(s) of anger, about my own insecurities, about the moments in my life that once played like a broken record – over and over and over again.
I came out on the other side of that experience ready to embrace existence; ready to stop defining myself by the ways I had been wronged, and instead by the experience I wanted to have.
It was monumental; one in a string of life-changing experiences.
If you think you’re reading a confessional, stop. It changed everything.
I don’t walk the path of regret anymore. But I do tow the line.
And that’s the sort of craziness of it all; I’m stuck in 38-year-old limbo.
Where from here? Where do I go?
Most of it is all so numb.
Feeling? It’s fleeting.
I “do” because I have to; I “do” because I know no alternative.
* * *
But that’s a lie, too.
I “do” because I know there is something bigger than me.
They arrive on a nonstop jet from Newark tomorrow at 9:27 p.m.
And I must guide them; and lead them; and misdirect them from my own weakness.
Who gave me this responsibility?
Who trusted me with this purity?
Tomorrow they will get off that jet, and I will hold them.
Here we go.
God, I pray, give me the strength to be the father they need for another year.
Yeah, I have to pray for that.
Over and over and over again.