Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I Have Lived

I have lived on the lip
of insanity, wanting to know reasons,
knocking on a door. It opens.
I've been knocking from the inside!

- Rumi

* * *

There are lots of markers of a fucked life. I've lost track of the ones I've spelled out here, but I don't think this one has made the list yet: wanting to know reasons.

In a Kundera story the protagonist walks up to a man vomiting in the street and says, "I know what you mean." I read this bit of Rumi - the lip of insanity and wanting to know the reasons going hand in hand - and I think, "I know what you mean."

What reason would satisfy a fucked life? Desiring answers we can't bear the truth, and so we ask some more; we knock on doors; we bang our fists on tables; we shout at the moon demanding an answer as to why it is the way it and not as we would have it.

We are petulant in our misery, forever fucked because what we want can't be given.

We are the answer to our questions. Only for the fucked that answer will not do.

* * *

He is drunk. I can tell by a wildness in his eyes that simply does not exist when he is sober. He is not a man who is drunk often, but this is a bender, a two day self-pity fest that will last as long as the beer does.

My father is a few years away from his brittle death and he is standing in the doorway of the kitchen, a beer in his hand, his white short sleeved t-shirt pulling against his middle. His glasses are off and the two deep indentations along the bridge of his nose from the weight of his glasses are a deep, crimson purple against his tan face.

He offers me a beer and it is more a dare to stand there and listen to him than to drink with him. I take a beer from the fridge. He takes a pull on his and says, "Goddamn, bitch." He steps into the laundry room and slides his torso over the washing machine, burying his head in the crook of his arm and repeats himself, "Goddamn, bitch."

I walk around to face him. He rights himself and his eyes are full of anger and unspent rage. He continues, "Can you tell me, Mark? Can you tell me? That one," and he ticks his head back into the house and I assume he means my mother, "can't tell me. You're smart. Can you tell me?"

Tell you what, Dad?

And here he straightens himself and stares past me.

"Can you tell me why my mother didn't love me? Can you tell me why she left me when I was just a little kid? Can you show me in the Bible where it says that's what you're supposed to do, because that bitch loved Jesus more than me. Why didn't she love me, Mark?"

Almost sixty years since his mother abandoned him to follow a Pentecostal revival show and he still wanted answers, answers he knew he'd never get for she'd been dead for five years.

* * *

My father was fucked and for too long I've taken over the family business of wanting answers, reasons to what is unjust, what is senseless, what fails to live up to its potential. It is a bad way. It compounds facts with imagined answers and serves only to keep you fucked.

Like Rumi, I have been pounding on a door desiring to be let in where the answers are, where the reasons bide their time, where I could find out why the brutality of the past few years had to unfold as it did and not in some other, less painful way. But there are no such answers to be found. It ain't why, why, why. It just is. That's all there is about it.

Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Asking why some people are the way they are and expecting a viable answer is the same.

You want to unfuck your life? Quit banging on the door. You are already in.

* * *

He was quiet. The time for crying was passed. He was sitting up in his hospital bed. He looked almost well. It was like an Indian Summer before the chill of his death swooped down on us all, and he was telling stories. I had heard them all dozens and dozens of times, but thought this could be the last time he tells them and I listened. Stories of fishing trips, of wayward uncles, of funerals gone wrong, of his first time as a pilot flying at night, of Orion, of a high-school sweetheart, of cars, of how he liked to swim by himself, of his time in the Navy, of his friends, of my brother, of me and nowhere not a breath about the woman who bore him and abandoned him.

His last stories were about the love he had. Not the love not given.

He was unfucked just before time ran out.

I'll not wait so long.

* * *


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