It’s another nice day out, looks like. There are little wisps of clouds in the big Mr Blue over head, outside his window, his portal to the world. The trees outside there are absolutely alive with sunshine again this morning, replete with the morning daylight. Waking up the writer himself is another matter altogether, though. How that’ll ever happen is anybody’s guess. He’s too groggy for writing now. He’ll have to wait till later.
He’s gotten to the point where his body can’t tolerate caffeine. Getting a jolt from a couple cups of coffee to wake him up is no longer an option for this old coot. His liver is a major casualty of having to take psych meds for forty years. Cirrhosis of the liver is one of his diagnoses, and he’s been sober too long for his drinking to have been too much of a contributing factor to the existence of the illness.
His slower cognitive processes are also one of the major casualties of getting so confused the previous year about how to take those darned psych meds, of accidentally taking an overdose of the pills he could not function without. Most of the symptoms of that catastrophe have worn off, but some of his health issues are still a little iffy, in spite of him. His hip still bothers him, a year after he fell and broke it. He can’t really walk very far anymore. He doesn’t have the wind or the comfort.
Well, waking up happened much later, after an all-morning nap, sitting up in his chair, and changing seats to his couch didn’t make him wake up any sooner. That’s how it happened. The man dozed off while waiting for the solemnly promised two cups of his morning milk that never did arrive, and now it’s going on noon, with the culprit, (the girl who didn’t bring the milk), coming back into his suite now, to take out the trash and apologize about milk that doesn’t really mean anything to her. He supposes they’ll just keep him captive another full day here, holiday not withstanding. There’s no one to complain to, either. He’s obliged to stay in his own room alone, where he might be able to stay healthy in spite of the epidemic. There’s no sickness in his own room, except for what the staff might bring in with them, when they come in to do things for him. The stomach virus had one third of the population of his assisted living environment come down with the trots. It effected a lot of the staff here too. The news was that the entire neighborhood at large was caught up in the illness, he heard. The writer missed it. Somehow it passed him bye.
The administration here is very wary of health issues around the place. Living in a retirement community is a sort of tricky situation for this particular guy. He’s accustomed to living in a psych ward or a state hospital, where he can act out if things get a little too dicey for him. He can’t act out here. They’re too touchy about that. They offer assistance in so much of the whole process of what needs doing in a person’s life, like getting his medications measured out safely for him, doing the laundry, providing pertinent transportation, and all the processes of eating. Ya can’t beat that. He gets a private suite to go along with it, too.
Finally they’ve come to his room and liberated him around lunch time today, which is another New Years Eve in a lengthening life. He’s finally free to go to the dining room to eat lunch, to get out of his room and walk around if he’d like. What a relief. It took them long enough. That virus must have been a horrendously vibrant strain of some bug. It took them a week to send it from the house, disinfecting everything a gazillion times over, working the janitorial staff extra hard to fight off the contagion. Even now there are people who are not coming to lunch, who are still taking broth for sustenance in their suites, and continuing to be sick.
God’s gift to men is still after him, still doing her best to justify doing as she pleases with the man’s body, as if he owes something to some hussy, in spite of everything he’s said and done to settle the issue. Now, he’s sent the witch a threat of legal action against her if she doesn’t quit and let him be. Maybe that will stop her, but he doubts it. She’s got ideas about him that he doesn’t have about her. She’s going to have to accept that.
The New Year can come in without the writer staying up half the night to watch the ball drop. He’s not that interested in celebrations anyway. Good thing. His family doesn’t seem to be too darned interested in doing anything to celebrate anything with him either. Besides, it’s not his family, it’s his brother’s family, and they don’t seem to be real fascinated with him, since he’s written a little bit too much email. Got to let that go to. It’s over.
Besides, the idea of having a celebration was the thing that got him in so much hot water all that time ago in university, when he was young. The girl had finally agreed to go out with him. He’d been running circles around her heart for months. Finally, she agreed to go for a pizza and a movie. Time to celebrate. He went out of doors and saw the same old pusher, just across from the music building on the quad, walked right up to the man and asked him for drugs, like he was doing the guy a favor. He probably was too. He caved in. He was so happy to get a date with the girl, he wanted to celebrate. Right. Just at the very moment when he was winning, he chose to defeat himself. Just when things were going well, he threw a monkey wrench in the works. He undermined everything he held dear, while he simultaneously began to at least try to live in the glory of it all. His relationship was actually over before it began. Something inside him told him so, too.
By this time of evening, on another New Years Eve, a lifetime later, it’s finally nighttime, and it’s still early enough that the ball hasn’t dropped yet. He doesn’t care about that ball. Someone said once that the older you get the smaller your world becomes. Shouldn’t the converse be true? It doesn’t seem right, or fair, or some such thing. Who ever said that life was supposed to be fair? He’s watched helplessly on, as other people have built their lives around their wives and their own, personal families. They have their sons and their daughters, who grow and become adults themselves. The author has been left behind, and he knows it. Their jobs and their homes are all a great significance to those in the life of the writer who could just never grasp that sort of success. That reward alluded him, along with so many other rewards. His friendships kept on growing apart, and lives keep on going without him – or in some cases they simply died off – it depends on who it was, and there’s so much more that can’t be summarized.
Call it what you please. The drugs ruined the relationship and the career that had supposedly been so significant to the young man. The drugs of the 1970’s ruined his life. Now, on this obscure New Years Eve, a lifetime later, he sits alone and writes, not caring so much anymore, whether there will ever be another person for him to want to touch again. Having a wife and family had palled in the face of his illness; in the face of his addiction; in the face of the abuses he’d learned about that had happened to him in his lifetime. Who ever said life was fair? He’d found a way to get along alone.
The author could remember the girl, the only girl he’d ever really, honestly been in love with, and what had happened with her. They’d been together, and he didn’t want to be touched anymore. He didn’t understand why at the time, but they were making out and he wanted to stop. He wanted to stop forever, so he broke up with her. He didn’t break up casually or abruptly. He took the time, while he was making out with her, and prayed about it before he did it. He knew the answer before he ever asked the Lord. And the Lord backed him up.
You can’t take her with you, George, He’d said to him. So the author broke up with the only absolutely wonderful, sweetest heart of a girl he’d ever, always love as long as he lived. But the entire relationship had been finished before it ever got off the ground. He’d taken drugs the afternoon of their first date. That’s what happened, and he always had to live with that reality. He’d ruined it himself. His girl was gone. His future was lost right there. He took on his own destruction with his own hand, and he knew it full well at the time. He was responsible for the whole thing, except that he hadn’t functioned in a vacuum. The times were that way for many in his generation. There were so many people doing the same things then… Why bother justifying what he did? She married another man and gave him children. The writer will never have children.