363 – The Man

These are the moments that make a man.

Christmas and holidays, birthdays and bullying, friendships lost and loves found–and between them all the pervasive sense that something’s wrong here, a knot that can never be undone.

Yet there’s hope in every death (so I’ve heard) and sadness in every triumph. For me simply connecting has never been simple at all, but neither has thinking, nor loving, nor living.

Hardships abound: squalling seas where sailing should be easy. There are certain difficulties associated with being broken and though I’ve come further than most, they dog me still.

A coffin recedes. A phone is slammed angrily down. Hateful words spill forth too easily. Comfort is difficult to find, to give.

Violent tempers, sneering taunts, all a wave’s break away.

All now lost to the past.

I married young, to a girl in a playground, betrothing our love to one another with rings made from sandwich bag tags. I first kissed at a wedding, and didn’t kiss again until I was far too old for a first kiss. I fell in love with strife and drunkenly proposed; I was turned down but my words remain scrawled on a beach where the tide will never reach them.

All this seems too cryptic, I know. There are answers in this blog, if you search them out and if the answers you seek aren’t there then ask me some time.

Just . . . not now. Because this, too, is a moment that makes a man.

I delved so shallowly into life’s ocean that my snorkel was barely damped. I scrabbled for drift-treasure along the tide line, yet was stranded so far beyond my depth I could swim fathoms down and never touch the sand. I flew to meet destiny, travelled back and forth across an ocean, procrastinated, then settled, a stranger on stranger shores. When I look across the waves I never see home.

I ate and grew fat, then grew thin but never changed. The wax melts but the wick burns: the soul remains the same.

I never learned to drive but oh, the places I’ve seen. I never learned to socialise but oh, the people I’ve been.

Such stories I’ve told–to you and others, too. I built castles knowing they’d crumble, and fled before they fell. I always was a coward, scared of his own name.

Fears abide, not affected phobias of clowns but a very real terror intolerable in a world filled with souls. I wonder how trust travels in a sea of strange faces. Sometimes I don’t even recognise myself.

I get to be protective. I get to be a father. I get to be a brother and a husband and an uncle and more. I was always a son; now I’m a man marooned where I can’t speak the language. I wonder how much they care.

I wonder how much I care.

I wonder if there are other lives out there that I refuse to take. I wonder what would happen if I left and never came back. I wonder too much; I fear; I fear even more.

I’m afraid of everything. I wouldn’t be me if I wasn’t.

I suppose you have questions regarding the holes in this net. Let me assure you that your worst suspicions are correct. When I say I’m evil, I never joke.

You’re not laughing.

Yet.

Because these are the moments that make a man, and these are the words with which I describe them. They’re convoluted, cod-mysterious, pretentious prevarications because even now, even now I can’t admit the truths that led me here. Every excuse has worn thin: there’s little reason for my being.

Yet I want to be and be known and be loved. I want to be met with smiles and have my leaving met with frowns. I want adulation and commendation. I want Godhood. I want more.

Fleeing across a road begging cars to knock me over. Escaping hospital through the smallest broken window.

The frustrations of being left behind. The reluctant agreement that yes, it’s best if I’m ignored.

Yet what have I to complain about? An idyllic upbringing where love was never more than a staircase away. I lived too well and was never grateful enough. Not everyone has hands to hold, hands to hold them.

(Crying the day at the after-party, tears I’ll never know: those are the moments making women from girls and girls from women.)

Quiet frustration, tamped down, exploding later. Cleaning, ungrateful, thankless, undeserved.

And now I’m falling into poetry, for fuck’s sake. The self-loathing I feel is incredible, but when do I ever not hate myself? Sub-genius, changing the world, best of the bunch, worst of the lot.

There’s no specific hinge to which I can pin my sorrows. Bad times at playschool? Bad boy on the naughty chair?

Read my baby book and the change becomes clear: neat, lively and helpful one month, lazy and lost the next. I became unhappy so fast my parents never had time to wonder why.

Conceal it. Tamp it down. Explode later.

If I could choose my own ending I’d choose a blaze of glory. A superhero burned up in re-entry. A saviour, martyred for the world’s sins.

Moving too late. Growing old too soon.

My one choice is that the year doesn’t end like this. There are too many riddles, too few stories told. Everything else feels like posturing.

I’ve never said anything worth listening to.

Self hatred follows soon, snapping. That one moment, forever lost. Bus terrors, schoolboy crushes. Rows in cars, tempers silent. Being born, seeing death. A hospital bed. A slipped mask.

A year’s worth of words, so few worth typing.

It’s not my joy. It’s not my choice.

These are the moments that make a man.

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