The worst things in life inevitably blindside you.
Inevitably. I’d even say “by definition” but I can’t quite bring myself to do it since any kind of close analysis reveals it as one of those things that sounds good but is actually bleh when you think about it for more than two seconds. Yeah, you read that right: bleh. You know what I mean.
The best things don’t. The best moments are invariably the pinnacle of a metaphorical mountain. The best things in life build up, requiring an enormous amount of effort and care, and when they’re done sometimes it’s easy to forget that they’re good because of that and that’s something we also fuck up frequently around here, but that’s not what I’m talking about today.
What I’m talking about is the surprise. Yes, you will be surprised, guaranteed.
You know why? Because if you have a shred of survival instinct and you see something terrible coming, you move out of the way. We do this constantly, without even thinking. We are continuously patching stuff up so it doesn’t blow up in our face. We fix the leaks. We prop up the structure so it doesn’t come crashing down on us right this second, because right this second I have to finish a project and then later I got to shop for some groceries, and honey would you please pick up my prescriptions while you’re at the store?
If you see it coming, you move out of the way. Which leaves you with the things you don’t see coming.
Blindsided, always. Sometimes, literally, as in truck-unexpectedly-crashing-into-the-side-of-your-car-blindside-you, sometimes not.
I’d even say that the worst of the worst things are also the ones that look insignificant at first glance. The literal truck in the previous paragraph, for example, is pretty bad, but it’s also something that will have a fairly straightforward resolution — assume a happy ending and let’s say it’s just a few stitches, a visit to the shop, and a lot of haggling with the insurance company. You didn’t see it coming, but you can see it going, so to speak. The path out of the disaster zone is clear. It’s the advantage of major catastrophes that we can see so clearly that we’re severely fucked up that we are forced to do something about it. We simply have no choice.
Those moments though, when something happens or when you are told something truly awful that hit you as if you were hit physically, moments that feel like something breaks inside you. A fracture in your soul. And, in many cases, like a fracture, it can be ignored for a while, disregarded:”it’s bad, but not that bad really, right?”
I’ve come to realize that defining that moment is important because if you’re going to find a way to move forward from any situation, particularly a bad one, is to make some things end.
And the only way for something to end is for it to have begun. Which means you have to identify the beginning.
There was a phone call, early evening I think. I was in the kitchen. That for some reason I remember vividly. Phone rings, check caller ID: wow, there’s someone I haven’t talked to …. or even thought about …. in quite a while…
A minute later the call was over and I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t go to the hospital. Couldn’t. Many reasons, all of them probably bad, is what I’m sure I’d think now if I remembered any of them. Many reasons, many. I was probably in shock, whatever that is, because I just put the phone down on the kitchen counter and I just went about my business, continuing along the path of mundane activity that I was already set on for that Friday night.
I’ve spent some time trying to decide whether it was that one moment or something earlier that was truly the first rock of the avalanche. There’s some pretty ugly stuff about 14 months prior that nearly broke me, but I managed to pull out, somehow. I spent a little more than a year in a fairly positive trajectory of some sort, flying uncertain, but gaining speed and then when this happened it was like the freeze frame in movies when they zoom into something, cut to total silence and you hear a metallic sound or a break and for a second nothing happens and then… BOOOOOOOOOOM!
So: the phone call is what I’ve settled on.
I didn’t know it then, but it was at that moment that the edifice of my life had begun to collapse in slow motion. Nothing felt right. Like one of those warning signs you read or hear about in movies… earthquakes, typhoons, hurricanes. Warning signs that go beyond the rational or the known. The air around you feels heavy, charged. Something is coming.
Tiny rocks, rolling down the hill.
A tocsin. (not a typo).
It would take a little over a year from that point until it would all finally crash on top of my head — and quite spectacularly I might add. I’m someone that doesn’t trust easily but during these last few years I’ve made an effort and every time I’ve reached out the universe has lashed out back at me viciously. The Rach 3 is easier than this.
Had I played a part? Self-fulfilling prophecies and all that? Maybe, but definitely not all the time. I’ve kept trying. So far every time I give it a shot, it’s turned out badly. Whatever mistakes I’ve made, I’ve paid for them, and then some. I’ve been crawling out of the rubble in darkness for a while now.
I’m stepping out now, but I can look back at the ruins that will soon lose sight of me because I know when it began.
1,263 days ago.
It ends today.