23 August 2012

The Trouble with Fall, Part 2

This is part 2, a continuation of yesterday's post. Just so you know. Don't blame me if you're confused. Well, you can blame me, my husband also thinks I'm confusing.)

It happened again this morning. Someone posted a status update on Facebook about Fall. WTF? Its August 23rd, we are still a full month out from official fall and everyone knows that fall doesnt really start until Halloween right? Actually in my house fall has a very distinct beginning, which I sometimes miss, but is pointed out to me by my husband. He knows its fall when he comes home and all the lights in every room of the house are on and there are candles lit everywhere. Its one of the first things I do when I feel the season coming on: I try to chase away the darkness. Sometimes I dont even realize Ive done that though.

You know the end of this story, right? Right. It sucks, but first I want you to know that 20 years later its no longer about the shitty event, its about remembering how helpless I was to prevent it. Ok, more on that later.

On November 6th I went to class. The only thing I clearly remember about that day is walking into the building and seeing the red, wet face of a friend of mine who told me our friend Robert was dead. And I remember my knees actually buckled and I had to sit down on the floor. Thats not just a stupid movie thing, bad news can directly affect your knees apparently. For real. On November 4th 1992 my buddy Robert drank a shit load of vodka and took some pills and fell asleep for good. He did it to make a point. And he, without question, would have taken it back if he could. But he slept too soundly.

The next 6 weeks is a blur of grief and rage and depression and confusion and guilt. Its a circus of fragile brittle post adolescent drama. I skipped school for about 3 weeks I think my teachers sent word though my friends that all would be forgiven if I just returned to class. I didnt have to do anything, I just had to show up. Our teachers were mortified that Roberts condition was catching and they just wanted everyone within arms reach so they could keep tabs. Our small circle of friends started having dreams about Robert dreams where they got to see him and speak with him about what he had done to himself, what he had done to us. I started getting angry Robert hadnt been to see me. Why hadnt he visited me?

And then I had a dream, somewhere around the end of December. It was Halloween and I was in this great big room with a tall ceiling, like a gymnasium or something and I was dressed up like a fairy or something stupid like that. I look up in the rafters and see my friend Robert, sitting and waiting for me, looking very pale, a sweet mischievous smile on his face. And I have this rush of relief and love and I run up to the rafters and sit with him and hug him. 
What are you supposed to be? I ask (its Halloween). 
A ghost. He replies with a grin that is silly and apology all at the same time. 
Of course, I think to myself, looking at his sweet pale face.
It’s pretty amusing actually. This is just exactly something Robert would do, it’s exactly his sense of humor. And so I laugh with this touch of sorrow and regret and we hug and the rest of the dream goes fuzzy but I think we sit and talk for a while and when I wake up I have a small sense of closure starting, somewhere it’s started.

I know its been 20 years. I HAVE made my closure with Robert. I still think what he did was awful and selfish and asinine. But its been 20 years, I remember my sweet Robert as a child (which he was and will forever be). And I let him go. But its almost like I picked up some small amount of PTSD from the event that lingers and it has to do with the goddamned premonition that was never specific enough for me to have an inkling of what was coming or what to do. So that means that today when I have some feeling crop up that is disconnected from anything specific I experience a paralytic moment: What if this is just like before? What if something big and bad is coming and there is nothing I can do about it? And when fall shows up it is the leaves on the ground and the shifting angle of the sun and the cooler days and chilly nights that remind me of what it was like to know something awful and know nothing at all at the same time. Fall reminds me of just more helplessness.

I had a few more bad falls after 1992, not as bad, but standard stuff like big life changes, breakups, friendships falling apart, lots of drinking, more breakups. In the beginning the fear of vague premonition was strong. So strong that it became a self perpetuating cycle; every year I would have a strong vague feeling of something bad abut to happen, but it was really only just that something bad had ALREADY happened. It was just a whole lot of residual for a while.  After about 10 years the fear turned to melancholy. I started to just hollow out in fall so that nothing could take me by surprise. 15, 16 years out the hollow melancholy turned to a dull throb, still there but quiet and sad, and just quiet. Only once in the last 20 years has November 4th passed me by without remembering what day it is: November 4th 2000, I was traveling Europe for the first time in my life. I was in Poland having my mind blown by culture shock and I discovered while I was there that I was pregnant. There were absolutely no signs in english in Poland, but that's a story for another day.

 Im curious about this fall20 years out. Now its just a habit.

Its important that I am always able to identify and name my feelings. Nothing can be loose and disconnected from an event anymore. I betrayed myself back in 1992, and Im still paying for it.

So thats the trouble with fall. Luckily its NOT FALL YET.

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