Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Moment of Morbidity

I've always been fascinated with death, mostly because it scares the shit out of me. I am so afraid of dying that I can barely step into a doctor's office or a hospital. Of course, that's also partly attributed to my fear of needles and being "under".

Still, even being as big a pussy as I seemingly am, I think about death. Not in the same way a goth kid does, or an elderly person, or a doctor. I think more about what really happens. Who knows if there really is a God? I don't really subscribe to religion as I genuinely feel that early religions were invented as a story - a story meant to explain "that which cannot be explained" - and which grew to be an escape for people from the harshness of real life. Religion used to be the panacea for anything and everything; diseases were punishments for sins and recoveries were miracles, seemingly the work of divine intervention. It has also evolved into a force of control over the masses, a way to keep the poor from killing the rich and to keep the outsiders just behind the borders of the norm.

Who is right? Who is wrong? And what right do people think they have to judge others based on their beliefs?

I guess I mull these ideas in my head because I don't know what's going to happen when I die. If I even get the chance to reflect on my life as it fades away, what will I see? Will "God" be revealed to me? Will I have flashes of my life, my accomplishments, my failures before I pass? Will I have time for my last words?

I think about my last words more than I probably should. I think about what I need to say if and when I realize that I'm going to die. I've always imagined that my last words will have to be something comforting to my family and friends. Maybe it will be profound, but I'm less worried about that. Will I be surrounded by people I love who will hear my words of comfort? What if I die at a diner or on the train to work? Who will care what I have to say? Who will tell my family I love them?

I just want to be able to tell the people I love that I love them, that they're going to be ok, that I'm going to be ok. And then I think about how many people don't get that chance. People who die in car accidents, or from heart attacks at restaurants, or in botched carjackings; these are people who have lived their lives and have loved and whose flames get snuffed out before they can tell people the people they love that it's all going to be ok, even if it's not.

And maybe I won't be able to say what I need to say. Maybe I'll be too busy crying like a little girl and begging for my fading life. Maybe I will be so preoccupied with fighting against the dying of the light that I won't be able to comfort those I love.

It's scary and it's stupid, I know. But it's what I think about.

So I try to tell the people I love that I love them. My family, my friends...the people who make me happy, who make me love life - even if it's only for a little while and only in small doses. If you really love someone, then go ahead and say it. Don't worry about hurt feelings or reactions; don't let other people pound self-doubt into your head. Love can be so many different things to so many different people, and the idea that love is somehow sacred and only available to certain people in certain situations is ridiculous.

I love my family, I love my friends (new and old), I love the people who make me feel like I matter. I do what I can, though sometimes it's by use of sarcasm and humor, to tell those people that I don't exist without them. I wish more people would get over themselves and just say it to someone - even if you're afraid, even if it's just the love of friendship, even if it complicates things. In the end, you're going to find out what you're made of and what the people around you are made of. Love really will do that for you. It will change you life and make you a better person. And who doesn't want that?

Don't wait to tell people you love them. Don't put it on hold; don't assume that you'll be able to say it tomorrow, or the next day, or the next day. You may never get the chance to change yourself for the better by just being honest and admitting that you're in love with your life and the people in it. And you'll be happier, I promise you.

Love never fails.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Love: An Obituary

It started at a party.

At first, I didn't want to go and Mike did. Then he didn't and I did. After all, it had only been four days since September 11th. No one wanted to move, breathe, leave their beds; why on Earth would anyone want to dance, drink, and yell at each other over loud music when there was so much sorrow in the world? What would be the point?

But as we got to the 12th, and the 13th, and so on the world took on a different feel. People were emerging from their flannel-sheet cocoons with a new mantra, "live now". The world could end at any time, we could be bombed into oblivion, our loved ones might be asked to fight and die abroad. "Live now"...go on and meet people, love life, let go of old fears and old grudges.

And so we decided to go.

And that's when I met you.

Later, we'd omit the part about the "party" being one of the frat variety, and how I met you and two of your friends by being flashed for beads. We spent the night on the dance floor, kissing and talking. Later, we lay in bed and whispered to each other, basking in the glow of the moment.

Alas, our first go-around was destined to fail. You were at school two hours away and I had enough on my plate with work, school, and a semblance of a social life. I only saw you twice in three months, communicating mostly through AIM and the phone. I broke off our then-short dalliance with a phone call right before winter break.


We started talking again in March. You'd had a failed fling with a friend and I'd missed you. We talked about making an effort to see each other because there was a palpable attraction. I could feel it through the phone. We got back together at the end of that month.

Things were great for a while. The summer was tough, with you living down the Cape with your Nana and me living in Wakefield and working two jobs, but we made it work. Once school started, we were seeing each other all the time until winter finals. After that, I was doing my show and you were living your life. We barely saw each other; add to that the fact that we were still young and I was still stupid, and it equaled a break in April of 2003.


I was shocked when you decided to come to my college graduation party. We couldn't keep our eyes off each other all night. Once everyone left the party and you stayed behind, I knew that this might be my chance to make things right. We talked, we kissed, we made up and made love, and all was right with the world. We could make this work.

The next year was incredible. I was home, finally close enough to see you on a regular basis. You were finishing up your senior year. That time was bliss; I'm not sure I was ever happier for a longer continuous stretch of time than I was for that year. We laughed, and played, and loved, and dreamed about the future. We even moved in together once your original plan fell through, assured by each other that it was you and me for the rest of our lives.

That would turn out to be a colossal mistake due to the fact that we had no money and you had no friends left up here. Salem was a nightmare. We were broke and we had no social lives to speak of. We fought constantly. We patched up the relationship over and over again. I think we were more scared of leaving each other because of the lease than of the relationship itself. I moved back home but we were too damaged by then; we kept it together until that July and then called it quits. We fooled around for a few months more, unable to let go, and then stopped talking in October.


I can remember calling you in February of 2007. I was distraught; I'd had a little bit of a medical scare and I needed someone to talk to. You were the most comfortable person I could think of. At the time, I thought that was a compliment.

We started with talking. We moved on to dating. And then we slipped back into love as we had so many times before. And it was wonderful. I was convinced that this was it; you were The One. We had jobs, our own friends, shared confidence; it seemed like everything was falling into place.

March 23rd, 2008 is still the happiest night of my life, even if there has been a little bitterness injected into my memories since then. I asked you to marry me, and you said yes. You looked so beautiful that night. The stars were aligned, the night went as smoothly as I could have ever hoped, and by the time we fell asleep that night the world was ours for the taking, together at last.

Life was great after that. We were ecstatic, telling people left and right that were were engaged. We began making plans for a wedding date, for our children's names, for invitees to the reception.

Finally, my dream of becoming a family man with you was being realized.

And then you began pulling away.


It started with your workload and school load during the summer. You were taking three classes, working two jobs, and suddenly the time spent together began to dwindle. We went from seeing each other four nights a week to three, to the weekends, to one day a weekend. You were stressed out, but you chose to spend your time off with your new friends. I understood why you thought the way you did: I'd always been and would be around; you wanted to make your own friends and keep them.

So we spent less time with each other. That was frustrating, but I dealt with it. Then you started pulling away further, making plans with your friends and family on the few days we both had free to see each other. You became emotionally distant. Our phone conversations became shorter and less lively. It seemed that you had time to talk and text to everyone except me.

You were attached at the ear and fingers to that goddamn phone. No matter where we were, it was a guarantee that there'd be no meaningful conversation as long as one of your friends was texting you. My family and friends noticed, too; every time you were out with us or over at the house they'd make comments to you about your obsession with your phone. People began pulling me aside and asking me if we were having problems.

I brushed off the criticism, even when the truth was staring me in the face. You were detached, distracted, uninterested. What I took for your desire to be more independent blinded me to what was really happening: you were giving up on our relationship because you stopped feeling the same way about me that I felt about you.

I struggled to keep us together and to understand you. You told me I was suffocating you. You lied to me about why you were feeling the way you were. I believed it because I had no choice. If someone can just fall out of love with someone else without provocation, what does that say about the other person? Can love ever be "forever" if it can be so quickly tossed away?

I had the creeping suspicion that there was someone else. Eventually that was confirmed by an outside source, someone to whom I will be forever indebted. Confronting you about it, I couldn't help but notice the total lack of emotion when you admitted to the elephant in the room. I don't know why I expected more crying or begging or explanation; I hadn't gotten anything real out of you in months.

This time, it was easier. I'd been dealing with a shell of my fiancee for the past few months; the woman I was dealing with now, I didn't even know. Breaking up with someone you don't know is easier than the alternative.

I don't know if you ever would have told me about the other person, but I wasn't willing to wait for you to figure it out.

So here I am now, trying to live my life without your helping hand; unable to converse with your family, to share in the joy of your new cousin, to be included in the love that you so willingly give to others.

I'm doing alright; I have the best family, friends, and co-workers a guy could ask for. I'm going to get back on my feet and try to remember how to start living as a single man again. My stomachaches have disappeared for the most part. I'm probably drinking a little more than I have in recent times, but that's because my amazing support system has sounded the alarm and tried their hardest to help me move on, and that means taking me out. Things will settle soon, and I'll be a better person for it.

And so we've come full circle - from a national tragedy to an emotional one; a story about a man and a woman who were so deeply in love that they couldn't see inevitability when it was staring them in the face.

I don't bear ill will towards you. I'm sad about what has happened but I know you had your reasons. I'm sure that someday you'll figure yourself out, meet someone, and be happy. Maybe you're already on your way there.

Maybe you'll realize in six months that you've made a huge mistake. I won't be there for you if that happens. I can't afford to be.


So now I lay this story to rest. A story that spanned seven years of our lives, full of passion, tears, laughter, family, broken promises, and love. A story whose time has come and gone.

We'll learn from this experience and become stronger people. We just have to make sure we don't gloss over the time we spent together. Thank you for the wildest, most passionate, most emotionally-immersing seven years I've ever lived. Here's hoping the next seven have a better ending...for you and for me.