Early waking Sunday does not lead to a repeat of my triumph a few weeks ago. Old gravity, the halfhearted claws on blackboard unheard sound of past inadequacies echoes and I fall in the tunnel. It’s not really about anything, which is the strangest thing. The closest thing to a real thought is an insistence that girls still really don’t like you.
I am awake before six and listen to the throatless voices until five before eight, so at least I am up before eight. The blackout shades work, and lifting them lets in bonus sun.
In a week I will be 42 years old. The number does not seem impossible or nonsensical, far less than 2012 seems like a science fiction short story setting than a real year to be lived. I didn’t realize it until last week, with spring. March turns to April. Oh, yeah. I am not fearful or worried about that passing; I am not even regretful or disillusioned. It feels fine, suitable for Sunday.
Since the improv performance, things have been quieter. I spent $50 on used movies at the West Seattle Easy Street Records (you got some really nice ones, the counter tatooed guy says as he scans Platoon and Scarface and Raging Bull) and nights I watch them on my computer, happy with the sound, happy with the color, the cat watching the window, cars going by. I have gone for walks in the rain, thought about what we talk about in therapy, almost gotten caught up with Harper’s. It is the kind of slower I have always lived even when possessed with energy but frustrated it was going nowhere. It has been okay to not be driven to something, floating without frustration.
Sundays have been hard days for me. School looms, everyone is at church, and growing up the TV would spill out organ music like yogurt spilled inside the fridge. Sunday evenings in high school I would walk to where the fence looked out over a pasture, toward town and the microwave tower that blinked against the night and clouds. Matt’s house was not far from it, not far from the school where my mom worked, deep in the heart of the small square boxes where almost everybody lived. I was afraid of something, hands cold on the fence, and I looked to that lazy red light and took comfort in knowing he was in that light too, finishing his algebra, folding his clothes, aware of school coming. I stood looking at that light over the grass made fur by darkness and had comfort knowing he was there.
That voiceless sense of wrongness is fading, but decides to appear every so often. I had a great day yesterday, hiking with my friend and her dumb dog, a cold but fun Alki walk; today is a walk with another friend, abbreviated but worthwhile, and another Alki walk and time at a Pike Place bar. In the end, I will have a solid, renewing phone conversation with a friend. In the end, nothing could have gone better. But this morning my head hurts and there is that strange pain inside my palms and I am afraid like a little kid, at nothing.
It’s so sunny to walk this morning that I only wear a t-shirt. Matt–a different Matt–has a job later, so our walk will be short. Work has been plentiful for him–make hay while the sun shines, I say. Yes, he says. That’s for sure.
He asks how I am doing and I tell him how the anxiety is finally leaving, realized like the return of spring and the memory of warmth. It takes a while, he says, to work through it. There is trauma, you know. We expect this big catharsis but it’s not like that. We become confused because we don’t get a big boom to let us know where we are.
I mention rumination coming to me this morning. Rumination versus reflection, what is the difference? Rumination has no movement, I decide: it curls tighter and repeats itself but goes nowhere. Reflection goes somewhere, maybe forward. Yes, he says, yes. That’s the difference, that’s the key. All that you went through in your marriage, all that neurotic overplanning with your book, that’s okay, because you had to do that to get it out, you have to go through there to get to here. But you know that now and you reflect, and you say that. He calls the dog. Or maybe you’re just an asshole, I don’t know. He smiles the coy smile of a guy who’s been around the block a few times.
In the sun, the people walk their dogs. It is clear and bright and the clouds are a long way off. If I am an asshole I am happy to be this kind.