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"Stuck at Nothing"

Under My Falling Weight  by foxpamela
I’ve stolen a pedestal. It’s got three legs and they all wobble. I took it from the front porch of one of those well-to-do houses along the Drive. And I’m balancing on it even as I write. In fact, I’ve belted it to my butt so that I have something proper to land on when I fall. I always fall.

He called. A second, third and fourth time. Text messaging was invented since I last dated and so I didn’t predict that onslaught. Those were a surprise.

“That’s your own fault, ya know. You knew he was crazy when you started up with him.” Thank goodness for friends who don’t lie. Everyone is responsible for their own actions and blah blah blah, but he’s right on that. I knew this guy was nuts. Not emotionally disfigured, but truly wacko. Aliens and spaceships and secret messages by plugging and unplugging the phone. He eyes wandered off when he talked about this stuff. Like he was seeing through meaning itself. He faded out like a man going blind. Things that were real, that would crush you if they fell on top of you, like trees and houses and people, were just myths to him. He cut through space and saw invisibility. I could feel my body evaporating next to his. He embraced random. He embraced inconsequential. He disregarded meaning. He was untethered.

I had the sense to know that he’d not be a stabilizing force in my life. But you don’t pull somebody in because it makes sense. You don’t slide your body up against their’s for good reasons. You pull them in because, at that moment in that space, they fit. He was the right size. He bore down with the right amount of weight. He had timing. It had nothing to do with the future or with idealizations or with souls. It almost had nothing to do with him. It had everything to do with they way our pieces fit.

“We’re married,” he said. “Somewhere, sometime, during some other unfolding of universe, we’re married.”
“Do we have kids?” I asked. I like the belonging somewhere with someone if not here and now.
“Lots.” He grinned. “We live on a farm.” I can see myself barefoot with a homemade broom, all sweaty and messy. Like Sally Field in Places in the Heart. He seemed as sure of this as he was that neither of us were really there at all. He handed me a bowl that he’d just packed. I couldn’t argue with him. Maybe he’s right.

“I’m so tired of this,” he said. “How many times do I have to do this?”

“Do what?” He was staring off again.

“Keep living this. I’ve just done this so many times and it never works out. We f*ck it up every time. I see it coming and I try to tell people but they just…they don’t listen. That’s...ya know…why I write this stuff on my car.” He gestured to his car. He had painted it with chalk board paint and wrote messages on it after every rain. If the Buddhists were right he could have been Moses in a past life, or whoever wrote Revelations. “Because somebody has to do something or it’s just gonna get really… really bad. I just don’t want to go through it again. People are gonna suffer. We’re all gonna suffer.” His eyes got teary but I didn’t comfort him.

“How did it go when we were married?”

“The same,” he said. “Bad.” But he consoled me with a smile.

I say that he’s crazy but I don’t really know. The bottom line was that neither of our perspectives were provable. They just were. And it doesn’t really matter what’s true. Only what works.

So the sex was good. Better than I’d had in a while. He let me be the driver. That’s what I like most. And he had no expectations. He washed my dishes, swept my floor and pretended to be interested in the stories I told. He confessed that he’d been obsessing about me. I’m a child with an insatiable appetite for attention. I needed only to be present and he would coil himself around me. When we were f*cking, he didn’t care about the panic attacks. He waited graciously for them to pass.

“You must think I’m crazy.” I spoke into his chest while the panic worked its course. It’s a word I knew he was sensitive about so I took it for myself.
“It’s okay,” he said. “I like it.” He never asked me for an explanation and he didn’t really respond when I gave it to him. It’s not the kind of thing most people know what to do with. He came over every night, letting himself in and washing my dishes while I took a shower and dried my hair. It went on like this and for a while it seemed to work.
It stopped working when the guilt set in. His wife, just six doors down, stopped asking where he was all night. Before I had sex with her husband, I thought she and I might be friends. We both made stuff; she’s a potter and I’m a painter. But there’s a big difference between potters and painters. Potters are a quiet folk, whisperers, kinda like hobbits. I don’t have theory on why that is but I’ve seen it everywhere I’ve been. I’ve never heard a loud potter. Painters, on the other hand, are silent. They scream in color. They rage in form. They console themselves in the slide of oil over cloth. Except the landscape painters. They always come across quite normal. But I have never painted a landscape. I am a painter and she is a potter. We were generally incompatible. Feeling no personal loss for sleeping with her husband, I had only the moral issues to reconcile. I could have sex with her husband but could not also be her friend.

Before I had sex with her husband, she sat on my living room floor and told me about the last eight years. How he was in and out of the hospital, violent and screaming, about his restraining orders, about how he refused his medication and how he wore her down. I gave her all the compassion I had. I had been through this myself a short lifetime ago. When she’d said all of that, I gave her a hug and said she could come over any time. It could be her refuge. I had just finished painting the walls a deep forest green and the pine floors a bright red. My paintings were on every wall. She looked like a bowl of Cream of Wheat in the middle of my Van Gogh house.

Even after all of that, I still had sex with her husband. If you’ve ever watched the clouds, you’ve seen them come together and then come apart again. There’s no crying or whining or fits. It just happens.

I told him, after a few weeks of this, that I just didn’t feel good about it. I didn’t like thinking of myself this way. I didn’t want to have sex with him anymore. It was easy to do because whining, especially for sex, is a pretty big turn-off.

He moved out of his house and I imagine he thought that would relieve my guilt and the f*cking would commence. But I was done. I had moved on. I had left the building. The sex couldn’t be good enough for me to want him around. I had come apart again.

He stood outside my house and rang and rang the bell. He called and called. He went to the bar and came back and did more of the same. He blamed me for being unavailable.

He yelled, “You f*cking whore. How much did my wife pay you to **** me?!” It’s true, I felt I did her a service. He never would have left on his own. She was too weak to put him out.

I haven’t seen him in weeks and I think he’s in the hospital again. It’s too easy to blame his insanity. More than that, he’s human. I never told him that I loved him or that he was special to me or that I thought of us as us. I never gave him anything I wasn’t willing to lose. I blame him for being too present.

So again, I walked these miles home to a place that’s safe and comfortable to lay my weathered body down under what feels like a heavy wisdom. Why do I do this? Why do I not care? Why do I entangle myself with people for whom I cannot care about? Why do I look at ordinary people holding each others’ ordinary hands like they are crazy, aliens, myths? Why is that reality so impossible for me? Why doesn’t it fit? I’ve heard the adage that a need that is fulfilled is a need that goes away. What do I need? I am stuck in this puzzle. I have no single answer. What I have is a stolen pedestal tied to my butt. I refuse to crush any other person under my falling weight.

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  'Under My Falling Weight' statistics: (click to read)
Date created: Feb. 17, 2008
Date published: Feb. 17, 2008
Comments: 4
Word Count: 1798
Times Read: 538
Story Length: 1