Dear Nate… 003: Rain happens

Bearing the weight

Boy: Papa, it’s raining.

Dear Nate;

As I write this, you sleep in your room. You’re almost three. I’ve written you twice before. I should write you more.

I’ve been sleeping better lately. I dream a lot but I’m a terrible sleeper. Your mother didn’t have this problem. I hope, in this regard, you take after her.

There are things that I hope you’ll take from me, and things I hope you’ll take from her.

The most important thing I want you to take from both us is the ability to bear the weight of the world.

If you ever read through this blog, I want you to tell you two things:

  1. Papa probably made up most of it; and,
  2. I talk about bearing things, quite a bit.

I always thought I could bear more pain – emotional and otherwise – than most. Then I met your mother.

She was, and remains, the bravest and strongest person I’ve ever known. I’ve never met anyone who bore as much as she did.

I hope never to meet another, because to watch it is soul-crushing.

The first time your mother and I spoke on the phone, she was unkind to me. But she immediately called me to apologize and ask how she could make it better.

I told her, “You get points in life for being brave.” I think I loved her at that moment. There is nothing more attractive than bravery.

You’ll meet a lot of people in this life that have all the trappings of bravery: They yell the loudest, act the craziest, threaten the most. They are many things, but they are not brave.

The truth is, we are made in our sleep and by our lonely. Bravery is quiet and happens when no one looks or notices.

And bravery requires you to bear things you don’t wanna: Disappointment, pain, ridicule, and loss.

We’ve lost so much, you and I.

There will be times when you can’t bear it any more and you’ll want to cry.

I want you to remember that rain happens when clouds can’t bear the weight they carry.

Likewise, tears happen when people can’t bear the weight they carry. So put it down and cry for a bit.

It’s ok to cry. Papa cries a lot when no one looks or notices. Papa carries a lotta weight, you see.

Anyway, once you’re done crying, you pick up the weight again. Because life is nothing if not bearing the weight of the world.

The world will teach you things like anger, greed, hatred, and cruelty. I’m sorry for that. I’m so sorry. I wish so many things were different.

But here – in the four walls of our small Manhattan apartment – I’ll try and teach you curiosity, patience, and kindness. With those things and bravery, you’ll be able to bear the world.

And always remember that you get points in life for being brave.

Love,

Pop

Me: Yes. The clouds can’t bear the weight anymore. But it’s ok. They will again and then it’ll be sunny again.
Him: Sunny again… I like the sun. (thinking) Papa doesn’t like the sun.
Me: (laughing) That’s not wrong.

Dear Nate… 001
Dear Nate… 002: Wait and wish

Location: home with the boy
Mood: heartbroken
Music: I love you oh so well
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Halloween 2018

The Nightmare Before New Year’s Day


It’s Halloween.

Thought about my first Halloween with Alison the other day. It was exactly 10 years ago today. That’s her shoulder in the pic at the bottom of this entry. She dyed her hair brown.

When everything went down in 2015, I remember thinking a lot about the movie title, The Nightmare before Christmas. That’s exactly what it was.

Can’t properly express to you the depth of the sadness and anxiety we all felt then. Probably for the best.

I remember hearing ages ago that Vincent Price was supposed to be Santa in the film but his wife passed away and he was “so grief-stricken that the director felt he sounded too sad for Santa.”

Man, I totally get that. I was a zombie for years while Alison was sick and continued after she passed. I was a shadow of myself.

Halloween fills me with a dread. Cause it’s the start of the holiday season.

My son was supposed to be born around Halloween but he wasn’t so Alison took a walk around the neighborhood that day.

She took these pictures in this entry.

She was so happy that day. She was in love, pregnant, and about to be a mother. Everything she ever wanted. And it all turned to shit a week later.

I worried for a while that the boy would feel my grief but I wear my painted faces in front of him to hide it as best I can.

Time’ll tell if it worked.

In any case, today, I’m going to dress up the boy and myself for Halloween. The Gymgirl’s coming too.

At the end of the day, I’ll take off my costume but I’ll keep my painted face on until New Year’s Day, so the kid doesn’t know how much I hate the holidays.

And I do so hate the holidays. Dunno if that’ll ever change.

Location: 2015, in my head
Mood: crestfallen
Music: Painted faces, fill the places I can’t reach
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Here until you’re ready

I lost my father this time last year

My father was supposed to teach the kid how to make sushi.

He was supposed to teach him Chinese and Japanese.

He was supposed to explain pi to him.

He was supposed to show him how to make eggs.

And he was supposed to show me stuff too. He was supposed to tell me how to be a good father.

I have an indescribable hole in my person, not having him or Alison here to help me with the boy. It’s like a Schrödinger’s cat paradox: I’ll never know who the boy woulda been in the presence of them, with their influence. Nor will I know what kinda father I woulda been with them here.

When you take someone away, you’re never the same person that you woulda been if they were there.

It’s a feeling of despairing empty grief that I can only describe like this: Imagine you spent the day making dinner for someone you love. All that excitement and preparation. They’re late. And then you get a phone call that starts, “Mr. Lo? I’m calling about your father. I’m sorry, but…”

Except it’s every moment of every day, twice as bad after dusk, and exponentially more on the 24th. That’s the day I lock myself in my apartment alone and put on my real face. The one the boy’s never seen.

They were both supposed to be here, Alison and my dad. Nuthin is like it was supposed to be. All our beautiful plans

I miss my dad. I miss my family. I made this goddamn dinner and no one’s here for it.

I wasn’t ready.

Fuck all, I’m never ready.

Me: (running in) What’s wrong?
Him: (quietly) I want papa.
Me: Are you afraid?
Him: (nods)
Me: (lying down next to crib) Don’t be afraid, Nate. I’m here. (sticks hand into crib, boy takes it) I’ll stay here until you fall asleep, ok?
Him: OK, papa. (closes eyes)
Me: (on the floor) Life is sweet, in spite of the misery. I’m here. And I’ll be here until you’re ready.

Location: with a large glass of mint-flavored whiskey thanks to the day and yet another scare. It’s always something.
Mood: hollowed
Music: It’s a crying shame. Who pulled you down again?
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The Captain and the Kid

Having Tea with the Kid

Me: I love you, kid.
Him: I love you too, papa.

Holy s__tballs! Well, this was the best night this month, which, let’s be honest, is a low bar.  Not gonna lie, I might’ve wept a little. Just a bit.

Got no one to share it with, so I share it with you.


Speaking of the kid, I try not to write about him cause I always try to remember what it was like when I was a kid: I didn’t want to be discussed and dissected in public.

But now I get why my parents did it. Cause parents love their kids so much that they wanna talk about them and show them off.

So I allow myself a post every so often.

When my sister-in-law brought him home the other day, the song Clocks came on and he knew all the words and that the band was “cold.”

No idea where he picked that up from; she had no idea either.* Kids are really like sponges.

A song I’ve been listening to a lot is a song called Imaginary Tea about a dad writing about having imaginary tea time with his daughter.

I loved you before I heard ever heard your voice
Before I even knew your name
I loved you before I saw those pretty eyes
I loved you right away

That’s precisely how I feel about the kid and if ever there was a song that summed up parenthood, it’s this song.

Speaking of parents and parenthood, the one-year anniversary of my dad passing will be this Friday.

The kid’ll be away and I’ll be locked in my room with my half-bottle of rum, which is all that’s left of the rum from the cruise.

Last year, I had people around. This year, it’s just me and Captain Morgan.

Holy s__tballs (again). What an awful month this has been.

Then again, everything around me seems to go to hell. I’ll take it, though, if that means the kid’ll be ok. Alison woulda felt the same way.

We’d suffer any sling and arrow if the kid’s ok.

Me: Do you wanna hear that song again?
Him: (nodding) Yes, papa.
Me: OK!

*edit: My mother-in-law told me they listen to the album in the car; mystery solved!

Location: surrounded by dishes
Mood: nostalgic
Music: I’ve been picking up the pieces of the mess you made
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No place to go

Loss and threat of loss

ABFF: I read about the breakup and your insomnia, are you ok?
Me: Strictly, speaking, I haven’t been ok since November 8, 2015. But I’ll survive. After all, that’s what I do, right?

Wrote once that anxiety is fear of the hypothetical. But if you look at it from the fear side of the equation, there are really only two types of anxiety:

  1. Fear of loss
  2. Fear of the threat of loss

I’ve dealt with the horrible realization of some of the worst fears any human being can imagine. Repeatedly. And whenever I thought no horror could top what I was experiencing, life was like: Not done with you yet, man.

On a smaller scale, some fears regarding the Gymgirl were realized recently. As I said, everyone’s grief is grief to them, even when they’ve dealt with the worst-of-the-worst for so long.

After all, I adored the girl.

This blogger named Jamie Anderson wrote:

Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot. All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.

The start of my insomnia was actually because the father of one of my oldest and dearest friends just passed away, in a similarly horrifying and grotesque way. I actually fell to my knees when I heard. Literally, my knees buckled. Because I knew everything he was feeling and felt it with him.

What happened with the Gymgirl happened the very next day and just added fuel to the fire.

Agony plus grief is, well, just a lotta f__king grief.

I sent my buddy the quote above in the hopes that understanding grief would make it a little more bearable. It did for me. Kindasortamaybe.

The plus side of this type of grief is clarity, i.e., the disappearance of anxiety. My buddy, I hope, has some peace cause the hypothetical becomes concrete.

Although, I’m sure he, like I, wish it were all concrete in the opposite direction. Then again, I wish for a lotta things. Like I wish I sold my bitcoin back at 20K.

For me, I now know all this information that I never knew before about my relationship with the Gymgirl. She knew, I didn’t, rather.

If nothing else, this new info allows me to see things in a different light, and that’s somehow better. Somehow.

Her: I’m sorry, Logan. You don’t have time for this.
Me: (dismissively) Don’t worry about me, I’ve been through this, so many times, before. Sometimes you’re the dumper, sometimes you’re the dumpee. I’ve always said that I prefer being the dumpee if given the choice.
Her: Why?
Me: (shrugging) Cause there’s nothing for me to do but take my ball and go home. Now she and I both know what’s in the other person’s head. It’s too bad we weren’t listening to each other this whole time.

Him: [The Gymgirl] sounded great. Can’t you two work it out?
Me: (rolling eyes) How do I do that? Make a 15-slide powerpoint presentation that starts: Reason 1 that the kid and I should be enough…? That’s not how it works. She’s an adult, I gotta respect the choices she makes. But there is an upshot to alla this.
Him: What’s that?
Me: (thinking) I now know that I can feel something for someone again that’s not Alison. That’s eye-opening. Was always worried that it would just be a parade of randos that I’d have to somehow explain to the boy.
Him: (amused) So, no parade of randos?
Me: Well, I didn’t say that. The boy has his own room, I could always…
Him: (laughing, interrupting) I’ve seen your powerpoint presentations. You should consider that first, Logan.

Gradgirl once told me: I could never love someone that wasn’t in love with me.

That was good advice.

I joke about the parade of randos but some people leave a deeper mark on my life than I care to admit.

Location: on a white couch with the boy
Mood: okay
Music: we are fools. Throw our lives away, for one happy day
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How did you sleep?

Alison made for the world

There’s a train track that passes under 149th Street between Roosevelt and 41st Avenues in Queens.

When I was a fat kid, another boy once told me that he would kill me.

Don’t remember why; do remember that I believed him.

I was terrified. To the point that I seriously contemplated hurling myself in front of that train to avoid that.

Remembered wondering what I should wear. How odd.

Suppose all bullied kids have had similar thoughts. It’s unbearably sad to me when I hear of one going through with it. And yet depression and suicide have made regular appearances in my life, not just with me but with those close to me.

Never had the nerve to make that final cut. A good thing.

The oddest thing about Alison’s passing is that, since at least March, I’ve gone in the opposite direction.

I’m terrified about getting injured or, even worse, dying. Need to survive to take care of the boy. It’s a feeling I’ve never had before – the need to survive – not even for Alison when we were deliriously in love.

Alison used to tell me alla time that she loved me like a fat kid loves cake. That always made me laugh.

Alison loved me. But she didn’t need me. Didn’t want her to.

(When Alison was pregnant and before the cancer)
Her: What if I need you?
Me: You don’t. I don’t want you to. You need to take care of the kid. A boy needs his mama.

And he still does. But she’s not here. Wish she was with ever atom in my body but she’s not.

I am, though. Man, I was supposed to be the backup if everything went to hell. Everything went to hell.

Now I’m it cause this kid needs me. Like, he literally cannot survive without me.

Nuthin – no one – has ever truly needed me before like he does now.

I’ve never felt such a heavy and awesome responsibility before. It’s terrifying, really. It’s as terrifying to me as that bully that threatened to kill me.

Yet, each morning, I push all of it to the side of my mouth.

Each morning, it’s the same: I wake up to the sound of him on the baby monitor: Papa! Daddy! Papa!

Each morning, I wish he was calling for her.

And each morning I get up, stagger to his door, take a deep breath, and straighten up. I smile my widest smile and say in the happiest, most awake voice I can muster as I open his door:

Good morning! How did you sleep?!

Him: (laughs) Papa! Daddy! (jumps up and down furiously in the bed, laughing)

And I think: God, I love this little person that Alison made for the world.

I love him like a fat kid loves cake. More, even.

Location: insomniaville
Mood: terrified
Music: I can barely define the shape of this moment in time
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It’ll never be ok

Just like that, I’m back

Woman: Mister. Mister. Are you ok?
Me: No.

This past week, I had a number of clients and friends contact all at once.
I’ve not really worked in any meaningful capacity in almost three years. But I’m right back as if nothing happened.

And yet, so much has happened.

Had a meeting on the Upper East Side with my buddy Steele’s wife for some work the other day and I’ve always prided myself on always being punctual.

She was on East 80th Street so I took the train to East 77th and got off.

When the train pulled into the station, I was so concerned about being on time that it didn’t occur to me that I’d been there. So many goddamn times.

I forgot that’s where the hospital was. The last hospital we went to.

As I walked up the stairs, saw it and my knees buckled. Ended up sitting on the stairs as I tried to catch my breath.

For those of you that know me in real life, that know my aversion to germs and dirt, picture me wearing one of my suits and sitting on a subway stairwell.

It was surreal.

Passerbys asked me if I was ok, if I needed help. Told them that I was beyond help.

Made it to my feet and made it to my friend’s door. Don’t even remember how.

Her: (opening door) Logan! Come on in. So good to…
Me: (interrupting) I forgot. (leaning against wall) I forgot this is where the hospital was. I…(chokes)
Her: (steps out, gives me a hug) It’s ok.
Me: It’s not. (shakes head) It’ll never be ok. (her baby cries)

Just like that. I’m right back as if nothing happened.


Steele and I chatted about it afterward.

Me: BTW, I’m sure the wife will tell you but I had a mini-breakdown in your apartment and may have scared your kid a bit.
Him: I can’t blame you. He’s gotta toughen up anyway…

Funeral Blues
by W H Auden

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message ‘He is Dead’.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

Location: A black desk
Mood: tired
Music: I’m broken and I don’t understand
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Random Meetings at Arte Cafe

Empty men


She collapsed exactly two years ago today. So today, I drink.


Went to my law firm the other day for a bit of work. It was the first honest work I’d done in a while. It was as if nothing had happened.

Afterward, walked over to the train in a daze. An older fella asked me for directions to my neighborhood for a party and we got to talking.

Him: You know, I was supposed to go to this party with my business partner and he can’t make it. Why don’t you come with me?
Me: (laughing) I should head home.
Him: Why? You just said that someone was watching your son. You look like you could use a drink. It’s an open bar.
Me: You had me at “open bar.”

We walked a bit when I realized that the place we were going to was the very last place Alison and I ever ate out at: Arte Cafe.

She got nauseated when the food came and we both assumed it was from the pregnancy. I only learned later it was probably the tumor. She gave birth soon after. Then everything went to s__t.

My face turned white, so the man asked me what was wrong and I told him everything.

Him: (gently) Come in. One drink. It’ll be good for you.

I nodded and went in. Stayed for a moment cause it was too much and I politely said goodbye to the man, who nodded again that he understood.

As I walked out, someone handed me a glass of wine and I downed it in a gulp. I turned to leave and bumped into a young woman with brown eyes.

Me: (smiling, holding out hand) Logan. You must be…?
Her: (laughing) Sharon. Nice to meet you. Who are here with?
Me: Well, Sharon, it’s a bit hard to explain…

I chatted with her for a bit and left. I don’t know why I do it; meet so many random people for no reason. Something pathological about me and my childhood loneliness, perhaps? Who knows…

I put on personalities like you would an old coat. Take them off just as easily. But I always feel empty afterward. Like I’m the coat and not the person. It’s why the Devil calls me a friend; the devil likes hollowed-out men.

I’ve got so many stories that’d blow your mind. But I don’t want you to think less of me.

Not that I care. I only care what Alison’s family and my family thinks.

And the Gymgirl. She’s different to me than the others. Mainly, I suppose, because she actually tried to help us when Alison was alive. That means so much to me.

And because of this conversation:

Me: It’s only fair to warn you that I’m a mess.
Her: I expect that. If you weren’t, I’d think something was wrong with you.
Me: I should also tell you that I’ll love her until the end of the world.
Her: (nodding) Of course you will. She sounded amazing.
Me: She was. (pause) Thank you.
Her: For what?
Me: (exhaling) For letting me be in love with her. I miss her terribly.

Location: inside my head
Mood: empty
Music: maybe, you’re gonna be the one that saves me
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Profiles

Broken me

Heart Graffiti in New York City

Gradgirl: I’m reading your online dating profile book. You can be my dating coach!
Me: (laughing) Sure.
Her: Do you think you’ll ever do it yourself? Get back out into the regular dating world?
Me: (shaking head) I’m not ready for anything like that. I’m gonna stop wearing black in 2018. So maybe then.

If I ever did write one, it’d probably sound a lot like this:

Wish list
Works in a non-profit or just likes to help people. Highly educated with at least a masters degree and two foreign language skills. From a good family, preferably military, with close ties to them. Likes to clean and hates to cook. Wants children. Eats chili. Strong resemblance to Jennifer Aniston but with green eyes (preferred). Self sufficient. Likes to sing to me almost every night and never comments on my constantly singing off-key. Ideally, always wants to have dinner with me. Loves children – and adults – that eat predominately peanut butter. Kindness a major plus.

Non-negotiables
Must love broken things.

 

Location: In front of a mountain of dishes
Mood: indescribable
Music: Mama’s pearl, let down those curls
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So, I’m not ready for weddings

Especially not her wedding

Rose: So, did you clean up at the wedding?
Me: No, not even close. I *grossly* underestimated how emotional it would be to (a) go to any wedding, let alone (b) the wedding of the woman that came every Wednesday to give Alison food.

My goal has been to cry less than five times a day. Most days, manage to keep it under three. Some days it’s just once. Those’re rare but welcome.

Cause a body gets tired of crying all the goddamn time.

A few months ago, told you about a woman named Annabel that cooked for us every Wednesday for over a year. Well, she just got married this past weekend.

It started pretty well. Hopped on the metro and sat next to a young lady wearing all white. I’ve been wearing all black since the day Alison passed.

Asked her to take a picture with me.

Lady in White, Man in Black

Then I got to the place in pretty good time and pretty good spirits.

But promptly lost it when Annabel saw me and gave me a hug. She looked beautiful, of course.

Reminded me of Alison on our wedding day.

Lemme tell you: I coulda died the day I saw I Alison on our wedding day and woulda died a happy man.

Wedding ceremony in Brooklyn

But I digress. Annabel sees me in the middle of taking pictures at the front of the ceremony and gives me a hug.

So there’s Annabel in her wedding gown – and she’s like the only soul I know there – hugging me in the middle of everything and I lose it.

Like I’m 10 and someone took my security blanket away. Which, I suppose, is kinda what happened.

Anywho, her entire family came over to try and console me.

Her mom: We pray for you.
He: I don’t believe he listens.

Turns out that, my max for not crying was about 30 minutes at a time. And I didn’t think to bring tissues so I’m running to the bathroom every half-hour.

Pretty sure some attendees thought I had food poisoning. (Food was great, BTW – I may have cleaned off an entire tray of steak myself)

After all that, I needed a drink. But it was a dry wedding. So I went with two people I met there for a beer around the way.

Beer at a Biergarten

Later on, another woman, who caught me during cry number six or so, told me she had whiskey in a flask and gave me some of that.

Told the bride and groom that I wished them every good thing, which I did and do.

Me: (to groom) My married life was the happiest time in my life. (choking) I hope it is for you too.

Jon, Annabel, and Logan

Left early and made it home by 11PM.

The next day, a friend of mine – who just got married herself not that long ago and knows about my single life – asked me how it went so I told her, per the convo above.

Rose: You need to meet some old family-money type girls. Like trust fund babies.
Me: Yeah, these looks aren’t gonna last forever – especially in my advanced old age. I’m time limited.
Her: (laughing) Botox.
Me: I’ll have to botox my entire head. 

Wedding arch in daytime in Brooklyn

The truth is that that’s not the entire story of the night.

And Gradgirl stopped by over the weekend but these are other stories for other times, I suppose.

Waitress: Do you want to start with some drinks?
Me: Oh, yes.

Picture of a Polaroid
That’s sweet tea and whiskey, courtesy of a prepared young woman.

 

Location: home, drinking again
Mood: back to being heartbroken
Music: all out of love, I’m so lost without you
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