Years ago, one of my dearest friends came to visit me for a few days. After several late into the night discussions about our respective loves (sufficed to say, there have been a few personnel changes since then, the term another friend of ours used in lieu of break-up), we started to laugh hysterically. It's so much easier to have a friend, she said. I don't stand around in the shower thinking, "Am I being the very best best friend I can be? Is there anyone else who would be better? How long can this friendship last?" We concluded that our only goal was not to be talking about the same thing this time, next year. As is true to my sunny happy disposition, I believe that most romantic relationships have a Sisyphean quality to them, the pain of having the same fight over and over again. The fight changes depending on the couple, but once you start having it, it's all variations on a theme from there. You love your writing more than me (bingo, pal!), You can't commit (hey, I'm the same astrological sign as George Clooney and he's had a very long relationship with his pop-bellied pig, Max, until his recent death), and from my side, You don't understand my life (in retrospect, this seems a tall order for anyone -- who can truly understand someone's constant fear and misery, the state I was in at that time), and You don't do enough, don't love me enough, don't fill in whatever blank I had at the time. Add to that all the garbage you bring from the last person who didn't love you enough or loved you too much or abused your goodwill and sent you to listening to Janis Joplin's "Ball and Chain" every single day for a year. Not that I know anyone like that.
It all seems so dreary, there on the page in black and white. Muhammad Ali said the toughest fight he ever had was with his first wife. And I think about my pact with my friend to change our conversation. Hoping that time itself would change everything. But we had to change ourselves and get sick of carrying the same fucking rocks up the same fucking hill. What I know about relationships can be boiled down to this: we have a deep ability to persist in matters of the heart despite repeat damage, inevitable decay, and ill fits. We want to believe in change and that loves returns. But it doesn't, not really. What does happen is that we can get hit long enough and hard enough that we start to see stars. Boxers call this the black lights. You can't see anything but what's right in front of you. I suppose that's as good a place to start as any.
Michelle's Spell of the DayA fighter never knows when it's the last bell. He doesn't want to face that.” Sugar Ray Leonard
Drinking music suggestion: Burnin' John Lee Hooker
Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Birthday to Mr. James Gandolfini, Tony Soprano, Original G! Whether you're Tony, Jim Jones, Ernest H., or anybody else, you're the coolest ever!