09 March, 2012

Boone On The Move (Curse of the Ten)

She calls me and it breaks my heart all over again.

Fuck what they say about better to have loved and lost. Fuck what they say life being about the journey and not the destination. Fuck all the cutesy things people say when people divorce, or when loved ones die. Fuck all, because none of it matters. None of it changes anything.

I keep coming back to a number. 10. 10 was the age I learned there was no Santa Claus. 10 was the age my daughter stopped thinking I was Superman. My birthday is on the 10th day of the 10th month.

Myra and I were married for 10 years.

And now, we're not.

Well, hell. I guess we are. Legally. All that binding, blinding, beguiling bullshit. To have and to hold. For better or worse. I guess it got worse than worse while I wasn't paying attention. Been thinking lately. I'm pretty sure (in as much as I'm sure about anything anymore) and that probably how it works. I can't even be all that pissed off at her; not without being pissed off at myself even more. People have a right to find happiness, right? Isn't that the Thing That Matters? Isn't that what we're supposed to do? Isn't that what it all boils down to? Whether you find happiness in a bottle or in a church, or in a needle, or in a marriage, or in random screwing in the back seat on a drunken Friday night? That's the whole American Dream, right?

Isn't that it?

Well, fuck all that, too.

Because when it's all over, when the Curse of the Ten comes down on my head, I somehow end up right back here. One more cheap ass motel room, counting out loose change and living on the stale muffins, half sour milk, and weak lukewarm coffee. Me looking at the dull red LED display of the alarm clock radio and counting down the hours until I either have to check out or pay for another night. One more cheap motel before I end up under a shelter at the park or at some homeless shelter populated by volunteers who want to help me get my life back. They'll tell me I need to man up, get a job, and move forward. There's other fish in the sea, they'll say. I'm too educated a man not to be working, contributing to society. I might mention I used to to teach. They'll tell me I could go back and do that again. After all, the world always needs good teachers. I'll tell them that if the world needed good teachers then the world would pay them as much as lawyers and politicians. The President of the United States, I'll point out, is paid $400,000 a year... and if you throw in the perks... the plane, the clothes, the transportation... it comes to a whole lot more. And lawyers? Well we all know what Shakespeare said about lawyers, right? I'll tell them the world doesn't give a good god damn about good anything. I'll quote the Peter Principle to them, point out that the reason they're some lackey in a homeless shelter is because they've been promoted to the level of their incompetence.

At which point, they will either ask me if I've been drinking or they'll ask me to leave and threaten to call the cops.

Those educational moments never go well.

So I'm sitting here, in this cheap ass motel at the edge of the earth... I'm at the far north end of Chesapeake Bay, in one of those no tell motels that soldiers bring barracks girls to. (Barracks girls, for the uninformed... usually the wives living of other soldiers, often but not always on overseas deployment. They live on base in family housing, but go off base for their affairs.) The room smell of cigarette smoke. The television won't turn off. The bus doesn't run this far down on Ocean View on Sundays, and I think the maid is either hooking on the side or maybe a petty thief.  I'm sitting on the bed, counting out change to see if I have enough for another night. I know better than to think I have enough for food and shelter. But I've got a decade's worth of body fat I can live off of as long as I have drinkable water.

In these moments, I get pretty angry about it. I think about Myra. In our house. In bed with someone else. Someone who, ostensibly, can make her happy. I think about my books. I think about the life I had managed to string together. I think about they way Myra cried when I left, like it was somehow my doing. Like I was the one walking out on her. Maybe I had already, but my body hadn't gotten the memo. Maybe not. But I think about it all in these moments when I'm too broke to get drunk and trying to decide whether I should try and stretch out what little money I have left, whether I should try and scrounge for a bus ticket, or whether I should spend it at a liquor store and sleep at the Union Mission.

And it's in those moments -- when I'm fully embracing my anger and sense of outrage at her and at God and at the universe -- that she calls.

And it all goes back to zero.