Reflections on a life of quiet desperation

I cleaned out my junk drawer today. I clean it pretty often, so there was only three weeks of junk in there. Which is to say that my relationship with my wife is really a strange and beautiful thing that I don’t understand.

There was a great band called Love that sang this song “Alone Again or” where they say: “I could be in love with almost everyone. I think people are the greatest fun.”

One of the reasons I got married was so that I could wear a ring, a signal to everyone that I should not flirt with them.

But you know, the idea that I could get rid of this problem by wearing a ring suggests that the people who flirt with me are the problem. I’m the problem. It doesn’t help anything that I’m genetically inclined to believe everyone is flirting with me whenever they are nice. The only time I don’t think someone is flirting with me is if they are a straight man or gay woman with no apparent gender fluidity.

Still, that would be fine. The whole world could flirt with me and I wouldn’t have a problem if I didn’t fall in love so easily. And when I say “fall in love,” I’m trying to label that loss of control that happens, that supreme fixation of the mind on the idea of another person.

I wonder if it is a problem. It’s really just who I am, why should I change that? But, of course it is a problem, because I love my wife and I would not tell her that I’m in love with someone. For good measure, the only people I’ve ever told my wife I think are attractive are men, and also Zhang Ziyi in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which was an accident. Whenever she asks me who I think is good looking, I just stare out of the window for a long time as if I’m thinking and then I say, I don’t know. Name someone and I’ll tell you what I think. Then she says something like, Giselle, and then I say, “Who the hell is that?” And just for protection, I’ve avoided looking up this Giselle person so I can honestly say I don’t even know who that is besides she’s Tom Brady’s wife and the woman my wife is always asking is she attractive. When she names someone I know I look at her in mild horror and say, I mean…she’s not disgusting or anything. Then she laughs and we move on.

My wife and I are practical people…no wait. My wife is a practical person and I love her so I live the life of a practical person to the best of my ability. We are entrenched in practicality, doing practical things every day. We’ve been together for a long time. I support her in her career. She pretends she’s not worried about me ever finding a real job. One day, I really will get it together and make her proud. The purpose of this paragraph, before it gets away, is that for most of our relationship, my wife and I are battling real life, which is a gruesome endeavor for two people. Even if we weren’t very different people at our cores, we probably wouldn’t be in total rapture ten years into fighting this fight.

I want to be in love. I want to do drugs. I want to jump off cliffs and spend days in the dark listening to music on the floor.

Is it wrong to imagine doing those things? It is, because I never think of doing those things. Well, besides the drugs. I never think of doing those things until someone breaks through the wall that I hoped my wedding ring would reinforce.

I’m mostly in love with every girl that’s ever smiled at me. It’s a manageable thing, though. I’m used to it. I’m not used to feeling like I feel right now, which is obsessed. I don’t know how to deal with this. In the past, I’ve dealt with it by leveraging geography, I just move. It happened to me in Boston, and it happened to me in DC, and if I hadn’t moved I don’t know what would have happened. I am a comfortable liar, and my wife is not a curious person. I can avoid the act of infidelity by staying physically away from the person I am obsessed with, but I can’t currently avoid thinking of this person constantly. Meditation is giving me a better understanding of my mind and my relationships with thoughts, so maybe that will become available to me in the future.

The problem is that I like feeling this way. I feel creative, unafraid to die, purposeful, tireless, and rejuvenated. In a twisted way, I even like the other feelings: loneliness, shame, and a sense of tragic irony. But I don’t like hiding all my thoughts from my wife. I usually hide half of what I’m thinking and the other half remains hidden because she doesn’t ask questions, but this is different.

The last time this happened to me, I lost my job. I have a general recollection of terrible darkness. I completely understood suicide for the first time. Maybe if I think back over that time and deal with it as it really was, and not just as a locked Pandora’s box, I can find answers. Or, insidiously, maybe I’ll find justifications. I need a therapist.

Probably I am not unique. Could be that everyone, when they’re truly in love, whatever thing happens in the mind when that happens, is, depending on perspective, either a delusional raving lunatic or temporarily completely sane. You know how you feel when you get the good buzz while drinking, or when you take ecstasy, that feeling of love for all humanity? That feeling that is usually so far away.

Have you ever felt that everyone was doing the wrong things, and that it was all the fault of people that had felt the way that you feel when you take that darkest of drugs – power. I have never felt enough power to get addicted, and I have never done heroin. I assume they are similarly addictive.

In a life as mundane as mine, which isn’t even as mundane as most of the people I know, it’s easy to go along and not debate with yourself about whether this is anywhere close to the best of all possible worlds or whether it is closer to the worst of all possible worlds. But when you get a taste of a powerful emotion, you question this going along.

Could it be that everyone who falls in love feels like sitting in the dark and listening to music? Well, yeah probably everyone does. But the last time I sat in the dark and listened to music was a year ago or more. I feel like I am so distant from myself. I feel imprisoned by my current life, by debt, society, my family. Then, another being shows up who for some reason makes that prison feel like it’s a trick of the light. That I could walk right out of it.

I want to live on the street, smell like shit. Take showers in public bathrooms. Write love poems in the sand of deserts where no one will come looking for us, where the moon shines in her eyes and it may be the last thing I’ll see. I want simpler things than that, too. I want to fall slowly into a life of squalid domesticity where I’m sure I’ll begin to resent her…

But when you are on drugs you think such things. Who are the happy people of the world? Certainly not the people we have heard of. It’s not the people who follow the drugs and the love where ever they go, who chase an experience outside of reality. The happy people of the world have families and jobs and die having loved in a way that wasn’t about what they wanted all of the time. Thus speaks the prison. Is the prison a prison or is it my true self? I wish I could test a different path and come back to this point if I found the other path to be as frustrating as this one. Maybe I am just convincing myself that the world is a horrible place where you can never win because I’ve already resigned myself to life long pain and toil.

There are no happy people in the world, really. There is no happiness. There is only striving and struggle and existence at all costs. What we have are moments of joy, which appear in every life. I just wish the ratio wasn’t so fucked up.

And drugs like ecstasy and obsession trick us into believing that the ratio could be better than it is. But there’s always a comedown. Isn’t there? Shit I don’t know, maybe there isn’t.

8 thoughts on “Reflections on a life of quiet desperation

  1. And this is why I not so secretively admire your words, Gordon. You’ve expressed some of the things I’ve always been too wary of voicing myself. I’d put a heart emoticon here but I wouldn’t want you to think I’m trying to woo you. Just a big admirer here, I assure you. Ha ha! 😛

  2. Yeah. Same as Tony. I have a “new energy” addiction of sorts that has managed to break the heart of every man that’s had the distinct pleasure of my company, and my goodness, do I want to write about it.

  3. Interesting how you chalk a lot of these things down to being in love. It would be so great to lay on the floor and listen to music in the dark but what with paying the bills and doing the dishes there isn’t time or energy before someone or something tells you to just go to bed and stop arsing around.

    • Ha!! Yes well that’s my point. It takes something to snap you out of paying the bills and dishes to think about how you stopped listening to music in the dark and washing dishes instead. I think I’ve written posts about this before. I heard someone say “yeah if only we could all be happy with what we have, then we could all starve to death in puddles of our own filth.” That guy probably works for the electric company.

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