Thursday, December 29, 2005

Merry Ex-Mas

So: I've been depressed. Or I guess I am depressed.

I feel very uncomfortable writing that; I feel like I'll be perceived as grasping for attention, or whining, or something equally churlish and contemptible. And I should point out that I've seen real depression -- the crushed spirit kind, the gun in the mouth kind -- and this is not of that variety. I've never experienced that myself, and I don't mean to trivialize it.

I'm not one of these people who gets down every Christmas, either. In fact I quite like Christmas: the lights, the smell of the tree, the cold weather, the anticipation. Hell, I even like a few Christmas carols. Ever since Mia was born, I get to experience all its joys vicariously, and in some ways that's even better. Making your own little kid giddy with delight is by far the best thing you'll ever experience. It lights you up. It makes you shine.

But this one was kind of a bummer. It's because of the divorce. It isn't final yet, but we've been separated since March, and it feels final enough. Erin came to visit again, so she wouldn't miss Mia opening her presents Christmas morning. We sat around the tree and watched Mia do her thing, and she seemed happy enough. But there was a mild -- tension isn't quite the right word -- flatness, maybe, to the proceedings. A weird sense of going through the motions, a lack of spontaneity. We were wearing our happy masks, though our eyes were filled with dead channel static. At the time, I chalked it up to the stress of Erin's visit, and of having to visit my mother with Erin in tow and somehow avoiding all the obvious discomforts that might entail. And those things certainly factored into the equation.

But I've had some time to think more about it the last few days. (Mia is in Alabama for the week, visiting Erin and her grandparents, leaving me free to commiserate with my own terrors and self-doubts.) And it's become clear to me that I really miss being married. I miss the comfort marriage brings, the certainty of having at least one person in your corner, of shared parental responsibilities. I miss another body in the bed. I miss someone waiting for me at home. I miss having someone else to be amazed by Mia with me.

And, while recognizing all of that, I also understand that this particular marriage cannot work. Its bedrock was starting to crack quite a while before I was ever aware of it. I won't go into the reasons for it here -- it would be self-serving, I think, and deeply unfair to Erin -- but I will say that divorce was not then what I wanted. A year ago today I still thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with her.

It is an awesome thing to realize how quickly, and how savagely, your entire life can change.

I guess I'm just lonely, and feeling sorry for myself. It doesn't help that I'm turning 35 on Saturday. Assuming I get my allotted 72 years, I'm almost exactly at the midpoint. And I feel like I've lost everything I had: my wife, my friends, my city. And I feel like it's unfair.

Believe me, though, I know how full of shit I am. I have Mia, for God's sake, and she brings me so much joy. She galvanizes me. I have an ability to write which I have neglected for so long, but which I find is miraculously still there, ready to be honed at last. And my friends are not really gone; they're just scattered, and they're suffering from displacement, too.

In the course of writing this I've managed to slap myself out of my self-pity. Sorry you had to read it, but really, what else is a blog but the blogger's long, loving, sentimental gaze into the mirror? Welcome to my narcissism. You really should have expetced this.

In an essay on style, Norman Mailer wrote, "The idea could even be advanced that style comes to young authors about the time they recognize that life is ... ready to injure them. Something out there is not necessarily fooling." I may not be young anymore, but I've just been knocked to the floor. There's blood in my mouth and in my nose, and I think that's my tooth over there by that guy's foot. Apparently life is not, after all, fucking around. I can feel sorry for myself or I can get up.

It's two o'clock in the morning. I want to go to bed, but I have work to do.

11 Comments:

At 3:03 PM, Blogger Melantrys said...

"I feel very uncomfortable writing that; I feel like I'll be perceived as grasping for attention, or whining, or something equally churlish and contemptible."

Nah, not by me at least. :D

*pats*

 
At 5:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nope, me neither. Although I'm not going to pat you.

JeffV

 
At 11:27 AM, Blogger Melantrys said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 12:28 PM, Blogger Melantrys said...

Happy birthday!!!

 
At 9:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well Happy Birthday Nate, sorry bad ol life got it's tentacles around you.

 
At 9:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Nate, do me a favor, check out this story and let us know what you think:

http://www.eunuch.org/Alpha/F/ea_225656the_figh.htm

 
At 10:02 PM, Blogger Nathan said...

I think it's crap. What were you expecting?

 
At 3:24 AM, Blogger Gone said...

Happy birthday!
Happy birthday!
So you've lived another year
And your death is drawing near
Happy birthday!
There are children in despair
People dying everywhere
Happy birthday!

Imagine it being sung with a Gregorian chant, and it's a LOT better.

 
At 5:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 8:56 PM, Blogger Nathan said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 10:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 

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