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personal

Goodnight, Olivia

Running outta time

Years ago, I met this sweet, funny, very pretty girl who was just a bit too young for me.

But we got along really well and kept in touch here and there.

She was the girl I mentioned to you here.

The last time we spoke, we said we’d have a playdate with our kids but then life got into the way.

Life always seems to get in the way.

Found out via social media that she just died.

So, like with my friends Bobby and Kirk, Alison, and my dad, I thought Olivia and I would have enough time in life to see each other again.

I’m always so wrong.

We weren’t super close, so I don’t have any details beyond what was listed in her obituary.

So, I’ll be mostly back to normal soon, but her family doesn’t have that luxury.

I have some ideas what happened based on our last conversation, but I suppose that’s between her and me.

It hit me hard, though. Sat down after I read it. It took my breath away.

She was so young; she was a teen when we met and only 36 when she died. Like Alison.

And like Alison, she left a little kid behind, except this kid not only loved her mom, she knew – really knew – her mom.

Dunno which kid is in a worse position, actually.

But I suppose that’s irrelevant at this point.

Goodnight, Olivia.

Everything is so unfair, and I’m so sorry for that.

I wish you could have stayed.

I was 34 in this picture. She was only 36 when she died.

Location: my head, remembering my possible pasts
Mood: gutted
Music: Let’s hit the road, friend of mine, wave goodbye to our thankless jobs (Spotify)
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Happy Father’s Day 2024

It’s been seven years

I was just born in this picture. My kid wore what I was wearing here as well. Maybe someday, I’ll show it to you.

Mom: Your dad’s been gone seven years. Can you believe it?
Me: Not really. It feels like it was just a couple of years ago.
Her: (repeating) Seven years. Not easy, is it?
Me: No. He woulda loved seeing [the kid].
Her: Yes. That’s your dad.
Me: (nodding)

Location: at a school performance, waiting for the kid to arrive
Mood: impressed
Music: Where are all the gods? (Spotify)
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Alison’s been gone seven years

How is that even possible?

New York’s a strange place.

The kid and I were walking up Broadway the other day and someone dropped an entire jar of pickles on the ground and no one batted an eye.

Everywhere I look, things are a mess or broken.

Everything is chaos and atrophy.

Or, at least, I’m noticing it more these days.

Probably because I’m a broken mess and my mind is all chaos and atrophy.

Alison died exactly seven years ago.

How is that even fucking possible?

Me: I realized something the other day: I may live another 40, 50 years. All that time without Alison.
Therapist: And how does that make you feel?
Me: (thinking) Pretty empty. Then again, these past seven years seemed to dash by.
Her: (at the end of the session) Are you ok?
Me: Yeah. It’s fine. I cry all the time.
Her: This is the first time you’ve cried in one of our sessions.
Me: Is that right? Well, I cry all the time. (shaking head) These years have gone by so fast.

Suppose life will be over before I know it.

It’s hurts to know that I’m gonna end up being an old man one day, and she never got that chance.

I’ve always wished it was me and not her.

Think I always will.


Editor note: I’ll be taking a mental health day for Sunday/Monday, so I’ll post again on Tuesday night.

Location: Stuck in my head again
Mood: heartbroken
Music: It was a big-big world, but we thought we were bigger (Spotify)
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I’m sure she knows

Honest and for true

This entry is out of order; back to the regular nuthin in the next entry.

The Firecracker’s dad came into town this weekend and we met up with him on Saturday for a kid’s birthday party.

It was fine for the most part but then a parent snapped at my kid when he tried to break a piñata with his foot when it fell down – like an 8 year old kid understands why whacking a piece of cardboard with a stick is ok but kicking it isn’t – and destroyed him in front of all the other kids.

It pretty much set the mood for the rest of the weekend for us.

He’d never cried at a birthday party before and, of course, it had to happen during the weekend of Mother’s Day and his mom’s birthday.

Obviously, there’s no way for the other parent to have known that.

But I hoped that, as a parent, she woulda known that people’s brains don’t fully develop until they’re 25. She was yelling at a kid for being a happy and excited kid.

At least he was and then he very much not.

If it wasn’t for the fact that she couldn’t have known and that she was a mom, I woulda been arrested.

Still, he was fine after a spell because I raised him to be resilient, but – man – I was steamed.

Him: She said I did it on purpose, but I didn’t. I was trying to help. (sadly) I’m the worst kid.
Me: Don’t ever say that. She doesn’t know you at all. You’re the best kid mom or I could ever ask for.
Him: Really?
Me: Honest and for true.

We then went to have dinner with the Firecracker’s family at a local taco joint that I’d been to before and then called it a night.

The next morning, despite it being Mother’s Day, the Firecracker got up bright and early to make her family and us a killer brekkie with a baked blueberry and apple oatmeal dish and a baked fritatta with feta and bacon.

The oatmeal bar

My kid liked it so much, he asked for seconds of everything and also asked for more the next day.

God, I love that kid – he’s just like me where we eat our feelings.

We all chatted at my place for hours until we had to meet up with the ABFF for dinner and to remember Alison.

The Firecracker and her kid came along.

The ABFF, her sister, and kids were beyond great.

We ordered a crap ton of Chinese food and, just like in years past, we decorated balloons for Alison.

This was probably the worst birthday/Mother’s Day yet for the kid because he feels the loss now.

Being humiliated and yelled at a birthday party probably didn’t help matters.

It was the hardest one for me for a while because it hit the kid so hard.

Him: (looking up at the ballon) How do we know she’ll get it?
Me: We hope.
Him: (nodding) I hope she knows I miss her.
Me: She knows. I’m sure she knows

Location: home, fulla dumplings and other carbs
Mood: livid
Music: I try to say goodbye and I choke (Spotify)
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I finally understand

Just one day

I was in my local supermarket when I ran into one of the cashiers, Lucy, in the produce section.

Her: (walking up to me holding a cup of coffee and put it down) I understand now. About your wife. My…my husband died.
Me: What?! Good god, I’m so sorry.
Her: (nodding) He was sick for a while. I thought he would be ok but…he didn’t let me know how bad it was.
Me: (putting down groceries and giving her a hug) I’m so sorry. We’re never ready, are we?
Her: (shaking head) No. I didn’t think he would go.

I went home, got a red envelope, stuffed a few bucks into it and went back to give it to her.

Her: No, no, I’m fine, really.
Me: (gently) I’m sure you’re fine. This is just for lunch. Make sure you eat, ok?
Her: (taking it) OK. Thank you.
Me: I wanna tell you that it’ll be ok. It won’t be. But you have to keep telling yourself that it will be. After a while, it’ll be kinda ok.

The rest is her story to tell but I was in my own head for a while after that.

Then, I was walking with the kid and he turned to me said the most profound thing:

Flowers may bloom again, but a person never has the chance to be young again.

Assume he learned it in Chinese class (花有重开日,人无再少年) because he certainly never learned it from me.

But then…

Him: Flowers come back. Why can’t mommy come back?
Me: I dunno. I dunno.
Him: I wish she would come back. Just once. Just for a day, even. (trailing off). She can’t come back, not even for one day? Just one day?
Me: Man, if only, kid. If only…

That was a hard walk.

We have hard walks, sometimes.

My kid’s a lot more mature than other kids his age. Sometimes, I think of him like he’s a little man.

Dunno if this is a good thing or not. I’m thinking not.

Wish he was just a kid without alla this weight on him.

It’s too much weight for a little kid like him to carry.

Don’t want a little man. Not yet.

Just want him to be a little kid for a little bit longer.

Location: On West End Avenue, finding myself at a loss for words
Mood: contemplative
Music: been gone far too long (Spotify)
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An infinite capacity for taking things for granted

Got COVID…yet again

Firecracker: Take a COVID test.
Me: What? Don’t be ridiculous. There’s no way I have COVID again. I already had it three times, I’m double vaxxed and double boosted.
Her: Just take one. You have a million tests, anywho.
Me: (sighing) I guess you’re right.
Her: (later) Well?
Me: I HAVE @#$@#$@ COVID AGAIN! FOUR TIMES NOW!

Felt like hot trash for the past few days.

The two people I rolled with the day before AND the Firecracker – who spent every single day with me – did not get it.

My luck runs ever true.

The fella that wrote Brave New World once said, Most human being have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.

Thought about that tonight because I’m constantly reminded of my possible pasts that I didn’t realize would be so short and special to me in hindsight.

See, I’ve been clearing out stuff in the house and had to head down to the basement, which I’ve not done in a while because the basement scares me, greatly.

Not because of the spiders, or mice, or whatnot, but because of ghosts.

Well, that’s not wholly true because they’re not ghosts per se, but apparitions in my head.

Remember when alla that flooding happened and I told you that I lost most of Alison’s things then? That was true. But I still find things.

Tonight, I found a box of a 101 cookie cutter shapes. Alison got them when she was pregnant with one of the kids we lost.

She had all these dreams of making sugar cookies and tree ornaments for our children.

They’ve never been used.

And I found bags and bags of the kid’s clothes when he was younger.

See, I saved every single goddamn shirt and pants. Because I thought that, maybe one day, I’d have another fatty to call my own. And he, or she, would need some clothes.

And a crib, and a stroller, and a changing bed, and toys…

But alla that seems less and less likely now.

One of the (many) things about Alison that I adored was how unsentimental she was. As long as she had a picture of something she loved, that was good enough for her.

Coming from a poor background, my family slanted towards hoarding while her priorities were cleaniness and order. She always encouraged me to let things go.

So, I started giving away a lotta of the kid’s old clothes and things.

And I’ll probably give away these cookie cutters as well.

Alison would have.

Spoke to my therapist recently.

Therapist: How have you been?
Me: Besides getting COVID for the 4th time, pretty well.
Her: (smiles) You seem it. Tell me what’s been going on.
Me: Things have been going really well with the Firecracker and me. She understands, better than most, having alla these hopes and dreams and then having them suddenly disappear.
Her: That’s great, what else?
Me: (thinking) I think that for a long time, I’ve been unable to truly accept that this is my life. I think that for the past…Jesus Christ…seven years, I’ve been fighting – both subconsciously and consciously – the reality that is my life.
Her: And now?
Me: I don’t really have any other choice, do I?
Her: I’m proud of you, Logan. That’s a good step. You should be proud of yourself as well.
Me: I’m not sure I’d go that far, yet. But I’m trying to be better.
Her: (nods)

Location: my basement, sans COVID, thinking of my possible pasts
Mood: thoughtful
Music: the trace of a memory, stained into the past (Spotify)
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Single-serving friends

A late-night walk in Hoboken

It’s been busy lately with a lot of comings and goings. Nothing really noteworthy; honestly, all the faces and names start to blend together.

Still, I was out in Hoboken the other day to meet up with someone but she was running late.

Her: I’m just aborting my current mission, shouldn’t be too late.
Me: Your phrasing made me laugh.

Since I had time, I found myself walking around Hoboken like I did Jersey City the other night in fall.

Dunno why I revisit these things but I do.

Of course, I found myself in front of Alison’s apartment.

Remembered when I first visited there and the day we moved her stuff out. It seems like both yesterday and a lifetime ago.

Wanted to ring the bell because there was a tiny (crazy) part of me that hoped maybe she’d answer. But the saner bits of my brain won out.

Barely.

Probably for the best, otherwise, I’da been arrested.

As for the girl, we met up at a restaurant I’d never been to.

It was a nice night. She was easy on the eyes, which helped.

Her: I wore this for you.
Me: Trust me when I tell you that I appreciate it.

We ended up hanging out and chatting for about five hours and hit up a few different places before she gave me a lift in her whip.

It was after midnight when I finally went to bed.

To be honest, it was a really fun and interesting night. But, like the narrator says in Fight Club, these are all single-serving friends; her for me and me for her.

It was a one-and-done, like most of these nights go.

Me: We’re both looking for something we can’t put into words.

It’s fine. We all know the rules of the game.

Lviv dropped me a line the other day as well to wish me a Happy New Year.

She and her fella moved outta state and they seem to be doing well. I wonder if things would be different if we met now instead of then.

It’s strange, you never can tell who stays in your Venn Diagram and who leaves.

Her: I’m sure something good is coming your way 🙂
Me: Thanks, Lviv! Here’s hoping…

Here’s hoping.

Location: earlier tonight, on West 94th Street, playing Taboo
Mood: hoping
Music: I been looking for a new ride (Spotify)
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My second colonoscopy

So much different from my first

Got a message from Chad the other night.

Him: [I’ve got the flu.] Would it be possible for you to teach class tomorrow night?
Me: Sorry to hear that. OK.

I’ve actually covered class a couple of times in the past, so that part was fine – kinda fun, I gotta say, because I got to focus on some things that I both really like and need to work on.

What I messed up in, though, was that I scheduled my second colonoscopy for the very next day and had to be up at 5AM doing god-awful stuff to myself.

So, I went in, taught the class, rolled around, and bolted as soon as I could get off the mats and shower.

Her: You did a good job.
Me: You think?
Her: (nodding) That’s one of my favourite moves and you explained it well.
Me: Thanks! That means a lot to me. I appreciate the vote of confidence.

If you’re a long-time reader, you know that I got a colonoscopy almost exactly eight years ago.

Alison made me orange jello.

Don’t remember much about the first time except that she came to pick me up. See, when you have a procedure under anesthesia, you’re required to have someone pick you up.

I remember that Alison took a half-day off from work and came to get me. Didn’t tell you any of that part because it was a such small thing about our day-to-day life.

Had no idea that day that she would be dying less than a year later.

Who the fuck would ever think such a thing?

I didn’t tell you that when she opened the door, she had the widest smile when she saw me.

With the exception of my son, don’t think anyone was ever that happy to see me ever in life.

She thought I was greatest thing and I thought she must have self-esteem issues to think that she couldn’t do better than a fella like me.

Don’t remember what she said when she saw me. I’m sure it was something like, Are you ok, honey?

But I remember that smile. I loved it so.

I remember I was still dazed from the anesthesia and when she came in –  despite our being together for years by that point – thought I was the luckiest guy on the planet that such an important, smart, and pretty girl would take time outta her busy day to pick a nobody like me and make sure I got home ok.

Ah, fuck.

I’ll finish this tomorrow.

I hate the goddamn holidays…

 

Location: home, putting up a Christmas tree and trying to forget things
Mood: sober for now
Music: don’t wanna see what I’ve seen (Spotify)
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My office is moving

I’ll never see it again

While everything was happening, my law firm moved. It’s actually the third office we’ve had since I started working with them.

Told you about the day I started working there so, I figured I should tell you when I left too.

They invited me to a last-minute shindig, which I was going to say no to but then I figured I’d spent enough time hunched over my computers trying to fix my life, so I said, yes.

But, because it was so last minute, I didn’t have anyone to watch the kid.

Boss: Bring him!
Me: You sure?
Him: Why not? It’ll be fine.

So, after school one day, we went over to my old office; didn’t realize at the time that it would be the last time I would step foot into it.

The kid was a hit, of course. But he got super shy.

Boy: Too many people!
Me: But I’m here.
Him: (shakes head) Too many people.

So, he sat outside for a little bit while I chatted with everyone. After a while, the kid started relaxing and relenting. Plus, I promised him dessert.

Him: What is it?
Me: Cheesecake.
Him: I don’t like cheesecake.
Me: What are you, a communist?

Ultimately, he ended up sitting next to me and having some pizza. And pasta. And more pizza. And more pasta. And the aforementioned cheesecake.

He liked the chocolate garnish, just not the cake itself.

My boss handed him keys to part of the office and told him he could keep it. That made him smile. You can see the keys in the picture above, with the red key fob.

One of the lawyers that I’ve known for ages, David, isn’t coming with us, because he’s retiring and focusing on being a professor at the law school where he teaches.

He said some really kind words to me that I’ll keep to myself but I was grateful for the gesture.

A young lady who was the receptionist showed up. The last I saw of her, she had just started law school.

Me: How’s law school?
Her: (puzzled) Law school? I graduated a while ago.
Me: (shaking head) Sorry. I’ve lost so much track of time ever since…doesn’t matter. Where are you now?
Her: (nodding) I’m in the Brooklyn DA’s office.
Me: Wait, you’re an ADA?!
Her: (smiling) Yup!
Me: OMG, lemme see your badge!
Her: (laughs and reaches over for her bag)

It’s funny. All these people that were assistants and receptionists at my firm all went on to have some great jobs and careers.

When Alison first met my boss, she really liked him. We had all these plans, her and I, that never came to fruition.

Me: So, when’s the big move day?
Boss: Next Monday.
Me: Wait, that soon?!

It was then that I realized I’d never be in that office again. That really weighed on me.

In any case, I hope these people manage to get what they hope. Someone should get what they want.

Afterward, the kid and I walked to Grand Central where we met up with a student at our gym at the gourmet cheese shop where he works.

Me: So, this is where you are when you’re not being choked or strangled.
Him: (laughs) Yup.

It was late when the kid and I went home.

Me: Did you have a good time?
Him: (nodding) Your friends are nice.
Me: They are. You tired?
Him: (sleepily shakes head)
Me: Gotcha.


Location: West 76th and Amsterdam, running into a girl I met online in real life
Mood: sick
Music: I just sit here on this mountain, thinking to myself (Spotify)
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Still ever the skillest and killest, Pt 3

An awful gift

It’s funny, when I first met Mouse, she was arm-wrestling a girl in yet another bar. At least, that’s one of the earliest entries where I introduced her to you for the first time.

In any case, she ended up arm-wrestling another girl at Pac’s bday at Solas as well. She won.

After I had my little outdoor escapade with the woman from the bar, I went back to Solas but when I returned, mosta my friends had left.

Since I knew the bouncers, they just waved me and I quickly – well, as quickly as I could considering how snockered I was – went up to where we were all sitting because I remembered I left my camera at the table in our room.

Shockingly, it was still there.

New York’ll still surprise you from time-to-time, I think.

I’d just left and wanted to eat so I wandered around looking for food. This worked out because I ran into Mouse outside on the street.

She was stone cold sober because she was driving the old whip.

Asked her if she’d be willing to give me a lift to the station cause it was super late and she – hesitatingly – obliged.

Figure she could tell I was two sheets to the wind. She’s one of the few that can since I don’t turn red and I don’t act much different to most people.

It was nice being in the whip again; I thought of her and my dad and tried to remember if they met. They didn’t.

It was a short drive – just from 9th and 2nd to 14th and 7th. But along the way, she asked me something that sobered me up right fast.

Her: When we were together, you wanted to die. You were suicidal. But then…you said that you would stay for the boy. (pause) I didn’t understand why you wouldn’t live for me.

Our past conversations were always arguments, always. Lots of yelling and finger-pointing. And anger.

So much anger, from both of us.

This time, though, the way she said it – simply and plainly, no anger, no bitterness, just…simply and resigned – cut through my intoxicated brain.

If I had a space to crawl into to hide, man, I woulda.

Me: (struggling) I don’t know. I was really messed up then. (sighing) I’m so sorry for everything.

She countered – calmly again – that she was often in physical and  emotional pain when we were together. Yet she still helped me – and the kid – despite her own pain. Instead of doing the same and helping her, I was trying to think of ways to kill myself.

The bad thing about being able to forget things is that when you remember them, it’s like you’re experiencing it for the first time. I saw exactly the moment she brought up, as if I was watching it unfold for the first time.

Like Athena in Zeus’s head, that memory grew and, like Zeus, if I coulda, I woulda grabbed a hammer to bash it out.

Honestly, I woulda much preferred she screamed at me. Much.

She pulled up to the station, I stepped out, and she drove away.

Wish I could tell you I said something terribly charming or clever before I left. But I didn’t. For someone never at a loss for words, there I was.

It’s been four years since we were together. I was sleepwalking through life when I met her. Wish I found a way to wake up before she left.

Then again, I wish a lotta things.

I’m still ever the skillest and killest with my deadly weapons and I’m always armed and dangerous.

It’s a truly awful gift.

Him: (out of the blue) I wish I had a sibling.
Me: What?! (deep breath) I’m sorry, kid. I…
Him: It’s ok, papa. I just wish…
Me: (interrupting) I know. We wish a lotta things. I wish that too.

Location: on 79th Street, trying to explain why to him
Mood:
Music: you want nothing in return, I feel guilty (Spotify)
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