Hard Single

Some nights you just have to wonder if the last time you had something was as good as it gets. It wasn’t even the best of what you’ve had. That law of diminishing returns that takes you back to your first love all those years ago when you would do silly things like buy matching jean jackets and be the obnoxious couple in love who was never more than a few feet from each other. Then you find yourself wondering why the hell you are still missing the last person, when they showed almost no effort at the end. They blocked you. They probably tell everyone how much they hate you.

I’m at that point of my life that I call Hard Single. I’m in no rush to “get back out there.” I’ve seen how people treat each other and I want no part of it anymore. Nothing is organic. It’s all a game of creating a persona, lying to each other, and then waiting for the whole thing to implode once the darkness starts to seap through the seams and rivets like tar.

It’s a choice I’ve made, because I am remembering my worth again. Sometimes it’s a lonely place to be, especially when your whole life, you have been told the metric of your worth is having a relationship. Any relationship is better than none, they tell us.

My last one was not the best, and though it is over, there are pieces of me that freak out a little because the one before it probably was the best. And it ended too. So it’s only getting worse from here on out. So, my options are to stay hard single, to work on me, and never settle again. Whatever that looks like.

There is peace and quiet, and at the same time solitude and loneliness. It ebbs and flows like the tide. Mostly I miss the high points of the last go-around. I even miss when things started falling apart because there was potential. It was something new too, and it gave me hope…of something.

The time before last…jeez, that was really good. The connection, the communication, spoiling the hell out of each other. Like I said, the best I’ve ever had it. Until I didn’t have it anymore.

Maybe the scariest thing is how it seems to get worse every time now. Even when what I had the last time wasn’t the best, but it still hurt as much as when I had lost the best. I don’t want to feel like that ever again. I don’t want to learn someone’s favorite color, their kids’ middle names, their birthday, any of it anymore.

You can say I’m bitter, but really, I’m just tired of the bullshit. I’m tired of feeling like the bad guy for setting boundaries too. For having standards. And for feeling guilty for not taking shit anymore. The emotional neglect you’ll get for not doing things their way.

What a waste of time that is. Exhausting. Unnecessary.

Today I’ve been editing and I feel pretty damned productive. I can see my books doing good things for people. I understand that right now I’m at a weird place in my life where I’ve needed to let myself be for a very long time, but haven’t let myself yet. There’s a fear of letting go of that old life because it’s what I’ve always known. Damn it, I’m so scared of just surrendering to it sometimes that it puts my teeth on edge.

Like doing a trust fall off a cliff into the sea, with the surf raging underneath you.

I look up and over the precipice of the mountain range before me and I see a vast landscape of possibilities. All I have to do is take a few steps forward and leave all the rest behind. How exciting! But it’s scary as hell. I’m not going to lie. I have no idea what awaits. Right now everything seems so difficult, like a pipe dream that I know won’t ever come true.

Maybe one of the things I can do is continue to carry the good memories of this old life with me, and not be burdened by them. To have little keepsakes but not carry enough around anymore so that they feel like baggage. Little tokens that make me smile instead of bringing me to a screaming halt. Maybe if I keep them in stories, they will be safe.

I can’t change the past. Not even the most recent past. I have to keep moving forward. I have to see what is on that next horizon. Because the past hasn’t been all that great. Certainly not enough to give up my future in the hopes of living again.

It’s time.

Being hard single is something I haven’t had a chance yet to explore. When everyone else is chasing, I’m just…not. I’m already here. I get to decide what happens next.

So, Mr. Harris. What happens next? Where would you like to go?

The Slap Heard ‘Round the World

*Warning. There will be bad language.

It is already old news, and we have once again found a way to be divided on the topic. You have probably already witnessed video of the Will Smith slapping the shit out of Chris Rock incident. Lots of people are saying Chris had it coming, and other people are saying Will needed to check himself.

So, I watched the video slowed down and zoomed in, like the Zapruder footage. Chris’s head goes back and to the left…back and to the left…

But earlier, when Chris delivers the joke, guess what else you see? No, not a man on a grassy knoll. You see Will laughing. Jada isn’t laughing. She throws the look. Chris Rock no doubt also saw Will laughing, which was why he didn’t flinch when Will came up on stage. Then “POW!” then a lot of shit talking.

Here’s the thing.

There was a time I was in Will’s position. I recognized what he is going through and I honestly wish I was his friend, so I could call him and say, “Meet me for coffee. We need to talk.”

Back when I was married, there were many occurrences where my ex-wife would take offense at something and expect me to be her executioner, her enforcer. There was no knight in shining armor. She wanted a thug who would exact swift and brutal retaliation on her behalf. I knew if I didn’t, things would be HELL for me when we got home.

One instance of this was when we were at Sam’s Club getting groceries at the beginning of the month. She would always make a fuss about having to show her membership card on the way in, and as she was arguing with the man at the front door, the kids and I slipped in and grabbed a cart. As we are walking past the TVs and other stuff at the front, I hear a commotion behind me. My ex-wife is saying something to a woman who is walking parallel with her. She has her face all pinched and twisted up the way she would whenever she was starting a fight.

“Do we have a problem?” the woman asks.

“Yeah! You clipped my heel with your cart, you fucking cunt!” she says.

“Wow! I wasn’t even near you. I saw you trip.”

“Fuck you! You hit me!”

My wife turned to me with the look.

Do something about this, you fucking pussy!

Before I had a chance to react, the accused woman turns to me and says, “Are you her husband? I feel very sorry for you.”

“Me too.”

I shrugged. Like a Larry David Curb Your Enthusiasm shrug.

My ex-wife’s rancor turned completely onto me. It wasn’t my fight. It was a stupid fight, which didn’t need to escalate. It was a fight she had started many times before with strangers. I shrugged because this lady whom I had never met before looked into my eyes and she knew what was expected of me by a completely unreasonable person. She was correct to pity me.

I caught hell when we got home.

“What kind of man are you?” my ex-wife demanded. “You can’t even defend your wife? That bitch assaulted me! And you stood there with your limp dick in your hand and did nothing!”

“What did you want me to do? Punch her in the face?” I said. “You’re lucky she didn’t have you kicked out of the store. Or arrested.”

“She wasn’t going to do anything,” she said.

Exactly.

So when I see Will Smith stride up to strike another man on behalf of his wife, that isn’t defending her honor. That is a conditioned response to abuse at home.

It was a bald joke, not a demand for satisfaction and pistols at twenty paces.

You see, it was Will’s night, and with one look from Jada, he shit on his own night, which should have been about getting his first Academy Award, rather than becoming a meme. Jada made it about HER. The alternative for Will at home would have been much worse than what happened had he done nothing.

I wish I could see a moment where Chris Rock takes him out for beers and gives him a hug and says “No, man. I’m sorry.”

I’m sorry, Will Smith.

What I was told

So, things are crazy these days. Will Smith bitch slapped Chris Rock. At the Oscars.

On a strangely unrelated topic that somehow fits…

I was also told something tonight that made so many things come together regarding the last three or four months. Someone involved themselves in my life in ways that crossed many boundaries, not for just myself but for someone else. It was done with fake sympathy, and false friendship.

A lot of what I have written in my book has to deal with decisions we have made at crossroads of our lives. A zig when it should have been a zag. That left turn at Albuquerque. It’s a theme about how we make choices that affect us for life. I was blindsided because it turns out someone took it upon themselves to make that decision for me. Not just for me, but someone else too. They took that away from us, even if the natural end result was already on the horizon. It was still our choice. Until it wasn’t.

What was said is unforgiveable. It was something said out of jealousy and manipulation, going back decades. When they admitted what they had done, I blocked them. And yes, in writing this, the bridge is burning.

I might not have the aplomb of Chris Rock and just taking a hit like that. I’m not above saying “fuck you” to the right people. Even if it took this long to find out who the right one to say it to was. I am gutted tonight, but at least I have closure. I’m not gutted for the decision I made tonight, but from the one that they made for us three months ago. It makes better sense. It isn’t right, but at least it makes sense. I would have expected this from an enemy, but not from an old friend.

They say that when you make good boundaries, you filter out bad people. That icky feeling you get in the pit of your stomach is when your values don’t match with the expectations. Jesus, I’m starting to wonder just how many people are even left in this world to find a connection with. I know I’m far from perfect, but this…I’m still trying to wrap my brain around it.

Maybe now that the piece of the puzzle is in place, I can sleep again.