I have been sick for three days. Bad sick. Violently ill with muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea, all interrupting long periods of semi sleep, deep sleep, and restless somewhat wakefulness. I slept a lot. But it gave me no rest. I ate nothing on Sunday. I ate little on Monday- two slices of toast some rice and a cup of broth. And so today… I actually ate almost regular meals.
And after being off work sick for two days, I am kind of anxious to get back to my classroom, except I couldn’t fall asleep. And after some fitful tossing and turning, noticed that it was 2 AM and decided to call in for a sub again for a third day. I know I would be in no shape to handle classrooms full of kids after eating little for three days and still feeling exhausted.
So what keeps me awake? I’m thinking of things. Conversations. A magazine and three books I want to read. Some science things I’d love to learn. Music. Losing weight. Why it is so hard to work out regularly. Karate? Where is that going now? And what about the flag bearers for the State Tournament? Why have I not heard back? (That isn’t very military.) And the windows for the LA house- the contractors have my money. Are they blowing me off? And work, what I will say to the kids next week when that quarter starts that will keep them from failing en masse.
And Thomas Jefferson.
And I think perhaps if I write it all down, I can go to sleep. Finally. I can rest. But I can’t type as fast as I am thinking, and I can’t remember a third of what has passed through my brain.
I think about severed relationships. About how 25 years ago a friend’s wife- my best friend’s wife, told me in the presence of all of him and all of our close friends, that we- my wife, my infant son, and I, weren’t really wanted. And that we should wait for them to call us. And I remember waiting for anyone else to chime in… and I time went on, waiting for them to call, but no one really did and no one really has, and after 25 years I rarely speak to, see or think of anyone in that once tight circle of friends. Some turned up briefly when Ethan died, they made gestures about staying in touch and then quickly faded back into their own separate lives.
There are people that come in and out of your life- that cross paths and drift away or that simply turn abruptly into someone you no longer recognize and I think sometimes when I miss these people it is my problem letting go. With those that ended in a more or less normal fashion- nothing dramatic or decided, just a loss of contact- perhaps it is easy to move on. With those relationships that ended abruptly and dramatically, It is hard to look at the joy they brought to my life without thinking of that pain and having it color pretty much every moment they touched.
It always seems like there are these interesting characters- people well out of my wheelhouse, who I thought I’d like to know better… I think of my friend, a plumber- who redid the pipes in our entire house in LA- and how he flamed out on me in a facebook message thread in some bizarre profanity laced Christian dressing down that surprised me as much as it hurt. I was left with more of a “what the hell was that?” I thought I could learn something from him…
I think of a church up here on the mountain, and its journey through different pastors, and elders, and people that came and left, and then it’s final spiral down until that moment when I was asked to leave. And I think of what that church might have been had it taken a different direction. But in that moment it seemed that a whole set of connections were severed.
I think of a current young man, one whom I found so fascinating- brilliant really, who dismissed our friendship, and even our epic journey to place Ethan’s ashes as basically nothing, telling me our friendship offered him nothing. (I failed to acknowledge his scientific acumen?) It was cold and kind of fucked up, but whatever, he was honest. I think of the conversations I will miss… his intelligence and depth of knowledge and his enthusiasm… and those lost trips in the future of scaling some peak or going on some adventure with a group of men. And really if I offered him nothing, it is all my loss. I should just let it go.
And of course there is my relationship with Ethan… ending abruptly two and a half years ago. I will miss his humor and intelligence. He was brilliant. I will miss seeing the man he was going to be. That energy. Seeing where he would take his music and what he would do. His compassion. The trips we would take and the trails we would hike. I sit here in a darkened living room next to a jar of ashes. And ultimately even this I will have to let go.
The rain has let up and I’ve been at this now for almost an hour. I guess I can find another blanket and give sleep one more shot.