A Haunting Refrain…

The howling wind feels, as if it is about to burst through the walls as it pelts icy rain against the window. A winter storm is raging outside, in the darkness. It is now three eighteen a.m. My blood turns to ice in my veins, listening, as I lie awake sleepless, a sickness fills the pit of my stomach, as my breath becomes shallow and I am aware of a feeling I have not felt in decades. I keep asking myself, when did I become so cold? Tonight I am reminded as a memory haunts my thoughts, of a feeling I thought I had tucked so far away that it would never be allowed to emerge again. Funny, but it takes me back to a Christmas so many years ago. I was 23 and madly in love at the time, it was my first love, something I expected to somehow last forever. I was young, gullible, and somewhat naive of the world. I believed in a heterosexual role model of Donna Reedism of finding the one you loved and sticking with them to end of time. I knew early that I had a passion to be with another man, but was too afraid to approach it. So when it finally happened, I leapt at the possibility. What began in Montana as an act of lust from my first sexual experience with a man, moved us to Dallas as an act of love to find a world less inhibited. There was turmoil from the beginning and I somehow knew in my heart it didn’t really matter, sometimes these are the things we sacrifice to be with another. It was all I ever wanted, a dream come true, and I was not about to let it slip through my fingers. We had little money and had to live in a cockroach infested motel room in a very bad neighborhood in a then seedy area of the city known as Lovers Lane. I quickly got a job in construction, working on high-rise buildings for a new city that was being constructed outside of Dallas. He was looking for a job in computers and wouldn’t compromise on anything less, so mostly drifted around the motel, waiting for a job opportunity to approach him. I soon began to realize he was infatuated with another young man, also living in the same complex, and there were times when he would disappear for hours, leaving me alone to fret and stew in the worst of thoughts, which at the time nearly drove me mad, with envy, jealousy, and rage. Eventually I scraped together enough money and got us an apartment in North Dallas. But he still couldn’t find a job. I soon began to discover that he talked in his sleep, but it only happened when the air conditioner kicked on above our bed and he talked about people he had been having sex with, which confirmed my greatest fear, often revealing those experiences in graphic detail. I was suddenly in a difficult situation between not wanting to know, because it drove me deeper into a rage, and desperate to understand what was actually going on. So I have to confess I would spend the night turning the air conditioner on and off to hear of his daily escapades. It became a maddening obsession that I was not proud of but could not let go. I became devastated, and it finally all come to a head that week between Christmas and New Years as I began to confront him. Then New Years Eve we got into a brawl in the parking lot and I knew my idealistic fantasy world had burst. I have never felt so much rage in my life, and have not since. He left me shortly thereafter for someone else. Stranded in a strange city I was never quite comfortable in the first place. Then in the middle of the night I hopped on a bus and headed back to my home in Montana leaving everything behind.

I didn’t realize at the time, but thereafter I began to build a wall around myself, determined not to get hurt again. Yes, I have had a lot of relationships, but somehow there was something always missing. Tonight, I realize it was me that has been missing all these long years. I now see when people get to close I back off or push them away. I always thought this was the way of an artist: to deny themselves emotions and express it within their work. But I was not yet an artist because I was too consumed by my fears to create. I settled and stayed with what was comfortable, often losing myself in the relationships or task at hand. Tonight has become a painful reality check for me as I see how I have insulated myself over the years. Tonight I feel that pain returning to my heart. I feel I have been loved by many but created such pain to most. This year’s reality check has maybe become more then I bargained for as I have lost something that is most dear to me tonight as I feel the repercussions of my year long focused task. Irreparable damage has been done and I must accept the consequences. Have I slipped into a dark abyss without even realizing it, because of my own selfish behaviors? Am I somehow doomed to be alone because I am an artist and need to create? I have changed so much, since those early days, but now I recognize that moment when innocence is lost and how my perception of the world changed and impaired my judgement. How is it we become so unhealthy at the moment of our greatest clarity? A hunting refrain plays through my mind and I suddenly realize a new meaning behind the immortal words of Oscar Wilde:

“Yet each man kills the thing he loves
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!

Some kill their love when they are young,
And some when they are old;
Some strangle with the hands of Lust,
Some with the hands of Gold:
The kindest use a knife, because
The dead so soon grow cold.

Some love too little, some too long,
Some sell, and others buy;
Some do the deed with many tears,
And some without a sigh:
For each man kills the thing he loves,
Yet each man does not die.”

From the haunting and moving poem: The Ballad Of Reading Gaol