An Exercise in Exorcising
I don’t have time to be writing for free right now. That’s correct, Dear Reader (which sounds like how a Japanese person would say “Dear Leader” if they were kidnapped and brain washed by North Korea and taught only to speak English, and if I was being racist), I don’t get paid writing for Literate Ape. Or editing or publishing or hosting or podcasting or anything else related to The Ape. When it comes to this little project, I pay it in blood and guts and sweat and joy. And the hope or goal is that that soon enough, with enough skin in the game, Literate Ape will pay me. But for now, I have to make money doing work for other people. And I’m on a deadline. Several of them.
But I’m not ready to work in this pre-dawn hour just yet. Well, I am ready, but I’m unable to start. Because there’s a week of heavy sadness and a night of bad dreams behind me with a thrill or the future ahead of me. And none of it has to do with this work before me.
I’ll keep it simple because it is simple. My paternal grandmother, Joyce Himmel — Nonny — died on May 11. She would have been ninety-five on May 30. She went like she wanted: Peacefully and without anyone fussing over her. Or at least as much as an old gal we all were strangely certain would live to at least 100 can go without anyone fussing over her while in the ICU.
I grew up next door to Nonny and Poppy, and she was a constant in my life for almost 40 years. Constantly. She lived a great one. She missed nothing. Until now, anyway. If you believe that sort of thing. There’s nothing tragic here. It’s just sad. As it should be. And it’s been an exhausting week for all of us. As it should have been.
Goddammit. At least once a year, I’ll have some dream where my most recent ex-girlfriend is back in my life. And by recent, I mean we broke up ten years ago. I don’t know what the trigger is. There’s never a consistent cause. I haven’t seen her or spoken to her in a decade. We’re not friends on any social media channels and we never cross paths in real life or online. She’s a ghost to me, which is exactly how I like it. Less than that, really, because ghosts can haunt and mostly, she’s a nothing. A big nothing. Which is tiny. Non-existent.
But last night, I dreamt that I left my wife and child and dog and apartment for this old girlfriend because… I don’t know. My stupid dream didn’t say. We were walking through some snowy forest in shorts and T-shirts, passing wolves; she was talking to me — I wasn’t listening — I was thinking about the wife I’d just left and our kid and our dog and I was regretting ever walking out for a rendezvous with a part of my past that made me miserable at almost every step of the way.
I don’t wish the ex-girlfriend harm. But If she ever wound up in my life again, I’d certainly wish myself harm, and I’d deserve it. There is no good that can come from that. And I suppose that’s the catalyst for the dream…
The past has happened. Use it and move it. Remember it. Remember what you’ve learned. Don’t make the same mistakes again. Be stronger. Be better. Don’t walk through the snowy woods among wolves and alongside a demon without trustful weaponry. But more importantly, remember why you moved on and move the fuck on.
The future ahead
In six days, I’ll be forty years old. So what? More to the point, I’ll be in Mexico with my wife. A comfortable eighty-six degrees during the day in the Gulf’s waters. Sipping beers. Eating fresh seafood straight from the kitchens of the small island town where cars cannot go and where, from all I’ve read, time ticks by at a proper pace: slower.
And then what? Back to Chicago, perhaps Las Vegas for a weekend. Onto the sailboat and into Lake Michigan. Teach the kid to swim, the pup to poop outside, the wife to keep on keeping on and being great. And me… Making what happens to me be good for me. And making good things happen.
And getting Literate Ape to the point where I can get paid for this dusting off the machine and getting down to the work before me.