My day

So my birthday has come and nearly gone again, I am at the apogee of my next year, the furthest point from the next time this day comes around again. For the most part I haven’t done a lot today. I visited with a friend, opened an unexpected present, and hung out with my son. We munched on cherry cheesecake and walked Umbrella Academy season one. I also got my free coffee at Dutch Bros. today.

The funny thing about free coffee this morning was they all asked me what I was going to do for my birthday. I even woke up this morning to a text wishing me happy birthday from someone I spent time growing up with long ago. She hoped I was having adventures today. Honest, today was so sedate, I wondered if there was something wrong with me. Really I had no desire to do much. With everyone still on lockdown and forced to wear masks anywhere you turn, hot springs still closed down until further notice, and not even a movie theatre open, my options were limited. I could either stay at home or spend money on food. I stayed at home and sliced up a sirloin roast and marinaded it to make beef jerky.

I am a wildman.

I might get some writing done tonight before I go to bed. I might not. Today was just sort of a stay at home and be lazy day. Maybe this is a symptom of the overall malaise everyone is going through these days, or maybe it’s just a part of being more comfortable in my own skin. I haven’t had FOMO for a while, mostly because nobody is really doing much to miss out on, and I’ve been busy with writing and figuring out my life these days. Letting things go.

I think back to last year and how I was just beginning a wonderful journey with the woman I was dating at the time. We spent all afternoon and most of an evening in Glenwood Springs in a hot spring listening to New Age music and then devouring an entire pizza together on the drive home. It was a great birthday, and enough to shut me up for a while about how “Nothing good ever happens on my birthday.”

The year before basically marked the end of another relationship. That was hard. It was more in line with how things had been. High expectations for a wonderful day and then the rug jerked out from underneath me. On my birthday, I have been fired two different times, had the flu as least a dozen times, been stood up for my birthday party, and any number of things that generally sucked. I’ve had some good ones. Last year, my 40th, my 21st (where the girl I was dating gave me a kilt), and a few other really good ones.

This year was neither phenomenal nor disappointing. It was peaceful, and I didn’t even have the urge to run out and get myself a gift. I was content with everything that I have. I think about those kids at Dutch this morning and that need to run out and celebrate. Maybe last year was the final time I feel that urge? Any day can be a day to run out and celebrate. Any day is the day that you can make your own.

Throughout the day I got notifications on Facebook from friends and family wishing me a Happy Birthday. It was nice to hear from everyone. It made me feel appreciated. Remembered. I sometimes thing of the past and those who are no longer in my life, and though I miss them, I can enjoy the good times and that brings me joy. I wonder if they thought of me today. I thought of them.

Tonight is not a melancholy night. No, that might happen later when I write. But for now, I am Clinton. I live. I burn with life. I love. I slay and am content. Today I became 45 years old. I’m just hitting my stride.

It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day…

This morning I woke up to something that I haven’t felt in a long time. I wasn’t sure what time it was and was surprised to find that it was just after 8am. I had gotten to bed at around 1:30 or 2am, after a lot of writing. I was very productive. I woke up to a sense of peace, which is something I haven’t had in a very long time. It was the exact opposite to how I felt on Monday. Mondays are hard, as I have established in the past more than a few times.

This sense of peace was more a matter of the heart. The last four months has been especially difficult, what with the end of a great relationship and the end of an abusive one. The strange thing is that both have occupied similar real estate in my brain. I have been grieving the sudden departure of someone I was romantically involved with, and grieving the loss of a job that I had held for the last 18+ years. Today, I will have been broken up with someone I was quite serious about nearly half as long as we were together. Two nights ago, I was taking it hard. Today, I woke up and felt at peace with it. I don’t know if I am finally letting go or what, but I have learned some things that I wanted to share in the hopes that my experience resonates with anyone reading this.

A couple days ago, I was taking it hard. The grief of the end of a great romance ebbs and flows like any grief. I was missing someone intensely. I visited with a few friends and talked about it. One friend wanted to fix things and the other just listened. The one who wanted to fix things gave me the usual “You’ve got to get back out there! You aren’t pushing yourself to find anyone!” speech. Which didn’t make things any better.

The other friend just listened and because they had been through a similar situation, they told it to me straight. I didn’t need to go out there and find someone else. It felt good to be seen like that. The first friend really just proved what a problem I have had my entire life has been: nobody fucking knows me. I dislike my birthday and Christmas for a big reason: it just proves how nobody gets me or even attempts to make the effort. Ever since I was a kid, this was the case. I have spent nearly 45 years smiling and thanking people for stuff that I don’t even like. It’s not that I’m all that hard to shop for either, but if you talk enough about something you would think that those people closest to you in your life might eventually catch on to what your interests are. The first friend was telling me what they wanted, seen through a lens of how they would have reacted to my situation.

The other friend was sympathetic, knowing me pretty well, and knowing that filling that crack in my heart with someone else wasn’t going to fix anything. So, I guess I should say that I have an elite crew of people who do know me pretty well in some regards. I think that was the hardest thing about this breakup. I had found someone who saw me, someone who accepted me, and really got me. I thought I got her too. I don’t think anyone can possibly understand how rare that has been in my life.

I tend to hold on to people like that, or try to at least. Maybe I need deeper connections, instead of attachments. I thought I had both in this case, and that has been very hard to come to terms with. Combine that with the usual cursory band-aid answer of “There’s plenty of fish in the sea!” and you’ll have a full on riot on your hands.

First of all, there aren’t plenty of fish in the sea. Whoever believes that is an idiot. It’s hard out there. And it gets harder the older you get. It might be the case when you are in your 20s and impressionable and willing to tolerate a bunch of horseshit, but when you are an adult and have actually experienced life, you are less willing to deal with it. This means that your options become significantly limited. Also, the older you get, the less governed by your hormones you become, which further removes a layer of rosey tint from those glasses. In fact, you start looking at some people and wonder how they function in life due to their trainwrecky nature.

Here are my options for dating in my 40s. (These are the normal options too).

  1. Join a club. Full of other people my age, who have joined a club because they have run out of options, either because of themselves or the shit they have experienced. Either way, this club is the Island of Misfit Toys.
  2. Go to a bar. Yes, because all good decisions orbit around the dispersal of alcohol and dim lighting. No thanks.
  3. Join a church. No. I’ve been to church and nowhere will you find a more wretched hive of scum and villany. Church is for people who NEED Jesus. I’m good.
    3a. Plus I don’t need to sit by myself being reminded at the pathetic nature of my own singleness by young people in their 30s who haven’t been divorced yet
    3b. or broken down people who have been utterly destroyed by it.
  4. Get set up by friends. Most of my friends couldn’t pick out a birthday present for me (as I have mentioned above). How do you think they are going to do when it comes to finding someone I would be compatible with…especially given that many of them have even more limited social circles than I do?
  5. Settle. NO.
  6. Online dating. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA!!!!! That is the most genuine hysterical laughter of my life! IT’S REAL!
  7. In COVIDworld? Your odds of meeting anyone, much less seeing their face, are exponentially more difficult. Impossible. Plus, I’m just not interested.
  8. I’m not pushing myself, because I miss the person, not the role they played in my life. There’s no replacing that.

But there is another option.

I woke up this morning and this is what I chose: I can’t replace what I have lost. So I’m just going to be fine with it.

I got up. I drove to Ft. Collins. I took a 12 mile bike ride. Then I came home and read. Tonight, I will work on my book. I’m going to live out the rest of my days being grateful for the opportunity I had (even so brief as it was) of being seen for who I am. I’m going to thank God for those moments. I’m going to let those carry me forward.

Honestly, I’m done. I know who I am, and I’m not in the mood to compromise that anymore. I don’t need someone to complete me. I did the chasing thing already and realize how much I hate it. I’m too old to deal with drama, at a point in my life where I’m not going to raise any more kids other than the one who is with me, and I really don’t want to be with someone who does TikTok or talks about summervibes or any of that bullshit. I’m not interested in psychoanalizing a potential partner, worrying if I make enough money to be good enough for them (I don’t), and frankly my odds are entirely shot if I do meet someone and they turn out to be vegan, celiac, a drug addict, into Magic the Gathering, swinging, or have cats.

I rolled the dice. I met someone who was compatible, someone who was as crazy about me as I was them, and it still didn’t work out. I’m thinking the odds of finding “the One” are pretty much Zero.

So, I’m just going to get on with my life. I’m going to write my stories, see places, and yes, I will feel lonely sometimes, but I will do my best to just get over it and enjoy the life I’ve got left.

As for mourning my job, that is a whole other kettle of fish. Mostly because of how toxic it was, and how relieved I am to be done with that place. Fuck those assholes. I hope the earth opens up and swallows the entire place whole.

To the one I loved, and lost, I wish her nothing but happiness and a long life. Thank you for sharing some time with me.

I’m going to spend some time now with the person I’m stuck with for the rest of my life: me. Might as well get to know him while I still can.

Muse

The other day I decided to watch the Leonard Cohen documentary on Amazon Prime, Marianne and Leonard. It illumated so much about Leonard Cohen that his music and even his poetry only really hints at. A colossus of sensual imagery, heartache, desire, longing, and bittersweet loss, Leonard Cohen’s work first struck me in the early 1990s as I was on my journey towards young adulthood, finding myself in a rivalry with one of my best friend’s for the affection of possibly one of the first girls to pay attention to me. What later became her game nearly ended a friendship that had endured to even today. I just wished him a happy 43rd birthday just the other day. I haven’t spoken to the girl really since she chose a third out of a selection of equally stupid and hormonal teenaged boys she had to choose from.

But as we both sat on either side of her in 1992, the only three people in her mother’s house, with her bare legs stretched across my friend’s and the rest of her lounging across my lap, we watched Pump up the Volume. It was a movie about teenaged angst, rebellion, censorship, and Samantha Mathis’s naked body. Quite possibly the first R rated movie I watched with a member of the opposite sex featuring nudity and atraction. At the center of it all was this song, a deep, resonant voice that began every pirate radio broadcast in the movie. Nothing really risque, other that than rumble of a voice that somehow evoked eroticism. It was a song about contrasts, betrayal, and irony; it was at the time Leonard Cohen’s most popular song: Everybody Knows. Since then I’ve seen this song played more times in strip club movie scenes than Pour Some Sugar on Me. Years later, a Jeff Buckley cover of Halleluja would overtake Everybody Knows as Cohen’s most recognizable song.

Later on, I got into Cohen’s music even more, with my favorites becoming Take this Waltz, and later the likes of Anthem, Suzanne, and the deceptively cheerful So Long Marianne. Marianne in the documentary is the same as the woman from the song. She was his Muse while living on the Greek isle of Hydra for a number of years throughout the 60s and 70s, all the way up until the end of their romance, as he ascended to the level of banging the likes of Janis Joplin and pretty much anyone else who feel for that velvety voice with the lyrics of a poet driving them.

The interesting thing about Marianne Ihlen was that she wasn’t just Leonard Cohen’s muse, but that of many artists and singers she encountered. Back in the extremely sexually liberal 60s, she had many lovers, some of which at the same time as Cohen. But as a tale as old as people have scratched each other’s names into stone walls or tree trunks, over time they drifted apart, though Cohen was involved in her life to some degree all the way up until the end of her own life. He even supported her financially as she drifted around the world like some unbound spirit, offering inspiration and encouragement to many she came into contact with.

Watching this documentary, I thought of the importance of the Muse to many artists. I think in my own process, I have had moments that have flooded my imagination with color, but no central person that has provided me with a continual source of inspiration. Unless you count the pain that has resulted from their loss. In which case, they aren’t really a Muse, are they? My muse would be like the ones I saw in the British Museum. Cold and broken figures carved from marble, existing now only as a pale semblance of what they once had been thousands of years ago. Headless. Fragile.

That’s okay, I guess. I do have good people in my life who continue to encourage me as I work. Some days I really don’t know what I’m doing or why. The words are just here and they end up on the page. Sometimes they don’t stop until I am exhausted, refusing to allow me to sleep, and even going as far as waking me early the next morning to start all over again.

The hardest obstacle I am facing now is wondering why I’m telling these stories. I think maybe because of those times I have spent around old people. Their skin translucent with age, the whites of their eyes spiderwebbed, the sheen of their pupils now glassed over a little bit with cataracts as they stare off into the distance, reminiscing about a battle they survived, or some great love affair. But now they have begun to wind down and they no longer tell the stories. They will eventually bring all of those tales with them to the end of their lives. You can’t take money, property, or wealth with you, and the same is true for the experiences we carry. Unless you tell someone about them.

So, I stay up late to tell the stories. They were wonderful to live, frightening sometimes, stupid even more often than that, but one day when I am gone, they will evaporate along with my spirit. Might as well write them down.

I don’t have a Muse like Leonard Cohen, not even the one whose suede jacket exuded the scent of her perfume like a storm cloud of flower blossoms wherever she went. Those are just the details that give everything dimension and life. But I do have the support of a few people who continue to follow my misadventures. I have those moments that I have lived and felt that my life was ringing like a bell, deep and resonant like the blown out voice of the Man himself, and those memories ignite something in me that should have been put out cold long ago. Those moments when someone has touched your perfect body with their mind.

Maybe that’s good enough. Sometimes this is more difficult than it seems. Those days when I question whether or not to write the stories down. These tales of heartache and love and sex and all the rest. Maybe those old people are right to let their memories die with them and I should just remain silent.

For now, I keep going. I think not putting those stories down would kill me faster than anything.