Sunday, February 03, 2019

Questions, Answers, and Last (Ten) Words.

I must write this. It’s imperative. This blog began to form as I drifted off to sleep last night, and I awoke with it fully unearthed this morning. That has only happened maybe ten times in the history of the Breadbin.

Text message from Dad, Friday morning: “If things are getting one fifth down there, do you want to come up and chill out for a week or so?”

I puzzled over “one fifth”, and dismissed it as an autocorrect fail. The question was clear enough, anyway, and unlike many of the questions I have been asking myself, so was its answer. Yes, yes, I DID want to come up. First and foremost because I don’t get to see my dad and Heather near enough. Not near. Second, because they live in a remote location where the internet is little better than dialup. In other words, an enforced social media diet. And let’s not fool ourselves, by “social media” we mean “Kathy”. We have talked nearly every single day for the last thirty three months, almost always for hours a day.

It came together very quickly. Eva was headed to her mom’s early Saturday morning. She committed to dropping me at Yorkdale at six, where I would subway to Union, catch a GO bus to Aurora, and transfer there to another bus to Barrie. Dad would pick me up from there.

The plan was coming along without a hitch until a voice came over the public address system on the subway, informing passengers there were signal upgrades beyond Spadina and shuttle busses would be taking us the rest of the way to Union. A six minute subway ride was replaced with a half-an-hour bus crawl, and I missed my connection at Union. I caught the next bus to Aurora, and Dad picked me up there. A  lot of driving for him. Just another thing to add to the list of things I can never repay my father for.

We stopped at Bearly Used Books in Parry Sound and then came the rest of the way to Britt.
“So is it one fifth down there or what?” asked Dad, forcing me to concede I had no idea what that meant. I’m okay at kitchen table arithmetic, but…fractions, fractions, what do I remember about fractions? Reduce them to their lowest common denominator. This one already is. Nope, I’m stumped.

“Well, what’s one fifth?” he asked me. “Isn’t it two tenths?”

Groan. Dad doesn’t pun often, but when he does, it’s awful. No, things are not TOO TENSE. I’m grieving, yes, and I’m sure you’re all heartily sick of it. What do you want me to say? I last saw Kathy and Jade two weeks ago today, and we were slated to get together next week or maybe the week after. I MISS them. A lot.

I’ve reached the question stage. Questions of myself, Questions to and from Eva, Dad, and Heather. Searching for answers that make sense. Realizing the only ones that do are damning.

I asked Eva for some clarity on the line I referenced in my last blog, about understanding the space between now and forever.

Now, I love Eva. For about half a million reasons, but the one I need to highlight here is how good she is with bombs. Not throwing them, not dropping them out of airplanes. No, when my head’s on backwards (as it is more often than I care to admit, my being, after all, a husband), she lovingly and precisely plants the bombs, with the expertise of a veteran demolition team. She makes sure I’m far enough away that I’m not KILLED when they detonate…and then she heals the damage.

“I don’t know if you realize you’ve been doing this,” she said, “but you’ve been trying to trap Kathy.”

I recoiled at that, stung by shrapnel. “I have NOT!” I replied, incensed. “I’ve told her I have no problem with other partners if they don’t have a problem with me and I’ve always expressed my future desires as desires and not obligations. Besides, I’m trying to build something here!” Was trying, I amended in my head, and then my stomach gave out with a sickening lurch. I’M trying to build something. Not “WE’RE trying”. And what’s this obsession with building? Am I not happy with what has been built? I braced myself for the real blow about to come.

Eva: “Yes, you’ve been building this beautiful house for Kathy, cramming in everything you could think of to make her happy, and you’ve told her she can have as many visitors as she wants, but she can never leave.

(“On a suburban highway….cold wind in my heart...”)

Oh, my God.
Mea culpa, Kathy, mea maxima culpa. I have been going about loving you all wrong since the start. I’ve promised you a tailor-made (by you) mix of freedom and stability, and then through my own words and actions undermined both.  Eva’s bomb ripped away all the layers of rationalizations I had created and exposed selfish, ugly truths:

If I do enough, she will love me. If I do even more, she’ll never stop loving me.
What do I need to do to keep her? (Keep her, Jesus, like she’s a pet or something.)
And even more damning, whenever I felt it slipping, I would tell myself to try harder.

These were subconscious thoughts, and I would have denied every one of them. Yet here they are, exposing me as the worst kind of hypocrite imaginable. And the worst thing? The inexplicable, terrifying thing? I KNOW BETTER.

I do. I know, for instance, that love is not about doing. You don’t do love, and you certainly don’t do love with ulterior motives. You be love, and love will follow.

I know that people can’t be kept. I don’t own anyone but myself and love is freedom, not possession. Have I not said that often enough?

And I know that “trying harder” is often a trap. Yes, when you fail, sometimes it’s because you didn’t try hard enough. But usually it’s because something in your approach was wrong, and doubling down on that approach (say, by trying to do love instead of being loving), you’ll end up nowhere, fast.

Nowhere. Otherwise spelled “now, here”.

I was worried I’d get some “I told-you-so’s” out of Dad and Heather. They were not impressed when Eva and I opened five years ago (understatement). I needn’t have worried. “You know we don’t fully understand this, it’s hard to wrap our heads around,” said Heather, “but we’re not judging you.” That felt good. Just like how it felt with (most of) Kathy’s family.

They did have questions. Why aren’t you fighting for Kathy, I was asked. And THAT felt simultaneously amazing and awful coming from people I was certain would never view my fighting for anyone other than Eva in an even potentially  positive light.

I’m not fighting for Kathy because, although she didn’t precisely say “this relationship in its current form is no longer serving me”, she made it abundantly clear that’s how she felt.  Don’t get me wrong: I WANT to fight for her.I would flight like a rabid wolverine, or one of Jade’s anime characters, Goku or Naruto or maybe Roxas from Kingdom Hearts. ( I was hoping to learn more about Jade\s world...)

I feel completely at peace in Kathy’s presence, whether I’m doing dishes or laundry or chilling on the couch or gallivanting all over town and country. I love Jade as someone who wishes he could have been her father. But in truth I want them back not because of what they give me, but because of how I feel giving to them.

 I want her back. There’s nothing I want more in this world or the next. I wish someone in her family would say with conviction, “that Ken’s worth trying again with.” I wish there were something I could do. And there we have it: I want, I want, I wish, I, I, I…and doing rather than being.

I don’t deserve her. I’m not sure I ever did.

Nor do I feel like I particularly deserve Eva right now, to be honest.

Goddamnit, there’s another spiritual truth I thought I knew well. Apparently not.

If you say “I want someone to love me, “ the Universe will wink at you, say “okey-dokey”, and then give you that precise experience. Not of someone loving you…of you wanting someone to love you. Coming at love from a position of want ensures you’ll  never be satisfied. Instead, and I swear I know this, the way to get more love is to be sincerely grateful for the love you have. Be, not do, again.
When Dad asked me this morning, “Eva and Kathy are both drowning. You can only save one. Which one?”…I froze.

Truth is, I would have frozen any time that question was asked, and for so long that all three of us would drown. I first tried to equivocate by saying that Eva is a world-class swimmer and she could save herself far, far better than I could (true)…but Dad waved that away. They’re both drowning, he said.

I’ve thought about it some more since, and that question is unanswerable. You’ve got two kids. Or two best friends. Or two parents, or whatever. Which one do you pick? I know Eva is capable of a very cold calculus at times like that. I’m not. Even today…which means even in five or ten years from now…I would decline to answer that question.


Kathy and I had “ten words”. I coined them early on, and for a while they were touchstones, a ritual, something we would often do as a call and response.

I want you. I need you. I love you. Forever.

Well, forever seems to have ended last Tuesday, and only now do I realize how those words put a curse on her instead of a blessing.

I want you? Yeah, I wanted you so badly I drove you away.

I need you? Even when I first said these words, I didn’t intend this literally, but metaphorically. And yet, in my mind, it did become literal over time, which created a dependency instead of a loveship.

And forever is a very long time. I can say at least that I did mean  forever:  I have never been able to turn love off. But expecting HER to echo that? Monstrous.

In that spirit…Kathy….hon…’s too late to apologize, because the only true apology is changed behaviour and it’s too late for that. But I’m going to give you a new ten words. The ones I should have used all along.

I’m here… for you …in any way… I can be.

Emphasis on “be”.

NOW I love you.

“Big Guy”

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