Waiting In The Weeds

I have a friend who committed suicide. He woke up, found his wife with another man, saw the carnage in his wake, and couldn’t stand living one more day. He had too much shame, he’d lost all hope, that everybody could forget what he’d done, forgive him, that he could regain his old life. I heard the desperation in his voice two weeks before. I told him I’d come right over, even though it was the middle of the night. I was afraid he wouldn’t make it through. But he did. And three days before he hung himself his tonality was totally different. He was no longer freaked out, he was resigned. I heard it in his voice. I wasn’t surprised when I got the call. I didn’t expect it, but I understood it. I thought in the watchful eye of his family he’d get through. But you can’t get through when your inner flame is extinguished. I know, because I’ve lived so close to that line, and so far from satisfaction.

They don’t prepare you for how life works out. Your parents tell you to get an education, to get a career. As if the necessities of life can be bought with money. But this is untrue, just like the Beatles sang, money can’t buy you love.

I wasn’t looking for love when I found it. It was purely by accident. But you know it when you feel it. You tingle all over, you can’t get them out of your mind, even though you’ve parted ways hours ago and you’re lying in bed alone. It’s the POSSIBILITIES that enrapture you, you see a whole life in front of you. The picture is not colored in, but it’s a vast canvas, and you can’t wait to investigate.

Some people say they know when they meet someone they’re going to marry them. I can’t say that’s what I felt. But when she said that’s what she wanted, I acceded. Even though I was worried about her history, the endless string of abandonments in her wake.

But she was fully alive. And she loved me. I thought that might be enough. It wasn’t. But when she left, I was not prepared. I foresaw it as soon as I met her, that I’d only have her for a little while. But she set me straight, she convinced me otherwise. Trust your gut, that’s the only lesson I can impart right now.

You can’t explain it to your parents. Your life slowly compresses. All those couples events, you’re suddenly left out. The bed’s too big without them. You try to find new love. You’re clumsy and desperate, it doesn’t work. And then the depression sets in. You’re convinced you’ll never replace them.

On one hand, I escaped the craziness, the inability to finish anything. But I lost the exuberance, the support. Suddenly, I was no longer convinced I had life figured out. Everything was topsy-turvy. I was questioning everything, like that old Firesign Theatre record, was everything I knew wrong?

If I told you what it took to get through, you wouldn’t believe it. I wasn’t homeless, but I wrote some bad checks that the new landlord didn’t bother to deposit until the money magically appeared. You see, simultaneous with her departure, I ran out of money. Completely. Try facing the week with less than twenty dollars in your pocket, with no idea where the next infusion is going to come from.

Not that anybody believes your story. You have to be there to understand. I got freaked out about going places. What if my car broke down? Could I really afford valet parking?

And then my father died. And she called and cried. But I’d be lying if I told you that made me feel good. Where was she in my moment of agony?

I was sliding towards the edge, inexorably and inevitably. I couldn’t get a grip, I was losing touch with the world. Till the earthquake pushed me firmly over the edge, and I could cope no longer, and I gave up.

I was rescued by a psychiatrist that the $24,000 I got from my father paid for. And I’d be lying if I told you I was fully back. But I’m trying. But at unexpected moments, almost always when I’m alone, I start to sink.

I’m looking for hooks, to keep me on terra firma.

I used to go to the movies every night. But now everyone agrees the golden age of movies was the seventies, and although there are more flicks than ever, few are worth seeing. And TV’s not a bad replacement. But it takes place at home. And the loneliness creeps back in as soon as you turn the set off.

I used to count on music. But all the understanding, all the identification I found in the great tunes of yore…it was rare in the new compositions. It was about fashion and marketing. And maybe that’s why I’m so against selling out. This music kept me alive. I don’t want anything sullying it.

I had quite a day. First I was on WNYC, discussing the Radiohead album. Then I was interviewed by "BusinessWeek". And, just before I started listening to the new Eagles album, I was tracked down by NPR for tomorrow’s "Morning Edition". I couldn’t ask for more. But if you think the foregoing makes a life, you’re wrong. Life is made by people, by relationships.

I’m in a relationship now. With another person who’s been wounded. We’re trying to make our parts mesh. But we’re burdened by too many bad experiences, there are constantly misunderstandings. But we persevere. Because that’s what we have in common, commitment and dedication.

I’m leaving my old life behind. But at moments it creeps back in. Like in the mountains only an hour ago. I was listening to the new Eagles album on my iPod and I heard this song, "Waiting In The Weeds". It spoke of hope, or rather the evaporation thereof.

I don’t know when I realized the dream was over
Well, there was no particular hour, no given day
You know, it didn’t go down in flame
There was no final scene, no frozen frame
I just watched it slowly fade away

I thought the fact we weren’t divorced meant we had a chance of getting back together, that was my ace in the hole.

Sometimes the ace is not the highest card in the deck.

I think I just realized the dream was over. It’s about bonding with someone new. But the dream faded so slowly.

And I’ve been waiting in the weeds
Waiting for the dust to settle down
Along the back roads, running through the fields
Lying on the outskirts of this lonesome town
And I imagine sunlight in your hair
You’re at the county fair
You’re holding hands and laughing
And now, the Ferris wheel has stopped
You’re swinging on the top, suspended there with him

I didn’t run into her at the fair, but the Pier. With her new guy, who seemed to have no idea who I was. She seemed uncomfortable, she wanted nothing to do with me. She asked me if I had any money. And then she was gone.

I’ve been stumbling through some dark places
But I’m following the plow
I know I’ve fallen out of your good graces
But it’s all right now

Shortly thereafter, we instituted divorce proceedings. The six month waiting period was eerie. Then the day arrived, and I was free.

I’ve been to some dark places. I hope you haven’t been. But I’m beginning to believe it’s the human condition. Try to hang on, do what you need to get through. Try to avoid numbing the pain. Rely on your friends. If you can just hang on, you can get through. At least that’s the way I see it.

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