Monday, August 13, 2012

How to Save Your Own Life

Follow the rules all of your life. Be lazy. Lazy enough to not get into a good private college out west or a mediocre SUNY school in central New York. Be motivated enough to graduate high school not a virgin, with a handful of friends and a handful of good memories that you can use in your yearbook quote.

Follow the path of least resistant. Take the news that your parents are having another baby for face value. Join the Army, Marines, Navy, hell you sign up for the circus. Just get out.

Have fun while you are away: too much fun, with new people in new places. Meet strangers who will one day ask you to be in their wedding. Get a taste of freedom through your travel. See America and feel the heat of a summer spent in the Carolinas. Never fully forget how the sun beat so deliberately against back while you run along vineyards and shorelines.

Excel at the program you chose- whatever it may be. Graduate with honor, graduate with a job and a fiancĂ©e to go home to. A dog waits for you –  no  two dogs. Two dogs, a wife and a house. Come back aged, but not withered. Come back and feel the sun differently.

Have a backyard ready for barbecues and birthday celebrations. Fill your house with pictures of your dogs at parks and your wife with sunsets behind her, in a long white dress, lying on a hammock, you cooking over a fire.

Wake up mid-way through your thirties and feel short of breath. Become alarmingly aware of the receding hairline you see in the mirror. Drive to work every day and think about cutting off tractor trailers that would never be able to stop in time. Allow these images to consume you. Arrive at work and have no recollection of how you got there.

Enjoy everything less. Fantasize more about nothing; traveling, the Carolinas during the summer, your youth; fantasize about young coworkers and zero in on the new girl. See her everywhere.

Go home and spend your weekends looking through photo albums. Have no memory of being in any of the places you’re pictured. Feel numb when you look through your wedding album. Feel the clock on the wall watch you try to remember holiday parties and birthdays where you look happy. Recognize your smile.

Befriend, then call her - this co-worker. This distraction, obsess over her. Late at night when you stumble home, sit on your porch and whisper into the phone. Tell her she’s beautiful. Tell her you have never felt this way before. 

Watch her eat up your words. Watch her fall in love with your sincerity and unfaltering calmness. Let your insecurities float through the air of her second floor apartment. Embrace that way she soothes your worries with a finesse you are not use to.

Tell her these things. Find yourself telling her the things you have never told anyone.  Feel light when you are with her. Get lost in the details of her smile while you work side by side. 

At home, sleep beside your wife. Feel what you can only assume is guilt. Wake up at the end of March and leave. 

Leave your house key. Leave your wedding band.  Leave and watch in the rear view mirror as your house explodes with sweater vests and running shoes. Consider going back for the first dog.

Drive the coast up to New England and spend the weekend intoxicated, texting her and drinking Johnny Walker with your cousin. Feel alive and at peace with the decisions that led you here. Don’t think about it for more than a cheers worth of time. Call her. Tell her you want her. Feel elated when she says she wants you too.

Be happy. Go back to work and hate it. Less with her by your side. Surround yourself with her. Be everywhere she is.  Watch her eyes when she notices your ring is gone.

Make your move. Be in the moment and feel the blindness lift; see her so clearly you are afraid to blink. Stay the night. And be tired the next day. Tell her it’s worth it and think you mean it. Tell her you will always stay the night and think you could probably mean that that too. Listen to her heels click as she approaches your office. Take the long way to the bathroom to cross paths.

Let your phone begin to disrupt dates. Let your other life seep into this new escape route you have mapped out. Let the laziness return. Ignore the signs until she can no longer ignore the signs. Don’t argue when she says you told her “I feel so connected to you” because that sounds like something you would say.

Quit your job. Tell your friends and family you are going back to school. Let her support you while everyone is talking you out of this decision. Let her optimism wash over you and her drive seduce you.  Don’t say good bye on your last day. Just leave.

Lay in your parent’s pool on hot summer days and think about high school, try to remember the girl’s name that you first slept with. Call your friends that you lost touch with through the years; make plans to visit Boston and Chicago. Go to Pittsburgh and feel relieved on the ride there. Don’t think about anything but being consumed by where you are.

Arrive home and feel weathered. Sink into the pool; think about how you got to this point. Think about the tractor trailers and the highways, the money, your dogs waiting for you to never return. Think about the last time you saw her. Think about how easy it could be to just let your legs go limp. Slide under the water silently and count the slow thumps of your heart.

1 comment:

  1. Favorite post! I love this every time I read it!