Friday, January 16, 2009

On Belonging

I don't generally have trouble starting. This is one of those nasty areas though. No man's land. The dead zone. I don't suppose I am capable of expressing the complexity of the emotion involved. Almost all of it unpleasant. All of it, in fact.

Considering how much I've said in these pages, I have certainly not said much about my father. Some unpleasant memories, a bit of mewling about compassion and forgiveness, none of it heartfelt enough to have any effect. Everything has been duty. There is no recognizable human connection. I say this, not having seen him for fifteen years. He's just over the hill, as the crow flies maybe five miles away. Might as well be the dark side of the moon. Wish it were. I wouldn't have to deal with it.

He's old now, I suppose. Anyway, he has to go to the hospital I'm given to understand and he wants me to drive him. To have his prostate removed. As I say, old. Then he wants me to bodyguard him from the woman who lives in his house, who can destroy him whenever she wants. Don't ask. It's the same story, no matter which the woman is.

I don't think I'll go into any of his details. As I well know, silence is one of the best ways to protect someone. That's what I think.

I loved being a father so much.

This is the saddest thing I've ever written.

So I got in a pretty good, nasty workout tonight. The kind where I lie on the floor when I'm done, turn onto one side and lift my leg up in some sort of primal effort to stop hurting. I don't know what that's about. A reflex maybe. You may be thinking that I work so hard to escape some emotional issue. But I didn't work so hard. Just ten minutes. And the rest of my life is so very soft. Anyway, there is no escape.

Starting a bit of pure strength training, as I say. I recalled tonight an effect of that sort of thing. I don't remember why I mentioned it to E, the fellow I train with, but I'm sure there was some relevant context -- I don't just blurt things out. Anyway, I recalled that the hormonal effect of big strength training was so great, re testosterone, that the spillover results in hypersexuality. Not pig behavior, just a lot of sexual energy. He said that he'd noticed the same thing back when he was doing heavy squats. So there you go then. This isn't exactly what they mean when they say exercise gives you energy, but it's related. Hormones. The opposite of being old.

As for reflexes, E got an earful of me talking about the Moro reflex. The startle reflex, when a baby throws out its hands and cries. Universal, in a healthy nervous system. Sort of the opposite of the grasping reflex. Remember that? Put your finger in a baby's hand and it will grab tight. Obviously, both are instincts left over from when we were ape-like creatures clinging to our mother's fur, hoping not to fall out of the tree.

Friendship is such an odd thing, don't you think? How do you do it? To trust, to confide, to relax, to let down the guard -- to belong. It's just the mood of the moment, but it seems impossible that I will ever belong to anything again. And I'm such a great guy. Even given the fact that I do not want to see my father. I'm actively hostile to the idea -- it's like swallowing vomit. Duty is not love, but it is just as necessary. It frightens me to think that I might have a friend. You wouldn't want to live inside my head. It is vast. It contains multitudes.

What, I'm rambling? You should know me better than that by now. I'm quite brilliant. How many times do I have to repeat that before it gets through your thick skull? It's just that I'm damaged, and don't know how to fix it. In theory, yes, of course -- just let go, trust, accept friendship and love. Have faith that when the phone rings it's possible that something other than more soul-crushing news is on the way. Maybe a good thing can happen, that lasts? But things that happen can happen again in another way.

Yes, of course I know the answer to this as well. It's not about what happens. It's about human contact. The way a little boy whose fourth birthday is tomorrow throws himself into his father's arms just before bedtime.

Ah. Now I can smile again.


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