I looked up at the sky last night to see that it was falling all around me. As has been the case for as long as I remember, the best of days seem always to conclude in a spiraled attempt to be the worst. I’m trying not to read too much into it, but the fact is that, as a writer, I’m constantly on the prowl for subplots and foreshadowing. And it’s hard to pin down the cause, as I can never tell if it’s just me who’s freaking out, or if I have a right to stand my ground on any given issue. Add someone who is also showing signs of emotional fatigue, and it becomes a game of twenty questions (that you should never ask). Yes, there is a part of me that is even angrier for not being allowed to enjoy what had been my best day as a writer in well over a decade, having reached a wider audience in twenty-four hours than I had in any week before, and having been affirmed as a wordsmith of at least some value by people with whom I do not regularly converse. I should be riding high upon the world this morning, and yet the only thing I want to do is curl myself into the fetal position beneath the covers and wait for everything to fail.
For years now, I’ve had to be the voice of reason in this household, clinging desperately to sanity and rationality as a form of self-defense. That’s not to say that my wife is incapable of doing so, but she tends to focus her attention on other areas which would otherwise be neglected. The only problem in my ascendancy to this august throne, is that having to keep it all together is a massive strain, and every day that I put off the breakdown which I know is coming, the worse I know that it will be upon its prophesied arrival. Somewhere deep inside me lies a tectonic plate of sanity which has been grinding up against the neighboring plate of madness, and the pressure feels unworldly, and I know, like everyone living on a fault line must, that the Big One is on its way, and there’s nothing left to do but hope I’ve retrofitted everything sufficiently. I’m still not sure why I haven’t cracked, and it feels so overdue that I’m growing a little terrified of what will happen in the aftermath. I’m getting older now, and I don’t know that I can bounce back as easily as I once did when I was twenty-one. There are too many people who depend on me (yes, Virginia, even when I’m not pulling in a paycheck) for me to just throw in what little will that I have left and wait for Death to claim me. Of course, in putting it off, I’m just making it worse.
I remember when I could believe that love could solve everything. I also recall how that’s worked out for me before, so now the wound is extra salty. Love is hard. There are some days when it would simply be easier to grab a handful of my necessities (my laptop, hard drive, and all the old notebooks I could fit into my backpack), and just run away from home. There are couches in the world which I have not yet surfed, and my writing has always soared when I am broken by despair. And yet I know that I am too old for all of that. I cannot keep running when things get too big for me to face. I’ve run away to fight another day so many times that I think that, just this once, I should turn back around and make my final stand. Getting older has allowed me to discard the judgments of others for the shackles that they are, and the same obstinacy which has allowed me to get this far by refusing to let me fail should give me the courage to face down the end of all things, though I’ve everything to lose, and only the status quo to gain. When all the drama has been stripped away, and the arguments laid to rest, I can so clearly see that it is only our fear which drives us apart. We’re living in a constant state of terror that the world will begin to crumble beneath our feet, and when it comes to fight or flight, you could call us Orville and Wilbur Wright.
I think that I once wrote that it’s not about the grand gestures. Those are easy, and generally only for show. It’s the little things which change the world, one act of consideration at a time. And here is why I know that, despite the odds, the time has come for me to fight: my wife is someone worth fighting for, and though the simple acts of cultured love are most often lost within the daily grind, they are there, waiting patiently for us to notice, and far too humble to draw attention to themselves. I don’t know that I can become the person that my wife deserves. I am who I have always been, and I never lied about that. But for her, for my Wildflower, I am willing to make the effort. She is infuriating and obsessive, selfless and self-destructive, amazing and inscrutable. And I’m a better man for having known her.
So what does this all mean? I have not the slightest clue. I know I love my wife, but I am uncertain if the years of knowing me have robbed her of her love for me. On the outside, I am often caustic and uncaring so as to not reveal the scared and tired child behind the curtain. Someone once said that “Sometimes you can’t fix everything with a hug.” But I will hold her close until the end of days, and we can face the wave of uncertainty together, if she’ll have me. The sky is falling all around me, and I am Chicken Little.