A Hard Fall From a High Wagon

“I’m on the front line, don’t worry I’ll be fine, the story is just beginning.
I say goodbye to my weakness, so long to the regret, and now I see the world through diamond eyes.”  
-Shinedown-

As winter approaches, I’ve felt fatigued, sluggish, and slightly grumpy. Winter in Maine, while beautiful and magical, can also be looooong and gray. The things I enjoy, are now the sources of great stress. What should feel easy, is exceedingly difficult. I can’t even finish reading a book by a favorite author for some reason. I get to the good parts, the slow burn is paying off, and I shelve it. The things I love to do, (no matter what it is) feels more like a chore than a positive experience. Recently thinking of a new hobby to mix in with the others.

I am indeed the creator of my own misery.

Falling off the wagon, sucks. It’s a tall wagon I’ve been riding for quite some time. A custom made vehicle built with layers of impenetrable protection from all outsiders and made for one rider. When I fall off, however, those few moments where the wagon hits a rut in the road, I make an impact crater when I land which takes forever to climb out.

I try not not gripe about it. Griping will get no one, nowhere,… real fast. I try and suck it up and make due with what I’ve been given. Make lemonade from rotten lemons and no sugar. I don’t communicate much to those around me about the things that stress me out, or piss me off. Instead, I come here and vent.

Weirdo.

I become a recluse. I revert back to a hermit mentality. I ignore social media unless tagged or mentioned. I sit in my chair, daydream, ponder, think, and ignore everything around me.

Since disconnecting cable from the television, the methods for escape have diminished substantially. Sure–The internet, the gaming system, YouTube, Netflix, Hulu and CBS All Access have filled in a few spaces here and there, but when an app crashes or the connection is interrupted… it stresses me out to no end. Like a big frigging baby who isn’t getting his way.

And yes, that’s all on me.

I have so many unfinished projects strewn around, I wonder why I even started them in the first place. Incomplete crossword puzzles. Starship models half done. Household chores waved off and ignored for another time. Partially written emails and some waiting to be sent. Writing projects now collecting dust high up on the digital bookshelf waiting for me to get off my fat keister and do something productive about it.

Hell… I haven’t even started winterizing yet, and the first snow fall happened today.

You have to get on that. That shit’s supposed to be done in September.

Losing power for six days, after the last storm, really put a dampener on my way of life and I’m not sure why… and I haven’t climbed back on my wagon yet. It’s been easier to just turn on YouTube down in my hole and watch mindless videos or research topics I will probably do nothing with in the future. Simpler to just stare off into the distance and hope the time passes. It’s not a depressive state of mind. I know that. Been there, done that, and no plans to repeat. I know I’m not in any depressed state.

I think I get bored and don’t want to admit it. I shouldn’t feel that way. I’ve always told my children, “Boredom is a lack of a creative mind,” and I feel as though I should practice what I preach. But my interests are so varied and unorthodox and outside all of mainstream, I feel as though I engage in these activities, as a solo entity. That can be tiresome.

Which, (now that I think about it) might be a good thing. I don’t know many people who I can chat with about Thoth’s emerald tablet, or why… if the land masses and continents continue to drift a certain distance each year, and always have… why certain stars can still be seen through holes in stonework, designed and carved to watch those specific stars, constructed thousands of years ago.

Einstein once said, “The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.” I believe this to be true. But the places my mind leads me into… I have difficulties sharing with others. So… I keep that stuff to myself. Then I get bored.

I suppose when you don’t pay attention to politics, the news, war, sports, the media, trendy topics, popular music, Insta-Snap, and now mainstream entertainment, the topics for conversation stay mostly within the confines of the mind.

I guess it is what it is.

With that said, I want to take a moment and thank everyone: My Twitter followers, subscribers and Facebook friends who continue to read this madness called, Tales of the Chronicles. This crazy project is something I thoroughly enjoy and without you guys, I wouldn’t do it. So thank you. I never believed it would have gotten to this point.

I’d also like to take a moment to thank the few of you who’ve really helped me over some hurdles in this journey of life. Especially the current leg of the race. You’ve helped me in ways I can’t explain. The road may still be long, and winding, but it’s getting easier to navigate.

Some paths just take a little longer to walk. Some wagon’s are taller than others.

In the beginning, all I had was figments of my imagination to show me what I enjoyed. Conjured specters appearing from the mist pointing towards a path. Quick visits. Brief glimpses. Knowing they weren’t real, but just as real as anyone else, made the experiences more difficult at first. Ray McKay said, “you need to let go. Give into it,” and those words of inspiration made no sense to me.

How am I supposed to let go of something when I don’t know what it is?

Are you supposed to cry again? Let the emotions go? What does that even mean?… Let it all go…

I still struggle with what it all might mean. When provided cryptic replies and answers, one can’t help but to speculate on the interpretation.

Just like with anything else, we make due with what we’re given.

The dreams stopped for a time. I estimate two, perhaps three weeks passed before experiencing another vivid, jumble of weirdness. Life moved on.

I ignored Pastor McKay’s words of wisdom, and his puzzle metaphor, and sallied forth.

Maybe that’s what I was supposed to do.

Because the next time I visited the dream realm, I bypassed the Rillian Sea completely and landed on the beach where I met the strangers in the storm. Joe was nowhere to be seen and never once made his presence known. I wouldn’t see him for another five nights. The strangers were gone, and the fire was a smoldering coal pile in a shallow pit.

Barefoot, I walked the beach’s coastline towards the rising sun.

Thank you for reading and joining me on my journey. Please subscribe in the provided area to receive a notification of new posts by email or follow me on Twitter. Please give this a like if you like it, feel free to share with others or leave a comment if you wish. See you at the next one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pastor McKay

The following morning I returned to my old stomping grounds. A small town I had invested much spare time in my youth. A place where I spent many years after high school trying to find myself. The early days of failed self discovery. Some invisible force, an inner tug–an urge–was telling me to revisit my roots. To this day, I can’t describe that pull.

I parked downtown and wandered the mostly empty streets, browsing the shops, and was there for a good couple hours. I window shopped and sat in corner cafes sipping coffee and nodded to strangers when they looked my way. When I was hungry, I ordered from my favorite childhood pizza joint and mostly kept to myself.

Pacing, I kept my hands stuffed deep in my pockets and my focus on the cracks between the sidewalk bricks below me. I had no idea what I was doing there. Despite the pull to return to the old homestead, I was clueless to the reasons why.

A temporary escape to reflect, and remember my ancient memories, perhaps?

There has to be a reason for all of this.

But what if there isn’t?

Just go home…

On my way back to Nancy, I drove slowly by the old apartments and housing complexes I used to “party” at, where friends and family once resided. I sat on the side of the road in my car and reminisced on the old days. Every now and again a small smile would inch it’s way across my face and I became lost in old forgotten memories. The moment I felt as though I had overstayed my welcome, or when I felt like I was being watched, my foot would find the accelerator and I sped away to the next location. I didn’t wish to raise any red flags in the neighborhood or become the center of negative attention.

At the south end of town, where the homes transformed into fields and farms surrounded by barb wire fences, I felt compelled to stop at the driveway of a church I once attended in my teen age years. Strangely enough, the church reminded me of the refuge I experienced often in the dream world. The same color building, same lay out, same parking-lot. The same pillars and wooden doors. Rows of trees on three sides.

Coincidence?

Maybe.

I wonder if Pastor Shepherd remembers me? Since you’re here, might as well say hi.

I exited the car and stood on the fringes of the property and casually glanced around the open area.

The lot was empty, except for one red mini van in the far corner of the parking area. The licence plate had “Saved3” etched into the thin white metal, and the roof of the vehicle was covered with fallen leaves. Attached to the church was an outbuilding apartment and on the second floor of the home a figure stood in a window looking down at me.

Knowing I was being watched, I decided to re-enter the car, ignore my impulses, and leave. As I opened the door, a man exited the apartment and stood at the threshold. He hollered across the open space between us, “Can I help you?!”

I closed the car door and approached him with slow hesitant steps. My hands never left my pockets. “Sorry. I’m looking for, Pastor Shepherd. Is he still around?”

The man was wearing a white dress shirt and black pants. While I remembered Pastor Shepherd as an elderly man, the new pastor had a youthful look to him. His hair was short, his sleeves were rolled up and he was wearing white sneakers. He closed the distance, “Pastor Shepherd moved to Portland about three years ago. Is there something I can help you with?”

The answer eluded me. I knew I was there for some reason, but I couldn’t place my finger on it. “I really don’t know.” I chuckled. “I may be beyond help at this point. Sorry to have wasted your time. Have a good day.”

“Nonsense. Please, come inside. It’s cold out here. You want some coffee?”

I do love coffee… Why not?

“I’d love some. Thank you.”

He led me through a side door and we walked down a long hallway in silence. The nostalgia was almost overwhelming. The art on the walls were the same. The smell was familiar. The kitchen hadn’t changed, and the community areas where we had potluck meals and group gatherings were identical to what I remembered. Perhaps the rooms and corridors were a little smaller than what I recalled. The building was silent and other than us, it was empty.

He opened the door to his office and his wife was pushing coffee through a large urn into a tall cup, and before she turned around, the pastor cleared his throat and said, “We have company.”

She turned to the door and smiled, “Well, how are you today?”

“Not bad. I’m, Jeremy.”

“I’m, Jennifer.” She extended her hand and shook mine. “This is my husband, Ray.” She pointed to the pastor. “Cream and sugar?”

“Please.”

The pastor gripped my hand and squeezed, “Ray. Ray McKay.”

I looked around his office, “It’s exactly the same as I remember it. The desk was over here before. I’m really sorry for showing up announced. I was just driving around checking out the old stomping grounds and happened across you on my way back through.”

He sipped from the cup. “Was this your place of worship?”

“A long time ago.” I replied, removing the cup from Jennifer’s hand.

I sat slowly in a leather chair he gestured to at his desk. “Some of the art in here’s different. More books, but other than that, it hasn’t changed a bit.”

“You say you came here by accident? Just happened to come by?” He leaned back in his seat and furrowed his brow.

“It feels like that. But over the last year, I’ve come to a conclusion that nothing really happens by accident.”

Smiling, Jennifer held the cup under the urn and when the coffee touched the rim of her mug, she left the room and closed the door.

Pastor McKay draped one leg over the other. “I agree, Jeremy. Nothing happens by accident. Outside you said, ‘I may be beyond help at this point’, what exactly did you mean by that? Are you in trouble?”

I pondered his question and looked into the cup for my answer. “Not in trouble in the conventional sense, I don’t think. But something doesn’t…”

“… Something doesn’t feel quite right, does it?” He replied with a half smile and tore a sheet of paper off a tablet on his desk. He reached into a top drawer and removed a pair of scissors from inside the clutter.

He cut the sheet down the middle. He set half to the side and the other half, he cut up into small pieces. The sections fell to his desktop and scattered across the surface. Triangles, circles, corner edges, strange shapes and long thin strips. Once the remainder of the paper was diced up, he turned to a shredder and ran the untouched half sheet into the machine and when the paper was pulverized to powder he picked up the shredder from the floor and gave it an aggressive shake.

“Join me.” He said and pointed to the pieces on the tabletop. “Help me put these back together. It’ll only take a minute or two.”

I scooted the chair forward and between the two of us, we rearranged the pieces into their rightful places. We organized the paper in silence, only pausing to drink our coffee.

“There, it’s all done.” He sat back in the chair, satisfied, and smiled at the finished product. “That was easy.”

“No, it’s not done.” I replied.

“Looks done to me.” He shrugged and gave the puzzle a look over.

I eyeballed the shredder on the floor.

“What? You want to empty it and look for all the pieces? Sift through all that confetti? We could be here for awhile. In fact, we may be here forever.”

“It’s the confetti I’m looking for. The big puzzle seems mostly done. I feel like I have all the right pieces, but the other half is missing. I’m seeking the crumbs. I don’t need the big pieces anymore.”

“Sometimes we have to deal with what we have. Make due with what’s provided to us. Sometimes the confetti pieces are impossible to find.”

I shook my head. “I don’t believe that. I can’t believe that. Not anymore.”

“Tell me about it.”

I relaxed and said, “My dreams are now as real to me as this conversation is. Sometimes they seem more real… than dreams. They can be quite intense some nights. Not every night though. Something is telling me something, but I don’t know what to do with it. It literally makes no sense. But at the same time, it’s all so real.”

“And you don’t like the way it makes you feel and it’s frustrating and you can’t tell anyone cause they’ll think you’re off your rocker, am I in the ballpark?”

“Right on the money.”

“Let me tell you something. When I turned twenty one, my buddies took me out for a night on the town. I don’t remember anything after the first three hours. They pretty much dragged me place to place and brought me home after I couldn’t stand up anymore. Later they told me I made an ass of myself.

“But at some point through that night, I experienced a series of events that I have never spoken about. Not even to Jen. Today seems like a good day to share with somebody.

“Through the course of that night, I heard voices, and saw glowing animals. Crazy right? I was blinking in and out of sleep and I saw people that were’t there. I heard an accordion I haven’t heard played since my father used to practice in our living room when I was a child. I always chalked it up to alcohol poisoning, and intermittent blackouts, but it was those things I witnessed and remembered that helped make me who I am today. What I experienced is for me, and me alone, what I did with the information is what’s important.”

He refilled his cup and approached the window. “I still can’t explain what I saw, not completely. But I knew I had to make sense with what I was given.”

“What I’ve been given, doesn’t make any sense. and doesn’t feel like it will any time soon.” I looked to a painting on the wall.

“So, make the nonsense, make sense.”

“How do I do that?”

“You’re on a quest. A journey. Your own personal trail of tears. It may never make sense, but you have to stop fighting and you need to try and get through this adventure. You’re seeking answers that can’t be found the easy way.

“Inside of you is a safe and you’ve forgotten the combination. You’re at the point now where you have a stethoscope against the door, alone in a small silent room and hoping for the sound of a click. Next week you’ll be ready to use a drill or dynamite. It’s when you stop trying to force it, will the combination be remembered.”

I leaned forward. “So… just ignore it and it will come to me? Make it make sense by leaving it alone and hoping for the best?”

“Quite the opposite, Jeremy. Let yourself go. Explore every corner of what your given. Turn over every stone. Turn on every light in every room. The more you look, the better you’ll see. You’ll never see it, unless you let yourself go. At least that’s what I had to do.

“Jeremy, I have a theory. You claim to have all the big pieces together and the puzzle seems complete, but I don’t believe that to be true.” He waggled a finger at me and closed one eye. “You might be missing the bigger pieces and only a fragment of the smaller puzzle seems done. It just looks complete and feels right.” He tore off a chunk of papers from the tablet and positioned them around the half sheet. “Perhaps it’s not the confetti you seek, perhaps is the large unseen pieces that slip you by. Stop following the crumbs. Ignore the microscopic pieces in the shredder. Find the large pieces and then maybe you’ll find you can finally unlock that vault.”

My stomach lurched into my throat. A million images screamed through my mind. Pastor Ray was speaking, but the words were in one ear and out the other.

I’m missing something. Something I haven’t seen yet. 

Of course, I wouldn’t look for those pieces right away. That would be easy.

And we all know, nothing is ever easy.

Thank you for reading and joining me on my journey. Please subscribe in the provided area to receive a notification of new posts by email or follow me on Twitter. Please give this a like if you like it, feel free to share with others or leave a comment if you wish. See you at the next one.

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Strangers in the Storm

“In restless dreams I walked alone. Narrow streets of cobblestone. ‘Neath the halo of a street lamp, I turned my collar to the cold and damp. When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light, that split the night, and touched the sound of silence.”

-Simon and Garfunkel-

Her voice droned into a muffled whisper and I felt my eyes fluttering closed. My finger tips tingled, the tension in my neck ebbed away, and the feverish heat disappeared. I felt a shiver at the base of my skull that sent a vibration into my toes and in that moment, I was finally relaxed.

Finally.

Despite the elderly specter sitting behind me staring at the back of my head, I was at peace.

My first real taste of meditation.

If you’ve never tried it… I highly recommend it. It feels pretty good.

At that time in my life, I’d never practiced meditation before. Too many variations, routines, and practices to keep track of. I had read about it and watched a handful of videos, but never once indulged. Sometimes when I stare at the back of my eyelids, lying in my bed, slowly falling asleep, I see small images floating and moving around within the darkness and if I focus on those little animated pictures my mind produces, I feel more comfortable and falling asleep is easier.

It helps when all thoughts are purged from the mind. Having only one thing to focus on.

Sometimes what I see are small, pulsing, colored balls of light. I pull my attention to the moving orbs, and if I stare and keep my concentration on one spot, it becomes all I see and all I think on. My thoughts drift away elsewhere.

In the car, while Nancy drove us towards ice cream, I allowed my thoughts and memories to vanish from my mind. Like smoke drifting away on a breeze.

I was aware of my surroundings. I knew we were driving somewhere, but didn’t care about the destination. My head was heavy and felt as though it was sinking into my shoulders. My chin lowered to my chest and for a moment in time, I was removed from the vehicle and transported elsewhere.

I never actually fell asleep. I was wide awake and dreaming.

After a flash of brilliant white light behind my eyelids, the ocean returned. The Rillian Sea, as it had come to be named, materialized below me. Surrounded by the shimmering blue, my small island with a singular palm tree growing from it’s center reappeared, and I felt my bare feet once again touch the warm sand. Joseph was nearby dressed in his three piece suit and he was unraveling a rope from a hitching post sticking out of the beach. Riding the waves behind him bobbing among the foam was a small rowboat. Attached to rusty metal clamps, built into the frame, were the paddles, and the weathered oars floated on the surface of the water. Sitting on a bench inside the craft was a canteen and a silver compass.

He waved me over to the coastline. I felt my body moving toward him and he tossed the rope into the small one person boat.

This is where you start.

Why here?

We all need a starting point. This is yours. 

Where am I going?

You’ll know it when you get there. Follow the compass north. Stay on track. You’ll be out there for awhile, so I provided you some water. It’s delicious and ice cold.

Joe… none of this makes any sense. Can I ask you a question?

No. No more questions. Just leave. The answers are coming.

I lowered one foot into the unsteady, rocking boat, and whipped my head around. Joe had vanished from the beach and I was all alone.

“What the hell? Great. This is just great.” I muttered, crawling into the craft. I adjusted my backside on the center of the crumbling wooden seat and sighed.

I sat like a statue and felt the waves undulating beneath me and I dared not move a muscle. The ocean was endless, the sun was blazing hot, and I had no point of reference. My arms hung to my side and when I decided I had no other choice, I snatched up the compass.

“Might as well get this over with.” I shoved off from the shore, oriented my ship north, and began paddling.

Joe was right. I was out there for what seemed like forever. Hours had passed and when I felt as if my arms couldn’t propel the boat any further, I allowed it to ride the current for a minute or two and I took the opportunity to swig from the canteen. Once the cool water touched my insides, my strength returned, and I was able to continue pushing the paddles through the waves.

The endeavor was exhausting. I was frustrated and angry. “How could I allow him to talk me into this madness? Just wait until I see him again. Give him a piece of my mind. Rotten prick.”

Then, as if on cue, the sky opened up. Rain poured with a force that stung my skin.

I panicked. The boat was filling with water. I cupped my hands and scooped the rain from the floor as fast as I could move. Between paddling into the unknown and bailing out my boat, I was losing all concentration and focus. Everything was happening so fast and I couldn’t keep up.

Lightening shot down from the sky along the horizon and the sky darkened into a thick oppressive blanket which slowly engulfed me. I couldn’t see the compass anymore and my canteen was gone. The remainder of the sun had been swallowed by the gathering darkness, and my hands slid across the wet wood while scrambling for the paddles.

I was sinking.

Lost and alone in an endless void. The only illumination of the night was the streaks of blue and orange bolts firing down from the black clouds.

Knowing I was either going to sink or swim, and all my options had been exhausted, I gritted my teeth and dove headfirst from the bow into the Rillian Sea.

The rain continued to fall and the waves rose above my partially submerged head. I rode the towering waves, fighting to stay above water. Thunder crashed and boomed in the sky and I knew I wasn’t going to survive the journey across the expansive sea.

At the tip of a tall swell, I squinted my eyes and a blinking light appeared in the distance. Seeing a possible beacon of safety, at least a point of reference, I swam as fast as my arms and legs could move me over the ocean’s surface. The light brightened and continued it’s rhythmic pulsing and as I closed the distance, I could see five figures standing on the shore of a long beach to either side of a blazing fire.

One of the shadows sprinted across the sand and dove into the Rillian Sea. I could see the figure swimming at it’s top speed towards me and just when I felt the last of my strength leave my body, a squeeze clamped around my wrist and I was pulled above water.

A muscular arm wrapped around my torso and I was dragged out of the ocean and lowered to the beach sand.

A woman approached me. She was covered in a tattered brown dress. Her hair was the color of mud, and covered one half of her face.

The others remained out of sight, hovering in the outskirts of the shadows.

“You’re here.” She said.

“Barely.”

“Yes. The sea is a dangerous place. Especially at night.” She looked to the waves and my boat was deposited onto the shore in splintered pieces.

“What am I doing here? What is this place?”

“That doesn’t matter right now. What matters, is that we’re here. We’re here.”

Then I heard the music. A familiar song. A song I knew by heart. I looked around the beach for the source of the sound and felt my body spinning. I glanced to the four shadows beyond the firelight and the music grew louder.

Then the words of the song were more audible and drowned out the woman’s voice. She kept trying to tell me something, her hands cupped around her mouth yelling incoherently, but the melody escalated and soon was all I could hear.

The beach and the daydream was yanked away from me. I was pulled from it. My eyes snapped open to the sound of Led Zeppelin on the radio and Nancy saying, “Jere, we’re here. Honey, we’re here. You want a chocolate milkshake, right? This time it’s my treat.”

Thank you for reading and being a part of my journey. Please subscribe in the provided area to receive a notification of new posts by email or follow me on Twitter. Please give this a like if you like it, feel free to share with others or leave a comment if you wish. See you at the next one.

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Backseat Driver

The car’s headlights pierced the darkness and the wide beams illuminated my driveway. Leaves captured in a swirling vortex of late autumn wind raced across the hood and circled the vehicle. Winter was almost upon us and the only escape I could think of at the moment was to go out in the crisp fall air and get ice cream. It was literally the first thing that popped into my mind.

Ice cream? Really?

I hate ice cream.

Nancy enjoys the frozen treat and perhaps I was thinking only of her at the time. She’s partial to vanilla, caramel toppings, and peanuts. I, on the other hand, prefer a piping hot, thick chocolate brownie, fresh from the oven; or homemade cookies. I’ve had a sundae or two in my past, but an early childhood incident in which I indulged in too much ice cream at a birthday party, turned me right off from the dessert. Now it makes me sick to even think about it.

Once I snapped on the car lights and looked in the rear view mirror, I pondered what type of ice cream Joe preferred.

I could feel his disembodied breath on my neck. The old bastard was already in the backseat, buckled in, ready to leave. Goosebumps rose and fell along my skin from the top of my scalp to the bottoms of my ankles, I shivered in my seat and was finally in a place where I couldn’t distinguish reality from fantasy any longer.

For a moment, albeit brief, I questioned if I needed therapy.

It didn’t work before. It won’t work this time either. Been there, done that. Waste of time. Just remember…

It’s all in your head. He’s a figment of your overactive imagination.

Nancy reached down to the radio and turned up the music. I reached down and turned it up louder.

Joe pitched forward, pressed against his restraining belt, and he dropped both elbows on the seat beside each of our head rests. That won’t help!! He screamed in my ear.

I looked in the mirror and he leaned back, shaking his head in disappointment.

Taking advantage of the brief silence, I had a second to answer her question. “Are you happy?” She asked me.

I managed a smile, reached down to her hand and gave it a squeeze. “The happiest I’ve ever been. The past few weeks have been magical.”

Joe stuck his tongue out, rolled his eyes and slammed the back of his head into the seat cushion. My reply striking an obvious nerve.

You fool. You have no idea about magic. Magical my ass. 

I released her hand and wiped my clammy palm across my forehead.

Will you shut up?! I can’t think straight over here. You don’t belong, Joseph, and I demand you leave right now!

Tough shit. You need me now more than ever. We still have unfinished business, you and I. What to do about that? What to do…

You keep saying that, but I’m not seeing it. You belong in the refuge, Joe. There’s a time and a place for everything.

The time is now.

My heart thumped and my foot slowly came off the accelerator. Joe was right about one thing. Perfection may feel perfect, but rarely ever is. While I felt as though everything was now pristine in my world, my children safe and happy, a wonderful person at my side, great employment, my dog had a place to rest her head, I could finally be me… something was still missing and I couldn’t figure it out.

A time is coming, real soon. A time where you’ll be forced to make a decision. It’ll hit you like a ton of bricks at the most unexpected of moments. You’ll never see it coming. Or… maybe you will. I suppose we’ll have to wait and see. I’m nothing if not patient.

What the hell are you babbling on about?

He looked out the window and ignored my stare. You’ll know it when it happens. A light bulb will go off and everything will finally become crystal clear.

It’s already crystal clear. I don’t need anything else.

You only say that, because your blind. You’ve been following that dim light in the darkness for so long, it’s all you know now. But once it appears, it will all make sense.

You’re full of shit. Get out of my car.

No.

“Is everything OK?” She asked.

“Yeah. Everything’s fine. Sorry. It’s been a long day.”

“You look like someone walked over your grave.”

“I’m starting to feel that way too.”

She placed her hand on my head. “You’re burning up! Are you getting sick?”

“I hope not. Too much to do. Can’t afford to get sick.”

“Do you want me to drive?”

“No. Thanks, but I got this.”

She’s real pretty, Jere. What did you do to deserve this?

I didn’t do anything. I was just being myself. Life happens, right? Your words, not mine.

You don’t deserve her. 

I could absentmindedly feel us veering into the opposite lane, head on, in the path of a pick up truck, while Nancy was rooting around through the glove box for a CD. The headlights from the oncoming vehicle filled my window and when the horn started blaring, I jerked the car back to my side.

“Nancy, I’m going to pull over and you’re going to drive. Is that OK?”

“Of course.”

I stopped the car in the breakdown lane and we switched places. Joe remained in the backseat and his eyes followed me around to the passenger-side. I opened the door and slumped into the seat, buckled my belt, exhaled deeply, and he laughed out loud.

You think that’s going to make it better? He reached forward and massaged my shoulders with a hearty squeeze. Now that she’s behind the wheel, we can really chat. He gave me a gentle shake and clapped his meaty palm twice on my upper arm.

Now we can really chat.

Thank you for reading and being a part of my journey. Please subscribe in the provided area to receive a notification of new posts by email or follow me on Twitter. Please give this a like if you like it, feel free to share with others or leave a comment if you wish. See you at the next one.

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Firestarter

“Love is friendship set on fire.”

-Jeremy Taylor-

 

As far as I’m concerned, the single greatest thing about new relationships, is the lack of a rule book. No guidelines. No grand design.

One thing I’ve always hated (and I’m sure many can agree), is when someone approaches you at the height of a new relationship and makes statements such as, “It’s too soon.” Or,  “You’re moving too fast. Slow down a little and think it through. Don’t jump from one relationship straight into another. Are you crazy?! Don’t make a mistake you’ll regret.”

Horse malarkey. If something was a mistake, we need only learn from that mistake and try to do better next time.

“Ok, master relationship person. What is the designated time frame to abide by? Hmmmm? How many dates should we go on? Can I see this book your getting your info from? Can we text, Skype, or talk on the phone? You tell me… what are the rules?”

There are no rules.

Some relationships have lasted decades, some into old age, and have originated from a spouse throwing out another, and moving someone right in, not an hour later. In many cases, that new relationship has been active, long before the breakup even occurs.

While that situation is typically frowned on by others watching from afar, or the fine folks smack dab in the middle of it, a connection was made regardless. Two people have united, and then life goes on.

Most of the time, people get over it. The victim(s) of the situation takes a liiiiiittle bit longer to “get over it” but eventually, new connections are made and life goes on.

I believe in connections. I believe we’re all connected in one way, shape or form, even if it’s only destined to be a short time. Some are subtle connections, while some are intense and almost indescribable. A collective consciousness that weaves, travels, and intertwines with others when the time is right.

Or, I could be a complete fruit loop, and talking just for the sake of talking tonight. It’s been a pretty long, ugly week, and I have my moments. Sometimes I enjoy the esoteric more than the designed lifestyle surrounding me, so my sincere apologies for rambling this time around.

Sometimes the connections start out subtle, and then escalate into indescribable. Profound moments. Moments you can’t share with others cause they’ll think you’re crazy and it goes against all they might believe in. I can only speak for myself. I’d dare not venture into others people’s experiences. I can only speak from my own.

Moving in together was a tough spot to be in, at first. The first few days were a challenge because we had all this external negative energy surrounding us. Some people were quite pleased with the decision we made, and we were supported, while others were more openly opinionated and negative about the decision.

For the most part, we didn’t care what others thought. We were two grown adults doing what we believed was right for our lives. Opinions be damned.

But unpacking and setting up the new home, was pretty quiet initially.

I remember sitting cross-legged on the kitchen floor opening a box labeled “collectibles” and thinking about a space in the basement where I could store them.

I sealed the tote, wrapped it in duct tape to ensure it was tightly closed and “basement proof” and approached the cellar door. She looks to me, “Where are you going with those?”

“Taking them downstairs.”

“Why?”

“I thought they’d be better off down there, and it keeps the walls open for your stuff. You have wayyyyyy more than I do.”

“No. I was just thinking your stuff would look good over here along this wall. Besides, I need that tote for Christmas decorations.”

I was frozen. I didn’t know exactly what to do. Was she kidding? Was she toying with me?

Something isn’t right.

“In fact, “she continued, “put them wherever you want.” She gestured broadly to the mostly empty space. “There’s enough room for mine.”

Ok… something about Nancy that I must get out of the way. She collects M & M trinkets.

Toys, stuffed figures, pillows, blankets, coffee cups, Christmas ornaments, coloring books, candy dispensers, metal tins, cookie jars, puzzles, calendars, antiques, Hot Wheels still mint on card, hats, key chains, tee shirts, her Comic Con lanyard… M & M Monopoly.

She has five M & M characters tattooed on her left shoulder blade, to include Miss. Green, and the orange one is her favorite.

My home has been called by my kid’s friends, the M & M Museum. M&M paraphernalia is literally everywhere. Every room. Every shelf, nook cranny and corner from the moment you enter my home, is decorated with M & M stuff. We have a blue plastic children’s M & M canteen hanging from a hook in the mudroom.

Not a joke.

She would like to stay at the M & M hotel someday.

All my stuff fits comfortably around hers.

I have a love for science fiction. Star Trek, Star Wars, Stargate, Star Fox. She pulled out her hybrid M & M collectibles, Darth Vader, R2D2 and Optimus Prime and set them beside mine.

I almost cried.

Not because I’m a geek and I finally had a home where I could be me, in my entirety, but that she too was comfortable and could be herself as well. That struck a chord with me. To quite a few out there, this toy metaphor may seem foolish.

To me it was a goldmine.

All that negative energy vanished. I felt light on my feet. My growing adoration for her escalated. I felt a warm glow deep in my gut. A complete sense of comfort.

Symbiosis.

Then out of nowhere, he showed up. A slow lumbering figure from the corner of my eye. A shadow creeping out from within the shadows of my periphery.

I knew who it was, but tried to ignore it.

Somehow he breached the veil and entered the waking world. The conjuration of my unconscious mind sneaking his way into a place he shouldn’t exist. Joe decided to join the unpacking and make himself at home.

I looked to Nancy. She was finishing pounding a nail in the wall and mid swing she slowly turned her attention to my wide open eyes. I whispered, “Ice cream?” gesturing to the door leading outside.

She lowered the hammer to the floor, never questioning or hesitating, and said, “Ice cream.”

Thank you for reading and being a part of my journey. Please subscribe in the provided area to receive a notification of new posts by email or follow me on Twitter if you like. Please give this a like if you like it, feel free to share with others or leave a comment if you wish. See you at the next one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Love Story

Starting fresh with my clean slate and day one into the New Life, I vowed one thing above everything else. And to be honest, the vow was mostly out of spite.

I would never love again.

The concept that life would be so much easier, if I went a different route.

There’s one thing you’ve never been in your thirty five years. From freshman year in high school, to current age… you’ve never been single.

Be selfish. Be mean. Tromp over the backs of others to get what you want. That seems to be where the happiness is. The proof is all around you. Can’t you see that?! Use people. Manipulate, deceive. Discard at will. The dark side is so much more alluring. That’s where you’ll find peace. Everyone else seems so happy. Give it a try.

For a short while, (a very short while) I enjoyed that nastier side of me. The side not many will ever, ever see. The side where I say or do something and those who hear about it instinctively say, “That doesn’t sound like you.”

The worst part of my nasty side is I actually stop and think about what I’m going to do, or say, before doing it or saying it. I don’t have a broken filter where the words accidentally slip out.

“Oops… I didn’t mean to say that. Sorry.”

No, I damn well meant to say it.

To my dying day I will always have specific regrets. Things I can’t ever rectify, though not for a lack of trying. Those things I’ve said in anger towards others, even if it felt deserving.

I’m so glad I chose the right path.

My love story goes a little beyond the conventional and dives into the strange. A good strange, yet different and interesting. Not two people finding each other online or riding a buzz at the local bar, falling into conversation. We didn’t bump into each other in passing. We didn’t meet at a singles club or a local event. We had actually worked together at the same building for roughly a year and saw each other quite often, though we hardly spoke much.

Something about Nancy that struck me quite odd in the beginning, perhaps her second visit, she enjoyed the quiet as much as I did. We could sit, in silence, watching t.v. or a movie. Sometimes not saying a word until it was finished.

We had our introductory conversations and got through the awkward surface dialogue, but once we started feeling more comfortable in each other’s presence, we found the ability to be ourselves.

Some of that time, being who we are, was spent in quiet harmony.

Learning about each other over the following months was the head trip. At least for me.

To get it out of the way, Nancy and I have many similarities, but we are completely different people.

I hate shopping. Even for myself. Nancy loves it and shopping for others is a part of who she is. The woman has more boots than anyone I’ve ever met.

I enjoy Family Guy, American Dad and other adult cartoons. She watches Law and Order and Criminal Minds.

I play video games online with some buddies on occasion while she attends local concerts in Maine.

I write. She colors in one of a hundred adult coloring books we have shelved in our room.

She thrives on tattoos. I wish I could get rid of mine.

The fourth visit, I found things we had in common I wasn’t expecting. The things that slowly helped me reinforce that idea there’s no such thing as circumstance. Nothing truly happens by accident.

It happened more frequently over time, but in the beginning…

My father and I married a women with the same first name.

My father divorced and remarried a Nancy, and I was slowly falling for one. Nancy’s father was born on March 3rd. My father, March 2nd. Her mother, August 3rd. Mine… August 2nd. And a few other things most would find trivial, so I might as well not discuss it.

Later on, more numbers come into play.

One of my hangups at the time was, “Who’s going to want someone like me, and all this emotional baggage?”

I’m guessing she might have felt the same way.

Just before the first snowfall of that year, we decided to move in together. She was renting a single bedroom apartment and I was staying with family. When she wasn’t at my place visiting, I was at her place.

The problem was, no apartments or housing was available. We know what we wanted to do. It all made sense. But we were trapped.

Out of nowhere, an opportunity made itself known. Less than a thousand feet from my workplace, a three bedroom two story home was ready to rent. A friend of a friend of a friend owned it and our names were dropped to the landlord.

Again, my biggest worry, was housing the mutt. Insurance companies hate large breed dogs, especially one as large as mine. She was 150 pounds.

“The dog is fine. Move in within the next couple of months and we’ll work out a contract.”

Just when I thought the task was impossible, it fell into my lap from out of nowhere.

Damn. You have no money. No savings. New credit cards. 

That afternoon, pacing and wondering if my bank would loan me anymore money, and knowing it wouldn’t, my mail was brought to me. On the top of the bill pile was my monthly statement for an old 401K investment arrangement I started through previous employment. For the first time in eight years I decided to open it.

The results were nothing mind blowing. Just a record of a rapid stock decline and how much money I was losing.

I was about to put it in the fireplace with the other fliers and junk mail and just before I crammed it inside among the coals, I looked at it again.

It was the earnings that captured my attention.

I snatched up my phone and called the number at the bottom.

“If I was to cash out with you, today, how much would I get?”

The total was a couple hundred dollars extra for what was needed for first months rent and security deposit. I was able to purchase the start up supplies with the extra and once the check showed up, we were able to move in right away.

A handful of months later, at the peak of the spring thaw, just when the flowers were poking through, I was forced to go to war.

This time, not to attack, lash out, and inflict pain.

This time, it was to defend.

Thank you for reading and being a part of my journey. Please subscribe in the provided area to receive a notification of new posts by email. Please give it a like if you like it, feel free to share with others or leave a comment if you wish. See you at the next one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Kicking and Screaming

“Jeremy. This is voluntary.”

“Good, if it’s voluntary, then I don’t want to go. I have better things to do with my time.”

“Well… it’s voluntary, but we still suggest you attend.”

“So… is it voluntary? Or is it mandatory? It can’t be advertised as one thing when you mean the other. Are you suggesting, or stating outright I need to go? It’s one or the other.”

“It is indeed voluntary, but you need to go.”

“That doesn’t make any sense. So it’s mandatory. Don’t tell me it’s a voluntary assignment, when I’m being forced to participate. That’s not the best way to get this done.”

“You have to go.”

“You said it’s voluntary. You’ll have to drag me there kicking and screaming.”

I was such a child. Living with blinders on. Blocking out everything around me for self preservation. If something didn’t agree with my standards, wants, or my personal philosophies, I wanted no part of it. Everything I was forced to do in life became a barrier to happiness. If it didn’t bring joy, I steered clear. My own personal happiness was paramount to my well being.

Those who know me well, know I’m a big kid at heart. Even today.

I collect toys and comics, watch cartoons, make model star ships, read fantasy and science fiction novels, scaling rock walls at the ocean, playing games and enjoying the simple things in life. I like climbing trees, playing in the water, building snow forts and watching silly videos that make me laugh to tears. I am not a typical adult.

I don’t watch the news. I have no clue who’s participating in the next big sporting event. I barely watch television anymore. I can’t recall the last time I watched the Oscars, a music video, and I’m clueless to what’s considered popular.

I get snippets of information here and there or caught up in conversation with others where I’m then filled in on happenings and events.

Then I’m back to doing what makes me happy.

For the longest time, I didn’t know what created happiness. As long as my kids were happy, I was happy. I was such a miserable wretch all I could pursue was an inkling of something to bring a smile to my face.

The news was intolerable, so I ignored it. Music was depressing, so I kept the radio off. Work kept the money rolling in, but I was careless with my cash and found spending to be the best outlet. Nesting. Preparation. Collecting and hoarding. That’s where I found my joy.

Then one day I was forced to participate in an activity I wanted no part of.

It was work related and advertised in the email as voluntary. Because it was voluntary, I decided it wasn’t for me. I’d rather spend my Saturday playing a game or reading a book. There was no way I was going to this event without a fight.

A fundraiser? Are you kidding me? I have to spend my weekend at a fundraiser to help others? What a waste of my precious time. No one would miss me if I didn’t go.

“You have to go.”

Kicking and screaming, I was dragged to a fundraiser. My “job” at the event was monitoring a children’s game where they would throw small sandbags into colored numbered holes on a slanted wall and regardless of the points accrued, each participant wins a prize.

The first hour was a living hell. I made my discomfort and displeasure known to absolutely everyone in attendance. I spoke in a deadpan voice, no enthusiasm, no smile and watched the clock on my phone every opportunity I had a break.

Interacting with families and strangers was a misery I could barely tolerate. I hated every second of it. Perhaps if I kept up the negativity, I’d never be asked to attend a fundraiser again.

Then I met a mother and her two sons.

The two boys were, I’m guessing, seven or eight years old. They each had a dish of vanilla ice cream with chocolate jimmies sprinkled over the treat and the mother looked tired.

Join the club. Welcome to my world.

She attempted a weak smile and gestured to one of the boys to try the game. I handed the child the sandbags and stepped to the side rolling my eyes; arms crossed high on my chest.

The young boy stepped up to the line and before he made his first attempt to land a score on the board, he stopped and looked up to me.

“Sir… do you want some ice cream? You look sad. You can have mine if you want it.”

I was completely taken aback by the sentiment.

Then the Sherlock Holmes in me came out. I looked the family over and noticed things I would have typically overlooked had the child not said anything.

Their clothing was stained with crusted food. Their shoes were without laces. Hair greasy and unkempt. The mother had dark circles under her eyes and two buttons missing from her blouse. Her white flip flops were tattered and coming apart at the seams.

But the boy had a smile on his face that melted my frozen heart.

I dropped to my haunches and offered a high five. He slapped my palm and I replied with a half smile, “No, thank you. You enjoy your ice cream. In fact, here.” I reached into my pocket and withdrew a twenty dollar bill. “After you score big here, you and your mom go enjoy yourselves. They’re making burgers and fries at the end of the tent. Enjoy lunch on me.”

The mother cried and wrapped her arms around me.

I haven’t been the same since.

My awakening was knowing I know nothing and the fundraiser that day changed me. The moment she slumped into my arms and thanked me repeatedly, was the moment everything began to change. My problems in life didn’t hold a candle to others.

By the end of the event, I was flipping burgers, scooping ice cream, moving from game to game, participating in water balloon fights, allowing children to do face painting on me and doing my best to bring a smile to the faces of others. All my problems ebbed away and my pain diminished the more I assisted and interacted. The smile became easier and I ignored the clock for the rest of my time there. In fact, after that day, I made sure to volunteer more where I could.

Since that day, I make myself available if possible. I don’t get the opportunity to attend as often as I’d like, but I make the attempt. I attend and participate with Special Olympic activities. Some of my paycheck is automatically deducted and donated to local causes. My youngest daughter and I helped raise money for our nearby homeless shelter. I helped organize a donation to the elementary school with help from a construction company to fill their sandboxes with fine sand for recess play. I carry loose change in my pocket and the cup holders in my car to donate to whatever can or bottle sits on the counter of the convenience stores I often frequent. The moment I receive an email or a flier for help in donations with school supplies, I do what I can to provide. I realized during my awakening, my time, energy and money can be better utilized if I try to help others around me. At least I try.

I found through helping others when possible, I was in turn helping better myself.

And my actions were seemingly karmic. I had invested my time in helping, and in turn when I needed help the most, the community rallied around me. When the monsters and demons waged war, I had help in the fight.

Thank you for reading and being a part of my journey. Please subscribe in the provided area to receive a notification of new posts by email. Please give it a like if you like it, feel free to share with others or leave a comment if you wish. See you at the next one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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