Bad Air Day

Some days you feel like even the air you breathe in hurts. I don’t know why it happens, or what starts it. Oh heck, sure I do. It’s my birthday on Tuesday. I’m turning thirty-four. Gawd, I had to pause after I typed that. How did that happen? There was a time that 34 was about as old as men got. And here I am, still feeling like my life hasn’t really started.

It’s been a rough ride of late, emotionally. Mostly just feeling drained and tired. And feeling like my life isn’t panning out as planned. It’s not that I wanted great riches and red carpets, but maybe a clearer understanding of what it all means would have been nice. Now I’m writing in the past tense, as if it’s all over. I sure hope it isn’t. I’m not ready.

This weekend I’m going off to Vancouver Island to visit with a friend I haven’t seen since, well, 2007. Wow, that’s six years ago. We used to live together back in the days where she was attending university and I was unhappily working at a sketchy self-publishing operation with her sister. I even tried killing myself one night, in the basement suite we shared. L came home to an ambulance whisking me away after I’d called my own sister to say goodbye and ended up telling her I’d taken an overdose. I didn’t really want to die – not yet.

L and I went our separate ways eventually. I’d always felt that she never had much respect for me. She was a theatre student with little patience for the corruption that comes with rampant capitalism. She was loud and opinionated and smoked pot and jaywalked and climbed over private property fences and got drunk and constantly lived on the edge of chaos. I was fascinated and horrified and so was she, as she got to know me.

Here I was: quiet, risk averse, serially depressed and as stubborn as she was but in a very different way. I confess I was slightly infatuated with her wild nature, and she was beautiful too. But I hated how angry she got at me, how little she thought of my life choices and how much she dismissed my introverted way of being.

We lost contact after I abandoned her sister during a painful relationship breakup. Her sister had been one of my first close friends when I moved to Canada, and she had actually introduced me to L. The reasons I abandoned her are complicated, involving feelings of being overwhelmed after my father’s demise and going through my own nervous breakdown. I figured that was that – I would never see A or L again.

While we rarely see each other, we’ve made amends, sort of. I apologized to A for the way I left her, and explained to L that I had done my best at a difficult time. We moved on and now here we are, six years later and I am staying with her for a night. This time, I have my partner M with me. I have no idea if they’ll get along. L is now a mother of two, living in a small town, and I am, well, a copywriter for a company whose CEO self-describes as a “rapacious capitalist bastard”.

As I prepare for this trip, I can’t help feeling the grief of one of the most painful periods of my life wash over me again. The memory of that pain is still pretty raw, and it still hurts. And I wonder what will happen this weekend, if it will be like old times, if it can ever be like old times again. That said, the old times weren’t that great. But the friendships, they mean something. Still.

That’s the thing about hurting. It doesn’t get easier. Sometimes we forget.

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