Saturday, September 22, 2007

Alive like a Presence

The little park where I like to sit on my nightly walk has a heartbeat, I swear it does. When I walk at night restlessly, unable to sleep, the park calls out to me. I walk to calm myself -- to wait for my mind to grow calm and my heart to grow at ease. I can almost hear it -- there somewhere deep in the trees, a pulse, a vibration. It feels alive like a presence -- the stalwart old oaks guarding the park like some silent sentinels. Keepers to the gate of my fortress of solitude.

Early this morning found me sitting in that park -- the chilly early fall air causing me to bundle up in my fleece pullover. The heartbeat of these comforting surroundings could be felt as I drank a cup of hot and aromatic coffee and thought. Maybe my senses were heightened. I would like to think it is not my schizophrenia gilding me -- that my heightened senses have a tangible and real connection to this cherished place. A higher plane of existence. Maybe not everyone would be aware of it, maybe you have to be stripped of almost everything before you would be -- torn of your humanity by a mental illness and alcoholism to feel a tangible connection with something so esoteric.

I finally put a finger on my sadness and restlessness I have been experiencing of late. The dates of my ex-wife's birthday and our wedding anniversary are soon approaching. Haunting memories of those dark times dance in my head as I think of what could be and what could have been -- the deep gash that's there through everything. I knew all along, have just been trying to ignore it. It makes me feel old and tired as if I have already lived a full life -- a life full of memories and past regrets. That's probably what this huge, dragging tiredness is about too, trying to blot it all out. I just want to lay down and go to sleep -- to stop feeling, and to stop running, and to rest my weary heart and head.

I had a dream last night that Rosa and I got married. It was a happy and joyous occasion. My family was supportive. A huge party was thrown afterwards with my brother and sister congratulating me and hugging me. Rosa looked so beautiful in her wedding dress -- the veil over her face as she told me, "I do." The dark memories of my own failed past marriage were assuaged by the happy memories of this comforting dream. An omen foretelling of what's to come? I do hope so to one day consecrate this living arrangement we have. To make it official that Rosa and I are an item and not just a common law occurrence. Dreams such as this are best cherished and held closely and dearly. Far too often nightmares inhabit my mentally ill addled brain. Just like that little park by the abandoned cotton mill, Rosa's heartbeat can be felt and calls out to me. I just have to reach out beyond my fears and let her in. I try harder everyday to be the man I know I can be -- a man she will love and cherish and spend a lifetime building happy memories with. It gives me hope for tomorrow.

I arrived home from my walk to fix breakfast, mouth watering, tormented with thoughts of food: scrambled eggs...crisp fried smoky bacon...slices of Colby, buttered toast...milky and sweet coffee...Saturdays, I eat like a king. Satiated, I curled up on the couch with my Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book -- the bible of A.A. "How to get sober is in these pages," an old timer had said holding up his copy of said book at last night's meeting. I sat glaring out the window wistfully in between passages as a squirrel tussled with a morsel and black birds on their migration route covered the yard like some black, teeming mass. I thought of all the things I have heard said in A.A. meetings about getting and staying sober. It made me feel tired -- too tired to carry on. I wanted a softer and easier way. Such thoughts would cause my A.A. friends to balk. It is just I have fought so long and hard and am battle weary and tired. I no longer want to struggle.

It was so cold this morning that I turned on the heat. It's comforting warmth soon enveloping me in it's embrace. Homeless thoughts entered my head -- thoughts of all those bone chillingly cold mornings I spent curled up in my tent in my down sleeping bag. I don't think my hands and feet were warm for six months straight. "Don't take these things for granted," I told myself of my good fortune as I looked in the mirror and shaved. I looked so tired and weary. I almost didn't recognize the man staring back at me. It was if I was staring at a stranger looking back with sad eyes and weathered lines upon his face -- each line telling a story. A storied past best not revisited today. I am off to find something positive to do and some past time to get lost in on this Saturday. No mental illnesses. No alcoholism. No failed marriages. I don't want to be defined by those things any longer.


Eric Valentine said...

A very finely worded piece of writing Andrew, a thoroughly good read my friend.


the parks beat of life, her!!!
I too have a feeling that you and Rosa will have that opportunity.
I'm glad you found what was bugging you..makes it easier to get through the days, right?
Beautiful saturday post my friend!

Barb said...

I have a feeling that everything you do, that is guided by your heart and mind will be done so successfully, and gracefully! Although you seem called to be homeless, in a tent~ that which gives you "hope for tomorrow" will guide you with more strength and direction. I believe in you as so many other's do~


Lynette said...

The meeting seem to be hekping you to stay on track. I think boredom is your enemy, you need some sort of work to fill part of your day and your mind. I don't know what that would be, volunteering maybe..but that would give your mind something else to work on and maybe part of the sadness you are dealing with would move to the back ground. This is probably all garbage, but it is something I have been drawing from your posts.

Melissa said...

I believe that the heart beat that you hear is the love that Rosa has for you. She is your strong hold and soul. She will love you in the hardest times and she will also love you in the easiest of times as well. I think that Rosa is a God send. I will pray for you and ask for peace in your time of trials. As a read your posts I have seen your hardships and I have seen you overcome them as well. You CAN do it becasue you have already. Keep your head up because you ARE strong and you have the will. If you have struggles talk to Rosa or even your mother, they can getyou though each moment. Remember that Rosa is there for you when you need her to listen to you. Have a wonderful day and We all will be thinking about you today.


Melissa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Josie Two Shoes said...

Beautiful post, Andrew, very full of self-awareness! All living things have spirit and we can feel that if we are perceptive enough.

I can so understand your feelings about it being so much work to carve and new life, and so tired from the past. I feel that way often. I don't want to work that hard! But something calls me to a higher place, to be more, to learn more, to serve others more - so I keep going, putting one foot in front of the other. You will too!

Now that you know what it is that haunts you at this moment, you can choose to push aside those thoughts of past losses with thoughts of hope for the future - you and Rosa, and a happy life.

I love that you are determined not to be defined by the things you struggle with. Instead be defined by the wonderful, caring person that you are! :-)

Anonymous Boxer said...

I think September, with the change in seasons, can bring out a lot of feelings/emotions. It's the same with me right now...I see too much of the past in my current life and it can be too much at times.

It's OK to have these days - it's OK to think it's all too much, because it is at times... for all of us. But the world you saw this morning.. in the park....that WAS real too and that's the payoff for all of the hard work you're doing. Stay with yourself... it will get better... I promise. Have a fabulous Saturday.

ellesu said...

i love reading about your walks. nothing helps me more than getting outside and feeling nature.

after katrina it hurt my heart to drive down 59 in mississippi from hattiesburg to i-10 and see the damaged land. land is a personal thing in the south, i think. it means so much to us for some reason.

KYRIE said...

Sigh! It is beautiful and talented piece of writing.
Andrew, I realize u feel tht u hv lost a lot of things. But the most valuable treasure u possess, tht nobody will ever take away, is this beautiful talent for writing tht u hv.
Take care. G night!

Anon said...

An amazing piece of writing.