The Soft Parade

The week leading up to my birthday has always been a trying time, a constant reminder of the ultimate futility of my entire life. I mean, sure, I’ve managed to not drive my wife away in the nearly ten years we’ve been together, and somehow I ended up with a kid who’s pretty cool. I’ve got skills and perhaps a decent opportunity awaiting me, and yet, I’m not doing what I wanted to when I first began imagining how my life would go. I blame it on my continuing quest for balance. It seems well and good, but every time that something halfway decent comes along, I hold my breath, and start the countdown until the bottom drops out from beneath me. At this point, I’ve almost given up on the prospect of being genuinely happy, as I’m terrified to contemplate what sort of vengeance that joy might bring. And despite the regularity with which this sort of thing befalls me, more often than not, it manages to catch me completely by surprise. People wonder why I hate surprises: the fact is that the number of unexpected “gifts” which haven’t completely bitten me fiercely upon my posterior can be counted one hand, trembling in fear.

But, because I cannot help but succumb to the instinct which inspires me to crawl up to the sleeping bear and poke it in the eye (never mind the tripping on the rock a moment later as I scramble to get away), I’ve decided to try to think of all the things which bring me joy (and therefore tempt the retribution soon to follow). I’m not really in an altogether upbeat mood, but maybe this might actually be good for me. Well, either that, or it will drive me deeper into depression, but as I’m not sure that’s possible (famous last words), I’ll give it a shot.

I actually managed to write nearly every day for six straight months. Before this past year, I hadn’t done that since I was nineteen or twenty.

I’ve met people who have reminded me what youth feels like, and though the searing burn of age follows immediately in the wake of their departure, I find it reassuring to remind myself what unbridled life was like.

For all the struggles I have had adjusting to fatherhood, it’s nice to know that I’m still better at it than my dad. And the Minkey seems to be turning out alright, though I suppose it’s still to early to tell if that is because of or in spite of me.

My wife is an amazing woman (someone whom I do not truly believe that I deserve), and I just wish that we made each other happier. I know that I am a constant disappointment to her, as I am who I am, but I do not blame her for my lack of joy, as that would be akin to holding the ocean responsible for drowning me. I think I’ve said that wrong. I meant that I am naturally inclined towards discontentment, and that there is nothing which she could do to either drive me toward or save me from the black clouds which hang above me.

I’ve got some friends who are somehow still there for me, despite the fact that I’m rarely there for them. Perhaps my absences diminish what a needy drain I am, and leave behind only the impression that I am kind of funny and profound.

Crap. I tried to think of more, but I think that those five are it.

In case we are wondering why I seem to be so hung up on this, I guess I can share with you the news: apparently, it will be a miracle if my grandparents survive another year. I suppose that I could be grateful for this possible year I have to make the time to see them and to say goodbye. Or perhaps I could be grateful for my childhood spent with them, or the several years when my mother and I lived with them. Or the roadtrips which we took, or the every single special moment that I had to spend with them, most of them under or unappreciated at the time. Part of me is angry, because I already said goodbye when we traveled to The Island last December, and I don’t know if I can do it all again. As I’ve said so many times, it’s not death I fear. In this case, it’s the slowly dying. My heart is breaking, and it’s coloring everything else within my life. Combine that with The Soft Parade, and it’s more than I can take. I just want everything to go the way I want it to, for once. I would just like one untainted, uncompromised, untarnished victory which I could unequivocally call my own.

For all my years, and all the weariness which far exceeds them, there are times when I am self-aware enough to know when I am behaving like a child. To that, of course, I say, “So what?!” Am I not allowed, from time to time, to free myself from the bonds of self-imposed adulthood and just feel again?

I’m sorry for the gloom of these past couple of posts. I’ve no right to inflict my pain upon you, and it’s not as though sharing it with you will actually ease my burden. There is nothing that you can do for me, and there is no reason for you to know the pain I carry in my heart. And while I feel I’m drowning in quagmire of my own design, I know (at least intellectually) that I will probably be okay, at least statistically.

Thank you all for being in my life, from those who only briefly touched it, to those for whom it’s been a significantly longer commitment. I’ve needed each and every one you, for exactly the amount of time you had to give. And no, this is not goodbye.

Think of it instead as good night.

Sleep tight.

Don’t let the bedbugs bite.