Tuesday, August 25, 2009

(This is the last post I'm bringing over from any of the other places, I think - if I'm forced to choose, the best writing I've ever done isn't coming to this blog, it's going to stay over at what remains of my myspace page, behind a firewall until they shut that place down like its Friendster.  That stuff was gutsy and vulgar and smart - if there was ever a chance that someone was going to think I was an actual, real live writer and whatnot, it would be based on that stuff.  But it's staying there; too hard to explain the concept of a fictional voice writing about real stuff. 

This post was written at the very beginning of this year upon the passing of my girlfriend's dog.  It's self indulgent only in that I recognize that the death of the dog in my life is no more heartbreaking to me than the death of the dog in your life is to you.  But I can't write about everyone; only so much ink in my pen.  Fundamentally, everything here remains the same; my friend and I are good, thanks, all matters unchanged.  And we still miss Sadie a ton.  We were happier when she was around.)

I’m a child.

Those of you who know me more than a little bit recognize this; my tastes in food and entertainment remain as lowbrow as did they 30 years ago (want to see me brighten up – give me a fried fruit pie and a wrestling match to watch); my emotional architecture still collapses when I feel abandoned (no, I haven’t been dumped again, that’s not where this is going); I have never evidenced the slightest ability to put on a face other than the one that best expressed my immediate essence (I’d be terrible at the strategic reality shows I most like; I can’t pretend to like people I do not like and I’m still the 8 year old squirming in terrible boredom when forced to do something I don’t want to do).

Arrested development isn’t just the name of one of the ten best television shows of the past quarter century (you’re not reading my blog, dammit) it clearly defines who I am. I am stuck, immobile, a boyman, all change and I remain the same. Just a little less cute with each passing year.

My principal failure to grow has been in my childlike inability to wrap my mind around death with anything other than a barbed wire bow of terror and pain. I would lie awake nights trying to reconcile how one lives in a world where god was dead (I wasn’t really reading Nietzsche when I was 8, I stuck with The Sporting News, but I recall articulating a similar idea). Every ambulance I ever saw racing down the street was one which, one day, would be headed for my house. Every sickness brought to mind that one day, there’d be a stomach ache from which I wouldn’t recover. Every night I fell asleep I thought, “one of these nights I won’t wake up.”

A constant sword dangling over my head.

Only question was how will it happen?

How will it happen to me?

Will I suffer a long, lingering illness – a steady erosion of my body until I can no longer care for my most basic physical functions? Will I battle – go through painful and expensive medical treatments – only to eventually succumb? Will I shuffle painfully through hospital hallways, a shell of the man I used to be until finally I beg for it to end? John Wooden, the legendary UCLA basketball coach is 98, he says he wishes death would come. His wife died in 1985, and still today, 23 years later, her half of the bed is untouched – when the sheets are washed and placed back on the bed, he returns her dressing gown and pillow arrangement exactly as was it 2 plus decades ago. Is that how it will be? Will I watch that sword crash down upon everyone I love – filling my last, weakest, loneliest years with agony and grief?

Will I lose my mind? My entire life, I have always understood the benefit of the Buckaroo Bonzai axiom, “wherever you go, there you are.” It’s comforted me – there’s never been an occasion where the ability to slip inside my head wasn’t an option. Somewhere in my youth, perhaps 3rd grade when I was given candy by Mr. Callan for getting A’s on spelling tests – or maybe preschool when I was one of two four year olds able to read on his own, thereby negating the need for teacher interference (I always resented being told what to do – parents, teachers, bosses – I fight authority and authority, well, doesn’t always win, if truth be told – and if it does leave me bloody and battered…well, you should see the other guy). I internalized at a pre-conscious level that I was “smart” and that my brain was my friend – and while living in my head has often been isolating and left me alone – I’ve never been lonely in here. I always have me.

Will I lose that? Will I forget the starting lineup for the 1989 National League Champion San Francisco Giants?

C – Kennedy

1B – Will

2B – Robby

SS – Uribe

3B – Riles/Matty

LF- Mitch

CF – Butler

RF – Candy/Sheridan

Oberkfell played a lot of 3rd, Matty played a little short. Tracy Jones played too in our seasonlong inability to fill the sucking hole that was RF. The rotation was Caveman and Big Daddy and Garrelts and Downs and Krukow or Atlee in the last spot.

What was I talking about?

Oh yeah.

Will I wander around the woods like Henry Fonda in On Golden Pond – will I stare vacantly at my family and friends – will people cry at the sight of me – will I be pitied-pathetic-Jesus – Jesus do I not want to be pitied – I’m the guy who gets angry if someone tries to help me pick up something I’ve dropped – it’s reflexive, automatic – leave me the fuck alone, I’m fine, I don’t need your help.

Will I need help? Help from strangers? Constant help, just to survive?

Will I be alone – no one to help – dying slowly, scared, confused – broken?

Or will it be quick?

A car crash. A homicide. Accidents are the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 44. Will I be texting on the way to work and never come home, smash into a crosstown bus and never think my thoughts ever again? There were a hundred two murders in my county last year, virtually all of them clustered around my home and work – will I be at the ATM – or a convenience store – or coming home from a late class and get shot for my watch or my ride or the 37 bucks in my wallet?

Who will tell my mom? Who will feed my kitten? Who will write my wrestling Counterfactual?

Will I be scared? Will I be alone? Will I hurt?

I’ve never stopped thinking about these things; if there has been a single day over the past 30 years where I haven’t had at least a fleeting moment of terror – I’m going to die, I’m going to die, I’m going to die – then I’m unaware of it.

And after death – nothing. No magical thinking for me. Ashes and dust and endless empty.

And yeah, I’m certain of it beyond a reasonable doubt. Guilty.

3 decades of existential terror. I’m a child. A chubby child who drinks diet soda all day long and listens to Lil Wayne.

My friend Sadie died last weekend.

Sadie was an 8 year old Labrador retriever.

I spent pretty much a portion of every day for the bulk of 2008 with her, a kinder, gentler, friendlier creature you would not meet. During her eight years, Sadie’s tail never stopped wagging with excitement and joy.

Kate and I were dating before her animals became a part of my life; she has 3 dogs and two cats; most of whom have been with her virtually their whole lives and most of Kate’s adult life – and were the animals to have indicated that I wasn’t a particularly good fit for the family, I’d have been cut loose.

They have seniority, after all.

But from the first day, Sadie seemed to rally all the others to give me a chance, “this chubby guy is okay, he likes to cuddle and play and smells like fried pie and Bret Hart dvds”

I didn’t think 2008 would be the year where I found “the one” – but as it turned out, I found a whole family.

I don’t live inside my head anymore. At 38 years old, I found my people.

And one of those people was Sadie.

What I really wanted to thank her for though were the years before we met.

When you meet the people you love, and hear about their lives – the one aspect which tears you apart is not having known them before you knew them. Because there were days when they could have used you, when you could have helped, when you could have made bad things better.

But you weren’t there, you didn’t exist yet.

I wasn’t there for Kate when she had those days – but Sadie was. As hard and painful (real pain as opposed to my boyman “will I get Parkinson’s disease like Alex P Keaton” pain) as anyone’s days could possibly be – and Sadie was there. There to take care of my friend Kate.

And I wanted to thank her.

So, I did, last weekend. I held Sadie’s head in my hands and thanked her for how she treated me and how she took care of Kate – and I told her I would do my best to be half as good a boyfriend as she had been a canine companion.

And not long after, she was gone.

And it hurt. And it hurts. There’s not a socially targeted way to grieve over a dog; my academic term started this week, I have five courses and I shuffled and danced and put on as high octane a performance as am I capable of at my rapidly advancing age. But inside I just felt empty.

I guess I can put on a face other than the one I want to wear.

I resisted my urge to write about it. Both because Sadie was not my dog and because it feels cliché; and really, talking about pet loss can lead to a dismissive “yeah, okay, I’ve got real problems” response.

But I don’t care. I’ve never written for anyone but me anyway. I never do anything for anyone but me.

I’m a child, that’s how I roll.

And tonight, I wanted to write about my friend Sadie. ‘Cause she deserves it. She deserves the words to be sent out into the world that she lived and she died and she mattered. I loved her, but that’s not why she mattered. She mattered because she mattered. She was all good and no bad. I don’t know how many people, places, or things you’ve ever encountered who were all good and no bad, but I have met two. One is Kate, and one was her Sadie.

And this is for both of them. They are my people after all.

Sadie Trimble


Thank you, Sadie.

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