Nov 30, 2012

Time Is The Great Healer

"Time is the great healer."

Ron's Doorbusters Sale!  Everything Must Go!  Into The Garbage! (not Garrett)
I remember my Dad telling me that after my breakup with Rachel.  She was my first real girlfriend, my first real relationship, my First Great Love.  Rachel was the first girl that made me step back and say to myself, "Dude, you don't deserve someone this awesome."  Yes, when I talk to myself, I call myself 'Dude'....

But I didn't really step back and realize how unworthy I was until after it was too late, after I had put a big crack in what Rachel and I had.  And by the time I desperately scrambled to do some serious masonry work, it was too late.  The crack had become too deep.  Relationships don't fracture like pavement does.  And sometimes repairs can never be made. 

This isn't about me lamenting Rachel, tho.  Believe me, I've done more than my share.  Just ask my friends, my family.  You can ask some of my other ex-girlfriends too.  They all know how hard that hit me.  Like a hurricane.  But I don't lament Rachel anymore - when the first girl you truly loved becomes a woman and marries another dude, moves away, and has twins with him, that's usually a good sign that it's time to stop the stalking.  Message received, gods of the universe.

This is where I would normally post a picture of Rachel and I, but I don't have any to post.  I got rid of all of them years ago.  I couldn't bear to look at them, I couldn't bear the memories.  But this isn't about Rachel.  I hope she's having a nice life.

This is about "Time is the great healer."

There are two items in my post-Sandy refugee camp that remind me of Rachel, a full decade after I last saw her, last cried on her shoulder, last looked her in the eyes and told her I loved her.  Two parting gifts, that stuff we float away with as the heartbreak rushes in like a flood.  For me, it's a 49ers fleece blanket and a Gap leather jacket - once-Rachel gifts, survivors of my Sandy carnage.  There are few artifacts of my past left, and tomorrow they will go onto a truck and into a new place to bear witness to my post-hurricane adventure.

It took time for me to get over Rachel - a lot of time - and even tho I no longer lament her, I still think about her a lot.  I still have reminders of her that have nothing to do with blankets and leather.  When I bake cookies, I think of Rachel.  She would store all her baked goods in Tupperware with a piece of fresh bread and some paper towels.  Both absorb the moisture in the container, keeping sweet treats soft and fresh, and so now I do the same.  Which makes me think of the time Rachel baked me some birthday brownies while she was away at college.  It was a surprise.  They showed up inside a Priority Mail box packaged in that same bread and paper towel filled Tupperware, and they were fucking delicious.  The Tupperware had a red cover.  Sometimes those 'little moments' are the ones that are etched into your consciousness forever.

Rachel and I had just started dating.  It was a long-distance relationship for awhile.  There was no Internet, at least in the way we know it, so gifts like that were especially thoughtful, and indicative of the type of girl she was and probably still is.  It was the first of six years' worth of meaningful gifts we would exchange, both material and spiritual, sexual and existential.

I still point to that time of my life - the post-Rachel fallout - 2002 - ten years ago, as my lowest point as a human being.  I was 27 and life as I knew it was over, forever changed.  My New Millennium lasted two years.  There were no hurricanes, no divorce papers, no loss of funds.  No one died.  But this was only happening to me, no one else.  My pain, my regret.  I was alone, and I have never felt more helpless.

My grandmother died of Mad Cow Disease a decade earlier.  I was 16, no one close to me had died or even gotten sick before that.  And then Nana went, in a way I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.  I had chicken pox at the funeral.  And somehow losing Rachel was worse.  Because I shared my Nana's death, her suffering, with my closest people.  We got through it together.  The breakup was just me.  Sure, people were sad for me, sad to see her go.  But it's not the same, it's never the same except for the two people it's actually happening to.

My Sandy Situation reminds me of my Rachel Situation.  Yes, this happened to a ton of people in New York and New Jersey, people of all ages, all creeds, all shapes and sizes.  Just like breakups do.  Yes, some of the situations are much worse than mine, some much better.  But I'm enduring this hurricane situation - my situation - alone.  As a single man.  Because of my Rachel-related failure, because of my failed marriage, because of my recent romantic hardships.  This is where I was on the chessboard when the floods came.  I was a King without a Queen.  It's no coincidence, don't think that it is.

But Time is the great healer.

I'm moving tomorrow.  Two people volunteered to help me.  It's a Friday, it's the holidays, it's cold.  Moving sucks.  My house will be demolished in the morning and by the evening I'll be in a new place.  I still need a mattress, a couch.  I still need a lot of stuff.  I still need mold remediation.  I still need money from insurance, from the government.  And I haven't gotten a dime yet.  It's been a month.  ONE MONTH TODAY, UNCLE SAM.  And not a dime.  I still need hot water and electricity and gas and heat.  I probably went back to work too soon, but work is nuts this time of year, as it is in a lot of places that depend on the holiday season to drum up business, and I'm needed there.  I've already missed a dozen board shifts because of this storm, which would be enough to pay for the mattress and couch that I need, and Ryan Seacrest ain't givin' me any handouts.

Yes yes.  All of these things will be remedied in time.  Take your time, Ron.  You have to pack up your refugee camp tonight, call FEMA, make a half dozen more phone calls, make dinner, walk the dog.  But go ahead and take your time.  It will all be there tomorrow.

Fuck time.

Without time, there would be no timing.  Things happen to certain people in their lives based on where they happen to be and when, who they happen to be with and why.  Time sets it all in motion, keeps us on the grid.  I broke up with Rachel right after 9/11.  Bad timing.  I waited a month before realizing it was a mistake.  Too much time.  And it took me years upon years to get over her, to get over my mistakes, my poor choices, my bad timing.  Let me tell you - time is the mediocre healer, at best.

But timing is what put all those people in Seagate and Breezy Point and Staten Island and the Jersey Shore when Sandy came - people who dared to live near the water, including me.  For some, it was their time to drown.  For others, it was their time to lose someone they cared about dearly.  For me, it was about losing my house, and by my own economic standards, a small fortune in stuff.  But I'm here - to survive it, to reflect upon it, to learn from it, to endure it - day after day, minute by minute.  So I feel fortunate in many ways.  My timing could have been a lot worse.

Time means suffering in the present too - people suffer from all kinds of time-related trauma.  Getting sick, dealing with loved ones who are slowly dying, sitting in traffic, waiting on line at the Staples when all you've got in your hands is some fucking packing tape comeonalready.  Sitting through the commercials at the movies.  Waiting for your Big Mac.  Time can be a dick.

And that is why I'm in a rush to put all this behind me.  This is all a mad dash to the end of the calendar.  Time is like water.  It's like women.  It's my friend.  I need it.  But it's also my enemy.  It has hurt me.  So I'm moving into a nice pad, I'm not squatting down on some basement couch waiting for my Divorce Hurricane House to be reconstructed.  Waiting for more time to pass.  It's time to go.  Some people don't get that, don't get why I can't go back there - but some people haven't bought a house with a woman, lost that woman, lost faith, then lost another woman while in the same house, and then had the house destroyed by a hurricane.  I want someone to take a census and find another 37 year-old dude who endured the same damage I have in the same way and I will have some Jameson with that dude and we will talk for hours.

Sometimes the cracks are too deep.

So you decide what needs mending, or better yet, what's even amendable.  I need mending as much as my house does.  And I'm not waiting on stupid fucking time to help me.  The time is now.


I'll give myself this last month of mostly-shitty 2012.  I've earned it.  I'll allow myself one more month of recovery, one more month of struggle, only because no matter how strong I am, no matter how focused I want to be on growing rather than coping, I will have to deal with all the bullshit attached to losing your house to a hurricane.  I will have to deal with being responsible - with being responsible for being responsible.  I will accept this responsibility.  And then no more concessions.

I put myself in that house.  I broke up with Rachel, then I moved in with Lynda, then I broke up with Lynda, then I moved in with Melissa and we got married and bought the house.  I had all the money and I didn't wanna pay crazy property taxes and I wanted to live in a detached house where no one was above me or below me or on either side of me.  I wanted freedom, I wanted space, room to grow.  Room to run my record label, to make it bigger, to hire employees and feel good about them coming by and working.  We wanted the dog to have a back yard.  She wanted a vegetable garden, I wanted to live in a quiet neighborhood.  We wanted to entertain, to host holidays and gatherings.  We wanted to feel comfortable.  Safe.

Staten Island presented maximum opportunities for all of these things on our mutual and independent checklists at the most affordable price.  It wasn't the only house we looked at, not by a long shot.  We looked in Jersey, but my ex-wife did so only as a courtesy - "Jersey smells and I can't make a left turn."  True points, but every nation has its warts.  And we looked in plenty of other houses on Staten Island before settling in Zone A.  The house search became a stressful part of our relationship - I remember that process as one of the few times during our frequent brouhahas that my ex put her hands on me, screaming at me as I screamed back, the guy who she just married, the guy who was gonna buy her a house and give her a good life.  I saw the worst of her during those times.  Our relationship was already cracked and I still went ahead and bought the house.  Gotta stay positive, Ron.  I put her name on the deed so Obama would give us an $8000 tax credit as married first-time homeowners.  Gotta save save save!

In the months before the hurricane, that wound up being my last post-divorce duty - getting my ex-wife's name off the deed to the house that I had bought 99% of.  It was a process.  It took time.  It also cost money.  The week of the hurricane, I was notified that the house was now fully in my name.  Congratulations Ron, this Divorce Hurricane House is now all yours.  All mine.  The house I put myself in, and the destiny I created for myself.

Timing.  I have terrible timing.   The last relationship I was in, the one that gave me hope again, ended a month before the hurricane.  She wanted to keep it going but I could sense she was checked out and then I caught her in some lies so there was no point in continuing.  It ended badly, with yelling and accusations and hurt feelings.  We cancelled a lot of plans because of it, a lot of nice ones.  If I didn't catch her, if I didn't sense something amiss and rightfully dismiss her because of it, we would have still been together, even if not in the way we were supposed to be.  I would have likely been with her when the waters came, together and safe.  But I wasn't.  She was already back where I knew she'd be.  The hurricane could have made what we had stronger, I would have had her to lean on, and she, being the generous spirit that she was - at least when she was focused on being that for me - would have been there for me.  The hurricane would have brought us closer together, who knows how close.

But that's not what happened.  I am enduring this alone.  I was probably meant to.  We'll see.  Only time will tell.  Good ol' fucking time.

And it all started with that first bad breakup, waiting on time to get me all healed up, waiting to see if someone else would make me forget her - if it would justify that loss, would explain it.  Why did my relationship with Rachel take so long to get over?  Plenty of reasons.  But the biggest one was 9/11.  Rachel and I were together in my apartment when it all went down.  She had slept over and I had overslept and we were in my bed when my father called and left a message on my answering machine hoping I was okay since he knew my daily commute to work frequently went thru World Trade Center.  Apparently my timing is good when it comes to nearly averting destruction.  So far at least.

We watched the towers go down on TV together.  Rachel was very affected, very emotional.  That moment and the months that followed should have brought me closer to Rachel, should have put me down on one knee and into the rest of our life together, but I choked.  I wasn't feeling it.  I was this romantic guy who was in a great relationship and who had struggled with shyness and insecurity and rejection before this six year gift was given to me, and I felt empty inside.  I knew I was supposed to be feeling differently, and I wasn't.  I was too numb, I was too confused just like everyone else in New York City.  I was afraid.  So I fled.  I fled Rachel and I fled sanity and I tried to ignore the guilt I should have felt, and it was all a big mistake.

The most disastrous, tragic thing any American peer of mine, of my generation, any New Yorker has ever witnessed or experienced had just happened - and I ran away.  How could I ever blame her for not getting back to where she needed to be to make it work?  She took me back, but it was never the same, and three months later it was over forever.  She told me she had butterflies and now they were gone.  I didn't understand.  But I understand now.  I understood when I asked for a divorce, probably truly understood for the first time.

Some other guy's life, some other guy's house, some other guy's holiday season
And then it was just me n' Sandy.  No ex-wife, no ex-girlfriends, no one else.  Timing was to blame.  Choices were to blame.  The women were to blame too, they don't get a fucking pass here.  They played their part.  But ultimately, the person most responsible for my Sandy Situation is the one recounting it.  Me.

And I accept the responsibility, I'll take the blame.  I deserve this, even if most of you probably think I don't, and maybe a few of you think I do (?).  In an almost odd way, I needed this hurricane.  Certainly not the aggravation that goes with it, not the heartache of losing almost all of my really cool, once clean-and-dry stuff.  Definitely not that.  But I need an excuse.  I need a reason to kick ass.  I can't let it break me.  I can't lose any more than I already have.  The failed relationships weren't enough anymore.

If it's not time that does the trick, failed relationships are healed more immediately by television and lots of jerking off.  I can tell you that there is little time for either when you are a hurricane refugee.  I miss my shows and I'm horny as fuck.  It's not just my utilities that are down.  But I'll have it all back.  In time.  The house - to sell or keep.  I'll have a social calendar.  I'll buy new stuff, whatever of it truly needs to be replaced.  I'll catch up to American Horror Story and It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia.  I'll jerk off plenty.  But the rest has to change.  It has to.

No more living with regrets, no more living in the past.  I recognize that I didn't make a commitment to being the best I could until I got married, and then the poison in that marriage gave me an excuse to stop trying.  Then I got divorced and told myself I had to do even better.  And I almost got there with a good woman by my side.  Almost.  Because I haven't done better.  Not better enough.  But you can't give up.

So I've got to make a beeline towards happiness, towards accomplishment, towards mental health.  I'll go on runs with my nutty dog and start creating again.  I'll go out on some more dates - some of them will be shitty and that will be fine, it's part of the game.  I found a new treadmill, heavier weights to conquer.  I'll stay in shape and finish the Marathon stronger than I ever would have if Sandy never showed up.  I'll get back on a stage, back in a band, or I'll decide once and for all that those things don't matter enough.  I will be a better friend, a new uncle, a happier person.  I'll go skydiving and I'll get my ass to Europe.  I'll discover new passions.

And I won't be alone.  Not for long.  I know me.  I know what I need.  And I know what I have to do to be ready.  Some of that I can control, the rest is up to fate.  The rest depends on timing.  Finding a woman is easy.  Finding the right woman is hard, finding the right one at the right time is borderline impossible, and it gets no easier as you get older.  Finding a good man is no less difficult, I'm sure.  That's why women rush into shit, they get scared, they shift their focus, they settle.  Shitty, unromantic men play their roles.  I get that. 

But I don't want a woman who's in a rush, even if she loves me.  If you love me, take the journey with me slowly.  Savor it.  Time can be a friend when you're happy.  When you're happy, there is no greater ally than time.  But being happy means spending time with someone, finding love and being committed to common goals.  Bad shit will happen to me again, and when it does, I can't be alone.  I can't.  I have a gift that needs to be given, but it has to be received by the right person, otherwise it's just wasted energy.

Until then, allz I gots is time, and plenty of it.  I feel lucky to be in this situation even if my mind and heart are still stinging, my back still sore.  I'll stretch, I'll recover, and I'll hold someone tight again.  I'm healthy.  I'm young.  I haven't peaked yet, Sandy.

I'm ready for anything.

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