Wednesday, July 11, 2012

In Conclusion

It’s the nagging feeling I get in the back of my mind when I leave things unfinished that propelled me.  I spent the last few weeks trying to come up with a summary of everything that has happened between then and now.  Haven’t had much luck in that regard, only thing that really comes to mind is nothing which is not a bad thing to be thinking about, it seems to me.  All things in their right place.  

I hadn’t actually applied for the job; in fact I hadn’t updated my resume online for nearly six months.  They came looking for me, which was surprising in and of itself and I figured I’d give them a shot.  Took them fucking forever to get back to me each time there was a break between HR questioning and phone interviews.  Nearly a month later and I’m sitting in a conference room in “downtown” Racine with a three hour panel interview ahead of me.  I quite wanted to smack the shit out of the idiot who kept asking questions only to bury his head into his BlackBerry when I gave my answer.  “I’m really going to report directly to this guy,” I thought?

It wasn’t more than 3 days before some guy in PA was on the phone telling me that they not only wanted to exceed my salary requirements by 15K, but that they wanted me to start immediately.  “Who just up and offers that much money (10K more than I was making in New York) without even trying to negotiate,” I said to my dad, “for a company so concerned with cost cutting you’d think they would be a bit sterner, wouldn’t you?”  It was that other nagging feeling in the back of my head (the one I had finally stopped ignoring) that led me to look a bit deeper into the company making the offer.  

“If it sounds too good to be true, it sure as hell is.”

“Trust me, I’ve learned that lesson.”

The network of people I know in the greater Milwaukee area far exceeds that of the past two cities I called “home,” so gathering a little intel on working conditions there was not difficult.  60+ hour weeks, most Saturdays, constant shouting and belittling, managers who sacrifice their team members to benefit themselves not to mention that 50 mile one way trip made it sound a lot like another shit hole I used to work in.  That money though, damn, I have had a really tough time recovering from the purchases that bitch kept when I got the boot.  I could really use that money.

I’m thinking about it one afternoon driving home, thinking about the summary (or lack there of) I had put together of life in the past nine months or so.  An extreme amount of effort was put into keeping this new life of mine stress-free at work, with women and among friends.  I had to admit every bit of that effort was paying off; I had been having more fun since September than I had in the entire time I was in New York.  I was happy to go to work for once, ok with turning down someone and totally free of anger for the first time in so long.  Did I really want to jeopardize that for money?  I took the risk for a woman once (something seemingly much more valuable) and that turned out to not be worth it at all.  In fact, all it did was cause pain and a permanently bitter spot on my heart.  

I let them wonder on the first two days before the 4th and finally called them back on the 5th to tell them that I couldn’t take the job.  “No, more money or vacation time wouldn’t change my mind; I was happy where I was.”  That was the god honest truth, it might not be perfect here but I know what I’ve got and I enjoy it.  I’m happy now, not perfectly content, but happy.  Happiness cannot be bought or moved to, trust me I’ve tried.

I actually felt a nice ease about me after I made that decision.  Some might lay awake thinking about the money that they left on the table but not me.  I have spent more than enough time with the ol, “what if,” bullshit.  

That choice and the way it was handled are a microcosm of the way I’ve been operating around big decisions these days.  I have me and only me in mind when I deliberate these days.  I don’t think about pleasing a girl or impressing her impossible family at my own expense anymore.  I don’t think about doing anything to get out of a less than ideal situation anymore.  I make the decisions that are going to benefit me and I don’t give fuck all about anyone else.  Maybe that was they way I was going about it before but this time I know it flat out and I don’t have anyone to sell it to.  Call it selfish if you wish, I call it self-preservation.

Besides, “the first and only love is self love,” or so the last fortune cookie I ate told me.  

When I think about a lot of the nonsense on this blog I realize that a good part of it is me struggling to deal with the way that things in my life affected me.  Always in a reactionary state I was, never thinking forward.  I’ve laid numerous precedents to the contrary now, those days are gone.  

I guess that brings me back to the summary I thought I should put together.  Nothing, which is basically what had happened since late September last year.  Nothing was all I could think of.  No problems at work, no girl arguments, no blacking out, no drunken driving incidents, no crazy drug deals gone wrong, no fist fights, no complicated multiple relationships, no constant worrying about appeasing the unappeasable…no more broken hearts.  Kinda seems to me at this point, that the past few years of my life have had some good times but they have been overshadowed by some of the worst things I’ve ever experienced.  

Perhaps I should try again.

I’ve gotten a new job where I’m respected, albeit not paid a whole lot.  I’ve gone on some awesome road trips with my friends and gotten closer to them than any time in the past 10 years.  I’ve had some great casual sex where no one felt obligated when the clothes were back on.  I’ve been promoted, twice.  I’m moving into a kick ass house with a good friend.  I won my fantasy football league.  I’ve been disc golfing more than I have since I graduated high school.  That’s just the stuff I could come up with in a minute or two, you see, things have been going great.  For once I’m defining time passed on good things and not just because nothing bad has happened.  It’s because I want to.

There is just one thing that serves as the only cloud left in the sky: Nicole.  I would be a liar to say I don’t still think about her most days.  I can’t quite help it when music plays such a strong role in calling up old memories.  Did you think I was going to stop listening to the same songs we used to love together?  I didn’t think so; you deal with the emotions a song brings up.  It is what makes some songs mean so much more than others.    

It doesn’t hurt like it used to anymore, that big black open wound in my chest that she left me with, but it does burn from time to time.  I’ve gotten pretty good at disregarding the bad memories we had in favor of the good times as I’d like to remember her fondly.  Some things ($) make it harder than others, but all in all she is one of the only good memories I have of someone I used to love.  I don’t much care anymore if she doesn’t think about me, write me or use my name in reciting old stories for her friends.  I’m too concerned with myself and I’ve no shame in saying I still tell stories about us, still think about our times and still wish I could at least say hi.  No matter, though, I’ve got plenty of other things to think about and do.  If that time comes, it comes.  If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.

There is probably a lot more to say, but not a whole lot I feel like writing down.  Maybe this is finally the “riding off into the sunset,” ending I was looking for here, maybe not.  Maybe we’ve got the whole connotation of what riding off into the sunset actually means.  It is no guarantee of better days to come, simply a guarantee that more days will come and I’ll be here to face them.

I’ll put this to bed now; there are a few of you out there that I’ve truly enjoyed knowing over these past years and I hope the few of you know that.  I can say I wouldn’t be where I am right now without you all and, for better or for worse; I wouldn’t change a goddamn thing.  Yeah, I miss talking to a certain West Coast friend and I won’t lie and say I don’t miss the relationship Nic and I had before it all went wrong.  Yeah, there was a lot of pain that came from this but there was much more growing.  

And yeah, before you ask, it all still stings a bit…but I guess that’s how I know it was real.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Little Things

I knew the minute I started typing the first few letters that I was doing something I shouldn’t have been.  I guess the haphazard searches on Facebook before the New Year were not well thought out.  If I had just signed out of the account she blocked me from I would easily find the doorstep to the life of someone I used to know.

I felt fucking dirty. 

What in the hell was I doing? 

I had gone out of my way to bring my sorry ass up to New York for New Years and managed to find someone from my old job who would host me.  It was all for the sole purpose of delivering the note I wrote on the airplane, like I had done so many times before.  Fuck me did that ever blow up in my face.  Shortly after one in the morning I was stupidly arguing with her father via text message.  I don’t quite know what I was trying to prove to myself, but it didn’t serve its purpose.  I flew back from Philly later that week feeling like quite the fool.  I guess I wasn’t quite as resilient as I thought.

I didn’t give it much thought for the few months after that, why should I care about offending someone who cared so little for me?  I started thinking about it when her birthday came, for some reason we were all out and one of them made a foolish comment, “Here’s to the anniversary of the beginning of Pat’s trip back here.”  I left pretty shortly thereafter.  She had been in the back of my mind ever since.

It isn’t that I have some foolish thought in the back of my mind that we will somehow end up together.  I guess I have grown up a bit since I thought stupid things like that.  The thing that really bothered me was how someone who I had held in such high esteem and cared so much about could just do away with me on a moment’s notice.  No matter, in the end the only conclusion that allows me to live with myself is that I made an egregious set of mistakes that I must never repeat again…whether through self-isolation or some other method.

So that leaves me here, like a fool, looking her up on Facebook and wondering if I could find out anything more about her life these days.  I can’t fool anyone anymore, let alone myself; I miss her and wonder how she is.  I thought, for a fleeting moment, about writing her again.  The moment passed quickly when I played the tape through to conclusion.  I knew how she would respond, or rather how she would not respond.  The thought started to burn me once again.  I went out onto the back porch to smoke a cigarette, telling myself I should just go to bed and not bother writing any of this melodramatic shit down, but it didn’t seem I was ready quite yet.

I thought for a second how pathetic looking her up had been and as I pondered the slim odds that she had done the same I realized I was showing her the same disrespect I had exhibited from March 3rd when I arrived to the time she kicked me out of that life.  I guess I never could understand what she wanted, could I?  I worshiped her, but was so blind to what she needed and was so in denial that what I was up to hurt her so.  It hurts because I lost the only woman I’ve ever really loved and it hurts that the pain contributed to my acting so childishly and pursuing her when she clearly wanted nothing more to do with me.  I guess that was my ego getting in the way again, wasn’t it?

“I love her like no one on this earth,” I often rationalized to myself, “someday she will come around and feel the same.”  How very delusional and foolish that I would assume the world revolved around me in such a manner.  I suppose that was the problem all along wasn’t it?  It sucks that I lost my lover, it sucks even more that I lost a friend of her caliber.  It would not be smart to take up that search again, I don’t dare take the risk of hurting myself in such a manner again…more importantly I can’t run the risk of becoming tempted to interfere in her life again.  I guess maybe this is part of my growing up, but it is time to let her go…regardless of how much I do and always will love her.

I can’t lie though, I miss my friend and the mistakes I have caused and never been able to truly apologize hurt me so.  Forgiveness for them, however, is not mine to solicit or even deserve.  Tonight I finally realize that the respect she deserves is what she had asked for when this happened.

“Respect my wishes and never contact me again.”  

As much as it pains me, it is long past time to oblige.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

As Sweet as Bitter Gets

I’m not going to lie; I may or may not have had a bit too much to drink when the conversation got under way.  She had met up with us later in the night and the few Miller Lites she had left her in a good position to drop me and the boys off on our way back from the Blackbird.  We pulled up in front of Dan’s house, where I would be spending the night, and talked for a bit.  She had mentioned to me in the bar that she thought Dave was quite a good looking guy, which I promptly followed up with a text to him in the bathroom saying something along the lines of, “dude, Erin thinks you’re hot.  You should go for it.”  She was outside smoking when I came back out.  

“I wouldn’t go after her if you paid me; you’ve had a thing for her for nearly ten years.”

He definitely had a good point; there had been some small place inside of me that longed for her that entire time.  In hindsight I don’t really know why I told him to go for it, maybe I just wanted the possibility of her to be off the table once and for all.  After all, the boys and I have a strict agreement to never pursue one of our ex-girlfriends, which would effectively end it.  Granted, I thought I had already taken care of that when I told her I had feelings for her in college.

Apparently not.

So there we are, sitting in front of Dan’s apartment in the Jeep taking about the events of the evening.  I don’t quite know how the topic came up, but after a minute or two we were talking about what she had told me at the bar.  I told her how I told him what she said and that he responded that he wouldn’t try to go after her.  I could tell by the look on her face that his response was a bit of a shot to her pride, for some reason I felt the need to rectify it.  I told her that I wished I could tell her why he wasn’t interested (full well knowing that she would make me), it took a second but it came out.  Once it was out there I couldn’t get it back no matter how badly I wanted to.

“Dude, he doesn’t want to go after you because he knows that I’ve been in love with you for years.”


“Oh fuck, what did I just do,” I said as I felt some tears starting to well up in my eyes.  I didn’t know what to say, she just sat there looking out the window for a minute before she turned to me.  “Patrick, I love you too and I always have, I have just loved you as my brother all these years.”  It was the first time she had called me by my name in nearly 8 years; I had never heard such sincerity in her voice in our time as friends.  I don’t know if it was the stouts or the fact that I had been holding this feeling in for so fucking long, but the tears were flowing as soon as she finished speaking.  She said that she had no idea I had been keeping it in all these years, I guess she did what I asked her the last time I said it when I told her to forget I ever said anything.

At this point I have a million thoughts racing through my head, none more pressing than the fact that I may have just pushed the eject button on one of my most valued friendships.  Needless to say, at this point I was really feeling it.  She took off her seat belt, leaned over and put her head on my shoulder.  I had wanted this for so many years and I can’t deny the fact that it hurt(s) so badly knowing that this exact moment was the closest I would ever come.   

She put her arms around me and kissed my cheek and told me that she loved me and she knew how badly I was hurting.  “I’ve seen the pain in your eyes that I’m guessing you think you have pretty well hidden and I don’t want to be responsible for more.”  What could I say?  There was nothing…we just sat there, leaning over her stick shift and holding on to each other. 

She kissed me once more before I realized it was almost four, “I should probably get going,” I said.  I got out of the car and stood there watching her drive away and wondering what the hell I had just done.  Once inside I just sat there on the couch in the dark and after a minute texted her to say that I was sorry for putting her in the spot that I did.  A minute later she was asking me what spot and telling me that it was ok; she was the queen of not letting things get awkward.  I didn’t sleep very well that night.

I guess that this is about as sweet as bitter gets. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Learning The Hard Way

We were just sitting around in Colin’s living room watching Top Gear and having a few beers.  His brother, Kyle, was in town visiting for a few days before heading back to New York.  I hadn’t seen him since we were kids and he didn’t look all that much different than how I remembered him.  Colin had told me that he was finishing up med school out there and then moving back in the middle of the summer.  I went outside to go smoke a cigarette and he followed me, I figured it would be an interesting conversation, but his phone rang before anything could be said.

I really do despise those “let me stand here and listen to your phone call” moments, but this one was slightly more interesting than most.  He started catching up with someone I figured he hadn’t talked to in a while.  Before long he was telling this guy about how his fiancĂ©e all the sudden decided to jump ship after five years; she basically kicked him out of the apartment and decided she wanted her own thing.  I guess that seems to be the popular reason behind moving back from Brooklyn these days.

I didn’t really feel like probing what I’m sure was a sore topic, but he started talking about it when we got back inside.  For the first couple minutes he is talking about the confusion, anger vs. sadness and the like, but after a minute he says something that really hits home:

“I’m pretty much sure that I am not interested in getting married anymore, really not interested in dating again either.”

Now I get that it just happened to him and that he is pretty bitter, but I sure do sympathize with him.  I have long gotten over the anger and real sadness, I do get the occasional twinge every now and then, but after seven or so months I really don’t pay it much mind.  What I do pay mind to is the ridiculously strong desire I have now: no relationships.

I suppose I don’t mean “no relationships” as in no contact with the opposite sex, but more than I don’t want a commitment, especially if it involves my heart.  They say that the kid who touches the hot oven learns right away not to do it again.  I, on the other hand, touched it twice and am not interested in getting burned again…especially since they have gotten worse each time.  I’m not interested in laying blame on anyone anymore, myself or the other parties, because I know it’s no one way street, regardless of how much some people want it to be.

I am enjoying what is going on in life so much right now, why on earth would I ever want to jeopardize this again?  I don’t want to be in the position to be either the offender or the offended and I don’t want to have to curse myself or blame someone else for my pain.   Right now, there really isn’t any pain nor stress and I do like it this way.  The fact of the matter is that I have never seen things so clearly, especially now that I don’t have “love” and all of its fucking stresses to deal with.  

Now some day there may be some sweet girl who comes along and convinces me to rethink this standpoint; unfortunately the memories of hurting, being hurt and starting over are too much to forget.  Sure, I may be able to disassociate most of the emotions from those events, but I definitely will not forget them and I sure as hell am not looking to make new ones.  In the end it seems like all the good memories get washed away by the bad ones anyway; I’m done taking that risk.  No more touching the stove for this kid.