It wasn’t just her.
There were several people that came to mind when I wrote my last tantrum in a whiskey-fueled, late-night empty hour, “burn it all down” frantic madness. But I fear that she inadvertently took the brunt of my boorish rebuke. That was neither fair, nor intended, so I must now be man enough to throw myself willingly upon my literary sword and write for her…better words.
She deserves at least that much.
Most nights, especially after those when our ridiculously adult schedules happen to align, and I can actually choke back my phobias long enough to share the naked intimacy of a transcontinental telephone call, I have come to realize that when she crosses my mind, it almost always makes me feel a bit like one of my heroes, Hunter.
Much like he did in the City of Sin decades ago, I have discovered that when I climb a hill here in this City of Wayne, the haphazardly unpredictable cradle of our durable friendship’s birth, and I look West with the right kind of eyes, I can see her clearly through the years and I have come to better understand the significance of that enduringly nostalgic focus.
I see, too, the many other directions in which she gets pulled daily by her unique set of grown-up circumstances. The exhaustive blessing of being a capable and involved mother and spouse in ways I could never understand simply because I never really had meaningful skin in those particular games, choosing instead to live my life by an entirely different set of rules. I see the responsibilities that are infinitely connected with being a successful business woman, when not succumbing to the pull of pursuing the path of a political pit bull, spoiling for a fight that is actually worth fighting for, especially now, in this maddening world so full of division and fractures.
Sometimes, I genuinely feel that I do not measure up when compared against the impressive yardstick of her many successes, so rightfully earned. It sometimes makes me feel that my insignificant accomplishments pale in comparison and that gets my competitive hackles up, not because of what she has, but because I have managed to attain so very little.
And that failing is solidly on me, not her.
Regardless, I owe her an apology for letting the insecurity of my artistic demons shout down the more reasonable vestiges of our solidarity. It was stunted and small of me to compare my apples to her kohlrabi, intentionally mixing up the metaphors in fits of my limping and childish self-involvement.
She consistently gives me a reason to be better than I am; she constantly takes the time to help me be a better writer. She was an original in a gang small in number, but large in intellect and artistic compulsion, and she somehow held belief in me, despite my best attempts at self-sabotage as I constantly questioned and prodded with doubt and genuine self loathing. She has patiently been carrying that steadfast belief in both me, and my words, for far too many years, only to be rewarded with a blindsided, narcissistic rant reeking of self-pity and flowery angst.
And she deserves far better than that.
She deserves better than me. She has fought far too long, and come too far, just to have some self-absorbed plonker break out of the shadows only long enough to shit on her already full plate, a literal Midwestern party-pooper, adding more unwanted, and frankly unnecessary, complications. That’s not what real friends are supposed to do and I cower in unwiped shamefulness at my insensitivity.
I want to give her the gift of happier words. I want to help her find her own artistic voice again so that we can have those old conversations about art and music that I have missed so dearly. More than anything, I just want to be the one thing in her life that offers compassion over complication.
And simplicity over obligation.
For her, I would travel across a country caught reeling in the pandemic’s second wave crashing, a masked pioneer of sorts, seeking out better days on a horseless aeroplane because everything used to be horseless in the olden days and I still think that’s a terrifically funny joke- horseless carriages, horseless telephones, horseless outhouses, horseless corsets- and I like to make her laugh.
Because the world is a much better place when she smiles.
And I miss her.
tl/dr: I was an asshole. And I’m sorry.