“Old Friend” Revisited

There is a fine line between, on the one hand, writing something interesting about a touchy, personal subject and, on the other hand, boring people, or making them cringe, with way too much personal information.  I usually fly across that line.  Of course, to some extent you need to; you can’t hold back in any way if you want to write in an interesting way.  Otherwise you might as well be writing an assembly manual for a lawn mower.  Sometimes you fail miserably, sometimes you succeed fabulously.

The following is not fiction, not a story; every word is true.  You could probably call it a “stylized essay.”  I wrote it 1o years ago and stuck it on this website of mine a couple years ago.  I changed a few words and put it up here again because I’ve seen discussions of the subject in general around the blogging world a lot, it seems.  Call it cabin fever or whatever.  In this essay, I simplify the causes of a condition; I blame a state of mind on a lack of intimacy.  There are, of course, a lot of other factors which can cause this conditon, including physical factors, but it’s my essay, and it’s my take on the subject for now.  Here’s:

OLD FRIEND

Depression is like an old friend–hell, he is an old friend.  He’s a friend I wish I’d never met, but I did. And now I’m stuck with him.  I’m comfortable with him, but I don’t really want to acknowledge I know him.  He comes around, uninvited, all the time, and rudely overstays his welcome.  Instead of a woman in my arms, I wake up with my friend in my head.  And an empty cold bed that doesn’t smell of a woman’s musky smell, or perfume, or lotion, or hairspray, or anything but maybe dryer sheets about once a month.  Just me, the empty space on the other side, and my friend.  Every night, I try to ward him off by losing myself in a book, or a map of somewhere I want to travel to, or a nice little fantasy that has me meeting some specific or uncertain woman, and hitting it off with her, and asking her out, and me kissing her, but as I fall asleep the only one there is me–me and my friend.

I hate calling my friend him, mainly because my friend depression sleeps with me, but I can’t see calling my friend a her, because to me “her” involves at least some happiness.  At the very least a “her” keeps my friend from coming around quite so much.   “Her” can be a big giant pain in the ass sometimes, can actually make my old friend show up if she leaves me, or treats me crappy and makes me feel small, but, in the best of times, or just normal times with “her” there, then my damned old friend stays the hell away like he should.  He goes and visits other people, I guess; I really don’t give a fuck what the hell he does.  I feel bad for them that he goes and sees them, but there isn’t much I can do for them.  I’m just glad he’s gone sometimes.

Just between you and me, though, sometimes I look forward to his visits.  I don’t mean out of the blue, when I’m not blue, that I long for my friend to visit or anything stupid like that.  I just mean that, when I have a hint in my mind that he’s gonna show up anyway, then I want him to just go ahead and show up.  I think it’s the same kinda thinking that tells me, when I’m at a bar on Friday nights with co-workers or whoever, that if I’m gonna end up alone that night anyway, I might as well go do it now.  Because, hell, I won’t be alone.  My old friend will be there with me.  Anyway, those times when I know he’s gonna show up?–then I just want to be at my place, on my couch, sitting there with my old friend, with the TV on in the background, volume on low, and me and my old friend just sitting there and staring at the floor, just kinda feeling numb.  Because that’s what I feel I need to feel right then, is just numb.  Because if there is one good thing my old friend, the boring, socially-inept-old-fuck of a friend of mine, does for me, is keep other things at bay.  Things like the raw open wound of loneliness, the craving, like an addict who can’t find a fix, for the lips of a woman on mine, for the sound of a woman giving me shit about something, you know, not the naggy kind of shit, but the poke-you-in-the-ribs kind of shit, that says that no one’s as important to her as you are.

I know, I know, I’ve heard it a million times, that you don’t need someone else to “define” you, or “complete” you, that a lot of people live alone for a lot of years and like it, and on and on.  Or that there are worse things than living alone, like living with someone who makes you feel bad, or who lies to you, or cheats on you, or leaves you alone, or you leave them alone too much; hell, even the Bible says it is better to dwell in a corner of the house than to live with a fretful and contentious woman.  Or that you should be glad to be breathing and walking and talking and free.  But I say that we all need love, for me it’s the kind of love between a man and a woman, to make our lives worth living.  Otherwise it’s just an empty shell of a life–an existence.  Might as well be a sea slug.

I also know that it doesn’t look good on me, or anyone for that matter–self-pity I mean.  And I don’t mean to ever bore anyone, even myself, with feeling bad about not having a girl, or woman, or wife, or sweetheart, or whatever you want to call her, in my arms, because it is just that–boring.  And it’s a destructive emotion.  Nor do I want anyone to ever feel sorry for me.  But the fact is, the fact is, that the absence of a woman in my house, in my arms, in my heart, in my smile (when it is there), well, it just adds up, you know, day after day.  The way years add up to turn us into old people, or the way days add up to heal wounds.  Every day that that certain special person doesn’t call you, or there’s no one for you to call, is a little bit of a weight on you, and the next day is a little more weight on you, till after a while, I don’t know when it happens, but after a while, all the days like that become a big….giant……crushing…….weight on you.  And that’s when my old friend shows up.

Sit down, put your feet up, have a drink, my friend.

————————–

Apparently UMG music group owns Billie Holiday now, so here’s the link to “Good Morning, Heartache” instead of the thumbnail:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rk1IKHd_0fk

 

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6 Responses to “Old Friend” Revisited

  1. That’s very honest and superbly written. I’d agree, life’s a lot better when you have someone to call your own, although there’s additional complications, like continuous wondering if they’re really your own and for how long and so on and so forth. What stops you, do you think? Is it depression? The place where you live? Lack of money? I guess you’ve thought about all that. The way you write about depression and loneliness, though – that’s something unusual you’ve got there, and good. If you can’t have a woman snuggling up to you, for now, is there something else that would make life more bearable? Lots of questions. Sorry.

    • You make me blush, Rose. I agree wholeheartedly about the complications part, and sometimes it seems like you’re leaving work to go to a second job, when you’re going home or wherever your “significant other” is. So it certainly isn’t all hearts and roses, is it?
      Question away. Failure leads to failure, depression to depression, self-doubt to self-doubt. I don’t usually seem to chase women or life; I let them come to me, or not come to me. It’s also:
      Demographics–most women my age are taken, crazy, boring, materialistic, or any of the above, or more often, they have left this cold boring area to pursue greener pastures. I’ve never really felt “of this town” and really should have left a long time ago. If I could convince my daughter’s mom and stepdad that we should all move to the Oregon coast or Arizona or somewhere, that’d be great.

      Over-enforced DUI (Driving under the influence) laws–they save many lives, but a person who has any sense at all can’t really go to a bar and have 5 beers and drive home, even in town where that really shouldn’t impair a person’s driving skills that badly. Though, yes, incredibly drunk people need to be kept off all roads and anyone who’s drunk at all shouldn’t be out on high-speed roads, but I think the strict enforcement of those laws inside towns has put a huge damper on social mixing of people who aren’t “young and dumb.” Middle-aged folks don’t mix socially in relaxed situations like that as much any more (and yes, a lot of good matches start in bars, along with the horror stories); they stay home and drink with neighbors.

      I’m too damn picky–“Desperate doesn’t mean not picky” is a t-shirt I’d like to have made. I mean a wildly quirky sense of humor, and a brain, and some talent, and average-looking, not aging-model looks, though, like babies, we like to look at pretty things, don’t we?

      A frowny face–shortly after we were divorced, my ex told me that I seemed “unapproachable”. I’m approachable when I’m in a good mood, I’m in a good mood when I’m with someone who makes me laugh, I’m not approachable when in a bad mood, I’m not in a good mood when I’m not with someone fun, etc. Winning breeds winning; a winning smile breeds winning smiles from others.
      Unless they think you’re crazy. 😉

      What makes life bearable when I’m not with my little one? Distractions do, writing does, providing I’m in the mood. One that I know will keep you from sailing up here (should your river god ever get abducted by space aliens): getting somewhat impaired and finding songs on the “Tube” that I didn’t really know about, and playing “Perfect Day” or “Hallelujah” or something over and over and over and over and over and over, and singing along some. When you’re doing “karaoke” at home alone, you’re the best singer in the house.
      Thanks for your too-kind words. I like to reply to comments, but I don’t like to get around to starting to answer them. Any writing sounds like a lot of effort until I get into it, then it’s not all that tough. And my internet has been sucking ass also. Like 5 minutes to check my damn email, timing-out of websites, etc.

  2. Your “friend” sounds like a jerk. If your friend and my friend met, they could go out and rob some old ladies and deface some beautiful buildings and torture animals and crap in public places and leave us the hell alone.

    • Robbing old ladies sounds like fun. Oh wait, that was our friends that were going to do that. Oh well. Surely you don’t have such a crappy friend? I guess quite a few of us have similar friends.

  3. Lisa says:

    Your friend is visiting a young friend of mine right now. I think I’ll share this blog post with him so that he has hope his new friend really will leave.

    • I hope that this particular friend does leave him soon. It’s easy to say from the outside, but if he can just see the humor in silly everday things…. Stupid shit that makes me laugh, or ridiculous things my friends/co-workers do or say, are very good for lightening the mood. Hugs from my little one help too.

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