Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I’m on Staycation

"Hey you know, the first time I tried to talk to you, you embarrassed me. So I teased you a little bit which maybe I shouldn't have done, so I'm sorry. And now you're sitting over there playing with your knife, trying to frighten me - which you're doing a good job...

But if you're gonna kill me, get on with it; if not, shut the hell up - I'm on vacation."
The preceding isn't just dude ranch hand-for-a-week, Billy Crystal’sMitch,’ pressing his luck with Jack Palance’s gristled cowboy, ‘Curley,’ in one of my all-time favorite flicks, 1991’s City Slickers; no, today, it's me, giving life a two-handed chest-push and saying, “Step back, Jack.”

For the next seven days I’m the one callin’ the shots. I’m tired of being tired and mentally beat-down by the Man. Sure, I’ve got things to do, but I’m gonna do them on my own schedule. I’m taking a week off of work to do some more work, but on my own terms and at my own pace; neither will I be under the thumb of activity or travel schedules during this working holiday; Michelle and I aren’t going anywhere. However we both have agendas that we plan to stick to and goals we intend to accomplish — although mine will be a site bit looser than hers.

So, bite me, o shrieking banshee-of-an-alarm-clock. Up your nose with a rubber hose, rush hour traffic. Kiss my pitootie, mind-numbing staff meetings. You’ve all tried to kill me but failed; so shut the hell up — I’m on staycation.


Saturday, May 02, 2009

Bad Dream

Ever been scared shitless?
Ever been so scared you think you’re gonna crawl out of your skin? Ever wonder what it is that could generate a nightmare so emotionally devastating that it forces you out of bed at 4:30 AM, pacing the house and sobbing uncontrollably?

I’ve always heard it said that you should write down the details of your most vivid dreams immediately after awakening from them, as the memories are so fleeting that they only last for minutes, so I’m doing that now. However this is one dream I won’t be forgetting for awhile, even though I desperately wish I could.

I dreamed my wife said she was leaving me.

I guess those who know me, and especially those who know my better half, Michelle, realize just how true that little euphemism really is in my case. It’s no secret to anyone who has ever known us as a couple just how incredible she is, not only as a person, but as the completer of my character; the essence of my happiness; the guardian of my viability as a functioning entity.

I’ve always had a pretty healthy self-image, but she’s the reason why. I figure if someone as special as Michelle could choose a nimrod like me over all the other men in world, well there must be something okay about me too; I’m not all that certain I believe there really is, but apparently it must be so.

Is it any wonder then I awoke so terrified, so shaken to the core, so devastated by such a horrible vision? As a general rule I don’t have bad dreams. I rarely dream at all; even less often am I awakened by one.

This one was a real doozy, however: disjointed, without any real sense of story or reason; just a couple of scenes, really, with the climatic one featuring me behind the wheel of a huge RV, winding down a country road, and Michelle delivering her usual back-seat driver oratory.

However my driving wasn’t the real source of the obvious tension between us at the time. Rather it was my attempt to pry out of her whatever it was that seemed to be bothering her, and her refusal to discuss it. It’s a scene we’ve acted out numerous times in our 30-plus years together, although, thankfully, not often; and very thankfully, never like this.

Generally, Michelle pulls no punches whenever she’s got a gripe with me. She’s the kind that lays awake in bed at 2AM with something on her mind, then calls out, “you up?” and (whether you are or not) starts airing the grievances. She rarely holds things in.

But sometimes…

Sometimes she gives me ‘that look’ or delivers ‘the tone’ that sends the alarm bells clanging in my soul. Something’s bugging her, and it usually involves me. I try to tread lightly whenever those situations crop up — but I never run from them. Maybe I should sometimes, but nope, not me. I always assume the worst. I assume that it’s something major that I’ve done to piss her off, and I want to right the wrong before it somehow becomes a festering sore that might someday become a threat to our marriage.

I once came far to close to losing her — and that mistake was of my own volition. I never want that to happen again.

But don’t get me wrong; I don’t live in fear. There are no abandonment skeletons in my closet. I spend less time being afraid, worried, or concerned than just about anyone I know. I guess that’s why it’s so devastating when something like this sneaks up from behind and takes my knees out from under me. This dream was as shocking as it was disconcerting. I’m not in the habit of being fearful about anything. God has blessed me above anything I deserve, in all aspects of my life. My heart is constantly filled with gratefulness — never fear.

But there I was, struggling to keep this huge boat-of-a-vehicle on that windy country road. I felt totally anxious; out of control. Perhaps the anxiety I felt about keeping the vehicle on the road was a reflection of my state of mind about Michelle, who just sat there on the passenger side with a faraway look that spoke louder than words.

“Please tell me what’s wrong,” I pleaded.

“I’m fine,” she deadpanned. “Don’t worry about it.”

“But I can’t stand it when you won’t tell me what’s bothering you!” I responded earnestly. “Why won’t you talk to me?”

“In a few weeks it won’t matter…” she muttered.

Then I remember feeling as though my head had burst unto flames; I lost control of my emotions as I nearly lost control of the Winnebago.

“Are you leaving me? I gasped. “Is that what this is about?”

“Yes, AJ, I’m leaving. I’ve decided.” She said sternly, peering at me with ‘another look’ I’ve also come to know over the years; a look that every woman possesses — the one that resembles what happens whenever that X-Men dude in the removes his visor; a look that could cut a man in half.

“What? Why?” I demanded. “What did I do?!”

“I just don’t think you can hold it all together,” she said matter-of-factly. “You just can’t be what I need you to be.”

OhhhhhMiGod. Is there anything more devastating a phrase that could be uttered by a wife to her husband?

“NOOOOOOOOO!!!!” I screamed. “No! We have to talk about this! I’m pulling the car over!”

As the Winne hit the shoulder and ground to a screeching halt, I sat up in bed, terrified. I ripped the covers off and sprang to my feet, not fully realizing what had happened, but somewhat relieved that it must have been a dream.

However that realization wasn’t much help to me, emotionally. I walked out of our bedroom and proceeded to pace the house, frantically, in the dark for the next ten minutes. I was absolutely beside myself; inconsolable. How could I have had such a dream? Did I secretly, inwardly fear that Michelle will leave me, or was it just ‘Pancho’s Revenge,’ resulting from a combination of the Mexican food, margarita, and Starbucks mocha I’d had for dinner?

Like I said before, I may be a dreamer personality-wise, but I rarely dream — at least ones that I can remember; so I just as rarely spend any time trying to interpret them. I don’t and never have believed that dreams are anything more than the subconscious confluence of miscellaneous brain activity. I don’t believe they foretell anything. That’s why I’ve never really been frightened by a nightmare. I simply refuse to live in fear.

But I gotta tellya, boys and girls, this one scared me.

Again, I don’t believe it means anything except to remind me of how much I love, need, and adore Michelle. But beyond that I suppose it may mean at least one other thing; how horrified I am of the thought of life without her.

We’ve talked about it quite a bit over the years. Although we’d definitely prefer to die together — at a very advanced age, mind you — Michelle insists that she could get along alright by herself if and when something ever happens to me. She says she doubts that she’d remarry.

On the other hand, bigawd, she knows her husband. She knows what a hapless train wreck I’d be if her life were to end prematurely. She has told me repeatedly that if she was to go first that she would want me to seek out someone else to marry. She knows I could never be happy alone.

But while I really can’t argue with that, I know that while I might be able to find another companion, I know that I could never find anyone that could replace her. We are truly one flesh. That will never change.

Well, crap.

I sat right down and wrote all this out, thinking it would make me feel better.

So much for that.