#what if? installment 1

This is my first installment of what I hope is a series of blogs on the what-ifs of life. Having addressed the topic of “If” in a previous post; “as if”, “if when”, “if only” etc., I realized that there were so many directions I could go.

Once I decided to explore this further, I mulled a bit over where to start. Given my heavy heart today, I will start with

“what if” we never got married?

I saw you yesterday. You look sad. That smile that once lit up a room is nowhere to be seen. Your best friend told me she is worried about you, that you may do something drastic. That’s not your style.

You are stuck on a rough patch. You are largely supporting yourself and our 2 youngest children. Money is tight. I’m not much help. You live with your best friend, the one that you picked over me as your number one many years ago. Despite her generosity in letting you live in her home, and despite your love for her, you have begun to fight with her and you are extremely unhappy. Without the scent of sour grapes on my breath, I ask you; shouldn’t she be the one to talk you off of the ledge? Yet she is calling me to tell me you are not doing well.

This may surprise you, but I never wanted this for you. I hate that you are struggling and I would do anything within my means to make this better for you.

It is bittersweet to think that I actually gave you an out before we began dating. Surely you remember the night we sat in my Mustang, staring at the lights dancing across the pond, just talking. We were about to start dating, openly talking about all of the complexities. I told you that I had personal demons, health issues, and limited earning potential. You didn’t care. You cared so deeply for me, there was so much pressure on me not to hurt you. It was a big step. Simply put, I told you, for your own sake, that I wasn’t good for you. I gave you an out. Do you ever wonder what it would be like if you took it?

Sometimes, when angry at you, I asked myself if anyone else would have married you. That is not to say that it is any great treat to be with me, or that you are not great in many ways. But you are difficult. You have admitted that you are bipolar, yet refuse to seek treatment for it. You are quick to anger, unreasonable and stubborn when you want something, and completely inflexible on some things. It’s fair to wonder how well another man would handle it.

As for me, I was no prize either and not sure I would have ever married. I was broken when we met. Reeling from a breakup, recovering from an accident, on “hiatus” from college and a functional alcoholic. I was stuck in a nowhere job, my vision extended no further than my next day off. Other than the occasional fling with a waitress, I wasn’t dating at all and didn’t want to. If I hadn’t met you for all I know I would still be there. You pushed me to finish school, supported me as I worked full time and carried a full class load. You saw potential in me. You thought I was smart and you believed in me.

Despite your youth, you were a little broken for your age. You had a contemptuous relationship with your mother. She was toxic in her lack of support for you. Despite claiming to have your best interest at heart she criticized all of your choices and no one in your life was ever good enough for you, and let’s face it, for her as well. I swear you married a pizza cook just to get back at her. You still have the same relationship with her today. It has always been a hard thing for me to watch.

Had you married someone else would you have a bigger house? A nicer car? Non-material things like fidelity, passion, honesty, fun, and laughs? We had all of those things once. Having had and lost is surely better than never having at all.

Had I married someone else would I have gone as far in my career? I pushed myself to the top of the heap out of financial necessity. but I still made it much further than I would have ever expected of myself. Or would I still work in the kitchen, stuck in a nowhere job that I didn’t know was nowhere until you pointed it out to me.

I don’t know if you would have had a better life had you not married me. I promised you that I would do the best that I could, but I was never able to assure you that it would be enough. It is of small comfort that I tried.

“What if’s” aside I do know that without our union, the world would be less 4 great children who are destined to do great things. 4 caring, smart, compassionate kids that, like me, are worried about you and want you to pull out of this. Even in divorce, I will never abandon you. Even though you have asked me for nothing in divorce except a promise to help if needed, I will always be there to give you whatever I have to see that you are provided for. “What if’s” aside, we did get married, I did promise to take care of you, and I will always want the best for you.

the power of music

 

I did some work for a guy the last couple of days. It was a nice opportunity to dabble in my old profession, make a few bucks in the process. It put some wind under my sails to do it again. The only drawback is that I had a 3-hour drive ahead of me. It’s not too bad, I can do that drive non-stop if I have my faithful companion Spotify with me.

I strapped on my seatbelt, made sure the lid on my coffee was on tight and opened the app. I was about to select one of my new Playlists (I have been a Spotify junkie this past year with all of the driving) when I saw an option for “Your favorites for 2017”. Wtf, I put it on shuffle and promised myself that I would listen without skips. How would I know that my drive would end up not as a tedious straight line between 2 points, but instead an emotional, unflinching, and cathartic journey of my last year in song.

The music took me away. I went down to the River with Bruce only to find that it was the River of Dreams by Billy Joel. I waded in looking for answers, found none and on the way out Stevie Nicks warned me that taking my love down would cause a Landslide.

I gathered my strength to climb the embankment and took a breath, which was painful, I have been thinking about my wife and the pending divorce, feeling bad about it, and Rascal Flatts didn’t hold back from reminding me of What hurts the most. Dave Mason softened the blow a bit by pointing out that, at the end of the day, We just disagree.

Hoping for a break the next song delivered with a jam session as the Allman Brothers took me Southbound, I jammed on the dash like John Candy in Planes, Trains and Automobiles doing the Messaround by Ray Charles. I got to thinking about how much the world misses John Candy.

mess around

On the theme of days gone by, Al Stewart brought me back in time to the Year of the Cat. A simpler time indeed. Tom Petty would then tell me all about his American Girl, and then make it impossible to drive the speed limit when he offered up You wreck me. The wailing guitar and the pounding drums urged me to go faster, faster you son of a bitch! But alas the car in front of me didn’t see the urgency or hear the song.

After I slowed down a little, the Indigo Girls brought me a little Closer to Fine but I was in a funk.  I again thought of the failed marriage and the Eagles were there to remind me that, at the end of the day, I gave her the Best of my love.

Nearing the end of my journey, I found myself teary eyed, reaching towards the heavens, while trying to drive of course, hands to God as Mondo Cozmo powerfully, with vocals and harmonies that filled my car and and the world around it, implored God to Shine his light down upon us. An emotional wreck, I pawed at my eyes and Journey had the nerve to ask me Who’s crying now? It’s me, alright? You got me.

Fortunately, Michael Franti, my barefoot Brazilian Messiah, took it to a metaphysical level and asked all of the right questions, said all the right things as he explained why It’s good to be alive today (my blog URL btw).

Then I pulled in my driveway. My physical journey over for the day, my emotional one only beginning. This playlist was my year in review. It nailed it.

I’ve had love and I’ve lost it.

I’ve sung and danced, and I’ve drummed with delight and cried my ass off on the same steering wheel.

I know what I need to do just not how to do it.

I’ve been to the River and found nothing but dirty water.

I’ve reached to the sky and found heaven right in front of me.

And I’ve gotten behind the wheel, gotten the urge to go somewhere and God help the bastard in front of me if they don’t let me pass them.

It is good to be alive today.