I started writing this blog because I couldn’t not write it. I kept writing it because I couldn’t not write it. But last month, I couldn’t write.
I still really can’t. It’s been an eventful month, though, don’t get me wrong. I have things to say – I’ve read John McPhee’s 2006 book, Uncommon Carriers, about freight transport in North America, and I’ve read a 1979 assembly of Hericlitus, and I’ve read my son The Trumpet of the Swan by EB White, and my parents gave me Walter Benjamin’s The Arcades Project, and I’ve finally finished the second volume of Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past. The ex-girlfriend has ignored my happy new year’s message. The ex-wife has railed against the existence of our ex-marriage. My son has gotten more amazing, more loving, more open, and at the same time more curious and more independent and more individual. My father has gotten better and much worse all at once. My career has gotten more interesting and more confusing and more wrong and more right all at once. I have too much to say, too much to think about, and I can’t write.
Tonight, I got to the airport five hours ahead of my flight. It’s the red eye, as usual, the typical flight every two weeks between the desolate Pacific Northwest and the strange airy desert dust hellscape of south Texas. I got to the airport early because I had a conference call that started at five thirty Ante Meridian, well before my son woke up, I took the call on my laptop and my cell phone from behind the bathroom door while he slept, and after the call I was exhausted and just wanted to crash in a familiar place, which for me is an airport. At seven Ante Meridian I opened the door and turned on the lights and put the phone on mute and woke the son up, and made bacon and put a plate of blueberries and pear and while I had one ear on the conference call talking about fixed income asset management which had no chance of being relevant to the people whose savings I’m responsible for, and I encouraged him to put on proper trousers and eat fruit and semi-crispy bacon and color in the star which represented the story I read to him the prior night. I put on proper trousers myself, and a t-shirt and a sweater, and made myself a coffee, and tried to convince myself that the whole package, of conference call and studio apartment and upcoming flight back to office and flight back in a week and a half, was worth it. It was, because I put the call off mute and asked a question and it stopped the call and the global megacorp airhead on the other end realized that they weren’t going to get the contract. The question helped nine million depositors, most of whom have no idea how a bank works. My son needed to get his socks on.
I asked my friend if she liked horror movies. It made more sense than the question I asked the global megacorp. But it was on text, so no one cared. I hit send and realized I had asked a question that meant a lot but really just cared about whether she responded. She could say she loved horror movies – which I don’t like – and I still would care. If she said she loved them and needed me to love them, it would be different. But she didn’t. Horror movies aren’t her favorite genre. My favorite genre, frankly, is probably spaghetti Westerns. That and romantic comedies. Sports related romantic comedies.
The ex-girlfriend hated earnest things, but she watched earnest movies – Finding Nemo, Coco – with a kind of desperation. She craved validation through the exultation of the heroes; I kept finding sympathy with the bit players, with the servants in the background, which queered her narrative. She hated that. And now I have a job that exists to help the servants in the background – the ones who don’t know what a bank is for and never will. And I spent eight hours this morning on a conference call on behalf of the background heroes today that made me realize that there are no heroes any more. The best we can hope for is service, of those who serve us. A bad pun.
I had a bad day today and don’t know why. But for all of that, I woke up to an alarm and a conference call, and an hour and a half later the most beautiful creature on earth stirred and asked me to be quiet. He was in his bed, next to mine even though mine was empty, he stirred and curled and purred and went back to sleep, and I remembered why I had done everything I had for the past six years, during which I left my wife, during which I torridly joined with the ex-girlfriend, during which I left her and let her leave me. I thought about why I longed for the voice of the new friend in Maine who called me that night, why I needed this time on my own, this time finally, to read The Arcades Project, why I didn’t want to leave Seattle but didn’t either want to head to San Antonio, why I knew I’d never be able to tell my father what I wanted but knew he’d also understand it all. It wasn’t really a bad day but it felt that way.
Collapse time and I’m at the airport bar again, hungry. I ordered the Alaskan Ling Cod fish and chips, along with a couple of dry Gibsons, and the phone rang, silently, letting me know I had missed the calls. I called the missed number back. I spoke idiotically, happily, amazed. She had called me, and her voice was amazing. It was a voice that let other people tell their story. I wasn’t sure how to tell mine. But it was good to hear her voice.
Two hours later, I’m waiting to board the flight to Chicago. I’m just glad I’m writing again. I’ll write something worthy of Mark and Viktoria soon. But tonight, I’m just glad I’m writing.