Things that are bullsh*t

In my 45 years on this planet, I have learned that a large number of things I was told while I was growing up are simply not true. So, I decided to make a list.

Blood is thicker than water

Not true at all. Family are people you happened to be around more than other people. Probably because some of them just happened to be at the table when the food was getting passed around. A major clue people should have figured out on this is that everyone knows someone who is a complete asshole. There is a distinct certainty that this person is someone’s son, daughter, cousin, aunt, parent, etc. There’s a good chance they are an even bigger asshole to the people that are forced to pass them the gravy at dinner.

You can’t choose who you love

Actually, you can, and really you should. Truth be told, you do. You make a conscious decision every time you interact with that person whether or not to give them affection. If you aren’t, then you should consider contacting a witch or someone who can remove the spell that has been cast over you. Because if they are screwing someone else, disrespecting you, hurting you, or even flat out ignoring you, you are the one choosing to “love” them. The same applies to all relationships. Kids, parents, spouses, friends, or just anyone. Signs that you aren’t making this choice include small bottles containing nails, hair, urine, or other personal items that you randomly find under your bed or under your porch. Seek professional help.

It didn’t use to be like this

No, it wasn’t. Sometimes it was worse. Though the world is inundated with “woke” people, Karens demanding to see the manager, rabid conservatives, and social injustice at every turn, I have never seen someone lynched, I haven’t watched someone beat a mule to death in the street, the local warlord hasn’t rounded up the town virgins for prima nocte. There aren’t people impaled along the roadside and left to the carrion birds. And the story of the “Little Matchgirl” just sounds like a hyperbolic if not morbid Christmastime story, rather than current events. You aren’t suffering the same ways that people in the past have done. You are usually just inconvenienced.

Karma is going to bite them in the ass

No it won’t. That’s just you hoping bad people will get their just desserts. They won’t. Even if they did, they won’t see it that way. Truly awful people go around in this world reaping the benefits of other people’s misery. The villain is the hero of their own story. The only people “karma” affects are good people who thing they are being punished for something, when it really has nothing to do with anything other than shit luck. They work for a long time to pay pennance. The reality of it is that karma never works because the people deserving the shit end of the stick has no more concept of wrong doings that deserve cosmic punishment than a yellowjacket that stings you for wearing red.

You can only be loved as much as you love yourself

Not true. Sometimes people love us in spite of this. What we can all hope for is we realize we need to catch up before we miss out. Loving ourselves is a good way to make sure that we aren’t making those who love us miserable. And it’s a good way to not be an attention thirsty trainwreck incapable of reciprocating that love.

A stray piece of quiet

Today I hung my wet laundry out on the line. It was the first time in nearly twenty years I have done this. It was a different line then, just some old cotton clothesline between the slats in a corner of fence at a house we were renting as poor newlyweds. When the wind blew, it would thrash the clothes against the fence, taking splinters and seasons of dirt with it, depositing them back on our wet towels and sheets. We bought a dryer shortly after that, sending us further into debt. Just for the luxury of fluffy towels without needles of wood in them.

Today was a clear and calm day in the mountains. The sky is that shade of blue that you could almost cut yourself on. Just a few whisps of icy clouds drifting through to join thunderheads massing over the mountains to the east. I hung out my towels and sheets, comforters, and quilts on the twisted steel wire line. My grandmother’s old clothesline. Not some amateurish rig, this was a highly functioning, and unless it was raining or snowing, extremely reliable way to get the job done back in the day. Not long ago, every back yard had one. Long before we were being scolded by this generation about the kind of world we were leaving for them. We hung our clothes on the line and let the wind do the rest.

This evening, I felt a sadness, like eyes watching me from across a crowded room. Like someone watching me over the rim of their drink as they sipped at it through a tiny cocktail straw. And every time I tried to look in its direction, it shyly looked away. The house was quiet, the laundry brought in and folded and put away. The last light of the day fading as the sun slipped behind the mountains. The sadness became more pronounced. I recognized it as loneliness, regret, longing. It wasn’t mine, I knew that much. It was more like hearing a conversation through the walls of a house. That warm sound that used to fill the quiet of morning when you wake up in a new place and people are busy making coffee and speaking in that low tone to keep from waking anyone else.

What was this loneliness and why had it found me? Was someone missing me? An old lover who had been flooded with nostalgia and thoughts of what could have been? I wonder sometimes if they still think of me and what might have been. Though I am at peace with it now. I have my own path to walk, and wish them the best on theirs. May they never cross again.

Could it have been a close friend feeling overwhelmed but thinking their problems were a burden and rather than asking for help to carry the load, they just watched it boil over like a pot of noodles. Or was it my kids in some far off place, feeling shut off, but powerless in their world right now to do anything about it? After all, missing their dad would be a betrayal. The weight of growing up is hard and frightening and more than anyone should have to face alone.

Or maybe it was some stray feeling on the wind, caught by the hanging clothes like a net, which I unwittingly dragged in with the rest.

I invited this loneliness in and listened to it and started putting words down on paper. That sadness. That longing. Like the scent of tobacco clinging to old walls. Or the sound of peeper frogs singing in a creek, but are seldom seen. That desire for connection manifested itself into words and ink and expression. And when I was done, it was laid to rest.

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.