It’s Monday night, June 13th, 2016 – 10:03 PM. A little while ago, I sent my goodnight text, saying I’ll see you Wednesday night for dinner. As I’m lying here in bed, I’m trying to figure out what we are going to talk about and why we’re even meeting. What’s the point, right? More or less, I guess I just wanted to see you again.
I can’t tell you how many nights I’d wake up, check my phone, and pray that I had a message from you saying, “Come home.” No apology needed. No explanation. I was cool with just the two words. I was waiting for you to save me. I messaged you drunk last week because I miss you, I think that’s a given. Drunken minds are sober thoughts, right? I was out with friends, having a blast and I still enjoy doing that. I hit the level of drunk where all I wanted to do was come home to you. It didn’t matter how much fun I was having on my own or how much personal growth I was achieving. I wanted to do those things with you, together. I called you years ago on St. Patrick’s Day to save me, remember? That’s where I was the other night. Well, I am writing this one sober.
I’m not the dull, careless, boring, and sensitive person you made me out to be. I’m tough at work. Fearless, selfless, compassionate, and strong. Admired, honored, recognized, and a true mentor. (I know you’re saying, “Really?! You grandiose prick!”) Yeah, me. There are plenty of accolades and accommodations to show for it. I’m damn proud of my career and I should be. I thrive when supported by those around me. In writing this, however, I realize I just jumped to conclusions about the way you expressed yourself. I didn’t listen to you when you repeatedly said that was just your personality. Those who knew you understood it. I should have just been that warrior for you, instead of work- but with passion and love. It’s so much easier to decipher after the fact, isn’t it?
Nine years ago, while studying theology and ancient cultures, I learned about the dualities in nature. I became spiritual. I lost it when I had to grow up and be an adult. That man disappeared entirely. The curiosity was gone and life was full speed ahead. Relationships came and went, some good and some bad. Many hopes of a future and many three-word sentences exchanged. Plenty of confusion. There wasn’t anyone like you, kiss your ass, I know. I’ve been in healthier relationships and I know you have too. It doesn’t make any sense to me either. There’s just something different about you.
Years later, and like the true dick that nature is, when timing couldn’t be worse, this perfect girl comes along. She has tattoos. A full sleeve, a back piece, she’s spiritual… Or something, I don’t even know. She might not either. She was mysterious, cryptic. Her smile could light a room and you could feel her love just by looking in her eyes- I mean really looking in her eyes. She was confident and stood affirm in her beliefs about the world. Adoring, and perhaps the hardest word to use, innocent. It’s a hard word to say because there’s some heavy guilt behind that exploitation of trust. That part is never going to go away. That’s the flower in my sleeve, I’ve told you that before. I fell damn hard for you. I’m convinced you will never truly understand that and I wish I could just sink into myself and let it out. That was a long time ago and that person is still inside me. I am truly sorry for the past. You must be tired of hearing it by now.
As soon as I had fallen for you, and it was quick, I peered through the peephole, opened the door, and let The Other in…
Life is crazy-beautiful, isn’t it? We spend decades trying to find ourselves. We build and shape some incredible memories. The kind you can only dream up in your head after watching a sappy love movie. Onesies and s’mores by the fire. Raw love. Remove the ambivalence from a stupid boy’s mind. Remember the feeling? Raw love, to the core. Innocence. Bliss, even. The kind that makes you post hearts around your photos. The kind that he’s not afraid to post, too. The kind that makes him cry when he’s alone every now and then, because he misses it. The kind he held onto for a long time. That makes him text you drunk at two in the morning. That despite failed attempts, still makes him believe it exists, because it did once even if it was short. The kind of love he knew he needed, but had to let go. The kind that is right, but he’s so fucked up he thinks there has to be something wrong with it. Like the perfect balance found in nature, a duality must also exist in love. We must go through hardships and we must succumb, even be enslaved by The Other. We don’t know why we bind the chains, but hey, life is crazy-beautiful.
The Other arrives late at night, pounding on the grand door of your own happiness. The Other will always manifest itself and you cannot hide. It could be anything: love, a big decision, a career move, a fear, whatever.
You’re frightened by the thunderous knock and peer through the peephole. It’s just a shadow, but still, curiosity haunts us all. We always want more, don’t we? More adventure, more danger, we’re never simply satisfied. Blame Eve, I guess. That bitch fucked it up. We will say, “Don’t answer the door!,” “Go away!,” “Leave me alone!.” But The Other already knows… We are going to let it in. The Other will stand outside and wait, like a predator stalking its prey in the night. The Other is patient will always accommodate your agenda. The Other is going to light your soul on fire, but just for a moment. The Other is a reaper, and your time will surely toll.
You continue living your life, ignoring the ghost outside. The Other is there but you’re searching for answers. An insatiable need for love maybe, like a true hopeless romantic. You’re digging a well. Your well is different from mine, and mine yours. I’ll never understand yours and you will never understand mine. That’s okay.
Sometimes in searching for the thirst of life’s water, you dig the well dry. You become a desolate product of your own search and you stop digging. Each day you visit your well, peering over the edge, waiting for it to fill. It never does. When it rains, you dance, you celebrate, and you truly feel alive. Those sparks of life that promise spring and new love, they feel damn good! And just as soon as the rain fills the well, the earth strips it away. We continue to peer down the well and wait for the water to return. Oh how we forget nature’s duality. The Other, the Reaper. It’s time.
You’re swept off the ground with one blow of his scythe. Heel over head you tumble into the well, slamming hard on the floor below. You’ll wake up some time later, make no mistake, but you won’t remember how you got there.
After you endure the pain of the fall, you sit there at the bottom of the well, knees to your chest. You’re left with nothing but to find a quiet place in your own head. Down in the well, looking up you see a ring of light. Dim, and clouded by it’s own surrounding brilliance above. Unattainable. All sounds muffled against the damp earth. Sitting at the bottom, submerged in that last puddle, after the big breakdown, you discover something. You take that one breath, time stops. You find solace, you become grounded. You feel the air pierce your nostrils and slide deep into your soul. That first breath…
Your breath is deafening and your heart roars like a quiet storm in the distance. You feel your pulse in your veins and you realize you’re alone, but you are okay. You are alone and you are safe. The Other is gone, for now.
For the first time you appreciate the mud between your toes, the moisture in the air, in your breath. You appreciate the warmth from the light above and even the loneliness feels good now. You are doing just fine, but you can’t help but wonder about life outside of your well.
You hear a sound from above, you look up, and your vision blurred from falling debris. A rope falls over the edge of the well and you call out, but no one answers. You’ve got a way out, but you pause. You reserve a few moments for yourself before grasping the rope to climb out. You know part of you will miss the well and the lessons learned while alone. You shout out again, “Hello!?”
You hear a faint voice, a whisper, “Come home.” You climb out of the well and you remember life before The Other. A fresh start in a familiar place, another adventure. Life is crazy-beautiful, isn’t it?
You met me tonight, maybe because you got tired of sitting down there too, I don’t know… but we met. The rope was thrown down the well and here we are. I don’t know what happens next, I really don’t. I won’t make a move, I’m sure you won’t either. Somehow though, I know you understand what I’ve written here and I hope it resonates with you.
The Other was outside and we were inside. We took our turns looking through the peephole on opposite work shifts, never wondering if maybe we were going through the same things separately. We knew The Other was there and we were curious. We focused on the pinhole of light outside, completely missing the light of our home inside. We both opened that door, we both fell in the well, and we’re both wondering why the fuck the rope came down and let us back up. And we’re both wondering, whose voice is calling for us…