An Oasis is a Lonely Place…

As I watch the destruction and chaos unfold through this tragic appearance of Sandy the past few days, I can’t help but think that despite being in a relatively safe oasis within the disaster zone, I felt more alone than ever. This made me come up with the imagery of being in an oasis — safe, but lonely.

Despite the significant amount of blackouts in this part of Connecticut, we were lucky. The short time we lost power, our generator kept things running with barely a gap. Being luckily juiced, I decided to jump back to Twitter to update as many people as possible on what was happening, taking all the info from the various news channels. I did not lose internet nor cable TV, so I felt that’s the least I can do from my perch.

At times I was worried of major structural damage here. Those of you know me pre-blog know that the last few storms that hit here in the last 2 years had left gaping holes either in my wall or ceiling. I got through this one sound, though the flying debris almost took out my windows a few times. The only damage was from a sliding door as the windows damaged the locking mechanism. Considering how badly it was flooded just a few miles away, with sewerage backing up, I felt lucky to be able to go to the gym for a workout at 3am in the middle of the storm…

As I was killing myself during a cardio session, I had a thought that pushed me over the edge and nearly pushed my heart into explosion territory. This is the first time during a time of any drama that my ex has not communicated with me since the first time we met in 2004. Even after we split up, we’ve always communicated during these events, just to make sure each other is okay. I sent two notes; I even wrote them in a language only she would understand.

But a thought came to me…was she not replying because of her new boyfriend? Was it because her phone has no signal? Was it because her phone’s battery is dead? Was it because she just did not want to reply to me? Or was it because she could not reply to me? Every one of those possibilities didn’t sit well with me, but some really tortured me as I finished my cardio session with my heart rate churning over 180…

I actually went and walked around outside in the storm. Unlike Irene, when I walked around outside in the massive downpour, this one was eerily dry. I was almost hit by a flying potted plant, but that’s about all the real-life drama in my life that wasn’t in my brain…

For all those people getting through these massive challenges, they are doing it to preserve their loved ones, to be with them. They had someone to help. I had no one. And I had the very difficult realisation that someone else is taking care of her now, someone else is watching over her and making sure she’s okay in any situation. My role as her guardian angel, a role I played since we met in 2004, is now over. It was the most difficult realisation I’ve ever had in my life.

I had rescued her countless times, helped her through so many situations, talked her and comforted her through others, and guided her through difficult challenges. Every part of her life since she was 19 had me as a major component. Now 8 years later, it’s over. I guess I’ve done my job, as she’s happy, living with someone, and running a successful business she built on her own. I’m immensely proud of her and glad I played such a big role in getting her here. I’m just devastated that someone else is walking across the line with her and I’m tossed aside like an empty water bottle…

And in addition to fighting this internal pain, I found the lack of concern from my own friends for my well-being also very depressing. Just like how many people utterly forgot my 40th birthday (despite me blogging so much about it), very few people bothered to even ask me how I was. I had another thought — if I was under a pile of bricks or a massive tree, no one would know. I’m starting to wonder how many people would even care. But the sheer lack of simple emails or texts from people that I thought were very close friends for over a decade was just simply sad for me.

I think I’ve given up, not just on my heart, but on my ability to trust people. So as many people clean up from Sandy and re-build and re-acquire material possessions, I lost something much more valuable and irreplaceable — more of my humanity.

This oasis from Sandy has turned into a prison, and I’m serving a life sentence and counting the days…

PS: Those of you tired of my depressing writing will try to cheer NJ Transit on, as I play to fly out (if transit works, of course) to Toronto on Saturday for a few days of feasting there, then Chicago. Will have tons of reviews. And of course I am also planning a secret late November trip…one that for me is almost a pilgrimage. This is something only 2 people on this planet would understand…

Cork Popped…

When I moved out of NYC, I brought along something I had acquired while living there and kept for a very special occasion. I had bought a vintage bottle of Dom Perignon, to be opened for only the most special of occasions. I had planned to have that to celebrate the day that me and my then-girlfriend moved in together.

Nearly two years after our final split, I still have the bottle sitting in a dark part of my apartment. But I received news today from her that she’s living with someone now. That just utterly devastated me.

I always thought she moved much too slowly during our time together, as I wanted us to live together. I even proposed to her twice — the second reply was “not yet”. But now, with her having taken this step with someone she’s been seeing for such a shorter amount of time, tells me one thing — it’s me. I was the problem.

Now I completely accept it that it was all me. I was the failing party. I was the one that pushed too hard. I was the one that wouldn’t compromise. I was the jerk. I was the one responsible for our split.

It’s all me.

So how symbolic would it be tonight to pop open that bottle of Dom and toast her and her lucky guy… As I wrote before, I love her so much that I’ll accept any fate for myself as long as she’s happy. I will willingly take a broken heart if it means she’s happy. It’s not about me, it’s about her, even if she never thought it that way.

So as I pop open this bottle marking the symbolic death of any last hope for my dream, I think of what could have been, but what’s become reality. I accept it. I don’t like it, but I accept it — for her sake. Nothing I can do at this point, because anything I do will jeopardise her happiness — and I will not do that. So all I can do is to fall back into the shadows and internalise this pain.

One day this pain will finish me off, I don’t know when, may be decades from now, but I know that when I draw my final breath on this earth, my final thought will be about her.

Cheers. Terviseks. Наздраве. Sigh…

Knock-Out Punch…

I received news today that basically served as a KO punch on me. I knew it was coming but just like any prize fighter past his prime, it still caught me off guard and has put me on the canvas for the count.

Knocked out, and this fighter is not getting back up before the bell… Not by a long shot.

Breaking Point…Breached?

There is a point at which any substance gives way, no matter how strong. And in the same way, every human being has a breaking point. I think mine is about to be breached, and that is a sobering and depressing thought.

Since I’ve returned from my ‘midlife crisis’ journey a few weeks ago, it has been extremely rough sailing. From paperwork snafus to legal troubles, from re-injuring my foot to a nasty sinus infection, it has not been a smooth ride coming back to ‘reality’ at all. In fact, it has pushed me so close to the edge it’s time to escape again…

Honestly, what has been troubling me has been three-fold. Some may sound trivial, but it has added to this general feeling of disconnection to the world, one where bedrocks are loosened and I don’t know what — or who — I can depend upon anymore.

First, I am still sad and frustrated that so many of my close friends ‘forgot’ my 40th birthday. What disappoints me more is that so few of them have wished me a belated happy birthday, like it was just ignored. It shows how little some people care, it shows how little you mean to some people. Some of these people are my dearest friends for over a decade, which makes it even more difficult. In a year where I lost several good friends, this is even more bruising. I don’t know who I can trust anymore at this point…

Second, what usually is something I look forward to turned out to be a semi-disaster. As many of you know, I have been a die-hard fan of Rush since the early 1980s. I have attended concerts religiously, but have never thought about walking out before as I did last week in Bridgeport. I felt so deflated. One of the biggest constants of my whirlwind life has been drastically shaken. Imagine something you’ve counted on since you were a child has suddenly become unreliable in your mind… I have so few constants in this life, and this was one of the very few. And now it’s also gone…

And finally, despite how happy I was when my ex was the first to wish my happy birthday, and the subsequent dialogue, I have come to a terrible conclusion that nothing will work again between us. She’s better off with someone else. I feel I am no longer in any condition to care or love her the way she should be cared and loved. When I don’t really even care about myself, it’s hard to express that care and love. I rather see her happy with someone else than unhappy with me. That’s the ultimate test of love, to let go, no matter what pain it brings. So the only thing that has kept me from falling off the cliff totally has been abandoned, it’s like the harness has been cut…

So as I feel the wind on the ridiculous length of my goatee and unkempt hair from slowly going over the edge, I can’t help but think that although some of it is my own doing (especially with my beloved ex), a lot are completely out of my hands. Things, people I trusted to be my bedrocks failed me. I have no family, I have no choice but to seek friends as my foundation.

Those of you with family will never understand the loneliness and isolation of being truly alone on this earth, or in this earth.

Oh well, that is life. I firmly believe in a world of winners and losers, and that belief is tested as never before when one becomes a proverbial loser. I have 13. The dealer is showing a face card. I have 1 chip left. This is my life now.

 

Back Home…and Back to Reality…

I got home from my monumental 40th “midlife crisis” trip on 26 September, completely worn out and drained in every way possible. After just over two weeks on the road, 10 flights and 8 airports (JFK-KFL-OSL-TOS-LYR-TOS-OSL-BUD-AMS-LHR-JFK), I slumped into the back seat of my ride as I zonked on the 1+ hour car ride home from that swampy mess called JFK.

The trip closed on a rather poor note, from the rather dodgy experience at Donostia in London, the downpours I got caught in, sleeping through my meal on the flight (had crisps and nuts with my single malt), and catching a rather nasty sinus infection. Is this symbolic of how things are “back” in reality?

I’m writing all this today, a week back in “reality” — and it’s been a rather dour seven days. I’ve not been able to go back to the gym, even though the foot injury thanks to a sharp arctic rock on Spitsbergen has pretty much healed; rather, this sinus infection, being hepped up on antibiotics, makes that counterproductive. Why do a cardio session when your nose is stuffed and medication is messing with your heart rate? So I’m just stewing here…

Frankly, the best thing all week has been the very nice chicken soup I’ve been making. I’ve always made a mean chicken soup with a very complex flavour, and this time it’s a huge pot brimming with onions and two types of garlic, cauliflower and carrots, garlic chives and cilantro, daikon and celeriac, enoki mushrooms and tomatoes, and even dandelion. Plus plenty of spices, especially paprika and cayenne… All ingredients are re-balanced on a daily basis depending on how the soup progresses… Yeah, I can stretch it out for days, useful when you’re ill and don’t feel like doing anything…

But really, since being back, the bigger challenge is this sense of hollowness. Some ‘normalcy’ of daily routine has returned. Thank goodness the jetlag this leg has been minimal, though my sleep is somewhat afflicted by medication and symptoms of this bloody sinus infection. It has also caused a recurrance of a problem with my lymph nodes, especially the sub-mandibulars on the side of the sinus infection. These were the same nodes that swelled to some crazy size last autumn that triggered a nasty lymphma scare. I still remember my doctor telling me, after all the tests were negative, that he was “surprised” that it was not cancer…

Needless to say I will have to go through another battery of tests in the near future to check these lymph nodes yet again, and there’s no guarantee of a similar ‘surprise’ outcome…

But most of all, I feel a sense of emptiness, now that the planning and execution of this trip has been done. Last time I had such an extensive trip was the spring of 2005, when I went around the world (IAD-LHR-DEL-BKK-HKG-GMP-ICN-HND-NRT-HNL-LAX-IAD) in a month-long trek. But when I got back from that trip, I had to move nearly immediately, so there was some purpose. This time, it’s like nothing. I came back to…deal with all the crap I left before the trip.

Now over the threshold and fully 40 years old, I can’t help but feel that this slow, downhill trek for the rest of my life has very little direction (but down). At this point I’m not sure I have any goals or aspirations anymore, to be totally honest. I’ve done many of the things in this life that I wanted to do, and I am certainly proud of my accomplishments. But having lost the love of my life, I don’t even feel I want to be with anyone else; frankly, it wouldn’t be fair to anyone else. I remember the first person I dated after my break-up, and she said she doesn’t want to be someone’s #2. No one does, and she’s right. It’s not fair, not to the other person, nor to myself.

So I am cursed to remain alone, a fate I have pretty much accepted. At this point anyway, I wouldn’t be a good partner to anyone. She’s got her own life to live, and I need to just step back and be happy for her and her success. I’m glad I helped her towards her journey, and now, there’s little need for someone like me. It’s like my entire raison d’être has ceased…

Nevertheless, I’m not quitting. Just because it’s downhill it doesn’t mean it’s done. Still got a ways to go. I still enjoy temporary (but fleeting) bouts of happiness, and that’s all I hope and desire for at this stage of my life. I’m also lucky in some ways, since I am responsible for no one but myself — so I can take big risks that others with loved ones cannot. I can make big bets on the market without worrying that I can’t feed the family. I can embark on crazy adventures without worrying that I may not return in one piece. I can do whatever I want without compromise, without having to worry about those who would be dependent on me. In other words, I am free — unhappy, but free.

So in reflection and looking ahead, nothing has really changed, even as the ball is now rolling downhill with gravity. What’s facing me in the future, both in near and medium term, I don’t know, but all I can do is enjoy what I can and keep this game going as long as I can before the clock runs out.

Oh, the meaning of life…