absent. Yet without,
life is the dankest hell.”
Charles Bukowski (as he said about the holidays)
We embark upon the end of another year, and that always means a bubbling up of memories of the past. The book A Christmas Carol really nailed it on the head with the imagery of what was, what is and what will never be. It wasn’t until this year that I started really thinking and having feelings for this book, this epic tale of a bad man that, deep inside, was wrestling demons of greed, narcissism and a general self loathing of his environment. The thing that I don’t necessarily grasp of the book is why does it have to be centered around Christmas? Could this legendary tale be set in another holiday? Could it be reissued as “The Haunts Of Halloween”? Would the “Phantoms of Easter” not paint the same picture?
Probably not, and in this modern day of the unique form of narcissism in the form of social media it’s even less likely the tale would even make sense if it were rewritten. I had this morning, a visit from three spirits of sorts, while I lay in my bed staring at my phone. As a joke, I’ve been told I would die without my phone, but this morning I felt it kill a little bit of what lacking Christmas spirit I did have. I’ve been avoiding the holidays, feeling much like a Scrooge in my own way, but it never fails, they always find me. I see the joy in other peoples eyes at the miracle of the birth of Christ, the joy of recieving gifts that they probably could have gone out and gotten for themselves if they really wanted it, and the happy families. I’ll stop there.
As I lay in bed, I roll over from a sordid night of dreaming about carrying around dead puppies, a portal to be reunited with my Grandfather who had passed, and a haunted Kleenex box. No sugarplums danced in my head last night, and as I lay grasping the covers in my sleep I could almost tell, though sleeping, that there was something else instilling itself in my slumber land subconsciousness. I’d like to blame the spicy food I had for dinner before crawling into be, but that couldn’t be it, I’d like to blame sleeping medication which effects me like LSD, I’d like to blame everything but myself for my night terrors, but I realized it was all an internal attempt and expressing that if in fact I do harness my hate towards the holidays, nothing good would come of it.
Upon heavy reflection before even lifting my head from my pillow, these were all sorts of signs. My gut, soul, inner eye, whatever you chose to believe in, or even God for some I suppose, was leading me down a path of holiday reflection, and I didn’t know what to do about it. Every time I would close my eyes to try and fall back to sleep to try and replace bad dreams with more pleasant ones, maybe like reindeer or something, I’d have a vision of that dog. A dog. A dog. A dog. What did this mean?
To try to distract my attention I turn to my phone to have it blow up in my face like a proverbial emotion bomb. On the top of my well used screen was the ever-present Facebook notification, of course the first to in the morning. There’s nothing like a little ego prick to start the day. So-and-so said such and such here, so-and-so liked this, that guy liked your picture. Snooze. In the overwhelming bombardment of likes and comments in the holidays, I sort of glaze over most of it. It’s pretty much a bummer. Much like Scrooge sort of looked over his own ability to celebrate the holiday at first, I did the same with the feed.
Until, the dreaded “On The Day” notification. I was haunted by the ghosts of Christmas past. Last year was what I called the “Fake It ’til You Make It” Christmas, where I tried to put on a brave face and prepare a Christmas dinner and conjure up Christmas cheer. Not exactly a winning year. I put on a mask for about two weeks leading up to Christmas, a mask to hide my actual desire to hide. I even put up a tree and half-assed some lights outside. My stomach sort of sunk remembering the pain of inadequacy. Nothing I prepared looked like what it was supposed to, and the bunch of people that gathered with me were about as awkward as the blind leading the naked.
Then I got hit with Christmas past part two, two years ago I was throwing a suitcase, a backpack and myself into a 40′ motor coach to head to Sacramento. We didn’t care it was Christmas, and we didn’t care what other people were doing. On that day we made excellent time and, had it not been for the tacky ass nose and antlers on peoples vehicles, I wouldn’t have known it was a holiday at all. Stopping for dinner somewhere in Alabama, the diner server had a melancholy look upon her face, a face which sort of looked like it was chiseled out of hard clay then held to a candle in certain places. “Y’all are so sweet, probably travelling from your families today.” We both took a firm stance on the topic and said no. As we left, I had the comment “California or bust.” Before we knew it Christmas was over. Life was good, no bullshit, just business.
Three years ago, only one picture, but a ton of wall posts telling me how much I had been missed. Friends, relatives, all wondering where I had been and what I was doing. Had I dropped off the grid so much so that nobody where where I was or what I was doing? Then, one picture, actually, a picture of a picture. Taken back in 2005 when I had first moved to South Carolina. It is still hard to look at to this day, for the subjects in said photograph have all been through so much and sustained so much pain because of me, I can’t shake it. Betrayal, mostly, for I had been in the throws of self involvement too much to really feel for anybody else. I didn’t care who I hurt, but, in that picture, I had a face of a person that couldn’t harm a fly. That ghost really got into my bones and started doing the “for shame shuffle” on my heart.
Four years, another picture, and at an apex of my lost identity. I could tell in my eyes I had no idea who I was as a person. I looked almost robot-like with a little girl holding me tightly with a huge smile on her face. She was glowing with all the enthusiasm of the holidays, I had been smuggling rum most of the night, so I had a glow of sort too, but not in my eyes. I remember that holiday well, playing board games, playing with the kids, and really, ignoring the adults and their boring “adult stuff”. I stuck to the garage a few time for drink, yes, but not to dull the pain, only to cope with the feeling of being a misfit. Traditions mean nothing to me, so trying to pretend Cornish Hens were gods gift to the Christmas table wasn’t exactly easy, but with Rum it made the entire get together more palatable.
The past gave me quite a sucker punch, and although I wanted nothing more than to lay in bed and watch stupid cat videos, I knew I had to face the day. I was facing the ghost of Christmas present and I wasn’t having a good time, until I saw that there was one notification that I had ignored, an email. Rolling my eyes and actually wondering if time would be better spent scouring the underbelly of the internet for a cat knocking ornaments off a tree (because that was sort of what I was channeling) I opened it. An open letter of confession of hate, concern and also hope from a person that I wasn’t aware had emotions other than humor and hate. A heartfelt short sort of expression that, even after getting super bummed by my past haunts, lifted my spirits up. A message, from a person I feel bad about hurting, still cares. At that moment, I realized, humankind isn’t that bad.
I walk with my nose to the ground casting by gaze at my shoestrings more often than not, and the condition of the weather doesn’t concern my overall mental health as much as many others. The quest for fulfillment for me doesn’t end when my cup runneth over, emotionally or mentally, I always have a thirst for more. My past has left me with such a serious state of dry mouth from thirst, it’s amazing it hasn’t desiccated and fallen completely out. However, a sudden electrical charge sparked within me and there was a sense of re-enlightenment. This small illumination in my spirit isn’t going to falter by the wayside like so many others do after the holidays are over.
I think many a people look towards the future as mile markers. Make it to the next, and the next, and the next. Christmas is over, pack up your shit, wait for the next one. Birthdays, pack up your shit, wait for the next one. Relationships, pack up your shit, move to the next one. One after another will pass you buy, becoming mile markers of the past, until one day you will run out of mile markers. Here’s the thing, although the mile markers are still back there, and your progression down the highway of life is a one way street, they’re still going to haunt you.
For instance, on the Christmas trip to California, we were in some of the worst weather of my entire life in a rig that had no heat and half a windshield wiper. Was it an uncomfortable feeling? Of course, but would I take it back, no. Uncomfortable situations are where memories are made. Such is with my awkwardness during the holidays. If I were to set my mind to not doing anything, being a rather Scrooge, have you, there wouldn’t be anything in my “On This Day” at all, which would mean I wasn’t doing anything with my life, just passing mile markers on the fast road to the grave.
To all of my fast lane folks, I’d like to express my heartfelt open arms to you and embrace your existence. As always, I don’t proofread my work, and if I did, it’d be wrong anyways.