Well I tried keeping this short, but didn’t quite work out as planned. Been a bit on the MIA side of things, so forgive the rusty nature of the writing skills. Hope everything is going fantastically well with all of you and have a fantastic weekend!
It really is quite amusing…Of all the places in the world, this, is the last one I expected to return to, to spend this wretched night at. I guess everything really does come full circle. This is where it all began so it’s only natural and logical that it all ends here. I guess everyone was waiting for this day, just so they could tell me ‘I told you so.’ But nobody saw the other side of the equation, you know, the side where you deal with the predicted event and it’s aftermath. Too much has happened between the last time I was here and now, in this present time…it feels like the alienation of somewhere into nowhere.
Between then and now, not much has changed, well maybe except for the payphone off to the corner by the nature trail. It looks a little worse for wear, but it’s always been a constant as far as this place is concerned. Lonely, well now rather dilapidated, but always there as company for the lake of tranquility. I wonder if they have conversations about the oddities they see coming around and about over here…wouldn’t that be something? I always curious about that payphone, I wonder if it’s ever worked all these years, or if it’s just there to provide some sense of comfort that what you’re looking for or searching for is just a phone-call away. The last time I was here, staring out into this picture of tranquility and serenity, I swore that I would never return, I swore that this was the last time I’d even be in this place….I made a vow of sorts to myself, that, I was going out there into the big bad world and I was gonna come out guns blazing….at the top of everyone and everything. That all the jerks and morons in the world who kept crushing, chipping and breaking my spirit and me every step of the way would regret their actions and what they’d become. I had even decided that, if our paths ever crossed at that point in life, then, I would make their lives miserable….a favor for a favor. I paid my respects, packed my bags and left the remnants of my childhood and teen years behind, and set out to chart the path to my destiny.
I knew right from that time that there was something wrong, and it made me furious. There were too many weaknesses and faults…too many crosses to bear and flaws contributing to the wear and tear of my soulless soul. People had their opinions about the ever driven, heartless, cold yet startling bastard that was me, who was never forgiving of trivial errors and minute miscalculations. Nobody understood where, who or what I was. I was fortunate to have a few people who tried, but, even they over time washed their hands off and said their goodbyes, after-all there is only so much one can try. I used to care, I used to spend hours listening, talking and sorting other people’s problems out. Then life throws you a curveball and you have to decide and prioritize as to whose problems and concerns are more important, yours or theirs. I tried the theirs part for a bit, and got walked all over the place, and never taken seriously for a bit, I guess people forgot that little part of the story. Over time people choose to remember only those things that fit their decisions and mental images. The day I decided to put myself first and ahead of the rest of them, was when the hues, cries and remarks of ‘Oh you’ve changed,’ and ‘You aren’t the same person I knew,’ and ‘What happened to you?’ colored sentences more than common courtesies.
The talking and weird snarky and saucy remarks came first…followed by pointless and shameless reminders and emotional guilt trips of the paradoxical and rather one-sided nature of this thing called friendship. Then the labels trickled in and with a few words and a rather short period of time, I became the cold hearted piece of trash who only knew how to use people and use any means necessary to get where I wanted to. Nobody stopped to think or see the pieces of me dying away, withering away to the dust beneath the soles of my shoes. Nobody looks any deeper once they receive, what they call substantial proof, in the form of an incident or event to corroborate their sentiments and judgments about you.
There was that one time when i fell in love and learned about perfection and what it meant to be whole, but, apparently even love has parameters and boundaries defined by things other than those in love. She was the most amazing thing that happened to me; she was what all those books, poems, songs and movies often referred to as, ‘The One.’ But her friends and the social world we live in, managed to take away the one thing that started to matter in a long time.
I still remember that day so vividly, when it all came to a blaring, jarring and deafening end…It started off as a special night for me. I had been putting in all these extra hours at work, barely making it back home for a few hours of sleep, just so I could get her the perfect ring. I knew she would be a little upset with the late nights and everything, but I didn’t want to ruin the big surprise, and I figured once she knew the reason why, she’d just as easily forgive me. However, I didn’t know at the time the price that I would pay for my assumptions. That night at dinner, there was a lot of tension in the air. At the time, I thought it was probably my nerves and that little box in my pocket. And just as I was about to literally pop the box and the question I was popped instead….instead of a ‘happily ever after’, we broke up and I embodied the unhappy ever since persona. The one person I thought understood me couldn’t stay with me not because she didn’t want to, but, because she decided it was better to not be together at all instead of being at the receiving end of wagging tongues and rumor mongers. She never found out about the ring, nor did she find out about my exquisite plans. 3 months later, she was with someone else, I knew she didn’t love him, not the way we loved each other, but who was I to stop her from going after her happiness? 4 months after that, I got their wedding invite, and all the remaining hopes for a ‘maybe happy ever after’ died along with it. I showed up at the wedding, quite literally ripping the band aid off of my wounds, but I had to know, I had to make sure she was happy or at least seemed content without me around, and she was. That didn’t stop her friends from taking their jabs either, I guess people never change. I let them take their pot-shots. That day, she was all that mattered and I just faded into the background, another spectator, another clown, another shadow flickering by.
From then on it was a downward spiral, things got out of control and out of hand. I dismissed the warning signs, the headaches, the black outs…it was all in my head anyway, and I just threw myself into work. Day became night, night became day and life went on with me hell bent on getting my pound of flesh from the world. Time flew by, people breezed by and I just kept climbing that success ladder, closer to my visions, and, ever closer to my dreams. I achieved that goal I set out for, albeit at a rather heavy price, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything else if I had a choice. I proved them all wrong and I made them eat their words, and I sure as hell turned their envy factor on. Of course, by then they had all moved on with their lives, they didn’t remember the pettiness or the pain caused by their actions and words, I guess that was always mine to carry for the rest of my life.
Through all those years and all those times, there was no family, no distant relative nor sibling who bothered to pick up that phone and give me a call. I was the outcast, and I guess I always would be, but I showed them all up in the end didn’t I? The only person who bothered to check on me was my Assistant, mostly because it ensured the paycheck factor, and well alright, there may have been a bit of that whole human concern factor tossed in there as well. Besides, he was the one who found me passed out on the floor somewhere…another black out, another day. To me it wasn’t a big deal anymore, it was just the fatigue and lack of sleep catching up. When I came to I was asked if I had any family I could call, and apparently my response of no, wasn’t all that surprising. They asked me to review my will and any other legal matters I may have pending. Now you know when you hear something like that it’s never going to end well. Then they sent me to a. shrink to get evaluated, they drew up a conclusion and tossed me a long worded diagnosis. All I know is I’m marked, the clock is ticking and I’m punching out soon, either out of choice or through a pre-ordained course of events.
So here I am, facing the tranquility and serenity of my sanctuary….nothing much has changed since the last time I was here, except perhaps my perspective and that payphone. I used to be furious as to how the lake always seemed so passive and calm even through the worst storms and times. I remembered being furious at how it never hissed, churned, turned and spewed away at all the crap that happened, and how it preferred to remain calm instead. Today when I look at its rippling form I realized that I adapted its persona rather unknowingly, where everything appeared calm and collected on the outside but only I knew the maelstrom that churned within. Today we were bonded…as I stared at it my phone went off. It was a message from my Assistant expressing his early condolences at an irreversible course of life I would be trudging along, and offering his assistance and help in any way he could. Just as I was contemplating tossing my phone out there into the beyond, I suddenly remembered a snapshot from a time so long ago that it almost seemed unreal. I couldn’t remember when this picture was taken or when I decided to have it accessible at all times on my phone, but, I remember it was the perfect moment and the first time in a long time that I wasn’t alone and I was perfectly content. I stared at the payphone, an old accomplice, the lake’s faithful friend, and that far fetched face of hope, something that triggered un-calculated and unexpected sequence of events in the next few moments.
Before I knew it, my mind and fingers were several steps ahead of me. They started dialing a number and before I processed what had transpired the phone was ringing and my breath caught…my heart was racing in anticipation of who would pick up that phone, I didn’t bother even looking to see whose number I had dialed, but deep down I had a feeling as to who it was. Before I could chicken out and hang up someone picked up the phone, and then, I heard the one voice that stilled and thrilled my heart all at once. She sounded perfect even after all these years, though there was a slight edge of curiosity or was that confusion in her voice? Or maybe that was just me. When she repeated her hello a second time I realized I had to say something before she hung up, and before I lost my last chance to connect with the only person that defined home for me.
“Hey, please don’t hang up…It’s me, Gabriel.”