Sunday, January 6, 2008

Two-year anniversary (highly unedited)

I’m not sure if I’m going to commemorate every anniversary, but it was important to reflect upon this one.

Two years ago today I had heart surgery. It was minor surgery, as far as I’m concerned, but some people think any heart-related surgery is significant.

For the past month I’ve done a lot of thinking about this anniversary. I’ve thought about how my life has changed in the two years since my surgery. The sad truth is that my life hasn’t changed enough. It has improved, but is it a life worth living? Not really.

Since the fall of 2003 my life has been on an emotional roller coaster. But like all roller coasters, when the ride ends you’re at the same place you began. That’s a great summary of my life in recent years, and that’s not something to be proud of.

I have a bad habit of remembering dates associated with my heart. On Dec. 6, 2004, I was told I should have a pacemaker. I remember the mixed feelings I had about the news. I still have those mixed feelings to this day.

It wasn’t until Oct. 7, 2005, that I decided I’d have the surgery, allegedly as a commitment to a better life. I remember that evening well. Three months later I had the surgery.

While I occasionally have been inspired to try new things in life, I haven’t make it a mission to do so. I have been busy with plenty of trips, bicycle adventures and the usual annual activities and get togethers, but the sum of all those parts doesn’t keep me warm at night.

So here I am, two years removed from surgery, and my life is relatively meaningless. I’m such an ass for thinking that. I have family that counts on me, friends that appreciate me, yet my life doesn’t seem to be very meaningful. I’ve thought that for years, yet somehow I have failed to find meaning to it.

I have needed a new job for a few years, and although I don’t know when it’s going to happen, it’s priority one, because every week that goes by at the newspaper is another week that bankrupts my soul. I’m not sure where I go next, but I can’t afford to stick around much longer, on multiple levels.

I’ve had a few conversations with friends about various aspects of life, and one of the things that came up was a discussion of what the importance of a job is. Is a job supposed to make us happy, or is it supposed to be a means toward achieving things that make us happy? You could argue it’s some of both. At this point my job accomplishes neither, and I have to find one the provides one or the other, if not both.

But even if I find a job that provides both, will I be happy? I doubt it. Happier? Yes. Happy? No.

I knew years ago what would make me happy. I found out the hard way.

Nearly nine years ago I met Rebecca. I was minding my own business and relatively content with life when I met her. She took a liking to me, and before long, we started a relationship. It ended up being a relationship that lasted all of five weeks.

For five weeks we spent a lot of time together and pondered the future. She said all sorts of wonderful things to me. She told me how happy I made her, how wonderful I was...all sorts of great stuff. I couldn’t believe how happy she made me, and it came when I least expected it.

I’m still not sure what exactly happened, but after five weeks we spent a less than spectacular Friday night together. It didn’t seem to be that big of a deal, but she quickly started to withdraw from me. Within a week she pulled the plug on our relationship, and I was stunned. When I reflect back upon the sequence of events that occurred in that final 24 hours, I am still stunned at how crappy she treated me. She led me to believe she was a wonderful human being, yet she treated me as disposable with barely a hint of guilt.

The emotional scar that left upon me was stunning. I had no idea what I was in for once she disposed of me. Within a few months I learned enough to know that she was a lousy human being, yet that didn’t ease the pain. I remember several distinct moments in the months that followed my five weeks with Rebecca, and they weren’t pretty. I leaned on friends, I leaned on family, but it took a long time for the pain to subside, an embarrassing amount of time. I didn’t fixate upon it for hours a day, but I felt that pain each and every day for a ridiculous amount of time.

I remember moments of happiness with Rebecca, but the moments of pain after the fact are much more vivid. Perhaps that’s how I’m flawed as a human being. The pain tends to trump the happiness in my long-term consciousness. I wish it wasn’t that way.

I learned a couple of important things. One of the lessons I learned is rather cynical, but that’s to be expected from me. Basically I try not to forget that there are people like Rebecca, people who are capable of shitting upon you with little or no remorse. It doesn’t mean I expect and look for the worst in people. I don’t. While I can have little or no respect for people, I could never treat somebody the way Rebecca treated me.

I learned one other thing from that experience, and the soul searching afterward. I have expounded upon that lesson in the years since, but arguably it’s apples to apples. Thanks to Rebecca I learned that I wanted to get married. It may sound corny, but that’s what I learned.

By the time I met Rebecca a couple of my friends were marking three or four years of marriage, and a few others had joined the rank. I never thought much about if or when it would someday be my turn. Ironically I always thought I’d be the type of guy who would end up being too independent and non-conformist to wind up married. But thanks to Rebecca I learned a very important lesson about myself. Too bad I had to suffer such a deep emotional scar to learn that lesson.

In the years since Rebecca I didn’t set out upon a mission to get married. I’ve heard it said that you find someone when you least expect it, when you’re not looking. I thought I found that person in Anne-Marie. I was wrong.

I’m too tired to recap that relationship, but I thought we would one day be married. I still don’t understand how all the positives of our relationship were trumped by what seemed to be minor negatives, and I never will. While I didn’t have quite the deep scar at the end of the relationship, my life took a darker turn after the fact. The years since Anne-Marie comprise the roller coaster I spoke of.

So what have I learned in reviewing my life during the past month? I was right nearly nine years ago, I want to get married. But more than that, my life doesn’t mean much to me because it’s not a great job or riches beyond my wildest dreams, or the promise of them, that will ultimately make me happy. The one thing I want more than anything is somebody else to live for.

It seems a bit ridiculous and flawed, but it’s true. When I’m living just for me, I don’t push myself as hard as when I’m living for somebody else. I will never be as successful in life if I’m doing something just for my benefit. That seems backwards and wrong, but my life would be most meaningful if I lived it for somebody else, not for me. Part of me thinks that’s pathetic, but it’s also true.

If the ghost of Anna Nicole Smith came to my door and told me that I had two choices, I could either die tomorrow or I could live until I’m 58 years old, but would never find that person to share my life with, that person to live my life for, I’d ask her how to pack for the afterlife. But we don’t get choices like that in life, so I have to keep on keepin’ on, whether it seems worth it or not.

While I’ve wanted to get married, I’ve never felt compelled to have children. I’ve never thought I needed a family to be complete, unlike my buddy Roast Beef, who in an e-mail a year ago told me his biological clock was ticking. I didn’t think guys had those.

Right or wrong, I’ve never been inspired to dedicate my life to some broad, noble cause. I’m not opposed to the idea, but that’s not me. For whatever reason I’ve wanted one person to share my life with, somebody whose life I would put ahead of my own. In simple terms, I’m the kind of guy who wants to give my girlfriend more back rubs than I receive.

So armed with this realization as I commemorate two years with a pacemaker, what do I do? Some people actively pursue relationships. Some people evaluate those relationships in terms of whether or not they’re going to lead to marriage, and possibly a family. There’s nothing wrong with that, but that’s not me.

Rush once told me that if he was single he’d try his hand at internet dating. It would seem that in this day and age it should be easier than ever to find someone. In theory it is, but somehow that seems a bit disingenuous to me. I met Anne-Marie through the internet, but not because we were looking for a relationship, we met through our mutual search for concert tickets.

But if I hold out for old-fashioned romance, I’m liable to die alone at 58, based upon my track record.

I learned recently that although my life is less than spectacular, it’s not a complete disaster, and perhaps I shouldn’t worry so much about having a life worth bragging about before I open myself up to the possibility of finding someone to live my life for. For me, that’s easier said than done, given my emotional roller coaster.

Since having pacemaker surgery I’ve become far more emotional, and sometimes that irritates me. I can easily be disappointed by life and let it get me down.

But as I sit here two years after pacemaker surgery, I’m compelled to keep trying to achieve the dream I had on Oct. 7, 2005. I’m not sure how I want to go about achieving it, but perhaps I need to turn to a few unorthodox measures, unorthodox by my standards, anyway.

If I don’t focus on my dream, then I might as well get hit by a truck tomorrow. I don’t care how many “Miss Congeniality” awards you give a beauty pageant contestant, if she never wins a crown, she’ll never be happy. I cherish my friendships and the people who choose to include me in their life, but thousands of friendships won’t trump the purpose of my life, a purpose that has yet to be achieved.

Unlike Roast Beef, I don’t have a biological clock that’s ticking, but I’m in a very real game of beat the clock. Wish me luck.


Anonymous said...

The good luck was meant for this post. Very beautiful and heartfelt post, btw.

Anonymous said...

I'm not so anonymous but, apparently, I am clueless. Until I read this blog, I believed that you and The Senator were in a fight til the end. Huh! I didn't know about Rebecca, did I? And, wedding bells? WOW! That's great to hear, now, let's go find that woman:)

Arthur Fonzarelli said...

Allegedly the senator and I are in competition, although few people know of that, and I don't think either of us have had that conversation in years. The senator has a more defeatist attitude than me, it seems. And I have no idea if you did or didn't know about Rebecca, that was a long time ago, and I'm not sure who knows about that chapter in my life.