Maybe it’s something in the air, a melody carried along by the summer breeze, lost except for a fragment brushed along the contours of your ear as it plays by before it disappears forever. Perhaps it’s interest carried over on arguments both won and lost over the course of the last decade. When hopelessness encounters its own justifications, it can be nearly impossible to shake it loose again. I wish that I could say that this was some fleeting shred of melancholy tickling up against the edges of my perceptions, but this has been pulling us down, drawing us in for quite some time now, our failures falling into one another, collapsing into a singularity which we cannot escape. Now, I do know that this feels worse because of everything that’s been going on, but it makes me wonder if we’ll manage to survive it this time. I’m not saying that neither of us has managed to avoid having earned our respective blame, but this seems to be an overwhelming pattern in my life. I thought that I had managed to break the cycle of my failures when Flor and I got together. She was supposed to be the one to save me from myself. She was supposed to be the chosen one. Instead, it seems that I’ve managed to corrupt her, poison her beauty as it seems that only I can do, and ruin my chance for salvation through the simple act of being me.
I may have mentioned, a time or two before, that I’m not the easiest person to be around. I mean, in small doses, I’m clever and charming, seductive and sweet, snarky and sincere, but that’s because I’m careful to only let out certain aspects of my wicked and warped damage at a time, so as not to drive off the handful of people I seem to keep around to keep from going completely ’round the bend, cut off from what little human I can consciously tolerate, but apparently require. Living with me seems to bring out the worst in people, or, rather, allows me the privilege of doing it myself. The person who most everybody knows is just a fiction that I’ve lived with since I discovered that it made my life significantly simpler, but even I can’t keep the act up every hour of every day. I need a large quantity of down time before I can put on the mask again, and when I walk in through my front door, the first thing that I do is tear away the pretense and the happiness before it suffocates me. I am mostly content to live a sedentary life, punctuated with random meaningful events, but the rest of the time, I think that I would prefer the company of no one but myself. You know, I really thought that I could do it this time. That by ignoring all the signals which had informed me that the woman who was to be my wife would be woefully ill-equipped to help me destroy myself, and therefore exactly the person who I had to make sure was in my life.
And yet it seems that I cannot stand happiness. It makes me feel cut off from myself. I’ve never learned to let things go, and I have to be right, no matter the cost. It isn’t important to me that time will usually vindicate me, I have to win the argument. Instead of letting my wife pull me up out of the quagmire of the life I seem to have been destined for, I seem to have only torn her down, ripped her apart bit by bit, and shaped her into not only the perfect nemesis, but molded her into a bitter image of myself (which may seem redundant to the few people who have known me since before I learned to hide myself behind the act that I’ve been living for almost the entirety of my adult life). She deserves someone who will build her up, be there for her when she needs someone, and never be a burden around her neck. I have asked her almost weekly for the past nine years if she has faith in me, and every time she answers yes, it takes her a little longer, and she’s less able to contain her disbelief. I think that she only gave me her blessing to embark on this crusade because she knew that I would either make it happen, or I’d wind up worse off for having tried and failed, at which point she could cut her losses and be rid of me forever.
Of course, I’m only able to see what I want to see, read the narrative which I am capable of understanding. You see, it’s easier for me if I can say that we’re arch-nemeses, so that when she finally tires of my bullshit, I can nurture enmity in the place where fondness and love once dwelled to cover for the fact that once again I have become irrevocably broken by my inability to do what must be done, to manage to get the important things done right. I would die for her one thousand times without a moment’s hesitation, or David, or my grandchildren, or even my daughter, who is so much like me that it still confuses me how we aren’t genetically connected, but I cannot bring myself to live for them. Sure, I’ve made an effort, though some would say too little, too late. I just find that I cannot be the person who I would like to be. If I was a better man, I might pack up and leave here in the middle of the night, cut my ties and let those I love begin the process of getting over having known me. I’ve always been far better in theory than in practice, and as a cautionary tale, I’d probably even make a better father. I guess the reason that I haven’t boils down to cowardice, and the hope that maybe I can get it right in time.
I guess that we’ll find out.