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Monday, March 03, 2008

REALITY CHECK


Back to life
Back to reality

-En Vogue

Ever have one of those weekends where everything outside of your own life sneaks up and overwhelms your friends and loved ones, showering them with the highs and lows of emotional extremes, and you are there to either share or help? Well, that describes my past weekend, a forty-eight hour roller coaster that returned me from the world of comics, movies, and whatnot, and frankly I'm exhausted.

For about the past two months I've simmered in my own gravy of job dissatisfaction, matelessness, borderline poverty and other crap, but I've mostly kept that stuff to myself, secure in the knowledge that I go through these states periodically and that I'll be back on an even keel soon enough. Yet during this period of my own frailty a lot has happened in the lives of my friends and loved ones that both inspires and horrifies me. I'm not going into the details on some of this — although many of you are already aware of parts of it — but recent events have snowballed to a head and here's how my weekend went:

Two friends of mine were recently involved in a violent and traumatic incident that shook up both of them to a significant degree, one of them requiring surgery. A third party was involved, but the less I say of him the better, and while neither him nor the guy who needed surgery are in any way innocent in the altercation, the third party seriously needs to examine his role in the whole thing because if not for the intervention of the guy who did not require surgery he would most likely be facing a murder rap.

The guy who got the worst of it has had several epiphanies since the incident and will hopefully turn his life around as a result, while the other fellow is a sensitive, caring soul whose focused martial skills in no uncertain terms saved the first guy's life, but if truth be told he has now learned first hand about just how badly such a violent encounter can fuck with one's head. He's been deeply shaken by the whole thing, and in no way is the guy a pussy; it's just that even with years of training and genuine love and respect for all things martially artistic you really have no understanding of what violence really is until you unexpectedly are forced to face it head on. Unless there's something seriously wrong with you, fighting is not fun. It's brutal, ugly, savage, and though a clear "victor" may be perceived when the smoke clears, nobody ever really wins. There will always be a lasting fallout from any set-to that can result in shattered friendships, wounded egos, and a general emotional poisoning that will take both time and effort to heal.

My martial brother has walked me through his recent experience several times, and with each retelling he manages to sort out more and more of what happened and what went through his own head, and is beginning to regain his considerable moxie, something that fills me with great relief and happiness because he's shown time and again that he's a guy with great skill who would never ever abuse his abilities, and that he was as shaken up by the whole mishegoss as he was speaks volumes for his character. And I have to admit I've enjoyed finding myself in a position I never would have envisioned, namely that of a martial arts therapist, helping a friend work his way through a terrible experience and taking breaks from the listening and occasional comments for long rounds of "sticky hands" practice that helps him relax (and admittedly allows me an outlet for some of my own shit, thankfully with a person who knows what he's doing and can also take a hit). I was overjoyed to hear that he's going to return to class and resume training; the guy's a joy to watch move and an ideal sparring partner, so I wish him a speedy return to top form.

Two good friends of mine called it quits for their couplehood, and while that breaks my heart I'm glad to know that there's no animosity between them; I was pleased to hear that because so many relationships end in radioactive flames, and there's just too much negative energy spent on hating one's former lovers to do anybody any good, so an amicable split is something to be lauded. Then again, I'm not really shocked since neither one of the two is an idiot or an asshole.

The most positive event of the weekend came while visiting with mom-to-be Tracey the Waitress Goddess and hearing her let out an excited yelp, prompting her to grab my left hand and hold it firmly against her six-months-along belly. "Wait for it," she said eagerly, and after a few moments I felt her daughter kick, not once, but twice, and quite solidly. It's hard to articulate, but I was so awed and moved that I nearly wept. I feel honored that Tracey is sharing her journey with me, but I really shouldn't be surprised by that since during our just over two years working together at the barbecue joint we formed a bond that will last for life. I definitely consider her a sister, and can't wait to hold her little one in my arms.

The one downside to this is that such moments are experiences that by this point in my life, I'd hoped to share with my wife, but such is not the case. But fuck it, I'll take it however I can get it.

Which brings me to the other half of the circle of life.

I just found out that the octogenarian mother of one of my dearest friends has been diagnosed with a terminal illness and doesn't have long to live. I don't think I have to tell you that my friend is devastated, and I'm more than a little gobsmacked by it myself since I've known his mom for thirty-one years and consider her family as well. It's not going to be easy for anyone, but my thoughts and best wishes are with his family, and at least his mother will be coming home and cared for in a place filled with more love and positive feelings for her than the hospital.

I spoke with my friend at length last night about all of this, and I intend to be there for him and his family to the best of my abilities. Both he and I were a couple of square pegs who never really fit into the round hole of our hometown during our growing up years, and from that formed a brotherly bond, so he's very special and important to me and I wouldn't wish what he's going through right now on anyone. I just want him to remember to stay strong, both for himself and his family, but when the all-too-human moments of fear and helplessness happen I also urge him to take the time to remove himself from those around and let it all out. This is one of the very few times I wish I still lived in Fairfield County, solely so I could be close to my friend when he really needs support. But for now the connection provided by long distance phone service will have to suffice.

And people ask me why I immerse myself in the escapism provided my many of my fields of interest.

3 comments:

Velma said...

It has been a weird couple of months, hasn't it? Some good, some bad... and the display of violence -- which, mercifully, I was nowhere near -- is just a reminder of how delicate balances can be. I hope our mutual friends heal, but you're right: real violence is never as simple as the movies, and never washes away as quickly as fake blood.

Anonymous said...

Amen to that. I had some violent episodes in my past, and even though those days are almost two decades behind me, the memories still shake me even now.

Thank you for this post. It shows that behind your uber-geekery lies a heart of flaming Awesome.

Anonymous said...

And I've been one of the people getting coddled by BuncheLove. Behind all your uber-geekery does indeed lie a heart of flaming Awesome.