Tuesday, January 24, 2012

New Morning

One day last October I wrote something raw and personal. She read it. She sent me a message saying "hey, I know you're gonna be OK, but hit me up if you ever want to talk." So we talked.

I didn't know her that well. We had been vague Internet acquaintances for some time, but not close in any way. But I needed to talk to someone like her.  I had friends helping me deal with what I was going though. I needed those friends to help me recover from the past year and make sense of my new life. I still need them.

But I also needed a friendly voice and ear who wasn't immersed in all of that. Someone with whom I could talk about the present and the future, not the past.  Someone with whom I could, however temporarily, forget about all that was troubling me. Someone with whom I could be myself, whatever that had become.  She quickly became that person.  But as the small talk grew larger, it became clear that something else was going on.

The random coincidences piled up. We shared the same interests. The same humor. The same temperament. So much of the same past. We didn't, as the old cliche goes, complete each other's sentences. We spoke them as the other formed the very thought.  It was all light and casual and friendly on the surface, but I found myself talking to her all night and into the early morning. I found myself thinking about her more and more.

Then one night:

Am I allowed to wonder aloud what's going on here? Or does that ruin it?

I'm glad she said it before I did. It was so soon after my life spun out of control that I didn't know if I trusted myself or my feelings. I didn't know if I was misreading it all.  It turns out I wasn't. And her wondering aloud didn't ruin it. It ignited it.

We spent four days together in Dallas in December. I just got back from spending five days with her in San Antonio. Every time I go away someplace I get a feeling of relief when I come back home. Happy to be back in my own space and in my own bed. For the first time ever I've not felt that same relief upon returning home. Being with her was so comfortable. So natural. I felt at home.

I know all of the objections those who care about me will raise. I'm not ignoring them. I know all of the obstacles we face. I'm not denying them. All that matters to me is that she brought me happiness and joy at a time when I figured I'd never feel those things again and that those feelings have outlasted the initial euphoria that often accompanies something new.

And all I know is that last week, at 6:30 in the morning, I woke up and for a moment and I didn't know where I was. Then she stirred. She wrapped her arm around me and kissed me softly. And nothing ever felt so right.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Shyster: Epilogue

Here ends the little writing project. There were eleven installments before this. Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5 ,Part 6Part 7 , Part 8Part 9, Part 10 and Part 11.

I started writing this series for very personal reasons. A lot has happened in my life over the past couple of months. Some terrible. Some -- which I'll be getting to in future posts -- wonderful. I needed a project in which I could immerse myself. I needed to get down in writing what had been floating around my head for a few years. Other events in my life were going to eclipse it and I didn't want it to slip away.

But a funny thing happened as I gazed at my navel: a lot more people have been reading it than I ever thought would. And, apparently, a lot more people are going through the same career angst I went through over the past decade or so.  In the last month I've received several dozen emails from people offering me encouraging words. Thanking me for writing it. Congratulating me on finding my way out of darkness and into light.

Most common, however, are people asking me if I have any advice for them. But even now I can't quite say why it worked out the way it did. I can't, as I am so often asked to do, give anyone any pointers. While it unfolded in somewhat orderly fashion in these posts I wrote over the past month or so, it felt like anything but orderly as it was happening. All I can say is that a writer writes, as the old expression goes, and I made a point to keep writing.

The key, though, is that at a couple of times in that process I stumbled over some good luck.  Better writers than I never get a chance to make a living writing and it's not for lack of skill or lack of effort. It's just for lack of the good fortune I happened upon. Maybe it's silly, but I occasionally have something akin to survivor's guilt over the fact that I've been able to make this my career while those better writers did not or, as of yet, have not.

I also sometimes wonder if I have cost myself something for going so hard after what I wanted.

As I wrote a couple of months ago, my marriage is ending. I'm not going to suggest that my writing is the cause of that. Anyone who knows what actually happened with my marriage knows that's not the case.  But at the same time, every action has a reaction. People are creatures of habit and routine.  Who's to say that my refusal to be content with my professional life as a lawyer didn't upset the expectations of others? Who's to say that in doing what I did with my life, I didn't throw off my marriage's equilibrium, even if that equilibrium was ultimately unhealthy and unsustainable? Maybe my soon-to-be-ex-wife had settled on a world view in which I would go downtown and fight with other lawyers all day for the next 30 years, and my short-circuiting that was something she simply couldn't deal with anymore.  Maybe my search for meaning and fulfillment spurred a corresponding one on her part and it simply wasn't compatible with us staying together.  I have no idea. You have to ask her, I suppose.

The point of all of this is that, even though I laid all of this out as the straightforward narrative of a boy who made his childhood dream come true, nothing in life is so simple.  There are no definitive paths. There are no definitive beginnings. There are no definitive ends until the day we die. I'm doing this now. I wasn't doing it before. I may be doing something else later. As all of that happens, other things happen. People come into your life and then leave. Others come into your life after that and, hopefully, stay. Those dreams you had once no longer hold currency. New ones crop up. No clear narrative of anyone's life can be written until they're dead and gone.

But what I've written over these past couple of months captures a chunk of it. An important chunk of it and one that will always be with me. And no matter where else life takes me, I will be able to draw on these experiences. To look back and say:
You once dreamed something big and made it happen.  You once had big problems and overcame them.  You once took risks that seemed unreasonable, but survived them.  There is nothing you put your mind to that, with time, effort, perseverance and a little luck, you can't accomplish. And even if that luck doesn't come, you will be able to look yourself in the mirror with pride for having made the effort.
Thanks for hanging around for all of this. Now forward ho.