When I Need A Pick Me Up, by my friend Ryan King

Friday, November 21, 2008

'Tis Not So Deep As A Well ...

... nor so wide as a church-door; but 'tis enough,'twill serve." -Mercutio, Romeo & Juliet, Act 3, Scene 1

So describes Mercutio of the wound he's received from that bastard Tybalt which, offstage, ends up claiming his life.

Disclaimer; This post will be an expurgation of some messy and miserable feelings that I need out of me right now. I'm not holding anyone responsible for coming to my rescue. Let me purge and most likely, I'll be okay.

So I'm finishing up "The Time Traveler's Wife" and damn if I'll not be in tears by the time I hit the back page. If you intend to read this, be warned that I must use spoilers if I'm going to finish this post.

Henry is the "time traveler". He actually displaces from his present and go bodily into his past or more rarely, his future. He's a lot like a TARDIS because he doesn't just move in time, but in place as well. He seems to go to places only linked to his own life, as opposed to random spots across the globe. And mostly, he goes to places that hold a lot of emotional meaning for him, such as his wife's life. Right now it reads more like a fantasy than science fiction because there' no explanation for why this random time hopping knows how to place him at the site of events that mean so much to him. What agency is in charge of his meeting his wife when she is 8 years old? Or that takes him several times over his lifespan to the various vantage points around his mother's hideous death by car accident? Or to the museum where his future daughter happens to be on a field trip? It's the author's artistic license exercised to tell a story about emotion and about loss.

And the loss is about to have me sobbing.

First of all, and maybe what I most want to focus on is the loss Clare, the titular Wife suffers every time Henry blinks away. The book doesn't spend needless time telling us about any pining that Clare does when Henry is gone, but it happens so often that I can't help but feel it. Clare first meets a full grown Henry at about six or eight, and continues to see him sporadically through her childhood until she is 18. At first, he is the perfect imaginary friend. He comes to see her alone and he is her secret. She has to feed him and clothe him. He needs her. Then as she goes into her adolescence, she begins to fall in love with him. This is well and good since Henry knows from the moment he sees her 6 (or 8) year-old-self that she will grow up to be his wife.

And so, every time she sees him, it feels like its me each time I see a post response or a new post on my blogroll. And every time Henry leaves her (going back to his present) it's like the time I spend between new posts. Oh she has friends and she even has family, but none of it is as special as what she has with this amazing new life form, the time traveler, who is just a human really, but a human who can show her and tell her amazing things. They way you guys do to me with the innermost feelings of your hearts.

And when Clare turns twenty, she finally sees Henry for "real" in his present. By this time she already knows she'll be married to him--but this time it's Henry who doesn't know it. It's only his future self who has been traveling back to see Clare's younger self. This present Henry has never met Clare before. And so they become a couple and get married. But Henry continues to time travel. Vanishing away. So even though Clare found him and has him, she cannot keep him.

And I swear, that's how I feel. I get so attached to you guys--my friends and the family that I choose--but we are all so far apart. Not hearing from you is like losing you and not knowing if I'll ever "see" you again. Trying not to worry that you're all doing okay out there, set adrift in time as you are, but every time you return with a response, a post, I heave a sigh of relief. I smile like a loon. And just like Henry, it's not something you can avoid. You all have lives to live, jobs to work, kids to raise, lovers to pursue. Of course you do. So I sit and understand and wait. I go to the friends I have nearby and I try to make myself busy, but I'm thinking of you all. I work to earn my money, but I use every available router signal to check to see if you've returned.

Obsess much, Alan?

I'll tell you what I'm addicted to. I'm addicted to the unedited mind. One of the reasons I love working with the developmentally disabled is because there's no screen or facade between us. What you see is what you get. And to me, there's nothing more beautiful than the honest heart. The open sharing between two individuals who have chosen each other. It's a lot like being in therapy, except there I'm not being paid to reciprocate my open wounds. But when my clients open up--there's just nothing more precious to me. Nothing I respect more. Each client unhinges a chamber door and holds out its contents for me to examine and to treat. And I look and it is as fragile as a newborn kitten. It might be sticky with amniotic fluid, or crying with a wide open harmless mouth empty of teeth, but it is precious and I care for it as much as I care for my own.

And so I know I am waiting for you. But I'm waiting for me too. This open heart that I'm drawn to, it is inside someone who will become my wife one day. And she will know that I love her because I won't be able to do anything else but. Somehow life has made me this way, and I'm just going to go for it.

Until then, here I am.

And there you are.



GrizzBabe said...

[typing with hands over eyes]

I'm not reading this post. Not because I don't care, but because I plan to read The Time Traveler's Wife at some point and I don't want to be spoiled.

The Neighbor said...

Such an incredible book. And her FIRST book, too. Just imagine what's to come when she hits her stride . . .

I'm sorry it's been such a hard read, but those are the best - the ones that hit you in a way you can't escape.

akakarma said...

I love this post Alan. The paragraph about what you are addicted to- beautiful. Sorry I'm one of those ins and outs! I'll email you.

akakarma said...

PS- I have a Lady Mah-Mah too- so adorable aren't they!?