Up in the middle of the night, unable to sleep. I've just opened a bottle of wine. Well, I hadn't... but then I wrote that sentence.
It became fate, and I fate's prophet.
I have been worried about things lately, the future. I received an email when I first woke up around midnight. It was from a friend who was worried about his businesses. They are struggling. His income relies heavily on people having expendable income, those who are able to travel, to spend. The recession has really hit him and his family hard, for quite some time now. He has good reason to be angry, though this time he was not. He was just saddened by it all, writing to a friend. He has put much effort into his life, over a long period of time. Now, through no real fault of his own, he risks financial failure. Sometimes it is easy to forget that politics are more than just something to argue about.
This is the point at which neither of our political leanings matter. It simply sucks. Both parties are to blame (His more than mine, of course). It is easy to be sickened about it. We will find a way back to disagreeing again, it is what we seem to enjoy most, but the heartache of the truth of it is much to bear. I wish conservatives well in business also, though I still reserve the right to denounce on a case-by-case basis.
I worry about Rachel and myself, also. Ultimately, we would like to start our own business, but there is some invisible fear there, some sense that first we must re-stabilize our lives first. We must find our feet beneath us in this new life. To take a risk we must feel safe. Isn't that an odd paradox?
The baby boy changes everything. He will never know, of course, perhaps until he has children of his own. If he ever tries to tell me... I'll pretend that in my day, during the great recession, we just did what we had to do. I will insist on my shamelessly flatulent wisdom, making his kids giggle with joy and revulsion. That is my only hope.
Yesterday, we went to the mall in Santa Rosa. After a lunch that included a few beers and a nice, little, tasty pizza on the main avenue we walked back towards the end of the street, where there was a mall: Rachel wanted to get some things, new underwear, marital surprises, etc. I told Rachel to go shopping by herself and buy whatever she wants, whatever makes her happy, not to worry about it, at all.
She worries too much - I, not enough. It is how we get along.
So, I was walking around the mall with Rhys in the stroller, mildly beer-heavy and pleased with myself, even though the mall is a place that I actively despise. It represents the most base and vulgar aspects of American life, the crassness of capitalism, and the cynical myth of a public space. It is not even worth parking the car there, much less going in. But as I wandered, happy and proud to be a father, following the vague scent of sweet cookies, I happened upon a familiar site: the entrance to an Apple store. There, at the front door, was an old manager of mine, Chris. We said our hello's and shook hands. I was genuinely happy to see him and the feeling was quite evidently shared. He always had an amiable demeanor when I worked with him and he was very pleased to meet my smiling little son, a child that is perpetually cheerful. I mean it, the kid is just happy. His face glows with easily shared joy. It is impossible to be sad when looking at him. It can be done thoughtfully, but not with great sadness.
I petition the stars that he does not grow into adulthood in the same way that I have, forever ripped from one manic state to the next, depressed. Torn between the uncertain emotions that each and every moment insists upon, demanding sensations that can hardly be held, hardly enjoyed; always feeling and yet never knowing, as if being perpetually dragged away from the place that I must next go - a rushed sentence that I haven't said yet, the mind merely an accelerating drug that removes all self-possession - always I am coursing towards a place that will somehow demand to matter more. I arrive, ever-nervous and disheveled, interrupting as I go. Each second is a perverse thrill that invites the next, like the sound of gunshots in the eyes of the movie of the mind. Life, an unscripted film in which I will soon forget my lines.
The image of future speech drifting into infinity, and then back again. The horror of hastening.
I must learn to calm down.
My illness is like being kicked out of my own heart by a security staff that knows me well, they mock my need to explain as they rush me towards the door, gladly tossing me into the alley, turning faceless, already of the past, immune to my repeated screams and prayerous maledictions.
Instead of saying, And Don't Come Back..!!! It is always, You'll be back.... you will be back, you will be here again, don't worry, just go away. If only I could detect it all as it was happening. As soon as I am at the center of conversation then it is there, lurking in the corner, waiting to strike, with horns that look like my teeth, its tentacles twisting me into the pre-formed and accelerated shape that it always demands. I am a vehicle for a madness that saves us both. monster and me, just before the cliffs. Any cliffs, anywhere. I pray that, always. Stop, or slow. My mind is going.
Imagine ever trying to convince yourself of the veracity of the next thing you are about to say, rather than the last. Imagine there's no present, it's easy if you try. No past behind us, above us only sky...
Imagine there being no such thing as a last resort. It is littered amidst the remnants that I have been forced to count on, that something else is coming soon, and that I will be out of my mind for that also, that next verbal utterance, mad to hear the words that are as of yet unformed. Doubly-pulsed, and tumbling amongst stumbled speech particles that scatter the past where it falls, where it belongs, split-seconds at a time, behind us each, behind us all.
Please God, at least let those future words be mine. Crucify me, as long as I get to keep talking. Sacrifice my life, my mind. When ripped like this it is like living inside of a rape. All that I can hear is the fabric tearing towards the future.
It is the unbearable, unspeakable, yet never silent curse, of manic-depression. It is a thing that never follows me, but always knows where I am going. Where I will, without warning, be next.
That is what I wish Rhys never knows. Mania. Or, its counterpart.
But Chris, at Apple, was chatty; content in his move from the previous store to this one. He likewise told me that I also looked relaxed and happy. I told him that I am, but that it's time for me to go back to work, I've had enough time off now, and that maybe the beer has helped with my buoyancy for the day. Before I knew it he was discussing job possibilities at the new store. I took his card and promised to send an email to him and to the store's general manager.
In fairness, I might have asked about the jobs there. I don't really remember.
I let him do his job. I wandered back into the mall, waiting, wandering among the soon-to-be ruins.
The smell of cookies is all that I recall.
I stopped back by with Rachel so that Chris could meet her also. We all chatted briefly and warmly, as it can be so easy to do on the floor of an Apple store. I didn't even bother looking at the new Samsung iPhone 7. In fact, I had forgotten that it was even out until typing this paragraph.
Driving home I was filled with an odd feeling. The idea of being able to step back into a familiar role was very tempting. It would require virtually no effort on my part, like getting back together with an ex-girlfriend, one that hasn't even bought new underwear, things are exactly as they were when I left. There is precisely nothing new that I would need to learn, or nothing of any consequence, I should say. I know all that I need to know already, or can fake it well enough to suffice. It offers virtually nothing in the way of education but everything in the way of convenience. When a job has molded you into a certain shape it is sometimes nice to fall to sleep back in the bed that is already shaped in the form of your aching body. Now I ponder the purpose of lying alone in a sexless cradle.
A job is nearly Faulknerian, like vines made of dust, a wisteria that never blooms, amidst the partials of the past.
In seven hours I have a phone interview with another company in San Francisco. A startup that would offer more potential for growth, perhaps much more lateral and upward mobility. An old buddy from Apple has recommended me for a position there. It might also mean a commute into SF on a near daily basis. I would be forced to learn a slightly different skill set, but of that I am not at all dismayed. I only reflect upon it for what it is, a minor challenge: an asking of the mind to indulge something other than itself. A conscious challenge is probably what I need, but I can feel the trepidation, the wanting for life to just be easy, with less uncertainty; the vines of the past curling around the column of my neck.
But then there is that familiar voice: Sean, stop being such a pussy. There are no guarantees in life, you know that. Just do something different, Move On. You are capable of so much more. Prove something new to yourself. Rachel bought new panties. Don't let your weakness become a weakness. Don't fall asleep in a perceived strength. Try not to scare people. Smile more. Don't stare. Stop that.
I promised to think about it. I promised to write Chris, an email. I will fulfill my promise, at least. I could sense that Rachel was happy at the idea of me going back to work at Apple. It would mean less in commuter time, more in computer. I might be able to step right back into my old life with my five years of seniority, reclaim my benefits at the state that they were at when I left. The only people that could stop me are the ones reading this post right now. Isn't that one of the silent ironies of living?
I'll be honest, I was saddened that I could detect Rachel's enthusiasm. I wanted to believe that she was pleased that I had left, that it was the right thing to do. But I must also be honest the other way, she was only reacting to my beer-fueled enthusiasm at the idea; my mild, manageable, self-medicated, madness. My keenness for the idea was partially the product of convenience, though that might wear off rather quickly. To suddenly feel that all of my questions might be answered was comforting, like -re-reading a novel. It might not be quite the answer I was looking for, but any answers have a pacifying effect. It is the questions that tend to perturb and distress.
The new questions are the hope of momentary silence.
The part of being on a swing that is most enjoyable is when life stops, freezes momentarily, then begins the other direction. The speed between only informs the momentary stops.
It is the returning spring of answers to ever-unasked questions that keeps me giggling in my swing.
There is the feeling of always being pulled back, towards a grasp-less curve.
Some just call it nerves.